Serre di Ciminna
The trail winds through the Serra di Ciminna Nature Reserve, a mountainous group with peaks at an average altitude of 750 m, found south of the town of Ciminna.
These are majestic faces of Selenitic Gypsum Chalk, formed following the events that, about six million years ago, led to the drainage of the Mediterranean basin and the subsequent deposit of salts contained in marine waters, forming the deposits that we can now admire. The present vegetation consists essentially of a low garrigue scrubland of ampelodesmos grasses and euphorbia. Here and there, we can also find sparse groves of oak, a species that once dominated these rugged spots. Of particular naturalistic interest is the characteristic flora that grows among the chalk, in particular the Sedum, and the numerous spontaneous spring orchids. These lands are today the undisputed reign of numerous porcupines and many species of birds of prey that nest among the rock faces.
The first part of the route uses a comfortable dirt mule track that climbs rapidly between olive groves and grain fields to reach the Portella di Santa Caterina pass. From here, the route continues, now more evenly, until it intersects a narrow animal path on the right. This climbs rapidly up to the top of the Serre (777 m) and continues along the ridge for about a couple of kilometers, weaving through the spontaneous vegetation. This is the most challenging and at the same time the most impressive part of the excursion; the visual impact is really exciting. Below us, like a rocky wave, rise the overhangs of the Serre, while the panorama in front of us opens over all the surrounding area, from the Rocca Busambra to Mount Cammaratato Mount Cane, Mount San Calogero and the Madonie range.
After crossing the Strait of Carcaci, an ancient access road to the summit of the Serre, the itinerary continues through a scrubland of ampelodesmos, intercepts the evocative entrance of the grotta del Teschio [skull cave] and several ponor pits and sinkholes, then bends to the east to enter a cart track. This, after some ups and downs, brings us back to the initial mule track and, from here, to the starting point. The path is of medium difficulty. The initial climb of
about 1.5 km could be challenging for the less experienced, as well as the long stretch that crosses the ridge of the Serre that travels on animal herd tracks or among natural vegetation.