Forests are starting to dress in autumnal colours. Pack your backpack or a picnic bag and head to one of these spectacular trails to enjoy the bright foliage in Abruzzo.

Every year, from the end of October to mid-November, I go in search of the best foliage display in Abruzzo. To get the most dramatic views, it is better to go higher up in the mountains. From there you can admire the bright yellow, red, and orange splashed across the landscape. You don’t need to be an experienced mountaineer though, as there are many trails at lower altitudes for easy strolls among the trees. Yellow, orange, and red –– before the arrival of the monochromatic winter.

Bosco di Sant’Antonio. AdobeStock

Bosco di Sant’Antonio, Pescocostanzo

The most popular spot to see foliage in Abruzzo is the enchanting Bosco di Sant’Antonio (Saint Anthony’s Forest), a natural reserve covering about 550 hectares. Many of its beech trees are centuries old. With autumn’s arrival, the trees’ crowns turn warm ochre-yellow and rusty-red dipped in the golden glow of the sun peeking through. Within several weeks, the leaves fall, forming a soft rustling cover on the ground. Few can resist the urge to roll and bounce on this magic carpet. A network of easy walking paths run through the forest. It is a popular place with both locals and tourists alike. There are a few bars and restaurants in the area.

The trail: To do a circular easy walk of the forest, park near the wooden chalet of the skiing school (in winter you can also rent skis and snowshoes here). There you will see the start of the trail number 10, which runs through the forest to the Hermitage of Sant’Antonio and takes about an hour to complete. If you are looking for a more challenging trail, try T4 which starts across the road from the chalet and takes you to the peak of the Rotella Mountain, with an elevation gain of about 900 metres.

How to reach: Enter in your Google Maps “Scuola Sci fondo e noleggio Bosco di Sant’Antonio, ciaspole e Nordic Walking“. Do not confuse it with the other skiing school marked on the map, which is on the outskirts of Pescocostanzo (“Scuola Italiana Sci 3000”).

Forca d’Acero. AdobeStock

Forca d’Acero, Opi

Located in the Abruzzo National Park, on the border with the region of Lazio, Forca D’Acero is a valley with magnificent swaths of forests that are coloured with bright splashes of orange and red in autumn. It is one of the most photographed foliage locations in Italy for a good reason: the road zigzags through a dense forest offering breathtaking views. 

The trail: There are several small parking areas where you can stop and wander between the majestic trees. For a longer hike, try the waymarked trails C1, F4 or D5 which you will find on any map of the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise website.

How to reach: Follow the road from Opi (AQ) to San Donato Val di Comino (FR). For the first few kilometres it runs through the forest.

foliage in Abruzzo
La Camosciara. AdobeStock

La Camosciara, Civitella Alfedena

One of my favourite places, this spectacular part of the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise puts some of the best foliage shows on earth. You can walk from Civitella Alfedena to the nature reserve of La Camosciara along easy trails with panoramic views of the mountain peaks and valleys with colourful oak, beech, and maple trees. This time of year, if you walk early in the morning or late afternoon you have a good chance of hearing deer rutting calls.  

The trail: Follow the waymarked trail (medium difficulty level) I2, which takes about an hour and a half one way.

There are also more challenging hikes to reach the mountain peaks from which you can see this area of the national park in all its autumnal splendour from above. For an easier alternative, drive to La Camosciara reserve where you can find well-beaten walking paths suitable for families.

How to reach: Follow Via Nazionale Civitella Alfedena to the small car park on the outskirts of the village. The trails starts near a small fountain, just before the parking area. La Camosciara is marked on Google Maps.

Cento Fonti. Photo by Anna Lebedeva

Valle delle Cento Fonti, Crognaleto

One of the most popular in the Laga Mountains, this medium difficulty itinerary will take you from the small village of Cesacastina to Valle delle Cento Fonti with its spectacular waterfalls. From Fosso dell’Acero the views of mountain peaks dressed in bright orange autumnal foliage stretch into the horizon. Part of the trail runs through a beechwood at the end of which you will come to a stream cascading down enormous stone slabs. Continue up to the meadows of the valley with numerous springs running through it. Trek up the peak of the Laghetta Mountain, rising to 2372 metres above sea level, to see the unforgettable colourful mosaic of the surrounding forests.

The trail: Follow the waymarked trail number 37. To shorten the walk, you can drive along the unpaved road to Fosso dell’Acero, just above the village.

How to reach: Enter Cesacastina in Google Maps. Alternatively follow the unpaved Via Trieste towards Fosso dell’Acero (enter “100 Fonti Rent Bike” in your Google Maps navigator).

Autumn is the season of the annual deer mating rut. See our article about the best places to listen to deer love songs.

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar