Cascata di Foroglio (Foroglio Waterfall) was a gorgeous waterfall free-falling some 80m from a hanging valley (Val Calnegia). It possessed a power and grace that made this perhaps the prime natural attraction of the mountainous Val Bavona (Bavona Valley), which looked to be a side valley of the larger Valle Maggia (Maggia Valley) in the Italian-speaking Ticino Canton of Switzerland. Neighboring the waterfall was village of Foroglio (from which the waterfall got its name), which complemented the scenic allure of the waterfall and its surroundings by lending the charm of its tightly-spaced historical-looking stone buildings as they clung to the base of the steep-walled Val Bavona. I suspect the valley might be of glacial origin given its classical U-shaped profile.
Before we knew its name, the falls once haunted us as that mysterious Webshots waterfall where we saw a screenshot of a beautifully tall and powerful plume nestled amongst attractive mountains with only the captions “Tocino, Switzerland.” So this got us to look up any information regarding this waterfall, but we kept coming up empty in our searches over a few years. Our break didn’t come until we came across a mention of a waterfall that sounded like the one we were looking for buried deep in the text of our LP Switzerland book. That was when Julie and I eventually finally identified the mystery waterfall, but we also realized that the caption was mislabeled. Then, we’d later discover that the photo taken seemed to require a fair bit of unsafe scrambling to duplicate (which we’ll get to later on this page).
From the public car park (see directions below), we could already see the waterfall making its presence known. After crossing the main road, we crossed a bridge over the river responsible for Val Bavona, which provided us with an open frontal view of Cascata di Foroglio. This view alone was why I gave this waterfall a difficulty rating of 1 even though there were longer trails allowing us to experience the waterfall in other ways. Just on the other side of the bridge was the village of Foroglio.
At first, Julie and I took the trail alongside the river towards the base of the overall waterfall where the remainder of its drop cascaded amongst giant boulders that have flaked off the cliff over time. Throughout this short walk, we saw numerous wildflowers in bloom, which added quite a bit of color to the scene, which was needed due to the persistent presence of clouds during our afternoon visit. Actually, it turned out that it was a good thing the clouds were there because the timing of our visit was such that if the clouds weren’t there, we would’ve been looking directly against the sun.
After having our fill of feeling the light mist of the base of the waterfall alongside the creek responsible for its flow, we returned to Foroglio where I then noticed another sign encouraging me to walk through the charming village en route to a different trail leading higher up the waterfall itself. After another 10 minutes or so of ascending up a fairly steep but well-established trail, I found myself right at the misty base of the main drop of Cascata di Foroglio where I not only got to enjoy the closer and intimate perspective of the mighty waterfall, but I was also able to look down the U-shaped profile of Val Bavona from this higher vantage point. When the sun briefly made its appearance through the cloud cover, I was even able to see a rainbow draped across the panorama of Val Bavona.
Finally, after experiencing the falls from below, I was of the mindset to pursue an even higher perspective of Cascata di Foroglio from across the valley (i.e. that Webshots photo that brought us here). After scouting the main road both uphill and downhill from the immediate vicinity of the village of Foroglio, I wasn’t able to find any formal trails going higher up the valley opposite the waterfall (though I did notice a religious figurine perched above a large boulder).
Instead, it looked like I needed to scramble up a rather sizable field of loose but giant boulders in order to get high enough above the treeline to get that sought-after view. Given the variable weather we had been experiencing on this trip (and the threat of more rain during the afternoon of our visit), I decided against risking it. Maybe next time when the weather’s more benign and I’m still willing and able to make it back here might I finally get that elusive shot. But until then, we were pretty content with the photos and memories of what we were able to get without such risks.
From Locarno, we followed the signs for Valle Maggia (sometimes they spell it as one word as Vallemaggia) which were present at roundabouts and intersections as we headed out of the city’s northwestern end. Once we were on the road 560 (Via Vallemaggia), we then followed it for roughly 4km from the Locarno city center (near the A13) towards a bridge crossing over the Maggia River.
We stayed right (not crossing the bridge) to leave the road 560 and continue on the Vallemaggia road (following the signs for Bignasco). At roughly 23km beyond the bridge (passing by numerous villages within the Maggia Valley including Bignasco), we turned left at a sign for Val Bavona onto a narrow road through the town of Cavergno. Then, we followed this road to Val Bavona for a little over 6km to the village of Foroglio where there was an unpaved car park opposite the main road from the village and waterfall.
This drive took us a little under an hour to cover the distance between Locarno and Foroglio (including the traffic in Locarno and some of the stops we made along the way since there were other waterfalls and scenery en route).
Finally, to give you some geographical context, Locarno was 76km (about 90 minutes drive) northwest of Lenno, Italy, 72km (over an hour drive) north of Como, Italy, and 118km (over 90 minutes drive) north of Milan (Milano), Italy.
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