Perhaps this is the most popular of all the official hiking trails within the boundaries of the Pollino National Park. It’s presumably the most populated, too, – especially at weekends and during the summer holiday season.
The traditional starting point for this short but trying hike is generally Colle dell’Impiso (from italian “impiccato” – “hill of the hanged man”). With an altitude of 1573m / 5160ft it is the highest pass accessible by vehicle, and surely the most spacious of the very few parking opportunities around.
From the top of the hill, do not choose the sinuous and most evident hiking trail (to the left) but the narrow one gently dipping towards the extensive beech forest. After a 20-30 minutes walk you will reach the upper part of the clearings known as Piani di Vacquarro.
Turn right now and follow the broad and winding forest track that ascends steadily towards Colle Gaudolino. Where the forest opens up into the glade, keep slightly to the left and aim for a small group of freestanding trees. Pass them on the right hand side and keep direction. Where the terrain starts rising again you should easily be able to find the onset of the beautiful but toilsome trail that constitutes the west route to the peak of Mt. Pollino.
At approximately 1900m / 6200ft, where the path flattens out again, you have come to the mountain’s vast southern doline. From this point on there is no obligatory path to follow. Keep hard to the left, aiming for a singular pine tree on the peculiar rock formation one can already see from afar, and you may feel tempted to conquer the summit in a final push.