FATMAP difficulty grade
This hike to the summit of Pizzo Cefalone from Campo Imperatore is a fantastic half-day excursion in Gran Sasso National Park, offering incredible views along the entire route! While it's considered one of the easiest summits in the Apennine Mountains, the entire hike is by no means easy. The technical difficulty of this route comes in three distinct sections.
Upon leaving Campo Imperatore, the singletrack running along the side of the mountain ridge is smooth, nontechnical, and rolls along at a very mellow grade.
It's incredible how smooth and easy this section of trail is for the absolutely-stunning views that you can enjoy of the valley below! For a truly easy hike from Campo Imperatore, consider doing a short out-and-back on this section. The second half of the traverse gets a bit more difficult.
The grade kicks up as you cross a small hilltop, and the footing gets more technical.
You'll have to negotiate small rock ledges, steeper climbs, and some loose, rolling rocks underfoot.
Some sections are also quite exposed as you traverse a couple of narrow rock ledges with dramatic fall exposure to the downhill side.
These aren't exceedingly challenging, but the trail will start to feel a bit airy, which might put some people on edge. The final push to the summit of Pizzo Cefalone gets more technical still.
You'll begin by climbing a series of steep, eroded switchbacks, but will soon have to switch to rock scrambling.
The final few pitches require sustained rock scrambling requiring the use of all of your limbs.
While you're able to tuck into a few corners so the scrambling doesn't feel so airy, in a few spots, a fall promises serious injury...
This scrambling makes for an "Extreme" hiking difficulty rating, but it would only rank as an easy or moderate alpine climbing objective.
The previous route uploaded to FATMAP rated this hike as "Easy," but it's actually an easy alpinism route, not an easy hiking route. Even so, athletic hikers with basic rock climbing skills who aren't afraid of exposure will be able to conquer the final pitches of the climb without too much difficulty, soon reaching the summit of the mountain.
The views from the top are to die for! You'll enjoy expansive 360-degree vistas of the valley below and the surrounding mountains, including Corno Grande, the highest peak in the range, looming high above.
After the challenges you just overcame to reach the summit of Pizzo Cefalone, are you feeling excited about the challenges that Corno Grande offers, or intimidated? After you've finished on the summit, you can either retrace your steps to Campo Imperatore, or you can add some bonus miles to Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi.
If you took the cable car from Fonte Cerreto to Campo Imeratore, you also have the option to hike all the way down the mountainside back to Fonte Cerreto.
For these options and more, be sure to consult your offline downloads in FATMAP.