The Valdidentro Decauville from Arnoga to Cancano
The sleddog trail on the light railway route near Bormio and Livigno
The trail of the sleddog excursions organised by the Husky Village in Upper Valtellina, both in winter on sleds and in summer and spring on dog-pulled karts, runs along the initial kilometres of one of the best hiking routes near Bormio and Livigno: the Arnoga-Cancano Decauville.
The Cancano lakes and the Decauville in Upper Valtellina
Decauvilles such as the one in the upper Valtellina at Cancano are narrow-gauge railways that were mainly used in the first half of the last century as a means of transport for goods in special situations. Their main characteristic was that they were made up of prefabricated elements and could therefore be assembled and disassembled easily and quickly: the steel tracks, whose gauge was smaller than those of traditional railways, were laid and assembled quickly in order to reach places that were inaccessible by traditional means, where work or construction sites were in progress (such as dams, mines or large agricultural land), and on these tracks very simple wagons were then transported to carry the materials.
In short, the decauville was a real portable railway, named after the French engineer Paul Decauville, who is considered its inventor. The Cancano decauville, the most famous but not the only one in Valtellina (there is also the decauville between Gaggio and Briotti, above Piateda), was a narrow-gauge railway built to transport materials during the construction (starting in 1922) of the Cancano dams by the Azienda Elettrica Milanese in the Fraele valley above Bormio: two reservoirs fed by the River Adda, at an altitude of 1900 metres, which collect water from the upper Valtellina and feed the local hydroelectric power stations.
Sleddog on the trail from Arnoga to Cancano along the Decauville
A century later, even today the Decauville retains its original purpose: to connect the lakes of Cancano with Valdidentro and the road from Bormio to Livigno. Today, however, there are no longer any trains or tracks and it is travelled by… huskies. That’s right, because the start of the Decauville coincides with the site of the Husky Village in Arnoga, and the first kilometres of this itinerary are those that the huskies cover during their training and sleddog excursions, pulling the sled or kart on which the participants in the experience travel.
It is an entirely flat mountain trail, regularly groomed during the winter season for the passage of sleds and with a dirt surface in spring and summer for the transit of the karts. It skirts the mountainside just above 1850 metres and runs through the heart of a magnificent alpine forest, offering breathtaking natural scenery both with the snow covering the trees and during the warmer months, with panoramic views of Bormio and Valdidentro. As mentioned, the husky sled or kart ride follows the initial stretch of the Arnoga Decauville, making a loop trail of a total of 5 km that leads back to the Husky Village.