Trekking – Via Stockalper (Stockalperweg)
Spring / Summer / Autumn

Briga, in the Valais Canton, is connected to the Ossola Valley by the Via Stockalper, one of Switzerland’s twelve national cultural itineraries on the trade route created by the Baron Kaspar Jodok Stockalper.
There are actually two routes named after this renowned 17th-century businessman, entrepreneur and politician from Valais and both start in Briga, but once they reach Gondo, the first leads into the heart of the Ossola Valley through the Bognanco Valley, while the second (recently redeveloped as part of the Interregional V – A Italy Switzerland 2014-2020, TVA Project – “Il Trenino Verde delle Alpi” – The Green Train of the Alps, a driver of ecological mobility between Ossola and Valais) twists and turns along the trails and mule tracks that cross the Divedro Valley.


By updating the ancient salt road that had a junction at Sempione Pass, Stockalper launched a major trade network between Italy and France. Today, the route is a sustainable tourist attraction beckoning travellers to a land with a rich historical and naturalistic legacy.

The Via Stockalper that crosses the Divedro Valley follows the original path, but the construction of large infrastructures, including the railway and the Sempione tunnel, together with the significant consequences of landslides and floods, led to the destruction of certain sections of this historic road, condemning it to neglect. A major recovery and development process recently began, which has now made it possible to travel the original route almost in its entirety (the last recovery and development work, financed in the scope of the interregional project “Il Trenino Verde delle Alpi”, is slated for completion between late 2021 and early 2022).

The route – which has been divided into four sections, each taking a day to cover – starts in either Domodossola or Briga, but in both cases, the significant ascent makes it an option for expert hikers only.

The BLS railway and the Swiss mail bus may shorten the journey (and are currently mandatory for the section between Gondo and Iselle): travellers can enjoy the comfortable journey on board the Trenino Verde delle Alpi, starting in Domodossola and arriving in Briga in slightly over 30 minutes. This is where the itinerary from Switzerland to Italy begins, with an ascent of 1,610 metres from Briga to Sempione Pass.

The BLS Trenino Verde delle Alpi, starting in either Briga or Domodossola, has two stops in Italy: in Iselle (the start of the third section of the Via Stockalper) and Varzo (the start of the fourth), so it may also be used as a way of reducing the ascent from Domodossola. Another recommended option might therefore be to travel on board the panoramic BLS trains in the section from Domodossola to Varzo or to Iselle, then choosing one of these locales to complete the itinerary to Briga, in the Valais Canton. From here, travellers may return to Domodossola on board a BLS train.

Another important note concerning the section between Gondo (in Switzerland) and Iselle (Italy) is that this section of the trail is not 100% viable, and so the Swiss mail bus must be used to cover the distance between the two towns. The bus can also be useful if you’d like to shorten and facilitate the journey, e.g., by reaching Sempione Pass – the highest point on the entire Via Stockalper – from Briga or from Domodossola.

Useful info


If you choose this option, the Via Stockalper in any case remains a long, challenging hike, recommended for well-trained excursionists in excellent physical condition.

The four hamlets along the historic road are described in detail below, starting in Briga and arriving in Domodossola.

Section 1: Briga – Sempione Pass

  • Starting point: Briga 800 metres above sea level, which can be reached with the Trenino Verde delle Alpi from Domodossola, Varzo and Iselle
  • Itinerary: Briga, Lingwurm, Brei, Chumma, Schalberg, Grund, Taferna and Sempione Pass
  • Distance 13.6 km
  • Ascent/descent: 1610 m ascent, 250 m descent
  • Time: 5h 50 from Briga to Sempione Pass, 4h 25 from Sempione Pass to Briga
  • Difficulty: E (difficult only due to the significant ascent)
  • Recommended period: June – October
  • Trails: follow the signs with the brown arrows for “Stockalperweg” (trail # 90),
  • Points of interest: Historic centre of Briga, Stockalper Castle in Briga, Saltina gulch and mule track, Taferna Valley, Ancient medieval site of Grund, Sempione Pass, Geo Chavez contemporary art path

Section 2: Sempione Pass – Gondo

  • Starting point: Sempione Pass 2005 metres above sea level, which can be reached with the Swiss mail bus Briga – Gondo – Domodossola line (either from Briga or from Domodossola)
  • Itinerary: Sempione Pass (Old Stockalper lodge), Nideralp, Chlusmatte, Engiloch, Maschihus, Egga, Simplon Dorf, Gabi, Alte Kaserme and Gondo
  • Distance 18.7 km
  • Ascent/descent: 20 m ascent, 1220 m descent
  • Time: 4h 40 from Sempione Pass to Gondo, 6h 15 from Gondo to Sempione Pass
  • Difficulty: E
  • Recommended period: June – October
  • Trails: follow the signs with the brown arrows for “Stockalperweg” (trail # 90),
  • Notes: The trail winds through the valley floor alongside the canton road. This charming path begins at Alte Kaserme (the Sempione transport history museum), with metal walkways and suspended bridges over the canyon of the Gole di Gondo.
  • Points of interest: Neapolitan lodge, Old Stockalper lodge (Alter Spittel), bridges on the Neapolitan road, historic centre of Simplon-Dorf and Ecomuseum of Sempione, Gole di Gondo, Museum of Alte Kaserne, Gondo Fort, Stockalper Tower in Gondo (hotel and gold museum), Geo Chavez contemporary art path

Section 3: (Gondo) – Iselle – Trasquera – Varzo

  • Starting point: Iselle 675 metres above sea level, which can be reached with the Trenino Verde delle Alpi of BLS or with the Swiss mail bus Briga – Gondo – Domodossola line
  • Itinerary: Iselle, Pianezza, Chiezzo, Trasquera, Chiesa Parrocchiale, Bertonio and the centre of Varzo.
  • Distance 8.0 km
  • Ascent/descent: 450 m ascent, 550 m descent
  • Time: 3h 25 from Iselle to Varzo, 3h 25 from Varzo to Iselle
  • Difficulty: E
  • Recommended period: April – October
  • Trails: F34 to Trasquera, then F00
  • Notes: In Varzo, at the site of the Ente Parco Veglia Devero, a multimedia museum tells the archaeological history of these valleys and, in particular, of the Mesolithic era hunters that 8,000 years ago hunted in the Veglia Alp basin.
  • Points of interest: the rest of the Neapolitan barracks in Paglino, panoramic view of the Sempione’s 4000m from Trasquera, the parish church of San Gervasio and Protasio in Trasquera, villas and parishes of the Varzo hamlets, the parish church of San Giorgio in Varzo (with the portico donated by Stockalper to show his gratitude), the medieval tower of Varzo.

Section 4: Varzo - Domodossola

  • Starting point: Varzo 565 metres above sea level, which can be reached with the Trenino Verde delle Alpi of BLS or with the Swiss mail bus Briga – Gondo – Domodossola line
  • Itinerary: Centre of Varzo, Cattagna, Altreggiolo, Riceno, Campaglia, Mognatta, Bridge on the Diveria, Ponte Nuovo, Walkway, Scarpia, Pinone, Borgo dell’Era, Crevoladossola Church, Factory, Crevola Bridge, Bosco, Canei, Monte, Ardignaga, Mocogna, Castanedo, centre of Domodossola, Domodossola railway station
  • Distance 18.5 km
  • Ascent/descent: 400 m ascent, 700 m descent
  • Time: 5h 00 from Varzo to Domodossola, 5h 10 from Domodossola to Varzo
  • Difficulty: E
  • Recommended period: April – November
  • Trails: F00 to Crevoladossola, A00a to Domodossola
  • Points of interest: Villas of Cattagna, Ponte Nuovo, Walkway and Neapolitan Bridge over the Diveria River, Crevoladossola marble quarries, Crevoladossola parish church, rural architecture in Bosco and Canei, Ardignaga Tower, historic centre of Domodossola
Historic, artistic and cultural value
Natural value
Ideal for
You will discover
Guide to itineraries and useful info
Ideal for
You will discover
Guide to itineraries and useful info
Choose your
mountain guide
IAT di Domodossola
Piazza Matteotti (inside the railway station)
28845 Domodossola (VB)
See map
Choose your
tour or nature guide

You might also be interested in...