Possibly the most beautiful hike in Sicily! This gorgeous mix of mountain and coastal route is fabulous on a sunny day, the views across the Baia Santa Margherita and the Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano are spectacular. This hike is so versatile, you can traverse Monte Cofano, climb to the summit or both. Check out the post below for more details of how to hike Monte Cofano.
About Monte Cofano
Monte Cofano is a monolithic and impressive lump of limestone (ok, so it’s a mountain!) in the western part of Sicily, Italy. Situated in the Monte Cofano Reserve, between Trapani and Erice to the west and Capo San Vito and the mountain range of Parco Naturale dello Zingaro to the east, Monte Cofano rises 659 m above the sea level.
How to Hike Monte Cofano
Option 1 - Traverse Monte Cofano
From the car park at the bottom of Monte Cofano (N38.105054 E12.692205) follow the sign ‘Monte Cofano’ straight up the hill. Take the first right turning and you are on a switchback track. The path is quite rocky underfoot and it’s pretty steep for a couple of hundred metres. As you reach the top of the switchback the rocks become larger and the views more spectacular!
At the top of the switchback you will walk slowly uphill across a meadow, surrounded by beautiful nature, to a cross-roads with a well. Monte Cofano is on the right and from here looks pretty daunting. Go straight on for the coastal route and you will find yourself on another rocky path going down.
This route takes you to the start of the coastal part of the walk, also known as the Religious Route because of the number of places of worship along the way. This part of the route is well maintained and a pleasure to hike. You will shortly come to a small white chapel with a seating area overlooking the sea, a perfect stop for lunch!
Continue following signs for Torre della Tonnara, which along with its’ twin Torre San Giovanni were part part of fortifications of the Sicilian coast created to defend the land from Turkish pirates. The architecture of the tower is fascinating and it is possible to visit the inside, as it has recently been restored. A little further on the track and you will arrive back at the car park.
Option Two - Summit Monte Cofano
Follow the directions above until you arrive at the cross-roads, then take the right turn. This is sign-posted to Monte Cofano 659m…just to whet your appetite!
The first thing to say is that this part of the hike should not be attempted unless you are experienced and physically fit. This is a challenging ascent, with the need to traverse boulders and scramble in places and you will need to use both hands and feet to pull yourself up the boulders.
Although the route is clear initially it soon becomes more challenging to navigate. There are red dots of paint on boulders which signifies the route although these are sporadic and not always clear.
The route leads you to a rope ladder which crosses a particularly difficult part of the route. If you do not follow the red dots and arrive at the rope ladder, you will not be able to ascend to the summit due to the sheer cliff face.
Lunch on the small grassy domed summit will taste amazing!
Now all you have to do it get back down again and re-trace your steps to the car-park. The only way down is back the same way you came, do not attempt otherwise. Unless of course, you want to continue onto the coastal route and traverse Monte Cofano as well. If you do, just follow the instructions from the cross-roads, detailed above.
When to Go
You can hike Monte Cofano at any time of the year. The weather in Sicily can be changeable and as always, you check first before leaving on your hike.
There is a car park ((N38.105054 E12.692205) at the foot of Monte Cofano, suitable for cars and smaller motorhomes. This is where you start the hike.
There is fantastic motorhome wild camping all along the Baia Santa Margherita, we stayed here. If you do this and walk to the car-park it will add around 1.5km on to your hike. Wild camping may not be possible here all year round due to the nature reserve status, signs will be up if it is not allowed.
Hiking Monte Cofano along the coastal route is possible with children, if your kids are up for the steep switch-back at the start. After that, it’s pretty much all downhill but can be tricky underfoot in places. The climb to the summit is not suitable for children.
None. The nearest are in the village of Custonaci but that’s quite a hike in itself unless you go by road. For more info about the Monte Cofano Nature Reserve, local area and hotels check this local website.
This is quite a remote spot although Sicilians do like to come to Custonaci for their summer holidays. It may be busy in July and August. When we visited in May it was very quiet.