In today's article, I take you on a discovery of the picturesque Lake Cei, on a simple and rewarding walk to admire the vibrant colors of autumn. This experience, on my To-Do list for far too long, finally materialized in the Prà dell'Albi-Cei nature reserve in the province of Trento, at an altitude of about 930 meters, right at the base of Monte Stivo. Here, nature unfolds in all its magnificence: ancient beech, birch, and larch forests stretch as far as the eye can see, while reed beds and water mirrors adorned with water lilies create a unique environment. Along the lake's shores, small green clearings complete the landscape.

Excursion to Lago di Cei

While the short trail surrounding the lake deserves exploration in every season, it's during autumn that the scenery truly shines. An explosion of colors and warm hues adorn the trees, with ever-changing reflections dancing on the blue waters of the lake and pedestrian areas blanketed by a beautiful red carpet of fallen leaves. Adding to this magnificent natural picture is the mountain range of Bondone, dominated by Monte Stivo and Monte Cornetto, standing against the northern horizon, partly mirrored in the lake's calm waters.

Despite the unpromising weather forecasts, our trip has long been planned. With raincoats and umbrellas in our backpacks, we decide to venture forth, ready to immerse ourselves in this autumn wonderland.

Trekking Lago di Cei

Summary:Excursion to Lago di Cei

Autumn at Lago di Cei

Dati tecnici – Escursione autunnale al Lago di Cei

DifficoltàT – Turistico
Duration1:00 (A/R)
Ring tourYes
Distanza2,50 Km
Elevation gain20 m
Trail number
TypeTrekking
Date02/11/2023
Technical data

Parking at Lago di Cei

The destination of our excursion is easily accessible thanks to a convenient road and several parking lots that extend along the entire eastern side of the lake. To reach the parking lots, take the A22 motorway, exit at Rovereto Nord, and continue towards Villa Lagarina. From there, head towards the small village of Castellano and continue on the road, steadily uphill, until reaching the lake parking areas.

There are 3 main parking lots, and when we visited (autumn 2023), they were completely free. For any information, the best contact would likely be the Rovereto tourist office:

  • The first is the largest and is located along the SP20, just before reaching the water body: Parking 1
  • The second is a bit further on the left, also unpaved but considerably smaller: Parking 2
  • The third is towards the end of the lake, where you'll start seeing some houses: Parking 3
Escursione al Lago di Cei – Strada per raggiungere il algo

As we ascend, the comfortable road immerses further into a colorful broadleaf forest, entirely ablaze with orange. The temptation to stop and take a few photos even just from the roadside is strong. However, we hope to find similar views along the short route we're about to take. In a few minutes, we arrive at the first unpaved parking lot, completely deserted today due to heavy rain. The loop trail around the lake also touches this area, but we decide to move beyond and leave the car in the last parking lot.

Escursione al Lago di Cei – Ultimo parcheggio

Map: Trekking Lago di Cei

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Trekking Lago di Cei

Exiting the car, we struggle a bit to put on our boots and prepare our photography equipment without getting completely soaked, as the area lacks any cover, and the rain seems relentless. With umbrellas, raincoats, and waterproof pants, we can finally start our hike, heading towards the end of the parking lot where a prominent sign marks the beginning of the trail. Observing the surrounding landscape, I notice a playground nearby, several public bathrooms (closed today), and numerous benches. Additionally, the trail we're embarking upon is well-beaten, quite wide, and with a fairly gentle slope, indicating its popularity among tourists and suitability for almost anyone.

Excursion to Lago di Cei

We begin walking along the trail, which initially remains distant from the lake, crossing a dense forest and entering a tunnel of colorful branches and leaves. Not even 5 minutes into the walk, I stop to take the first photo of this fantastic view. The gloomy and damp weather we're experiencing is precisely what we were looking for. However, the thick clouds and varied wooded areas prevent most of the light from reaching our location, rendering the environment quite dark. Furthermore, multiple reflections on the trail and trees, caused by the rain and puddles, complicate the photography. There's no other choice but to start shooting with a tripod and immediately mount the polarizer on the lens to try and mitigate these bothersome reflections.

Foliage at Lago di Cei

After this brief passage through the forest, we make a left turn, suddenly facing the beautiful blue tones of Lago di Cei. Here, the landscape finally opens up, revealing a small descending meadow, a pier overlooking the water, several reed beds, and, of course, the small body of water surrounded by broadleaf forests. The sight is truly breathtaking. I quickly head to the pier to get a better view of all sides of the lake. The array of trees is vibrant despite the heavy rain somewhat obscuring it. What stands out more are the small colorful spots of different white and brown houses occasionally peeking through the tree branches. This spot is ideal for capturing, in a single photo, the incredible beauty of the lake during this time of year.

Foliage at Lago di Cei

As we stroll along the pier, we reconnect with the trail, pass by a fountain, a small kiosk (closed), and reach a cottage that blocks the view of the lake. The structure on our left is the VVF "Le Ninfee" Mountain Center, a hotel reserved solely for members of the fire department, so it doesn't seem open to regular tourists during its operational period. Continuing on the road, we momentarily lose sight of the water body, now covered by several trees. We then turn right and venture into a stretch that's quite muddy and full of puddles (fortunately, I have waterproof boots).

Excursion to Lago di Cei

Emerging from this muddy stretch with pants covered in mud, we find ourselves facing a beautiful green clearing, bordered by towering beech trees dropping their yellow leaves onto the grass, creating a magnificent contrast. Intrigued by these vibrant colors, we deviate from the main trail and start strolling through the meadow, sometimes taking shots of the trees and occasionally seeking shelter under their canopies (which doesn't work today, as it's raining heavily). Venturing into the small grove, we pass a small rise and regain the view of the lake, reaching its shores. Covered by this fantastic leafy canopy and lulled by the soothing sound of the rainfall, we get lost in this colorful landscape, photographing fallen tree trunks submerged in the water, the tree canopies, and a beautiful wooden house glimpsed on the opposite side of the lake.

Autumn at Lago di Cei

After numerous shots in this area, we head back to the main trail, which in this section traverses an extensive tree-lined avenue before rejoining the second parking area along the SP20. At this point, the trail would curve left and continue along the paved road. However, as it's not yet dark, we decide to turn right and head back toward the initial parking lot to take some photos of the woods in that area.

Autunno al lago di Cei – Sentiero sulla strada asfaltata

Thus, we start ascending the now-turned stream-like asphalt road, and in a few minutes, we reach the unpaved space of the parking lot. Here, a brown sign indicating "Biotopo Pra' dell'Albi" catches our interest. Upon looking at the map, I realize that from this point, a network of trails branches out, leading to marshy areas, various viewpoints, churches, mountain huts, and even some trenches. We don't have enough time to extend our loop significantly, but we still decide to hike a bit further towards the biotope. Here, the forest becomes even more spectacular, with towering trees forming a canopy above us, creating an immense colorful gallery. Alongside the wet asphalt, we find long stretches of red leaves fallen in the past few days, contributing to a truly unique spectacle. Needless to say, we spend the majority of our time taking photos, and the idea of reaching the biotope fades quickly.

Excursion to Lago di Cei

With 5:00 PM approaching (the sun should have just set), we decide to retrace our steps, return to the second parking lot, and continue along the final stretch of the trail completing the loop around the lake. Unfortunately, for some tens of meters, we're forced to walk right alongside the road. However, we soon spot a deviation leading us into a meadow and then to the eastern shore of the lake. By now, the blue hour has set in, and the view in front of us is truly spectacular: the water has turned into an intense blue, and despite the pouring rain and some slow-swimming ducks, it appears practically motionless. Ahead of us, a slender tongue of land stretches towards the center of the lake, while behind it, we see the beautiful reddish trees flourishing on a small islet. Despite the rain, I set up the tripod once again and start shooting until the remaining light fades almost entirely. The trail, after passing this stretch of the shoreline, eventually returns to the road, and in about ten minutes, we reach the parking lot where we left the car.

Other autumn excursions

Trails near Lago di Cei

Our short visit concludes here, with an overall route of just a few kilometers and almost negligible elevation gain. However, in different circumstances, I realize that it wouldn't hurt to add a slightly more challenging hike to the brief lake visit.

Chiesetta de Probizer

One possible addition to the described loop could be a brief detour to reach the small Chiesetta de Probizer, nestled within the forest along the eastern side of the lake.

Malga Cimana

Another possibility is to hike to Malga Cimana, located about 5 km from Lago di Cei (300 meters of elevation gain). The woodland walk can be approached by starting from one of the numerous trails or continuing along the paved road leading to the biotope described in this article.

Here's an article detailing the hike to Malga Cimana: Lake Cei - Malga Cimana - Trekking - Trentino (visittrentino.info)

Chiesetta di San Martino in Trasiel

Partially overlapping with the previously described trail is the loop leading to the Chiesetta di San Martino in Trasiel. Essentially, it's a slightly longer loop than the one we've covered, allowing more time to wander through the woods. Here's an article describing the Chiesetta di San Martino in Trasiel loop: Lake Cei –Prà dall’Albi • Passeggiata » Rovereto - Regio (outdooractive.com)

Excursion to Lago di Cei

Galleria fotografica – Trekking al lago di Cei

All the photos from this outing are also available in high resolution on my Facebook page: Trekking at Lago di Cei

Conclusioni e consigli – Escursione al lago di Cei in Autunno

The loop trail around Lago di Cei is undeniably a beautiful way to admire the foliage spectacle while traversing a simple path suitable for anyone. However, potential additions, deviations, and exploring side trails branching off into the woods could make this excursion slightly more adventurous and demanding, perhaps enabling the discovery of new, unmentioned views described in this article.

Lake Cei can be explored throughout the year, offering characteristic colors and features for every season.

  • In spring, for instance, one might witness the spectacular blooming of water lilies.
  • In summer, the lake, embraced by the greenery, becomes an ideal place to relax and escape the heat.
  • In winter, the entire route described can be tackled with snowshoes or crampons, allowing one to admire the completely frozen water body and the surrounding trees covered in snow.
Autumn hike to Lago di Cei

Water along the trail

The only water source along the trail is the fountain near the Centro Montano VVF "Le Ninfee" hotel (right at the beginning of the trail). I recommend using this application to quickly view all the fountains around your location: Mapy.cz Review – The Best Trekking App (stefanopoma.it)

Recommended period

  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn
  • WinterConsider whether snowshoes or crampons are necessary.
Autumn hike to Lago di Cei

PRO and CONS and Evaluation

👍Pro:

  • Simple and suitable for everyone
  • Very scenic during autumn
  • Possibilità di allungare l’escursione aggiungendo altri sentieri

👎Contro:

  • Evidentemente il luogo è pensato per essere turistico e facilmente accessibile a tutti, potrebbe essere affollato.
Autumn hike to Lago di Cei

Evaluation:

Trail signage:

Difficoltà:

Landscape:

Webcams near Lake Cei.

No webcam is presented near Lake Cei.

However, I will leave you the exact location of the location on Instagram: Link. If you find recent posts or stories you will have a clearer picture of the weather conditions.

Escursione al lago di Cei

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Some of the photos you see in this article were taken and post-produced by @stefanodosselli (Instagram page).

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