Castronovo di Sicilia, Monte Carcaci e l’alta valle del Fiume Platani
The route, about 44 km, explores the upper valley of the Platani River on the southern side of the province of Palermo, in the municipality of Castronovo di Sicilia, except the stretch near the village of Filaga, in the municipality of Prizzi. The village of Castronovo, at almost 500 meters above sea level, forms the beginning and end of a circular route with significant changes in elevation(over 1,100 meters with an average slope of about 5%), with some remarkable climbs (over 10%) and over rough terrain.
The route, which is suitable for MTB, but is also accessible by road bikes despite bumps and potholes, travels mostly on low or no traffic roads, partly asphalted (with some rough parts) with stretches on dirt roads and a highway with fast traffic (SS 188).
The places crossed are rich in history: Byzantine fortifications of the 7th & 8th century AD (11 towers and walls more than 3 meters thick) on Mount Kassar, above the village of Castronovo, asseria Melìa (ancient monastery founded by Pope Saint Gregory the Great (later known in the Byzantine period with the title of St. Stephen), remains of the Roman villa in Contrada S. Luca (near the intersection between the SP36 and SS188) and the ruins of the rural village of Riena, built in the 1940s in a rationalist style.
The valley of the Platani River, the woods of the Monte Càccaci Nature Reserve and Lake Fanaco, reachable through rural roads, offer interesting landscape views.
The route crosses a territory with pastures and far buildings but without housing and with almost no public services and facilities, except Filaga and the Monte Carcaci reserve in Colobria, with a picnic/rest area. The route begins with a short descent from Castronovo, followed by a long climb along the lake and the district Melìa (SP48), and then up to the Portella of the Olmos pass at an altitude of about 1000 m. From here begins a descent towards the SS188 and Filaga. Above the village, at the station of the former Lercara Bassa – Bivio Magazzolo railway, begins a steep climb on Monte Carcaci (MTB) to the Visitor Center of the nature reserve. Then begins a descent, interrupted by a short climb up to the village of Riena. From here, a downhill section reaches the intersection with the SS188 (about 500 meters), then climbing for 2 km before the final descent to Castronovo.To reduce the length by about 13 km and the
elevation change by 300 meters, it is possible, once you reach the SS188, to turn right (instead of heading towards Filaga) and return to Castronovo.