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After completing many beginner via ferratas in the Italian Dolomites, it was only natural to me, to challenge myself a bit more with some harder routes. 

 

Today I will be sharing with you my favourite via ferratas I have done, which are good for intermediate level adventurers. 

 

Before I get to it though, just a quick reminder to you all - plan well in advance and always carry proper equipment, if you are going to tackle an iron path. 

 

Although undertaking a via ferrata doesn't require any prior climbing experience, don't underestimate the exposure you will face along these routes.

 

Almost on every via ferrata there is always at least one memorial plaque, with the names of the victims, who have fallen to their deaths. Too often I have seen daredevils with nothing else but running shoes on their feet. Don't be one of them please! 

 

 


8 Intermediate Via Ferratas In The Dolomites For Adventure Seekers
1. Via ferrata Marino Bianchi

 

From the start all the way to the summit via ferrata Marino Bianchi is an extravaganza of jaw dropping vistas. It's actually one of my personal favorites! The route takes you to the top of Monte Cristallo di Mezzo, one of the dolomiti summits reaching over 3000 meters.

 

I had a pretty interesting experience along the via ferrata Marino Bianchi, as I decided to spend the night in the abandoned rifugio Lorenzi, built on the Staulanza saddle, a few hundred meters below the summit. 

 

This used to be a very busy iron path thanks to the lift system that used to run all the way to the saddle. Since the lift closed in 2016, significantly prolonging the approach time, the traffic slowed down a lot. 

 

Located nearby and slightly easier via ferrata Ivano Dibona, which can be done in conjunction with this one seems to attract more visitors, but believe me when I say this: Marino Bianchi should not be missed!

 

 

2. Via ferrata Giro Del Sorapiss

 

Giro in Italian means a loop and as the name suggests via ferrata Giro Del Sorapiss circuits around the Sorapiss mountains range. It's a true endurance test, both physically and mentally. 

 

Proper preparation, some decent map reading skills and an adventurous spirit are a must have if you want to tackle this route. Expect a long day - 10 hours minimum. The best is to plan an overnight stay in the Vandelli mountain refuge, from where the circuit begins, ideally before and after the completion. 

 

The whole loop actually consist of three separate via ferratas. if you are not up for the challenge, you can only choose to do the first one along the route - via ferrata Alfonso Vandelli (pictured above). 

 

For more details and photos from the via ferrata Giro del Sorapiss click the link. 

 

 

3. Via ferrata Delle Scalette (aka Torre di Toblin)

 

My own ambition put me at the trailhead of this via ferrata within my first week in the Dolomites. Full of enthusiasm and a little bit too flippantly i decided to put myself against the challenge and chose via ferrata Torre Di Toblin as my first ever via ferrata I would do. 

 

I can tell you now that my enthusiasm quickly curbed, even though you probably can't tell from my happy look on the photo above. The victorious smile came after getting to the top in one piece.

 

For anyone who climbs, this wouldn't have been scary, but for me, who has never spent a day of her life in a climbing gym before, it was a real challenge. Even though climbing experience isn't required to scramble along the via ferratas, in this case it would had definitely come in handy. 

 

I go into more detail about this ferrata in my separate articleI hope what I said before has sparked your interest to check it out! 

 

 

4. Via ferrata Merlone

 

 

Located on the border of the famous Tre Cime National Park, this via ferrata takes you to the summit of Cima Cadin from where you can get a glimpse of the southern faces of Tre Cime (Three Peaks). 

 

The route starts near rifugio Fonda Savio, one of the most photogenic mountains huts in the Dolomites I have come across.

 

You will need a good head for heights and climbing on a ladder, mounted to a rock wall, a few hundred meters above a gully should sound to you as appealing as watching the most recent Netflix flick. 

 

I have a whole article dedicated to via ferrata Merlone. If you are interested in tackling it, make sure to check it out! 

 

 

5. Via ferrata Degli Alpini Al Col Dei Bos

 

This is a great via ferrata if you want to get straight to business. The initial approach to the beginning of the cable section is very short (around 20 minutes). In comparison to the other via ferratas mentioned in this article, it's nothing. 

 

Because of it however, this via ferrata is probably one of the busiest ones in the Dolomites. A lot of guided tour companies take their clients here. 

 

There is however easy way to avoid the crowds! Just start early, and by early I mean right after sunrise. You will be treated to some incredible views when the first rays of sun hit the surrounding peaks! 

 

For more information and photos from my sunrise excursion along this via ferrata go to my other article. 

 

 

6. Via ferrata Oskar Schuster

 


Via ferrata Oskar Schuster takes you through the heart of Sassolungo and Sassopiato, two prominent peaks you can photograph from Alpi di Siusi - one of the most iconic photography spots in the Dolomites

 

This is a really fun and exciting route and the views along the way with the many spires typical for this range, quite dramatic. 

 

You can skip part of the initial approach by taking the Sassolungo gondola from the Sella mountain pass, where the route begins. Once you reach the summit of Sassopiato, where the cable section ends, and descent down the other side, you can pop into the rifugio Sassopiato for some well deserved beer! 

 

For more details check out my article dedicated to via ferrata Oskar Schuster. 

 

 

7. Via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano
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If you want to dip your toes into a via ferrata World of the Italian Dolomites, but don't know which beginner routes would be good to start with, then you came to the right place. 

 

A via ferrata is a steep hike with some sections of scrambling or climbing, protected with metal cables. To complete it you will need a helmet, harness, via ferrata lanyard and gloves. 

 

There is over 700 via ferratas in the Dolomites. Their history dates back to the 1st World War, when soldiers set up an intricate routes across the mountains to fight the opposite side. 

 

Since then the wooden ladders, have been replaced with proper cables, stemples and metal steps and turned into adventure sites for people who aren't climbers, but would like to take hiking into the next level. 

 

Just last year I was a beginner myself, but managed to tick off over 20 via ferratas from my bucket list. Here are a few which I consider to be great for a novice. 

 

 


Seven Beginner Via Ferratas In The Italian Dolomites
1. Via ferrata Gran Cir

 

If you are a fan of getting great rewards for putting little effort into something, then via ferrata Gran Cir is for you. 

 

There is a good reason why this route is on the top of the list. It's the easiest one and the ascent to is only an hour to an hour and a half long. 

 

Starting at Passo Gardena, one of the most photogenic mountain passes in the Dolomites, the route will take you to the top of Gran Cir mountain, where you can check out the beautiful views of the nearby Sella mountain group and Sassolungo

 

 

2. Via ferrata Innerkofler/De Luca

 

This is a real gem in the popular Tre Cime Di Lavaredo National Park in the Italian Dolomites. Via ferrata Innerkofler packs a hella of a punch for half a day excursion that it is. 

 

The ferrata starts near rifugio Locatelli (Dreizinnenhütte), one of the best mountain huts in the Italian Dolomites, taking you to the summit of Monte Paterno, at the foot of which the refuge was built.  

 

From the top you can admire the famous three peaks from an elevated view, away from the crowds flocking to this national park. Just make sure to leave early to have the summit all to yourself! 

 

 

3. Via ferrata Passo Santner

 

For a beginner route, this one is a bit harder then the two previously mentioned via ferratas. The reason I decided to include it in the beginner list is that the route never presents any scary exposure. The protection in the form of cables and stemples is excellent from start to finish.

 

The real challenge will be to focus on the route and not the amazing views surrounding you. The Rosengarten Nature Park, where the ferrata is located, is known for its many dramatic spires. 

 

The culmination of the ferrata is the Santner mountain pass, where you can get an excellent view of the Vajolet towers - one of my favourite photography subjects in the Dolomites! 

 

Go to my article about via ferrata Passo Santner for detailed information and to see more photos! 

 

 

4. Via ferrata Catinnacio D'Antermoia

 

At 3002 meters Catinnacio is the highest peak in the Rosengarten group. Thanks to the beginner via ferrata Catinnacio D'Antermoia you can have its summit under your belt in just a few hours, if you decide to spend the night in the nearby mountain hut.  

 

The ferrata starts at rifugio Principe, built on the mountain pass with the same name. If you study the photo above you will be able to notice the hut. This is the most interesting structure i have come across during my time in the Dolomites. 

 

The ferrata doesn't pose any great challenges. The only real obstacle might be in your mind. Sure-footedness is a necessity on any of these routes!

 

 

5. Via ferrata Ra Gusela

 

If you did any kind of research about the Dolomites I am sure that sooner or later you came across a photo of the Giau mountain pass (Passo Giau).

 

The mountain standing on the pass - Ra Gusela, is a beloved photography subject for many who visit this area. However few realize that you can get to its summit along the beginner via ferrata Ra Gusela

 

There is nothing technical or complicated about this ferrata. The only scary thing is the few hundred meter high and nearly vertical wall on the other side of the mountain, visible from the summit. Don't worry though, this is not the side you will be scrambling on!

 

 

6. Via ferrata Averau

 

Just two peaks across from the previously mentioned Mount Ra Gusela stands Mount Averau. If I was going to single our my favourite beginner via ferrata, it would be this one. 

 

The cable section on this route is quite intense, but very short. After that it's a straight forward path to the summit, where some of the best views I have witnessed in the Dolomites are waiting for you! 

 

Via ferrata Averau can be connected with the previously mentioned Ra Gusela. Together they will make up for a demanding, but exciting day in the mountains! 

 

 

7. Via ferrata Sass Rigais

 

 

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I often say, either here on my website, or on my social media channels, that from a photographer's perspective autumn is the best time of the year to take photos. 

 

To me it's not just down to the obvious - the vast array of the fall colours and contrasts.

 

Not being a morning person, autumn usually allows me to sleep a couple of hours longer before the sun rises, because lets face it, 4 am sunrises in the summer are no fun!

 

With cooler temperatures it also brings a relieve from the summer. Who else doesn't enjoy hiking, when it's hotter then 20 degrees Celsius? Or I am just weird? 

 

Last year when travelling through Dolomites I made sure that majority of my time spent there was during the Fall and today I am bringing you the countdown of my favourite autumn photography locations. 

 

 


What's the best month to see the autumn colours in the Dolomites?
Tofane di Rozes framed by the Larch Trees

 

Before I get to the countdown let me answer an important question, to which a lot of you may seek an answer? When is the best time to visit to see the fall colours in the Dolomites? 

 

This can slightly vary from year to year, depending on how the summer was, as well as how quickly the cold weather arrives.

 

From what I have observed and researched, the fall starts to slowly creep in at the end of September or early October at higher elevations. The peak Autumns colours however appear between mid October and early November.

 

That's also when the majority of the photos in this post were taken. 

 

 

My Favourite Autumn Photography LOcations In The Italian Dolomites
1. Along the road to rifugio Auronzo
Val Cadin di Longeres near Tre Cime National Park

 

The road to Auronzo refuge offers the easiest and quickest access to the most visited National Park in the Dolomites - Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Since it's a private road, it comes at a high cost of 30 Euros and upwards to drive on it. 

 

What you will gain in return is access to some of the most iconic photography spots in the Dolomites, top day hikes and via ferratas. 

 

The road takes you from Lago Antorno, through the Cadin di Longeres valley, filled with larches. There are a couple of viewpoints, where you can stop safely to snap a photo, without interfering with traffic.   

 

My favourite (pictured above) is located a short walk away from the carpark near rifugio Auronzo, back toward the valley, where the road runs. 

 

In the summer season there are buses operating a few times a day from Lago Antorno to rifugio Auronzo, but if you want to visit in the fall, when the mountain huts are shut, you will either have to pay the fee or hike from the valley bottom. 

 

2. Along the lake Sorapiss trail
The start of the lake Sorapiss hike
Monte Cristallo framed by the larch forest

 

When I first hiked this trail at the start of September I observed that the valley, where the pathway runs, is filled with larch trees. 

 

Larches are actually very common in the Dolomites. For those who might not know, they are the only conifers, which loose needles for the winter. During the autumn transition they bear the most incredible shades of yellows and oranges. 

 

The lake Sorapiss trail, the first half an hour of it in particular, crosses a couple of great viewpoints. The best one is Monte Cristallo framed with the larch forest, with a stream running below (photo above) 

 

For more information on getting there and the description of the hike check out my other article. 

 

 

3. Val Di Funes
Santa Maddalena church in Val Di Funes

 

Val Di Funes is one of the most popular year round photography spots in the Dolomites. Particularly the little church of San Giovianni with the Seceda ridgeline towering over it (photo bottom left).

 

There is a pine forest interwoven with larch trees in the background. 

 

However my personal favorite spot to give this place justice in autumn is the viewpoint of the second church - Santa Maddalena. To access it you will need to walk from town, as the road you can see in the photo above is private and inaccessible to tourist traffic. 

 

The good news is, it only takes around 20 minutes from the town's parking lot to walk to this spot. 

 

4. Along the hike to Cinque Torri
Tofane di Rozes

 

When hiking along the trail to Cinque Torri you will again pass through a larch forest. As you gain elevation the views will will open up towards the valley, unveiling some interesting photo compositions.

 

Passo Falzarego, where you can start the famous hike through the Lagazuoi tunnels, as well as rifugio Lagazuoi - one of the most photogenic huts in the Dolomites, will be visible in the distance. 

 

A dome shaped peak, going by the name Tofane di Rozes, famous for the via ferrata Giovianni Lipella going to its summit, will probably catch your eye too. 

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Driving through the Dolomites can be scary at times.

 

With plenty of hairpin turns, narrow roads and locals who sometimes drive like there is no tomorrow, confirming the stereotypes about the italian drivers, it takes some time to get used to. 

 

But as long as you take your time and keep your eyes on the road you will be fine. Although the latter might prove itself difficult with the views you are about to encounter. 

 

The mountains passes of the Italian Dolomites offer great access to many hikes and via ferratas which these ranges are famous for and I am about to share a bucket load of information with you.

 

So strap you seat belt and get ready for a beautiful ride through Dolomites' best mountain passes. 

 

 


7 Mountain Passes In The Italian Dolomites You Should Drive Through
1. Passo Rolle
The reflective ponds near Passo Rolle

 

Nestled right beneath the dramatic spires of the Pale Di San Martino group, Passo Rolle is a must stop when driving between Val di Fassa and San Martino di Castrozza. 

 

In the winter the area around Passo Rolle turns into a world class ski resort and the summer transforms it into endless fields of colourful wildflowers. 

 

A challenging day hike to Passo del Mulaz starts here. By walking only 30 minutes away from the road you will also find Baita G Segantini and its reflective ponds - one of the iconic photography spots in the Dolomites. 

 

There are a few hotels directly at Passo Rolle should you want to be close to all the action. 

 

2. Passo Gardena
View over Passo Gardena from the summit of Gran Cir

 

Passo Gardena is my personal favourite mountain pass in the Dolomites. Why is that you may wonder? For adventure junkies and photography lovers like myself, the Gardena pass is the perfect playground.

 

With the access to two great via ferratas: Gran Cir and Brigata Tridentina as well as the jaw dropping views over Sassolungo (Langkofel) and a big larch tree forest turning gold during autumn months, you will want to spend some time around here. 

 

If you want to base yourself close to the Gardena Pass the nearest town is Corvara, only 15 minute drive away. 

 

 

3. Passo Sella
Sassolungo and Sassopiato at sunrise

 

Not too far from the previously mentioned Gardena Pass is another one - Passo Sella. It takes its name from the Sella mountain group which stands right in between those two passages. 

 

Sella pass is where you should stop if you want to get a closer look of the peaks of Sassolungo and Sassopiato.

 

If that's not close enough, I highly recommend strapping a helmet and harness on and venturing into the heart of this group for an exhilarating via ferrata Oskar Schuster. 

 

There is a seasonal hotel opened between June and September and during winter ski months directly on the pass, creatively called the Passo Sella resort.

 

The two nearby towns connected by the pass are Selva di Val Gardena and Canazei. 

 

 

4. Passo Giau
Ra Gusela at sunrise

 

Passo Giau is certainly most iconic pass on this list, mostly thanks to instagram. The pass lies more or less half way between Cortina D'Ampezzo and Selva di Cadore.

 

In the summer you can often meet hikers here, crossing the path along the famous Alta Via 1 - a 120 kilometre long backpacking trip running across the Dolomites. 

 

The peak you can see in the photo above is called Ra Gusela and you can access its summit along a via ferrata. The view from the top is completely different to the one below and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to venture off the beaten path a bit. 

 

Another icon visible from the pass is Marmolada - Dolomite's highest peak! 

 

5. Passo Falzarego
Tofana Di Rozes framed by the changing larch trees

 

I have spent many days around Passo Falzarego exploring the area and there is lots to do here, and you are about it find it all out!

 

The pass is located 30 minute drive away from Cortina D'Ampezzo in the direction of Selva di Cadore or Corvara. 

 

Just like the previously mentioned Passo Giau, the Falzarego mountain pass lies on the Alta Via 1. It's also home to rifugio Lagazuoi - one of the most photogenic mountain huts in the Dolomites, which proudly stands a few hundred meters above it.  

 

You can spend the day here hiking through the Lagazuoi tunnels and learn about the gruel history of this place dating back to the First World War. 

 

Only a short hike away from the pass lies Lago Limides, another iconic photo spot in the Dolomites, where you can see the reflections of Tofana di Rozes - a mountain peak pictured above.

 

Passo Falzarego also offers great access to the area around Cinque Torri and to the via ferrata Averau. 

 

As you can see, you could plan your holiday just around the Falzarego pass and you wouldn't get bored. 

 

 

6. Passo Tre Croci
Alpenglow on Monte Cristallo at dawn

 

The Tre Croci Pass connects Cortina D'Ampezzo with Misurina and the Tre Cime National Park. It also stands on the divide between two mountain groups: Sorapiss and Cristallo. 

 

The latter with its highest peak - Monte Cristallo is pictured above. You can access its summit through an exciting via ferrata Marino Bianchi - one of my personal favorites. 

 

Passo Tre Croci is also where the trail to Lago di Sorapiss sets off. This is one of the day hikes in the Italian Dolomites, you shouldn't miss. 

 

 

7. Passo Delle Erbe
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When I first planned my visit to the Italian Dolomites I knew I wanted to spend a lot of time in the mountains hiking, but when I picked up a few guide books to see the possibilities I was overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. 


Overwhelmed due to the sheer number of day hikes enlisted, underwhelmed because of the lack of photographs available.

 

As a photographer I wanted to see what I can expect in regards to vistas, so I did what any hiker should do. I purchased a few hiking maps and off I went. 

 

Whilst most of the hikes on this list are well known, there are certainly a couple off the beaten track gems in there too. 

 

This article is one of many you can find in my Italian Dolomites Guide. If you are a photographer and love the outdoors, you should check it out! 

 

 


9 Day Hikes In The Italian Dolomites To Fuel Your Wanderlust
1. Croda Da Lago Circuit

 

 

This 5 hour long day hike circumnavigates around Dolomite's typically jagged peak - Croda da Lago. 

 

Best walked clockwise the trail passes along Lago Federa - one of the iconic photography spots in the Dolomitesas well as the cozy rifugio Palmieri, where you can stay the night and experience the typical mountain culture of this area. 

 

For best views of Croda Da Lago go to the summit of Mount Averau or Ra Gusela, both accessible through two beginner via ferratas.

 

For more information about the trailhead, distance and route description go to my article about the Croda da Lago Circuit. 

 

 

2. Cinque Torri

 

This one is for the history geeks. The remains of the trenches and weaponries at the foot of Cinque Torri remind us all of the atrocities of the First World War and the horrendous conditions the soldiers had to live in. 

 

The whole area can be reached via a cable car, but the hike is so easy and enjoyable you should just walk it. 

 

The aptly named Cinque Torri means exactly what it is - The Five Towers. They serve as climber's playground. On a sunny day you will be able to see plenty of climbers trying to scale one of the towers. 

 

I covered everything you need to know about this hike in a separate article

 

3. Lagazuoi Tunnels

 

The Lagazuoi tunnels is another very important reminder of the First World War. Due to the strategic position of this area, the Italian and Austro-hungarian soldiers have fiercely battled for it, until it fell into the hands of the Italians.

 

Some mountain towns though have prevailed their identity and even now, over 100 years later, german remains the language that is often spoken around here. 

 

The hike through the tunnels starts at Passo Falzarego, a mountain pass connecting the towns of Cortina D'Ampezzo with Selva Di Cadore. It eventually finishes on the top of Mount Lagazuoi (photo above), with the famous rifugio Lagazuoi standing on its top. 

 

If you would like to know more about the hike and the best way to see the tunnels go here

 

4. Lake Sorapiss

 

 

If you plan on basing yourself around Cortina D'Ampezzo during your stay in the Dolomites then reserve a day to do the hike to Lake Sorapiss. 

 

Although elevation wise it's a pretty easy hike, you shouldn't underestimate it, especially if you don't have a head for heights. A decent section of the trail scales along a rock shelf, on one side protected by a cable on the other side a couple of hundred meter sheer drop. The photo above will give you a good idea of what I am talking about.

 

A prize in the form of a turquoise, glacier fed lake surrounded by dramatic peaks awaits you at the end.

 

Not too far from the lake, there is a mountain hut, where you can stay overnight, run by very friendly and helpful locals. It's called rifugio Vandelli.  I have stayed there a couple of nights, when hiking along the via ferrata Giro del Sorapiss. 

 

 

5. Tre Cime Circuit

 

If you are coming to the Dolomites for just a few days and are looking for a hike, that shouldn't be missed, you just found it. 

 

The Tre Cime circuit circumnavigates around Dolomite's famous Three Peaks. The highlights include passing through the iconic Forcella (saddle) Lavaredo and rifugio Locatelli.

 

If you are feeling adventurous you can combine the hike with two famous via ferratas in the area: Innerkofler/De Luca and Torre di Toblin, but to do that, spending a night in the nearby hut will be essential. 

 

6. Lago Di Braies Circuit

 

Overcrowding is an issue that is starting to have a negative impact on many places around the World and Lago Di Braies is certainly one of them.

 

90% of the tourists who flock to this lake don't go further then 100 meters away from the parking lot, just to snap the famous instagram shot right next to the boathouse and move on. 

 

Few realize that there is a pathway you can take, which skirts the lake, taking you away from the craziness of it all and it only takes 1 hour to complete!

 

It's best to do it early in the morning, when the light rays hit the mountains and light up Seekofel - the peak which reflects in the lake. For more information and photos of the Lago di Braies circuit see this article. 

 

7. Vajolet Towers

 

When I first saw a photograph of Vajolet towers I couldn't believe this place was real, let alone it was only an hour drive from where I currently was. 

 

Then I learnt that there was a mountain hut right beneath the towers and I thought my day can't get any better! I run to a store bought a topography map of the Rosengarten Nature Park, where the towers are located and planned my next adventure. 

 

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Trailhead: Top or bottom of the Col Raiser Gondola

Length: 8km with cable car, 14km without

Duration: 4 hours with cable car, 7 hours without

Elevation Change: 400m with cable car, 1000m without

Map: Tabacco 05

 

A trip to the Dolomites wouldn't be complete without seeing the famous Seceda ridgeline. 

 

When looking on Google Maps, one assumes that it’s an easy point to reach. Just take the Seceda chairlift right? 

 

Whilst this is certainly possible in the winter when the lift is operational, in the summertime, when it’s not running, the trip requires a bit more effort. 

 

Hiking to Seceda ridgeline and beyond is the perfect way to explore the heart of the Puez Ödle Nature Park and if you plan roadtripping the Dolomites, add this place onto your bucket list!

 

 


How To Reach The Seceda Ridgeline
Sassolungo and the Almhotel on the top of Col Raiser Gondola

 

The closest lift that is operational for most of the summer (June 1st - October 15th) is the Col Raiser Gondola. Its lower terminal is in the town of Selva di Val Gardena in a small subdistrict called Plan Da Tieja. Since it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area, there are signs all over town pointing to it. 

 

A return journey costs 20euros and the tickets are valid for one week. It's valuable information in case you were planning an overnight stay in Puez-Odle Nature Park.

  

Afternoon light on the Seceda ridgeline

 

If you don’t want to take the cable car, then the hiking trail to get to the upper terminal (path 1 onto 1A) zigzags underneath the cable car, in and out of the tree line with a few glimpses southward to Sassolungo and Sassopiatto peaks. 

 

Far better views are to come so by taking the cable car you aren’t going to miss anything and I highly advise that you take advantage of the gondola, saving the energy for what's to come. 

 

Morning autumn light on the Seceda ridgeline

 

With your gondola ticket you will be given a hiking map of the area with few ideas of where to walk. Whilst it's not the most sophisticated map it will keep you on the right path. 

 

Hiking in the Dolomites is always easy. With plenty of signs and route markings everywhere it's hard to get lost. However if you want peace of mind or plan on exploring the area around Puez Odle National Park more, then purchase Tabacco Map nr 05. 

 

Little huts typical for the Dolomiti region

 

To reach the Seceda ridgeline from the upper Col Raiser gondola terminal take the path nr 2. It is really more a backcountry road than a hiking trail. 

 

The quickest route heads steadily uphill then takes a right turn onto path 1A, then another right again onto path 6, eventually bringing you to the famous viewpoint. Frankly speaking, there’s a multitude of paths and unnamed desire lines that you can take there but these are the main arteries.   

 

NOTE: If you’re hiking from the lower terminal then just stay on path nr 1A from earlier on and follow it all the way to the viewpoints. You will be hiking underneath the Seceda chairlift. 

 

It takes around an hour from the Col Raiser upper terminal to the viewpoint.

 

"The Lion Rock"

 

Once you’ve admired the view at the top of the Seceda chairlift it's time to explore the area more. Head directly towards the famous spires on path nr 1. This will take you past some incredible huts and viewpoints of the cliffs to your left and Sassolungo to your right.

 

After around 30 minutes on path number 1, bare left onto path nr 2B to reach Malga Pieralongia. There are signs pointing to it. Nearby you can find the incredible “Lion King Rock” - a small, shark-tooth-looking spire (see photo above).

 

From here follow the signs for via ferrata Sass Rigais, before turning right onto path nr 13B then 13 and descending to rifugio Firenze.

 

Seceda Ridgeline as seen from rifugio Firenze. Typical signs along the hiking paths

 

This is a great place for a cold beer on their huge patio area overlooking the Puez Odle Altiplano. From Rifugio Firenze it’s only 15 minutes back to the upper Col Raiser Terminal or a 1.5 hour hike back to the lower terminal along the access road behind the hut (Path nr 1).

 

One of the building belonging to rifugio Firenze

 

If you want to experience the sunrise at the Seceda ridgeline then unfortunately the gondola isn’t of much use as it only starts at 8am. What I suggest is to take the last gondola the evening before, stay overnight in Rifugio Firenze and walk the 45 minutes to 1 hour hike to the Seceda viewpoint in the morning.  

 

Rifugio Firenze is a great place to explore more of Puez Odle Nature Park especially if you want to scramble to its highest peak Sass Rigais or experience classic Dolomiti cuisine and culture.

 

If you have any questions about this hike or would like to add something, post it in the comments. I will be happy to help! 

 

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Vajolet Towers Day Hike Basic Information 

 

Trailhead: Malga Frommer Alm

Length: 8km return

Elevation Change: 600m ascent by cable car then 250m ascent to pass, slight descent to Rifugio Vajolet, then 400m ascent to the Rifugio Alberto.

Duration: 6hours

Map: Tabacco 29

 

Out of all areas in the Dolomites I have a soft spot for the Rosengarten. It's hard not to, if you are treated to such wonders as Vajolet towers.

 

This hike is much quieter than the iconic Tre Cime circuit or Lago di Braies The trailhead is just north of Lago Carezza at Malga Frommer Alm, where the König Laurin chairlift starts.

 

Note: There is a pathway under the chairlift but that makes for a very long day. It’s not covered in this description but it is an option for those on a budget or planning an overnight hut stay. 

 

 


How To Reach Vajolet Towers In The Italian Dolomites
Top of the chairlift and the deck of rifugio Fronza

 

There is a decent size parking lot on the opposite side of the road from Malga Frommer Alm (marked on the map), but make sure to arrive early to get a spot.

 

I left my car parked there for 7 days, whilst exploring the Rosengarten on foot and I am happy to say it was still there and intact, when I came back. Maybe the italian drivers aren't so bad after all.  

 

The chairlift costs 13€ return and it is valid for 7 days if you plan on spending multiple days within the park and staying in the huts. 

 

The views right above rifugio Fronza at the start of the hike to Vajolet towers

 

Once you’re at the top of the chairlift at rifugio Fronza (also known as the Rosengarten hütte or Kölner hütte), hike behind the refuge and start heading uphill on path nr 550.

 

Not before long you will reach a fork. If you’re an experienced scrambler and brought proper equipment with you, then you can also reach the Vajolet towers via a left turn following the marked path toward Via Ferrata Passo Santner. Today however I will cover the easier option.

 

From the fork take the slight right turn onto hiking path nr 550. It requires no climbing.

 

Approaching rifugio Vajolet

 

Once you’ve made the right turn, the path steepens until you reach the Pas da le Colonele where you’ll get your first glimpse of the parks highest peak, Monte Catinaccio.

 

It then quickly descends to path nr 541 and a left at the next junction takes you into the heart of the Rosengarten National Park, eventually reaching rifugio Vajolet. This hut is a great place for a break before tackling the steep gully up to rifugio Alberto Primero - one of the most photogenic huts in the Dolomites! 

 

Rifugio Vajolet, right beneath the Vajolet towers

 

The gully starts quickly and continues steeply along path nr 542. Cables are provided to help you on the most difficult of sections. It’s a gruelling ascent but manageable and not very technical.

 

After around an hour from rifugio Vajolet you’ll be at rifugio Alberto Primero (also known as Gartlhütte), directly underneath the Vajolet towers. I hope you are ready for some incredible views! 

 

views in the gully leading to rifugio Alberto Primero

 

The best vantage point of the towers is from Passo Laurin, a short 5 minute walk away from the hut. My personal favourite though is the view from Passo Santner, a 20 minute slight uphill walk from the hut (see photo below). 

 

Another little hut is scheduled to open in the summer season of 2020 right on this pass and it is already marked on the Tabacco map nr 29. When it does I definitely plan on coming back to check it out. 

 

Vajolet towers and rifugio Alberto Primero from Passo Santner

 

If you’re not into via ferrata, it’s back the same way you came, but if you can, fit one into your itinerary. I also highly recommend staying overnight in any of the huts you’ve passed on your hike today.

 

They all have different prices and different amenities but all of them give you the chance of being in the right spot at the right time to take some incredible photos.

 

Cloud inversion on the Santner Pass. Far in the distance the Latemar group peaking from the clouds.

 

 

If you have any questions about this hike, let me know in the comments below! I answer every time. 

 

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Trailhead: Passo Tre Croci

Length: 13km roundtrip (including loop around lake)

Elevation Change: 130m

Duration: 4 hours 

Map: Tabacco10

 

The hike to Lago di Sorapiss is a well trodden path culminating at a crystal blue, glacially fed small alpine lake, where the towering peak of Punta Sorapiss rises above it.

 

It’s an iconic photo stop in the Italian Dolomites but due to its accessibility and recent surge in popularity, in the height of summer, especially on the weekends, it can become very busy.

 

Even though the elevation difference between the start and end of the hike isn't big, you shouldn't underestimate it. If you are afraid of heights a few sections where the trail runs along some very steep ledges can make your head spin. 

 

 


All You Need To Know About The Lake Sorapiss Day Hike In The Italian Dolomites
Lake Sorapiss photographed from the first part of the Giro Del Sorapiss Via Ferrata
Where does the trail to Lago Di Sorapiss start?

 

The hike starts at passo Tre Croci, where road side parking is limited and tends to fill up very quickly. Heed my warning and arrive early to avoid disappointment.

 

From Cortina, the nearest town, passo Tre Croci is a 20 minute drive eastward on SR48. The trailhead for this well sign-posted route is roughly 100m down the hill from the Grand Hotel Tre Croci which is currently undergoing renovations (2019).

 

In the initial field, horses can be seen grazing underneath the peaks you’ll be heading toward.

 

The field at the start of the hike
Lago Di Sorapiss trail description

 

The trail is wide and well trodden and to be frank, could use a toilet and a few extra rubbish bins. If you see any litter, do Mother Nature a favour and pack it out with you, even if it’s not yours.

 

The path slightly undulates amongst a thick larch forest which turns into all kinds of yellow and orange hues in the second half of October. 

 

The path then reaches a photogenic stream gushing over the path. If the stream is high then some rock hopping is required. Make sure to stop here to grab a photo of the dramatic Monte Cristallo. 

 

 

Before you know it you’ll reach an undulating cliff face traverse where the path narrows somewhat and a cable is provided to those of you who aren’t sure footed or are a bit nervous of heights. Climbing equipment is not necessary.

 

The route then steepens up several staircases and rocky outcrops before re-entering thick forest. In around 2 hours, you’ll be at the lake.

 

Autumn foliage along the trail

 

The refuge at the lake - rifugio Vandelli, lies on both Alta Via 3 and on the more popular Alta Via 4 so reservations can become hard to get. I advise you book as early as you can if you want to stay overnight there.

 

It’s also a great place to stay if you plan on tackling the 10-12 hour long via ferrata Giro Del Sorapiss. 

 

Bring cash if you would like to grab a bite or drink. The food is delicious, but I guess after all the hiking effort anything will taste good. 

 

Via ferrata Giro Del Sorapiss - a possible extension to the hike.

 

The lake and its immediate surroundings are strictly a no camping zone but unfortunately several man-made fire pits have left scorched Earth and used toilet paper can often be seen blowing in the wind.

 

The water, that’s also strictly out of bounds for those of you wanting to take a refreshing dip, is such a crystal blue colour that it’s hard to believe. It is fed by the Occidentale, Centrale and the Orientale Glaciers that lie higher up amongst the peaks of the Sorapiss Range.

 

Walking around the lake doesn’t take long and gives you the change to appreciate the grandeur of the surrounding peaks.

 

 

The route back to your vehicle is the same as the one you’ve taken, just remember to cross safely whilst passing other hikers on the stairs and on the narrower parts of the path.

            

Monte Cristallo and the autumn foliage, photographed 30 minutes into the hike to Lake Sorapiss

 

If you have hiked the trail to Lake Sorapiss and would like to add something or if you plan on hiking it and have any questions make sure to post them in the comments below. I will be happy to help! 

 

See my guide to the Italian Dolomites for more day hike ideas, via ferratas and must visit photography spots. 

 

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Trailhead: Passo Falzarego

Length: 2.5km

Elevation Change: 673m

Duration: 3 hours

Map: Tabacco 03

 

The road up to Passo Falzarego (SR48) from the town of Cortina D'Ampezzo passes several trailheads for day hikes, Cinque Torri and Lago di Limides are just to name a few.

 

Directly at Passo Falzarego however, apart from a few small cafes and a hotel, is where the trail up to the Lagazuoi Tunnels begins.

 

The tunnel system up to Rifugio Lagazuoi is one of the most extensive in the Dolomites and due to a European Union grant, one of the safest, well preserved and educational hikes you can do around here.

 

 


Hiking the Lagazuoi Tunnels In The Italian Dolomites

 

A forewarning to those thinking that this is an ordinary walk. This hike is sometimes classed as a 1A Via Ferrata (a beginner level).

 

It’s a very exposed walk and although climbing equipment is not absolutely necessary, a helmet and a torch most definitely are!

 

Sorapiss range as seen from Rifugio Lagazuoi

 

The route starts on path nr 402. A wide gravel path that begins at the far end of the gondola parking lot. The initial 20 minutes of ascent is on agonising scree switchbacks.

 

The initial views are very rewarding and I’d advise you breath them in whilst you can, because soon you’ll be underground.

 

When the path reaches a fork, the tunnelled route up to Rifugio Lagazuoi goes to the left. Don't worry, it's well signposted. For an alternate above ground route bare right. If you decide to go left, this is where the fun starts. Put on your helmet and your head torch.

 

Entry to the Lagazuoi tunnels

 

The tunnels are very well sign posted to prevent hikers getting lost. Several different routes and vantage points can be taken and informative placards adorn the most striking features such as sleeping quarters, lookouts and the mistakes soldiers made when mining their way through.

 

Incredibly this is how they were engineered. A group of soldiers would just guesstimate which direction they needed to go, mine until they saw sunlight, judge their location, and repeat the process. 

 

Tunnel collapses were common and dust inhalation due to lack of ventilation was a huge problem but the strategic advantage of this location was so important that the sacrifice of a few lives didn’t matter. 

 

Rifugio Lagazuoi at sunrise

 

The tunnels inside the mountain are sometimes at 45 degree angles and the old wooden relics can still be admired alongside new safety grids and supports. The tunnels are now well ventilated and regularly checked for safety.

 

You can get up to the upper cable car station in roughly 90 minutes but if you’re a keen history buff and want to read every single sign then it could easily take over 2 hours. Once you emerge from the tunnels the rest of the route up to Rifugio Lagazoui is up a few switchbacks, along former WW1 trenches.

 

 

Once you get to the gondola station, the Lagazuoi hut is only 5 minutes away. This is a fantastic spot for a luxury dining experience. Its views are remarkable and I couldn’t stress an overnight stay more.

 

Here is a tip for you, If you do plan on staying overnight, send your bag up on the gondola for a few euros, hike up through the tunnels, then pick up the bag at the top.

 

This way, with very minimal effort, you will get to experience not only the tunnels but also a sunset and sunrise at Rifugio Lagazuoi and the nearby summit of Piccolo Lagazuoi.

 

Mont Civetta from Picollo Lagazuoi

 

From the refuge it’s approximately 15 minutes up to the summit of Piccolo Lagazuoi, the highest point of the loop, where the views in all directions are classic Dolomiti sheer rock faces and peaks. The route down is far less interesting than the tunnels.

 

It zigzags down scree slopes and at times can be demanding. The descent route of the anti-clockwise loop described here is known as the Sentiero Dei Kaiserjäger.

 

A railing path leading to the Picollo Lagazuoi

 

Sections of cable are readily available for those with Via Ferrata equipment or for those who want to hold onto something professionally secured.

 

After the scenic suspension bridge the hardest part of the route is an easy down climb of a few metres followed by a ladder. After this it’s plain sailing continually switchbacking until you reach the car park at the bottom gondola station.

 

Descending along the Sentiero dei Kaiserjäger towards the suspension bridge

 

Again, if you aren’t the most surefooted or are new to hiking then I suggest you pack Via Ferrata equipment. It’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around.

 

You must take is a decent torch with extra batteries, a helmet and a good pair of climbing gloves. The route within the tunnel can be steep at times, the use of a handrail makes for an easier ascent but as it it is dark, cold and wet inside the tunnels, you’ll certainly want gloves. 

 

 

Apart from the tunnels the next biggest highlight is the rifugio Lagazuoi itself. Most of the photos on this post were taken from the nearby proximity of this hut. It's one of the most photogenic mountain huts in the Dolomites and definitely worth staying at. 

 

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Mountain hut culture is highly widespread in the Italian Dolomites. With over a thousand huts to choose from, it's not an easy task to narrow it down to only a few. 

 

Yet we all tend to have our favorites, so do I. During the 12 weeks I was in Italy, researching for my photography and hiking guide to the Dolomites, I spent many evenings hanging out by the fire in a local backcountry hut. 

 

They all had one thing in common, the location they were built upon and the surrounding views would make me collect my jaw off the floor every time. 

 

Staying in a mountain hut should be high on your Dolomites bucket list! They are very affordable and present easy access to many via ferratas, which these ranges are famous for. 

 

Before you plan your stay, make sure to also read my article about everything you need to know about staying in a dolomiti rifugio (coming soon). 

 

 


14 mountain huts In The Italian Dolomites That Are Worth Visiting
1. Rifugio Nuvolau
Nuvolau hut photographed from Mont Averau

 

When looking at rifugio Nuvolau my instant thought was "this building defies gravity". It is perched right near a few hundred meter cliff with 360 degrees views. Just the idea of spending a night in this hut might steal your sleep. 

 

The Nuvolau hut lies along the Alta Via 1 - the famous multiday day trek in the Dolomites. It also offers great access to two nearby beginner via ferratas: Ra Gusela and Averau. 

 

Reservations in this rifugio are very hard to come by, and the hut's website is extremely outdated. Unfortunately I haven't had a great experience with making the booking.

 

The customer service is lacking and the facilities are limited, but the owners are aware of the fantastic location the hut has and that it will continue to draw in business, regardless of their attitude.  

 

Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) member: YES 

Price per night with half board: Euro 60 (10 Euro off with Alpine Club membership). 

How to reach the hut: From Passo Falzarego along path nr 441 or 419. From Passo Giau along path nr 438. See Tobacco map nr 3 for best reference. 

Summer season opening times: Mid June until the last weekend of September 

 

Nuvolau hut photographed from the summit of Ra Gusela
2. Rifugio Lagazuoi

 

 

Rifugio Lagazuoi compared to the previously mentioned Nuvolau is like Hyatt put against a Super 8 Motel. This privately owned rifugio is by far my favourite hut experience I've had in the Dolomites.

 

The beds are comfy, facilities are great and the booking process, which can be done directly through their website, is seamless. Naturally it all comes at a slightly higher price. 

 

The rifugio also lies along the Alta Via 1 and offers great access to the advanced via ferrata Cesco Tomaselli. 

 

CAI member: NO

Starting price per night with half board: Euro 68

Summer season opening times: June 8th - October 12th 

How to reach it: through Lagazuoi tunnels hike, the via ferrata Kaiserjäger or simply by taking the cable car from Passo Falzarego. 

TIP: Send your luggage/backpack with the gondola for just 5 Euros and hike with only the essentials for a more enjoyable day. 

 

3. Rifugio Locatelli / Dreizinnenhütte

 

Rifugio Locatelli, located in the Tre Cime National Park, is the most famous mountain hut in the Dolomites. Unfortunately fame can have its negatives and in this case it is the overcrowding.

 

On a beautiful summer day you can expect hundreds of people coming through, buying lunch and enjoying the nearby view of the Three Peaks and Monte Paterno. 

 

So far I have stayed twice at rifugio Locatelli and I was very impressed with how friendly the staff was, even though they are put through immense pressure during the season, due to the volume of people visiting. 

 

There are two fantastic via ferratas accessible from rifugio Locatelli: Torre di Toblin and De Luca. The hut also lies along the Alta Via 4, which I will be hiking in the upcoming summer. 

 

For reservations you can email or phone directly with the exact information required. They are listed on the hut's website. 

 

CAI Member: YES

Price per night with half board: Euro 60 (10 Euros off with Alpine Club Membership) 

Summer season opening times: 29.06 - 29.09

How to reach it: along the Tre Cime Circuit hiking path. 

 

 

4. Rifugio Passo Principe / Grassleitenpasshütte

 

If you are after an off the beaten path experience in the Dolomites you should add a stay in the Passo Principe hut to your list. Passo Principe is one of the mountain passes located in the Rosengarten/Catinaccio group in the western part of the Dolomites. 

 

This tiny hut was built into a rock wall and it is run by a very friendly local along with his ageing dog - a border collie named Jacko.

 

The food is delicious, they even bake their own bread and the atmosphere couldn't put you any closer to the mountain culture. Even the showers are included in the price, which is very uncommon. It's the small things that make it so perfect. 

 

Via ferrata to the summit of Catinaccio - the highest peak of the group, starts right at the doorstep of this rifugio and shouldn't be missed! 

 

To reserve the hut you can write an email request with your info and the dates at principe.rosi@gmail.com. 

 

CAI member: NO

Price per night with half board: Euro 46 

Summer season opening times: End of May - Mid October (weather depending) 

How to reach it: Take the shuttle to rifugio Gardeccia then walk path nr 546 to rifugio Vajolet then path nr 584. 2,5 hours total. 

 

5. Rifugio Re Alberto Primero / Gartlhütte
Gartlhütte as seen from Passo Santner

 

I couldn't imagine a more dramatic location for a mountain hut then the Gartlhütte. It was built at the foot of the Vajolet towers, popular amongst climbers and photographers. 

 

It's one of the most remote huts in the Rosengarten group. You can reach it by scrambling along the

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