Lago di Loie

Hiking Trail · Cogne and Gran Paradiso
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10.8 km
5:00 h
840 m
840 m
Loop Scenic Family friendly Geological highlights Botanical highlights Faunistic highlights

A beautiful circular walk that takes in the lovely Lago di Loie and the Bardoney Valley, affording superb mountain views of the surrounding mountains and the Italian side of Mt Blanc.

This beautiful hike in the Vallon di Cogne offers varied landscapes and fabulous panoramas. Starting from Lillaz (a short journey via the free bus from Cogne) the trail starts by the Lillaz waterfalls before ascending through quiet and shady forest of pine, larch and fir. After the initial climb, you will emerge into Alpine pasture before making the final short push to the crystal blue waters of the Lago di Loie at 2354m. Along the way, enjoy views of Monte Bianco (Mt Blanc) at the end of the valley as well as the distinctive local peaks Grivola (3969m) and Punta Fenilia (3055m). Descending via the Vallon de Bardoney, look out for chamois and marmots at ground level, but be sure to look up at the remnant glacier of Torre Lavina at the head of the valley. After descending past more dramatic waterfalls, the path joins the Alta Via 2 trail to return to Lillaz.

Author’s recommendation

Today’s walk starts in Lillaz. Lillaz is a 4 km walk from Cogne, but we recommend you take advantage of the free local bus service to access the start point and return to your hotel. The bus timetable is available online, from the Tourist Information centre in Cogne and at your hotel. Should you wish to walk from Cogne to Lillaz (or return this way), then follow the directions in our description of the Lillaz Waterfalls walk. Further information about the bus service can be found here:

Highest point
2395 m
Lowest point
1615 m
Best time of year

Safety information

Some parts of today’s trail and rocky and loose, so take care where you are placing your feet and don’t rush, enjoy the views! Take a picnic, as there are many scenic spots to sit and eat.


No specialist equipment is required for this walk, but sturdy footwear is recommended for negotiating the rocky path (it would be easy to turn an ankle on the descent route) and walking poles to aid balance.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Lago di Loie

The blue waters of the Lago di Loie nestle in a corrie (glacial basin) overlooked by the grey peaks of Punta de Loie. The name, also spelt Loye, comes from “lex” a word used locally to refer to the large slabs of rock used for roofing houses.  This style of roofing is to be found through the Aosta area.  The banks of the Lago di Loie are covered in beautiful alpine flowers: purple asters and black vanilla orchids. Look out for the frogs (red and green) that live in the lake and if you are early/late in the day, you may also see chamois close to the lake shore.



As the path descends into the Vallon de Bardoney, be sure to keep a look out amongst the rocks for marmots. Marmots (Marmota Marmota) are a member of the squirrel family.  They measure 50-60cm in length, with a furry tail about 15cm long.  Weighing 3-6 kg, they are sturdy creatures and have very dense brown-grey fur.  Ground-dwellers, they have forelegs that are perfectly adapted to digging holes. The young are born in June and July and after just 40 days they leave the den to become self-sufficient. Marmots hibernate through the winter in their burrows. Their preferred habitat are sunny Alpine slopes covered in grass, rock and boulders. Marmots are very social animals, and as they are not overly shy you are very likely to seem them on this walk and in other parts of the Gran Paradiso National Park. Listen for the distinctive chirping and whistling sounds from rocky outcrops.  


Alta Via 2

After descending from the Vallon de Bardoney, you will join the Alta Via 2 trail for the return leg of the walk to Lillaz.  The AV2 is a long-distance route that crosses the rugged southern part of the Aosta Valley and the Gran Paradiso National Park. The Aosta Valley runs from Mt Blanc in the west to Aosta in the east, and the Gran Paradiso national park sits south of the main valley.  Heading due south from the main valley a succession of ravine-like valleys (including Valsavarenche and the Cogne Valley) bisect the Gran Paradiso National Park and the AV2 route traverses the mountainous areas and the valleys. Usually walked in 12 – 14 days, the full route passes through the heart of the area with Mt Blanc (Monte Bianco to the Italians) at the finale. Macs Adventure offers the best section, starting in Cogne and finishing in Courmayeur.


Food & Drink

After leaving Lillaz, there are no places to buy food or drinks (and no places to fill water bottles) so be sure to take supplies with you. There are plenty of great picnic spots on the route today; choose a panoramic viewpoint or a flower-strewn seat beside the Lago de Loie or the Urtier River


The bus stop in Lillaz (1615 m)
45.595258, 7.390437
32T 374462 5050339


The bus stop in Lillaz

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – Start your walk at the bus stop in Lillaz.  With the river to your right, you will be looking in the direction of the Lillaz Cascate waterfalls. TURN RIGHT over the wooden bridge to enter the village of Lillaz. Follow the signs for Cascate de Lillaz, walking STRAIGHT AHEAD into the village.  Note that there are WCs and a water fountain near the bus stop. As you walk into the village, ignore the small roads to right and left and walk into the centre then TURN LEFT after passing a gelato shop following the signs for Cascate de Lillaz (path no. 6) past the Bar Cascate towards the waterfalls.

0.50 km – TURN RIGHT to follow the path no.12 signposted “Lago de Loie – 2 hrs 10 mins) up the hillside.

0.65 km – The gradient of the path eases as you enter a small clearing. TURN LEFT, ignoring other small paths.  You will soon pick up familiar yellow signage and arrows indicating that you are following path no.12 to Lago di Loie.  Ascend the steep stepped path through the forest.  The trail is well-defined.

2.20 km – Emerge from the treeline to find yourself at 2200m in the pasture named on the map Alpe de Loie (small ruined huts to the right of the trail).  There is a large yellow signpost here indicating path no.12 and Lago de Loie – 25 minutes.  Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD on the trail before the path BEARS LEFT across the more open valley. The path soon crosses a band of rocky boulders – be sure to look out for the yellow arrows painted on rocks to stay on the trail.

2.60 km – After passing through a stand of trees, the path continues to ascend through another small band of large flat rocks. Take care and continue to look for the yellow arrows.

3.00 km – At 2350m, the Lago de Loie reveals itself in front of you.  Be sure to turn around to admire the view behind you of the Cogne Valley and Monte Bianco as well as the view of the lake ahead. TURN LEFT to continue following path no.12 around the north-west side of the lake.

3.20 km – Leaving the lake behind you, continue to ascend following the yellow markers for path no.12.

3.40 km – At 2390m, crest the ridge to gain a fabulous viewpoint.  There is a yellow signpost here – take the direction indicated for Bardoney (40 mins) and Lillaz (2 hours) STRAIGHT AHEAD. Note that the timing for return to Lillaz is optimistic.

4.10 km – The Bardoney Valley comes into view at approx. 2370m. From the path descends to the valley floor. Take care on the loose rocky path.

4.70 km – At 2230m, the path splits. BEAR LEFT here, taking the path around the grassy bowl, not through the centre as the ground is boggy and wet.  Keep an ear and an eye out for marmots here.

5.10 km – Follow the path to the left of the cairn to skirt around another boggy area of ground in the bottom of the valley. Be sure to look up to the peaks of Punta Nera and the remains of the glacier below Torre Lavina.

5.30 km – Come to another yellow sign post.  TURN LEFT here in the direction indicated of Lillaz, this time showing path no.13G – Lillaz 1hr 30mins.  This is the junction with the Alta Via 2 trail. Enjoy the views and the dwarf pine, dwarf juniper, blueberry plants and alpine flowers. Bardoney means Rumex Acetosella, the sheep sorrel plant that grows prolifically in this valley.

6.10 km – The trail descends alongside the raging torrent of the Bardoney River. There are many places to stop and view the falls.

6.50 km – At 2130m, you will reach the intersection of paths and a yellow signpost. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD following signs for Lillaz, now labelled path no.2 again. The path descends through pine, fir and larch with the river to your right.  Take care on the rocky track.

7.50km – Continue to descend through the woodland, looking out for the yellow no.2 markers and arrows painted on rocks.

8.60 km – At 1860m, the path emerges into a large clearing.  Continue STRAIGHT ON here following the narrow path through the trees, ignoring the larger track to right and left.

8.80 km – Reach a wooden bridge, TURN RIGHT over the bridge following the wooden signs for Lillaz. TURN LEFT after crossing the bridge and follow the wider path to the left. The Alta Via 2 trail joins near here.

9.00 km – Passing the beautiful small hamlet of Gollies with the houses to your right, continue STRAIGHT AHEAD.

9.30 km – After walking through a meadow, the path splits without signage.  BEAR LEFT.

9.40 km – The path splits again, take the path down the hill ignoring the path to the right.

9.80 km – Pass a small shrine (to your left). From here the path zig-zags down the hill to Lillaz village affording views of the waterfalls (although they are better viewed from the other side of the gorge). Take care of the precipitous drops when looking down at the falls, and watch your step on the rocky path. The path is marked both no.2 and no.13 in places here – look out for the familiar yellow waymarks.

10.20 km – You will reach another yellow signpost. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD to descend to Lillaz, signposted 20 minutes.

10.30 km – Arrive at a junction of paths. Take the small path here that BEARS LEFT down the hillside.  Ignore other tracks (even numbered ones and to Lillaz) to right and left.

10.40 km – Another path junction – ignore the turn to the left and BEAR RIGHT to descend to Lillaz.

10.60 km – After descending a set of stone steps with a wooden handrail, you arrive to the valley floor in Lillaz. TURN RIGHT to return to the parking area and bus stop, a short walk away.

10.80 km – Finish your walk at the bus stop where you began. Choose to sample the gelato in Lillaz or visit the waterfalls if you wish.  Alternatively, take the bus back to Cogne for further rest and refreshment.

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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Macs Adventure User
Fiona Marshall
Updated: July 24, 2019

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H Hoit
August 26, 2019 · Community
Excellent walk with stunning views of e.g. the Mont Blanc. Made it with my wife and sun of 8 years old.

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