Monte Jouf from Maniago
A unique point of view on the plain of Friuli Venezia Giulia
In a year in lockdown, walking around my house only, I’m hungry for new places to explore. So, after the Pinzano ring route, we go back to the Province of Pordenone for another hike in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. This time we’re hiking on Mount Jouf.
The inspiration for this walk comes from the book “I Sentieri del Bosco” by Sentieri Natura.
Why should you hike on Monte Jouf
The hike to Mount Jouf is a pleasant walk also suitable for +7/8 years old children who are already used to walking.
There are only two sections to pay attention to: the one immediately after the Forcella because it is steep, and the one immediately after the ridge passage because it is very narrow.
While we were deciding where to go, I asked Stefano for a trail that I had never done before and that was very varied in the landscape. Monte Jouf has responded well to all my requests.
I especially loved the second part of the walk, from the (beautiful) Malga onwards. The stretch in the woods was perhaps one of the most beautiful I’ve ever done.
A walk to do in spring and autumn, but in the summit book more than someone wrote that they had done it in winter with snow and snowshoes.
How to reach Monte Jouf
We arrive in Maniago around 9 am and, we drive along the road that leads to Montereale Valcellina. After about a kilometer, on the left, we see a parking lot almost full of cars on the roadside. That’s where our trail starts.
Climbing the peak of Monte Jouf
We start our hike in the sun with just some clouds in the sky. We’ll be walking the CAI trail number 967.
The first trail’s stride runs parallel to the road, but the noise of the cars is almost entirely covered by the Cellina which is blocked by a dam right here.
The water and the clouds raise the level of humidity and for this reason, I found this first part the most difficult of all our hikes, despite the moderate slope.
We climb steadily and after turning right, we finally move away from the noise of modernity to enter the Valle di Sant’Antonio which will take us to the church of the same name. The small and almost dilapidated place of worship arrives much earlier than I expected compared to the description of our Sentieri Natura guide. Here we also notice how much the landscape has changed compared to the photos in the book and how many more trees have been born.
Immediately after the church, we cross one of the most beautiful passages of the entire walk. A natural aisle created by the intertwined branches of trees, dressed in spring leaves and colors.
A few more meters and we find another stretch of path enchanted surrounded by small lilac flowers.
From Forcella della Croce to the top
The flowers accompany us up to Forcella della Croce which I would define as the true watershed of the excursion. From the Forcella onwards the CAI trail changes number, (nr. 983) and rises more until it reaches Monte Jouf’s ridge.
According to the guide, once on the ridge, we should switch from the Northside to the Southside, but the passage is not evident at all. We realize we have taken the wrong trail only for the lack of trail CAI markers on the trees. After a quick look at the map, it seems that the path we are following leads to the real top of Mount Jouf but we decide to go back and resume the CAI trail (if this hike in Friuli Venezia Giulia interests you, look at my stories on Instagram where you’ll find the videos of this passage).
At first glance, it seems like the wrong choice since the path is much narrower than the one we hiked so far, but we are confident that CAI’s choice was taken because of safety issues rather than for a better view.
In fact, once we cross the ridge, the view opens up and shows the whole plain.
The trail heads on in continuous ups and downs up to wide meadows, that with a couple of bends lead us to the cross on top of Mount Jouf.
As we eat a couple of chocolate cubes near the cross, the sky covers with clouds. We, therefore, decide to hurry towards the second part of our hike on Monte Jouf.
Climbing down Monte Jouf
The meadows pleasantly descend from the cross and lead us to Malga Jouf. Along the descent, we enjoy perhaps the most beautiful view of the plains and the mountains, ruined only by the mist and humidity.
We reach the Malga which seems to have been left to itself for a long time but, at the same time, barely abandoned. The stone structure has something romantic that, perhaps thanks to the intense green of the grass, reminds me of Pride and Prejudice locations. As more clouds are gathering above us, Stefano wakes me up from my daydream and we continue the descent.
Thus it begins my favorite part of this hike in Friuli Venezia Giulia. After the meadows, we hike down a trail of large pebbles and low shrubs that ends up in a forest of very tall fir trees that push towards the sky. Here I slow down and look around in delight. I take a deep breath and let the forest massage my spirit. I would like to stay longer still but an increasingly insistent breeze makes us understand that the storm is now near.
We come out on an asphalted road and follow it for a few hundred meters, while the hamlet of Maniago gets closer and closer below us. After a few bends, the trail appears on the right and plunges back into the bush. In terms of orientation, this is the worst part of the hike. The trail signs are sparse and it’s easy to get lost in a maze of apparently similar paths. Unfortunately, not even my Instagram stories can help in this stretch, we only got out of it thanks to the GPS map on Stefano’s watch, following the track by trial and error.
The thunder gets closer and the first raindrops begin to fall. We lengthen the pace until we run I just know that we suddenly find ourselves at the beginning of the trail and that, in the distance, we can see our car. We slip into the car just before the downpour.
You just have to try it!
See you on the trails.
Monte Jouf hike recap:
Length: 15 km
Elevation Gain: +900
Duration: 5:50 hours (including breaks)
CAI path: 967 and 983
Suitable for children?: Children aged at least 8/9 used to hike
How to reach Maniago:
By car from Udine: follow the SS464 for 45 km through the villages of San Vito di Fagagna, Dignano, and Spilimbergo up to Maniago. To reach the starting point of the path, go through the village towards Montereale Valcellina. About 1km after the last houses in Maniago, the parking lot is on the left.