Cascate di Lares (Lares Waterfalls) were a series of a lower and upper waterfalls that we actually didn’t plan on seeing (let alone know about) prior to the start of our Italy trip in 2013. However, when we drove into Val Genova, I had noticed a sign saying something to the effect of “Benvenuto alle Cascate di Nardis e Lares” (Welcome to the waterfalls of Nardis and Lares). So that hinted to me that perhaps there was another waterfall besides the more famous Cascate di Nardis that was worth seeing, and as you can see from this page, a strong argument can be made that indeed Lares was no slouch in its own right!
It turned out that these waterfalls weren’t that far away (driving-wise, at least) from Cascate di Nardis, but we did have some concerns regarding whether we were driving on roads that were restricted to certain types of traffic or not (see directions below). In any case, we were already able to see part of the waterfall perched high up on one side of the mountains flanking Val Genova, and that distant view enticed us to do the hike to get a closer look.
From the small parking space right before the Ponte Rosso (Red Bridge; even though the bridge itself wasn’t red), we walked across the bridge and then onto some farm land with a lot of cows grazing on it. There were signs pointing the way to the waterfall though the local farmers closed to gate at the far end of the bridge to prevent cows from getting out. The gate was basically a couple of long branches tied together by rope, and Julie was able to duck through them while I had to do a rather high step over them to get through.
After traversing the private farm land (in which we had also noticed some connecting riverside trail suggesting it was possible to walk here on along this side of the river), we then climbed uphill into a forested area. At that point, there were signs indicating that there was an upper waterfall (left) and a lower waterfall (right).
We first went right to go to the lower waterfall. That path followed along the stream that I suspected was the outflow of the waterfalls. It passed by a bridge and then steeply climbed up practically alongside the course of the creek until it reached an overlook with wooden railings. This overlook provided us with an angled view of the gushing lower waterfall, which I suspect might be around 20-30m tall or so (this is just a guess). Even though it took us around 20 minutes or so to get to this point, the steep uphill nature of the hike to get here made it seem like it took longer than that.
When we had our fill of the lower of the Cascate di Lares, we then briefly descended the way we came before we noticed some connecting trails going right across towards the ascending trail to the upper waterfall. It was a little tricky assuring ourselves that these shortcut trails were legitimate since there was a worrisome lack of signage, but it turned out OK for us. I suppose if we really weren’t sure about what we were doing, we could’ve descended the way we came all the way back to the junction, and then follow the signs for the upper waterfall.
In any case, when we were confident that we were going the right way (especially after finally spotting a sign that helped to reassure us), that was when the trail relentlessly climbed more steps and steep slopes. The trail was still quite obvious to follow, but given the amount of climbing we did to get to the lower waterfall and now this additional climb to get up to the upper waterfall, Julie and I were clearly breathing heavily during this ascent. But eventually after another 30 minutes or so from the lower waterfall, we finally made it to a steep grassy area with a direct view of the two-tiered upper of the Cascate di Lares (see photo at the top of this page).
Julie and I were pretty content with just getting the frontal views and taking photos and movies from the grassy hill, but there were more informal trails going even further up and closer to the pair of waterfalls. This pair of falls seemed taller than the lower waterfall so the desire wasn’t real strong for us to do any additional hiking and scrambling than what we already had to do to get here. After having our fill of the falls, it was a quick but steep downhill walk all the way back to the Ponte Rosso area, and the total time spent away from the car was about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Note that I’ve also seen this waterfall referred to as Cascata di Lares (i.e. the singular form of cascata) even though there were clearly multiple waterfalls comprising the overall falls. Go figure.
For driving directions to get to Val Genova from the city of Trento, see the Cascate di Nardis page. Once you’re on the Val Genova road and you’ve continued past Cascate di Nardis, then keep driving the narrow road for another 4km to the Ponte Rosso (Red Bridge). We found parking near the Ponte Rosso. Note that Ponte Rosso and the more public parking area by Ponte Verde (Green Bridge) are about 4.5km apart.
Beyond Ponte Rosso, there was the familiar red-circled-filled-in-with-white sign suggesting the road was a ZTL (Zona di Traffico Limitato) or only allowed for authorized vehicles at that point. Even driving between the Red and Green bridges seemed to be subject to some degree of traffic control even though it didn’t appear to be in effect during our visit on June 1, 2013.
Finally for some additional context, Trento was 61km (under an hour drive) south of Bolzano, 50km (under an hour drive) east of Riva del Garda, 213km (2-2.5 hours drive) northwest of Venice (Venezia), and 224km (over 2.5 hours drive) northeast of Milan (Milano).
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