Monte Cofano is a majestic mountain on the northwest coast of Sicily. Located in Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano (Monte Cofano Nature Reserve), this beautiful mountain effortlessly dominates the landscape. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting and trekking at Monte Cofano. We’ll talk about which hiking trails are officially open and closed. After that, we’ll discuss other things to do when you visit, such as visiting Baia di Cornino – the gorgeous beach located at the southern base of Monte Cofano.
On top of that, we’ll cover all of the practical information about visiting the area. This will include details about how to get there as well as where to stay nearby.
We hope you find this guide helpful. If you want to know more about other epic mountains in Sicily, then read our guides about Mount Etna, Monte Monaco and Monte Pellegrino. Otherwise, read our big Sicily hiking guide.
Table of Contents
About Monte Cofano
Monte Cofano is one of the most well-known mountains in Sicily. Measuring 659 metres above sea level, the mesmerising rocky mountain looms large over the surrounding northwest coastline. Seeing the mountain from afar is a joy in itself. But, visiting Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano is the best way to explore the mountain and its gorgeous surroundings.
Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano
In 1997, Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano (Monte Cofano Special Nature Reserve) became a protected area. This is largely owing to the area’s rich flora and fauna. The nature reserve has over 300 species of plants, many of which are endemic or rare.
You’ll also find Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano is home to a large number of birds. Around 50 species of birds use the nature reserve for nesting. Certainly, keep an eye out when you visit. You might be lucky enough to see an eagle, falcon, raven or owl. There are also a number of mammals and reptiles that call Monte Cofano Nature Reserve home.
Of course, many people want to know about the trekking on offer at Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano. Below, we’ll show you a map of the Monte Cofano Nature Reserve, which shows some of the trails.
FYI – locally, Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano is often shortened to Riserva Monte Cofano. In English, it’s shortened to the Monte Cofano Nature Reserve or just the Monte Cofano Reserve.
Monte Cofano Map
The Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano map shows a few trails encircling the mountain. In the section below, we’ll talk about these hiking trails – one which is open and the others which are officially closed. We’ll also talk about some unofficial route options.
To help you get your bearings, please click here for an interactive map of Monte Cofano on Google Maps.
Monte Cofano Trekking Overview
When it comes to Monte Cofano hikes, unfortunately, your options are quite limited. You’ll notice on the map above, that there are two trails in red, which are closed (Sentiero Accesso Vietato). You’ll also notice a trail in green, which is open (Sentiero Accesso Censentito).
Personally, when Beck and I arrived at Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano, we were unaware that most of the hiking trails were officially closed and forbidden. On the map signage at the entrance of Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano, there is a note explaining the closures. In English, it loosely translates to, ”At present, due to the danger of falling rocks, access is only allowed on the green path as shown on the map.”
Of course, locals and visitors alike, ignore the signs and complete the trails anyway. Someone had even put stickers on the map, to cover the closed symbols. Personally speaking, we’ve never heard of someone being punished or fined for accessing these forbidden trails. But, during our visit, we did see police drive to the entrance of the nature reserve. I’m not sure whether the police were just going for a joy ride or whether they were patrolling. But, admittedly, it was enough to put us off doing the prohibited trails.
Even without the presence of police, Beck and I decided we wouldn’t access the prohibited trails. We made a similar decision when we visited Cavagrande del Cassibile during our Sicily trip. Despite the FOMO, at the end of the day, we have to practice what we preach when it comes to responsible travel. If the local authorities close and forbid a trail, we think it’s the right thing to do to respect the request.
Officially Open Monte Cofano Trails
So, with that in mind, let’s look at the trails at Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano that are officially open. Well, there is just one officially opened trail – the Scaletta Path.
As you’ll see from the map above, the Scaletta Path (green trail) follows along the southern base of Monte Cofano. Starting by Baia di Cornino (Cala Buguto according to the map) along the coast, you’ll follow a lovely flat natural path, at the foot of the imposing mountain.
Along the Scaletta Path, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of Monte Cofano. In total, the trail is around 2km long. Personally, Beck and I completed the trail as an out and back. So, all in all, if you follow suit, you’re looking at a roughly 4km return walk with minimal elevation gain. It’ll only take an hour or so.
Officially Closed Monte Cofano Trails
Now, let’s look at the officially closed trails at Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano. These red-coloured trails include the Sea Path and the Baglio Path.
Sea Path (Coastal Trail)
The Sea Path, also known as the Coastal Trail, circles Monte Cofano, without summiting the mountain. By all accounts, the Sea Path is a fantastic coastal trail. But, the truth of the matter is, it’s closed!
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 7.5km
- Time: 3–4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 410m
- Trailhead: Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano Car Park
- Difficulty: Easy
- Map: Wikiloc
The Baglio Path, on its own, is a short trail, connecting the Scaletta and Sea Paths (please refer to the map above). Basically, it’s a trail used to shorten the circular walk around Monte Cofano. Also, the Baglio Path is the trail commonly used by those doing the unofficial Monte Cofano summit route.
Unofficial Monte Cofano Trails
When it comes to unofficial routes, the Monte Cofano summit route is a popular option. Let’s look at the summit route in a bit more detail below.
Monte Cofano Summit Route
As you’ll see by the official map, the Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano does not even acknowledge or recognise a summit trail. But, many hikers will complete the circular Sea Path in combination with the summit trail. Basically, whilst on the Baglio Path, you’ll turn left to access the summit trail. You’ll complete an out and back of the summit trail, before returning to the Baglio Path. At that point, most hikers continue the circular Sea Path. By all accounts, the summit trail is a fun and challenging trail with superb views at the summit of Monte Cofano.
Given the difficulty of the unmaintained trail and the risk of rock falls, this hike is best left for experienced hikers. Below, you’ll see the trail specs and a link to a GPS-guided map for the Monte Cofano summit route.
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 10.5km
- Time: 4.5–6.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 795m
- Trailhead: Riserva Naturale Orinetata Cavagrande del Cassibile Car Park
- Difficulty: Hard
- Map: Wikiloc
Baia di Cornino
Baia di Cornino is the beach located at the southern base of Monte Cofano. Also known as Spiaggia Monte Cofano, Baia di Cornino is a lovely long sandy beach. Technically, Baia di Cornino doesn’t fall inside the nature reserve. But, if you want one of the best vantage points for seeing Monte Cofano, then definitely visit Baia di Cornino. Whether it’s from the sand or water, you’ll enjoy a magnificent view of the mountain. It reminded us of the incredible views you get of Monte Monaco from Spiaggia San Vito lo Capo.
Certainly, when it comes to things to do or places to visit near the nature reserve, Baia di Cornino should be part of your itinerary.
How to Get to Monte Cofano
The easiest and quickest way to get to Monte Cofano is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are easy to book online.
Personally, we picked up our car hire from Catania International Airport. For an automatic car, we only paid around €7 ($7USD) per day! Of course, with all car hire companies in Sicily, and Italy, make sure you’re fully aware of the terms and conditions of the car hire. That way, you won’t get hit with any unexpected fees when returning the car.
As far as we’re aware, public transportation doesn’t go directly to the nature reserve. We’ve heard of an AST bus service travelling between Trapani and Custonaci, which is a small town nearby Monte Cofano. But, the service isn’t very frequent or reliable. So, it’s best to visit in your own vehicle.
Parking at Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano
There are a few parking options for Riserva Naturale Orientata Monte Cofano. The main car park is located here. Personally, having visited in the off-season, we found free street-side parking, opposite the car park, and next to Baia di Cornino. But, during peak season, you’ll need to pay to park along the street.
Camping isn’t allowed at the nature reserve and there are no other accommodation options in the reserve itself.
There are some small towns and villages located next to Monte Cofano. Indeed, it’s possible to stay in these areas. But, accommodation options are fairly limited. Admittedly, most people will visit Monte Cofano from either Trapani, Palermo or San Vito lo Capo, where there are many more accommodation options.
At the end of the day, where you stay comes down to personal preference. Usually, we like to avoid the bigger and busier towns. So, with that in mind, San Vito lo Capo would be a better base than perhaps Trapani or Palermo. San Vito lo Capo is a smaller coastal town, beautifully set on the beach. Although, Trapani is quite close to the nature reserve (approx. 25 minute drive). From San Vito lo Capo, it’s a slightly longer drive of around 35 minutes.
If you’re interested in staying at San Vito lo Capo, feel free to check out the best budget, mid-range and luxurious options below.
- Budget – Baglio del Mulino a Vento: if you’re looking for the most highly-renowned budget stay in San Vito lo Capo, then Baglio del Mulino a Vento has you covered.
- Mid-range – Ninni e Fede: this is one of the best mid-range accommodation options in San Vito lo Capo. Ninni e Fede is a modernly decorated guesthouse, featuring a lovely garden, terrace and shared kitchen. If you’re looking for a more luxurious mid-range hotel option, then consider Hotel Sikania.
- Luxury – B&B Le Biciclette: this B&B is a fantastic option. Guests rave about the breakfast, whilst its location near the beach and modern decor are all great features to enjoy during a stay at B&B Le Biciclette.
Facilities and Amenities
You won’t find any facilities, amenities or services at the nature reserve. So, make sure you’re prepared for your trip and take your own food and water.
Below, you’ll find some frequently asked questions about Monte Cofano.
When Is the Best Time to Go?
This comes down to personal preference. Most people visit Sicily in summer (June to August) for the warmest weather. But, this means exploring the nature reserve in temperatures well over 35°C. If you prefer milder climates and quieter trails, then consider visiting either side of summer, between April and May or between September and October.
Is it Family Friendly?
Yes, exploring the Scaletta Path (the only officially open trail) is a fun and safe activity for kids.
Are There Many People There?
The trails at the nature reserve don’t get particularly busy, compared with somewhere like Mount Etna. Fewer visitors outside of peak season and visitors avoiding hiking in the heat of summer means the trails rarely get overcrowded.
These are our gear essentials for visiting the nature reserve.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: you’ll benefit from a sturdy pair of hiking boots.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a great value for money pair of convertible trousers. They’re great for avoiding scratches and sunburn when out hiking. Then, when the Sicily warmth is too much, you can unzip these bad boys and voila, you’re wearing shorts!
- Swimwear and aqua shoes: for swimming at Baia di Cornino!
- Make it a half-day trip: we highly recommend visiting the nature reserve as part of your Sicily itinerary. Although, with most trails closed, we don’t think you’ll need more than half a day there.
- Visit outside of peak season: for milder weather and fewer people around, visit outside of peak season.
- Explore independently: you won’t find much in the way of organised tours going to the nature reserve. So, you’ll be exploring solo!
Will you follow or ignore the signs at the Monte Cofano Nature Reserve? Let us know in the comments below.