Alto Carigiola together with Monte delle Scalette is a protected nature reserve found between the municipalities of Cantagallo and Vernio, spanning 990 hectares.
The morphology is characterized by deep valleys, steep slopes and rocky outcrops at the head of the valleys. Such a distinct morphology, combined with the richness of water, gives life to a system of streams and creeks that alternate between waterfalls and crystal clear pools.
Given the harshness of the area, human activity has always been rather limited and concentrated near settlements and cultivated areas (Gavigno, Alpe di Cavarzano). They focused on the cultivation of the woods and chestnut trees, of which you can still see traces today in the abandoned chestnut groves. This allowed for the development of a vegetation that is relatively uninfluenced by man, and therefore of considerable naturalistic interest.
Most of the area is covered by dense forests consisting, depending on the exposure and altitude, of deciduous oaks, black hornbeam, manna ash, chestnut and beech. However, the most interesting forest formations are found in remote places where human activity has been more limited. Here you can find mature woods, with several species of trees, including some that are sensitive to human disturbances, such as lime trees, maples, rowans and yew.
In addition to the vast forests, there are also meadows at the head of the valleys.
The area is criss-crossed by the CAI trail network, including path 00 that runs along the Apennine ridge across Italy.