The Balur Refuge
Beautiful beech woods and broad Alpine pastures are the attractions in this excursion to a little frequented part of the Valle Gesso. There is a spectacular view from the heights around the Balur Refuge. Be sure not to miss seeing the Dragonera spring near the start of the excursion.
[Information panel on site]
The Dragonera Spring
The monte Balour
On the outskirts of the village of Roaschia (803 m), a small paved road begins to the right of the provincial road, leading up to the nearby Dragonera spring. The route follows the road until the first switchback to the left, where the footpath for the Dragonera spring
begins(829 m, a detour of just a few minutes and strongly recommended). Not much further on, the little road ends in a small clearing, to the right of which there is the start of a dirt road. This rises steeply, alternating paved tracts and dirt: it crosses over the stream that flows down the Vallone della Freida four times on cement bridges sturdy enough for vehicular traffic. After the fourth bridge there is a fork: the route abandons the road (paved in this tract), which leads to the left for Tetti Virutra, and instead follows the dirt track to the right.
The track immediately climbs steeply uphill, then forks: the left fork again leads to Tetti Virutra, and the route takes the fork to the right. After a few meters, the dirt track narrows to a trail.
Climbing at a steep incline among thickets of saplings and brush, the trail enters a beech wood. The trail continues to climb in a series of switchbacks, then a very long traverse leads out of the forest.
Passing by some turnoffs to the left, the trail turns right and joins the dirt road leading to the Passo del Van pass.
The route follows the road to the left until reaching the Gias Fontana Fredda (1588 m, 2 hours and 30 minutes from Roaschia).
The route continues on a comfortable path to a small bowl above the gias, where it turns sharply to the left (east-northeast). After a long traverse through pasture fields, the trail climbs up the last, brief uphill tract and comes to the Balur Refuge (1780 m, 35 minutes from the Gias Fontana Fredda).
SNCF line TER Provence Alpes-Côte d'Azur For travel in the PACA region and towards Cuneo www.ter-sncf.com/pac
Trenitalia for travel in the Piedmont region https://www.trenitalia.com/it.html
Access and parking
From Borgo San Dalmazzo drive up the Valle Gesso to Andonno and turn left onto the bridge that crosses over the Gesso torrent at that point, then turn right for Roaschia.
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