The Paper Mill Valley hike in Toscolano Maderno is probably one of the most beautiful hikes on Lake Garda. When Sabrina suggested this hike near our accommodation* I was not that enthusiastic, because this hike did not sound that exciting at all. But I was so wrongr: The hike turned out to be the most beautiful on Lake Garda for us. Why we liked the hike that much and what you have to consider on the Paper Mill Valleyl hike, we tell you now.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
The Paper Mill Valley on Lake Garda
The origin of the name of the Paper Mill Valley (Valle delle Cartiere) is not far-fetched, because in earlier times there were really paper mills here and paper was actually produced (since 1381). The power of the Toscolano torrent was used to drive machines and, thanks to the high quality paper, the valley, with its up to 60 paper mills, became a center of paper production in the Republic of Venice.
After an outbreak of plague in 1630, the valley, or rather the inhabitants and workers, had difficulty recovering and the paper mill valley never regained its original importance. With the beginning of industrialization, the valley lost its raison d’être and so in 1962 the very last mill closed.
All that remained were the ruins of the former factories and the beautiful valley with its hiking trails. Nowadays, the Paper Mill Valley on Lake Garda is really a great recreational area which is well developed for tourism, but by far not as crowded as other destinations on Lake Garda.
During our hike in June 2022 we met hardly any other people and had the nature and the beautiful landscape almost for ourselves. Another reason why you should definitely visit this Lake Garda highlight.
Paper Mill Valley Hike on Lake Garda
Recommendation for a Hotel at Lake GardaGarda Friends Apartments We stayed at Lake Garda in a beautiful apartment overlooking Lake Garda. You have everything you need for a great stay here. You can even use the large garden which was really great for us with our dog Aaro. Also at Lake Garda or at the paper mill valley hike you are in a few minutes.
- spacious apartments
- Possibility to use the garden
- own parking place & balcony with lake view
- WIFI & TV
Arrival, Parking & Trail Head
The town of Toscolano Maderno is located on the west side of Lake Garda and can be easily reached by car. From the town to the start of the hike is just a stone’s throw. There is an official parking lot for the paper mill valley hike, where you can park your car for free and start walking directly.
But we would recommend you to look for a parking place in the small and cute village Toscolano Maderno and start walking from there. If you walk the circular route that we recommend, you will come back at the northern end of the village and you won’t have to walk back to the paper mill valley. By the way, you can find the official parking lot here at Google Maps. This is also the start of the hike through the Paper Mill Valley.
Our Experiences with the Paper Mill Valley Hike
When you start walking from the parking lot, you will first walk along wide paths, where you will sometimes be met by cars. Because in the valley there are also some private houses. While walking you can feel the splashing of the Toscolano stream right next to you, which used to be much louder when there was not yet the Lago di Valvestino reservoir, which has tamed this stream very much.
After a few hundred meters, on your left, you will reach the recommendable Museo della Carta, the paper museum. The entrance fee of 7 Euro is not cheap, but you will learn a lot of interesting facts about the original way of making paper. When you have passed the museum, there are several possibilities to get down to the creek. This was especially for our dog Aaro a welcome cooling. Here he could romp around without restraint.
Back on the actual hiking trail, you walk past the ruins of the old Maina Superiore factory. Nature has now reclaimed the buildings and you can discover the old factory ruins on the paths that have been laid out. A little later, on your left, you’ll find a large ruin that looks more like an old excavation site. It is also located directly at a small brook, so that our dog Aaro can again be happy about a little cooling.
You can’t go much further, because from here on there are many private properties and you can’t go any further. If you want to finish the hike in peace, then you can simply hike back the same way.
But we would recommend you to take the steep way uphill and hike the way towards Gaino. So you can finish the hike as a circular route and see again a completely different landscape and also pass a great Lake Garda viewpoint.
First it goes steeply uphill which is quite exhausting with the Italian temperatures. At the top you can see the paper mill valley in all its splendor and then head towards the village of Gaino. There you can take a little break and have something to eat in one of the cafes. But we took the quickest way back towards Toscolano Maderno. Here, by the way, we used the app maps.me to find the fastest and best way.
Unfortunately, you have to walk a bit on a large country road on which there is also no pedestrian path. But then you can quickly turn onto a small path from which you can also catch a spectacular view of Lake Garda. From there the road goes downhill in switchbacks and if you look closely you will always find small paths that bring you down the shortest way.
So you don’t have to walk along the road, you just cross it and walk almost as the crow flies towards the lake. We found the way really interesting, because you run past many villas with pools and catches the one or other view in dreamlike properties with lake view.
The way back goes pretty quickly and soon we are already arrived back in the village where we have first treated ourselves to an ice cream. By the way, you can also find the hiking route here at Outdooractive.
Tips for the Paper Mill Valley Hike
Paper Mill Valley Hike with Dog
We did the hike with our dog Aaro and had a great time together. Since you walk half the time along the stream and always have the opportunity to get directly to the stream, the dog has enough opportunity to cool down.
On the way back there are no water points, but the path is mostly in the shade
Is the hike strenuous or can it be done with children?
We didn’t find the hike that strenuous. It was only demanding when we hiked uphill towards Gaino. But you can also skip this part and just walk back the same way if you are traveling with small children or less athletic people.