The second itinerary extends within the Natural Reserve of Monte Cane, Pizzo Trigna e Grotta Mazzamuto (4,643 Ha), a natural link between the mountains of Palermo and the Madonie. The Reserve includes two mountain ridges that enclose a vast limestone plateau, crossed by the river San Michele. The highest elevations in the Reserve are: Pizzo Trigna (1.257 m), Monte Cane (1.240 m), Pizzo dell’Inferno (1.225 m). A lot of caves, crevices and cracks emerge on the jagged walls of the ridge, giving it a mysterious and surreal atmosphere. Among the most interesting sites there are: Grotta Mazzamuto, in which have been found some fossil records of Elephas Falconeri (Pleistocene miniature elephants); on the south-east side, the Grotta dei Brigghi, the widest and also full of stalactites and stalagmites; on the western side, the Grotta del Leone with its scenic and picturesque architecture.
Listed among the Sites of Community Interest (SCI), the Reserve of Monte Cane, Pizzo Trigna e Grotta Mazzamuto, consist in a combination of different natural environments (rocky, grassy, valley). In the wooded part of the Reserve, holm and cork oaks, ashes, field and trilobo maples, are the the widespread species; the undergrowth consists of species belonging to the Mediterranean scrub (rosehip, wild azarole, mandorlino pear tree, common hawthorn, laburnum trifloro, gorse). On the scree slopes, you can find spurges, mastic trees, olive trees and rare endemic species such as Sicilian ciombolino and rock cabbages. Among the crevices of the rugged and steep cliffs of Pizzo dell’Inferno, annually nest some birds of prey as the Golden Eagle, the peregrine falcon, the black kite, the kestrel, the tawny and the barn owl. In the woods of the Reserve, you can find the goldfinch, the turtle dove, the wood pigeon, the jackdaw, the great tit, the creeper and the woodpecker. The species of mammals include weasels, wild cats, porcupines, foxes, hares, hedgehogs and wild rabbits. Among the reptiles there are the western green lizard, the rat snake, the smooth snake and the common viper.
A dense network of paths, prepared by the Regional Forests Department, allows to perform a large number of exploratory trails by foot, bike or on horseback. This itinerary offers a new way of walking tourism, which values the ancient practice of traveling on foot in the company of a donkey. The Donkey-walk is a form of slow and sustainable tourism, in harmony with the cultural heritage and the wild landscape. Thanks to the mild disposition and the important logistical support it offers, a donkey is the perfect partner to discover the Reserve, even for beginners. In addition, the direct contact with the animal makes the walker more receptive to the surrounding environment, improving the overall quality of the tourist experience.
The most charming place to start exploring the Reserve is the Hermitage of San Felice. From this point, you can enjoy a splendid view comprising: the Castle of Caccamo, the Rosamarina lake, Mount S. Calogero, Cefalù and even the Aeolian Islands. The itinerary starts at Grotta dei Brigghi, a karst cave features a rich complex of stalactites and stalagmites. Continuing the path, you cross the pine forest of Pizzo Palombella, up to the Muccicasi Refuge. The route continues towards Mandra Piana Grande, a beautiful plain surrounded by a thick forest of oaks and other native species. Not far there are Houses of the Batia, a typical rural building next to a prominent rock, where you can rest the animals and take a refreshing break. Along the nature trail Batia, it is interesting to note the neviere, large depressions in the rock, once used to accumulate winter snow, used for food storage in the summertime.
The nature trail Portella di Pizzo Nudo leads to the lookout tower of the fire fighting service, located nearby Pizzo dell’Inferno. From this location, you can enjoy an unrivaled panoramic view: the sea of Cefalù, the mountainous Madonie, the valley of the river S. Leonardo and the Rosamarina lake, the rocky rampart of Roccabusambra, the Natural Reserve of Mount Cammarata to the Mounts of Palermo. Pizzo dell’Inferno is the ideal place for birdwatching. During the nesting periods you can see the Golden Eagle and other raptors. Down the the nature trail Chiano di Campani, the route turns to the last stage of the itinerary. Along the path, immersed in a silence out of the ordinary, it’s easy to encounter small groups of semi-wild horses roaming freely. Once reached Pizzo di Cascio, you can continue along the steep slope of the Valle dei Levrieri, that leads to the exit of Reserve near Ventimiglia di Sicilia.