From the MTB Guide from Bergamo to Lakes Endine and Iseo, route no. 96 on Via degli Asini (Donkey Way) takes you on a circular tour, from the lake, across the saddle Forcella di Ranzanico to Prati del Sole and back. The route ends in the centre of Spinone for a total length of 17.6 km.
The route begins at Monasterolo Castle, a fortification located where Lake Endine runs into River Cherio, near the end of the Val Cavallina cycle path. From Provincial Road SP 76, at the end of the built-up area, take Via dei Carpini until you reach the river: here turn right to go upstream. Go past the barrier and continue along the dirt track until you reach a small bridge over river Cherio: cross it and, without continuing along the stream, go uphill towards Spinone al Lago.
Take care when crossing the state road at the bottom of the valley. Now go up Via I Maggio and then turn right into Via XXV Aprile. Shortly afterwards turn left and follow the footpath along a ditch until you end up on Via alla Fonte, where you turn right. Go past the springs named Fonti San Carlo Spinone and, with a short diversion along Via del Tuf, you can cycle up to the Sorgente Spinosa spring. Alternatively, proceed towards the town centre and cycle through it, continuing along Via Armando Diaz, then turning left into Via Spineda, which later becomes a track.
Follow the slightly uphill path on the hillside for just over 1.5 km. It is easy cycling for most of the route, with the exception of a few short steep sections. Follow the main track and do not leave it until you reach the provincial road that climbs to Ranzanico. Follow it until you reach the centre of the village where, from the small square behind the town hall, you turn right into Via Silvio Pellico, which you follow until you take the steep Via Diaz that branches off to the left. This last road joins a hairpin bend of a road with restricted traffic, which you will follow up to the Forcella di Ranzanico saddle.
The asphalt ascent has some steep but not extreme stretches, and surprising panoramic views of the lake and Val Cavallina, with the Colli di San Fermo massif rising on the opposite side. When you reach the Forcella (saddle), you will intersect the descending track and so you can avoid any ascent until you reach Prati del Sole. Needless to say, we recommend that you make this last effort in order to savour the beauty of the places that you go through. Then, from the saddle, go back down by following the asphalt road towards Peia.
At a height of 890 metres you join the road that climbs from Peia: turn right and go uphill to Prati del Sole. After a tough climb on a concrete surface, the road becomes a dirt track and continues towards Monticelli, where you will meet the signed path CAI (Italian Alpine Club) 513, and the descent begins. Turn right and follow the CAI path descending towards Forcella di Ranzanico: follow a dirt road that crosses meadows and pastures, passing near some farmsteads. Following the track marked with signs, leave the road and take a path on the left that leads back to the Forcella.
From here, go downhill for a few metres to the left along the tarmac road, and soon, on the right, take the path to Ranzanico (CAI trail 618). Go downhill for a few metres and leave this path, continuing to the right and following the signs to Sorgente di Bondo (Bondo Spring). The path runs diagonally without any particular difficulty. When you reach the spring, cross the small valley and continue downhill; the first section is steep. Do not take the turnings on the left, and continue along the path, which becomes increasingly narrow and wild, but notably beautiful. You will encounter a steep section with narrow hairpin bends and some very technical passages, and then some sections on a gravelly, rough surface. The long diagonal ends on a concrete road at Piazza del Vento.
Now cycle through the attractive village of Bianzano, passing the parish church of San Rocco and the Suardi Castle. At the foot of the castle, once you have crossed the provincial road, follow the CAI 605 trail and take the paved mule track known as “Via degli Asini”, the old road between Bianzano and Spinone. Initially the mule track is wide enough for vehicles, but it soon narrows and continues its descent through woods and meadows, a pleasant track with a well-maintained surface. The descent ends in the centre of Spinone al Lago. Cross it on your way down to the lake (Via Diaz, Via Verdi and Via dei Panni). At the lakeside, turn right and follow the footpath towards the small bridge over river Cherio and Monasterolo Castle, after which you return to the starting point.
TECHNICAL DATA SHEET
Itinerary style: free ride
Type of terrain: Cycle track 5%. Paved road 61%. Paved/concrete road 0%. Hard core/dirt track 6%. Mule track 6%. Trail 22%.
Period: all year round
Starting point: 340 m, Monasterolo Castle
Coordinates: N45 45.416 E9 55.165
Maximum altitude reached: 1070 m Prati del Sole
Vertical height difference: 850 m
Total length: 17.6 km
Time required: 2/3 hours
Technical difficulty: 3 moderate
Physical difficulty: 2 easy
Uphill cyclability: 100%
Downhill cyclability: 100%
Mountain lodges, B&Bs and/or points for assistance: many along the route
Water supply: Ranzanico, Sorgente di Bondo