Su Gorropu Canyon is a natural formation that divides Orgosolo’s and Urzulei’s municipalities, in the heart of Sardinian Supramonte. It was excavated by millennia of water flowing, especially by the Rio Flumineddu, but also by the rain and ancient geological events.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Supramonte, Sardinia.
The canyon is about 1,500 meters long (about 5,000 feet) and, in its deepest parts, goes as deep as 500 meters (1,640 feet): this makes it one of the biggest canyons in Europe. The area’s features and the canyon’s unique conformation have, with time, created a special micro-environment where both common plants and animals, and endemic species that only live here, coexist peacefully and prosperously.
Of course, such a wonderful natural beauty enjoys its amount of fame: it’s one of Sardinia’s top hiking and climbing destinations. Tons of visitors choose to adventure here and spend an incredible day immersed in the wildest heart of Sardinian nature, of course with the right equipment and usually with an expert guide – Su Gorropu Canyon hike can be quite challenging, don’t underestimate it.
Since I have hiked most of the trails in the area, I thought I’d share some basic information that would help you to pick a trail and make the most of it.
Gorropu Canyon Hikes
There are several hiking trails, suitable for different types of people of varying difficulty levels, from easy-medium ones to extremely challenging ones. The best starting points are from Urzulei and Dorgali. Many hotels in the area organize group hikes with a guide, so check with your accommodation. Here is a list of the most popular trails.
Ghenna Silana trails starts from the homonymous pass. The trail is about 4 km (2.5 miles) and 2 hrs long one way, and it’s a mix of simple hikes and incredible scenic views. Every part of the hike is well-signaled by green, yellow, and red patches, and it’s absolutely forbidden to try and take a different path than the one marked, as you might get lost very easily.
The walk is filled with ancient traces of human life, and lucky encounters with the local fauna, and will lead you through the canyon’s bottom by following the Rio Flumieddu River’s course. Once you reach the end of the hike – and the info point on site – you can decide if you want to hike your way back or wait for a jeep to take you again to Ghenna Silana Pass. Alternatively, you can also continue all the way to Sa Barca Bridge and end up in Dorgali – this is only doable if you have someone picking you up from there!
Keep in mind the trail is a steep downhill on the way to the canyon, which means it is a steady uphill walk on the way back.
Campo Base Gorropu
The hike that starts from Gorropu Base camp is the easiest one of the many you can join. A jeep brings you from the camp to a pretty area nearby the Rio Flumineddu, from where you can start making your way through the incredible scenery of the canyon. The hike is about 45 minutes long and the jeep will then bring you back to the base camp.
Sa Barca Bridge trail
One of the nicest trails leading to Gorropu Gorge – and in fact my favorite – this trail, which starts in the parking lot of Rifugio Gorropu, is of moderate difficulty. The trail begins roughly 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) outside of Dorgali and will take you on a 14-kilometer (8.7 miles) hike there and back crossing the Sa Barca bridge and continuing towards Gorropu Canyon. The hike takes between 4 and 5 hours of solid walking in total.
You will walk for around two hours along the Rio Flumineddu all the way to the mouth of the gorge. Closer to the entrance of the gorge you will find some nice natural pools but depending on the season there really isn’t much water. The overall hike (there and back) takes between 4 and 5 hours.
This is the longest and most challenging hike and it requires a high level of stamina, so don’t try it if you aren’t used to physical activity. The 13 kilometers (about 8 miles) starting from the Abba Arva Bridge are a showcase of everything that you can see in the Gorropu Canyon, from the most common plants to the rarest rock formations. There is a huge variety of challenges and obstacles, so always keep in mind to proceed with extra care.
This is the longest hike as it takes about 8 hours and it’s only available with a guide and for expert hikers – don’t attempt it if you are not fit. It crosses all of the canyon and its hidden corners so to show visitors the best of Su Gorropu Canyon.
Practical Information For Your Gorropu Canyon Hike
Tickets to Su Gorropu Canyon
While all trails to get to Su Gorropu Gorge are free to access, there is a fee to access the canyon itself. This is €5 for adults and €3,50 for kids. You can buy the tickets at the kiosks at the various entrance points. Cash is preferred and you will be better off carrying small change.
You can definitely hike to Gorropu Canyon independently, most trails are easy to follow if only a bit challenging. If you’d rather join a guided hike (if anything, because it includes transportation to the beginning of the trail), you will have several options, typically costing from €50 up for a tour that includes transportation.
How to get to the beginning of the trail
For the Ghenna Silana trail, head to Urzulei and from Urzulei take State Road SP37 and SS125 Borgata Badualga. It’s a 15 minutes drive to the area.
For the Campo Base trail, you need to get to Dorgali and from Dorgali follow State Road SS125 Borgata Badualga and drive for about 20 mins towards Su Gorropu. You will get to a parking lot where you will find a kiosk and that’s where the trail begins.
The best time to hike Su Gorropu Canyon
Gorropu Canyon is an excellent attraction almost year round. The microclimate makes for good weather and bearable temperatures from September to the end of April, and the only season when it’s absolutely not advised to hike the canyon is the summer, when the sun is too strong and temperatures too hot.
Another factor to keep in mind is, of course, rain: do not plan to hike Su Gorropu Canyon after a heavy storm or any abundant rain episode. The river has a strong current that still moves the canyon rocks sometimes, and the rocks themselves become extremely slippery. Any attempt to adventure in Su Gorropu after the rain is a foolish hazard: it’s easy to get hurt!
I have done the various hikes several times at different times of year, including once in June. April is definitely the best month to hike in the area: everything is blooming and temperatures are mild. June starts being hot already!
What to wear and pack for your Gorropu Canyon hike
Hiking Su Gorropu Canyon isn’t going to be a walk in the park, no matter which trail you choose to follow.
Running shoes are not recommended – you’ll need to wear proper hiking gear, starting from the right hiking boots. Some trails might also require a helmet – especially after weather events that might have caused the risk of rocks falling – and comfortable, breathable clothes. It’s not recommended to bring hiking sticks as you will need your hands free for a good portion of the trail.
Remember to pack enough water and food for the hike (there’s nothing on the way, other than a kiosk at the beginning of the base camp hike), to bring and use sunscreen and bug repellent, and wear a hat to shade you from the sun during the hottest hours. You will need some change for the tickets and if you intend to buy a snack.
Finally, you should pack some bandaids and disinfectant for safety – it’s easy to slip or cut your skin.