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near Porto Conte Torre Nuova, Sardegna (Italia)
Easy and rewarding hike in the Foresta Demaniale Porto Conte. The track offers great views of the Capo Caccia peninsula, the coast up to Alghero and Punta Argentiera, views of cliffs and Isola Piana at Cala della Barca, pine forests, juniper trees, the opportunity to see e.g. (Asinara) donkeys, griffon vultures, sea birds, mouflons, and deer. The hike is largely on broad unpaved roads; only the ascent from the visitor center at the start to the top of Monte Timidone is on a clearly marked trail. You have to pay entrance to get into the park, and the park has limited opening hours: see http://www.parcodiportoconte.it/ for more information. Entrance fee in 2016 was a few € for a hiker (a bit more for cars); opening times between 9:00 and17:00. There is parking at the visitor center. Maps of the park are displayed on various places (see one of the photos).
From the visitor center you ascend on the green trail (sentiero verde). Near the start I observed some Asinara donkeys (you can hear donkeys bray frequently during your hike). The trail starts at 11 m and goes up to an unpaved road near the top of Monte Timidone at 322 m. The trail is well marked and goes through forest until it gets to a rocky outcrop. From here the vegetation is less dense and the views great. Arriving at the unpaved road you turn right to go to the summit (361 m) where your views are unimpeded in every direction. There is a small tower which you can climb. After having looked around you go back to the unpaved road and then continue south on this road. This road descends towards Tramariglio, offering great views, passing through pine and juniper forests. You descend all the way to 40 m, where the unpaved road ends at another unpaved road and a fence around a holiday village. You walk around the village and continue through planted pine forests until you get to a firebreak on the edge of the forest. Here you walk between higher pines and lower maquis shrubland. A bit further you turn left through the maquis to get to a magnificent viewpoint of Isola Piana and steep cliffs at Cala della Barca (35 m). After having looked at the view and the sea birds you go back to the firebreak and then turn left to get to a forest road taking you north towards a gravel road. In the cliffs/mountains on your left griffon vultures breed. The gravel road connects to the visitor center (yellow track on map displayed in one of the photos), if you would go left (if you do not want to climb Monte Timidone again and do not mind the occasional car). You turn right and directly left on an unpaved road (not accessible for cars) to get back to the top of Monte Timidone (red trail on the map). Here, after maybe having a second look at the views, you return on the green trail back to the visitor center. Finally, if you are up to it, you walk along a gravel road to a large field where you can see horses and donkeys and possibly deer as well (1.5 km there and back).
There are no restaurants and bars in the park, so you have to take all your water (plenty of it) and food.
At this viewpoint you can see magnificent cliffs and the bird island Isola Piana. You have a good view of the surrounding mountains, towards Torre della Pegna (south) and Punta Carone and Cristallo (north), and Monte Timidone (east).
At this point you will have a good view of a field full of (Asinara and other) donkeys, horses, and possibly deer. You need to walk down the gravel park road for about 700 m to get there.
Here you enter a forest road/firebreak on the edge of the forest, between pine forest and maquis.
Here the maquis on your left is replaced by forest and the road turns into a forest road.
Here is the summit of Monte Timidone at 361 m with great views in all directions. There is a small tower on the top.
Here starts the green trail up to Monte Timidone.
Here a winding unpaved road takes you down from Monte Timidone towards Tramariglio (part of the red trail on the map).
Here a winding unpaved road takes you up Monte Timidone (part of the red trail on the map).