From your accommodation in Bolzano, walk along the Talfer promenade along the water wall to reach the valley station of the cable car built in 1937 (study the map beforehand!), which will take you to San Genesio. This trip offers a wide-ranging view over the town of Bolzano, which lies in an extraordinarily fertile valley basin near the mouth of the Talfer, Eisack and Etsch rivers. Vineyards of worldwide repute flourish along the slopes of the Ritten and along the Guntschnaberg mountain. From Jenesien (1,087m) keep following the “E” markings to the north west for 1h, mainly on a moderate incline, up to the Edelweiss inn (1,351m). From there, continue on trail no. 1 (or E5) sometimes slightly up and downhill but overall on a rather level course through the extensive larch Salto meadowland to reach the Lavena Hill (1,527m, inn), the highest point on the Salten. The Salten is the only high-alpine plateau in Europe with such a tremendous larch forest. From the Lavena meadowland, walk for a short while downhill to the car park (Schermoos), from where the signs for the long-distance hiking trail must be followed up to the Rindlwiesen meadows or the Giogo di Meltina pass (1,733m), pastureland in the middle of vast larch clearings. At the same altitude, walk further through the Jöchlwald wood to the Möltener Kaser (catering). Still heading north, the European long-distance trail (E5) leads on a gentle incline to the Auener Jöchl pass. A detour to the “Stoanernen Mandln (Men of stone)“ at the Schöneck should definitely be fitted in: the isolated rounded mountaintop high above Sarnthein offers views over many of the mountain ranges in South Tyrol. Via Alpina now runs along a high ridge on the Haflinger Ridge trail, over the Kreuzjoch pass (the highest peak of the ridge line) to the Maiser Rast and from there across flowery alpine pastures for only a few metres downhill to the Meraner Hut (1,960m), the stage destination. From the Möltner Kaser meadow, it takes approx. 2 hours to reach the destination. This is a relatively long stage covering 25km in total. However, it mainly covers flat or only slightly uphill terrain. Approx. 1km after the Möltener Joch pass, in the Rindlwiesen area, turn right from the gully trail onto track no. 4 (or E5) down to the Schermoos car park. This turn-off is not marked and would therefore be easy to miss.
(Stefan Illmer, Karin Leichter, AVS)