Epic Dolomiti hikes

Morning fog at the start of the Tre Cime hike

Spectacular would be the one word to describe the Dolomiti.  The Dolomiti (Dolomites in English) is a beautiful region that occupies a good chunk of northern Italy.  Collectively, it refers to several mountain ranges and valleys that span over the provinces of Belluno, Bolzano (South Tyrol), Trento, Udine and Pordenone.  Actually, the Dolomiti extends further west, almost to the borders with Austria and Switzerland.   To us, the mountain ranges in Belluno, Bolzano and Trento are the most stunning and where we spent most of our time hiking.

If we were going to define the boundary of this spectacular playground, we would use the Italian-Austrian and Italian-Switzerland borders as the north and west boundaries, draw a horizontal line through the city of Belluno to define the south border and draw a vertical line through the town of Auronzo to define the eastern border.

The mountains closer to the border with Austria and Switzerland are more awe inspiring as the peaks are above the treeline.  As you move further south towards Belluno, the mountains still remain gigantic but are more covered with trees and other vegetation. 

The hikes we list here can be tackled in different ways.  It can be made easier by utilizing ski lifts and cable cars to bypass the ascent and/or descent or it can be made harder by hiking to and/or from the destination.  Here we list them from easiest to hardest based on how we did them. The times spent are the amount of time it took us to hike and take breaks to eat and take plenty of photos.  Not included is the drive time from our accommodation to the trailhead and back.  We apologize for not including the hike statistics, i.e. distance and elevation gain.  Just resign yourself to the fact that if a couple in their late 50’s and early 60’s are able to do it, then you can do it as well.

HikeProvince / NearestTownShort Description
Lago di Carezza (Karersee)Bolzano / CarezzaAbout a one kilometer hike around an emerald green lake with a mountain backdrop.  Minimal elevation change.  Time spent:  < 1 hour.
SecedaBolzano / OrtiseiA mountain ridge reachable by hiking or by cable car (we rode the cable car). It is a short but steep climb to the viewing area that provides a 360 degree view that includes the jagged mountain ridge and the valleys below.  Hike time to viewing area:  < 10 minutes.  More hikes can be done to get closer to the mountain ridge.  Time spent:  all afternoon.
Lago di Braies (Kersersee)Bolzano / OberhausAbout a 3 kilometer hike around a lake that changes color from blue to green depending on the time of the year.  The lake is framed by tall mountains.  Time spent:  6 hours
Cascate del PisciadùBolzano / CalfoschAn easy hike to a waterfall not far from the village of Calfosch. We did this hike as a circular route starting from our accommodation in Calfosch, down to the town of Corvara, up a dirt road through the forest towards the waterfall before returning to Calfosch through a beautiful meadow. The scenic part of the hike is the return trip to Calfosch from the waterfall.
Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)Bolzano / CastelrottoLarge high alpine meadow with mountain ranges in the backdrop.  Many hiking trails.  Time spent:  All day
Rifugio LagazouiBelluno / Cortina d’AmpezzoA rifugio on top of a mountain offering 360 degree view.  The rifugio can be reached via cable car or can be hiked.  We rode the cable car up, did a 2 kilometer out and back hike to Monte Lagazuoi Piccolo and hiked down to the cable car parking area.  Time spent:  6 hours
Catinaccio (Rosengarten)Trento / CarezzaThere are many hikes in the Catinaccio mountain range.  We did the out and back roughly 7.6 kilometer hike between Rifugios Paolina Hütte and Kölner Hütte.  Fabulous hike with the mountain on one side and the valley on the other.  TIme spent:  entire afternoon.
Monte SpecieBolzano / CarboninA moderate hike that begins from Prato Piazza through high alpine meadows culminating to the top of Mount Specie where it provides 360 degree view.  Time spent:  6 hours.
Rifugio TuckettTrento / Madonna di CampiglioA moderate hike that begins from Rifugio Stoppani (reachable by chairlift).  Rifugio Tuckett is tucked inside the mountains so it provides classic Dolomiti scenery.  Time spent:  All afternoon.
Rifugio BrancaSondrio / Santa Caterina di ValfurvaThis hike is not within the area considered the Dolomiti but is spectacular nonetheless.  You will need a car to get to the trailhead.  Then it is a 2 mile hike with roughly 1,000+ ft of elevation gain to the rifugio which sits in front of the Forni Glacier.  There is a trail that leads to the glacier’s tongue before returning to the trailhead.  Time spent:  All day.
Cinque TorriBelluno / Cortina d’AmpezzoA circular hike that starts from the Seggiovia Cinque Torri (cable car) parking area to Rifugio Scoiattoli.  Fantastic views with conveniently placed lounge chairs awaits you to enjoy the surrounding mountains.  Cinque Torri is a few minutes walk from the rifugio.  It is comprised of one big hunk of rock and four smaller ones.  There are also hikes to two other refuges from Rifugio Scoiattoli.  Time spent:  All day.
Geisler AlmBolzano / Santa MagdalenaHike to a refuge that is on a high alpine meadow with wonderful views of towering mountains.  It consistently shows up on Google if you type “Beautiful Dolomite hikes”.  Time spent:  All day.
Lake SorapisBelluno / Cortina d’AmpezzoAn alpine lake tucked in the mountains.  It is similar to Lago di Braies except the lake is much smaller.  But the hike to get to the lake is rewarding as it presents some wonderful views of mountains and valleys.  It is demanding due to the elevation gain.  Time spent:  All day.
Tre Cime di LavaredoBolzano / MuzurinaOne of the more popular hikes in Dolomiti.  A massif with three prominent rounded peaks beautifully adorns the skyline on a clear day.  The hike is not terribly long but can be demanding depending on which route you take.  Time spent:  All day.


The Dolomiti is a spectacular playground where several mountain ranges and valleys are spread over a large area in northern Italy.  With mountains comes epic hikes and there is no shortage of that in the Dolomiti.

We barely scratched the hundreds of trails in the Dolomiti.  Some are well known and some are obscure but nonetheless spectacular.  From what we have seen, we think most rifugios (mountain huts) are located in beautiful places with cable cars and ski lifts taking adventurers to these beautiful places.  Rifugios make a convenient home base to do hiking explorations.  Cable cars and ski lift save you time and energy so you can go further and deeper into the mountains and experience a more fulfilling hike.  Whatever you are looking for, whether it is short or long, easy or challenging, we are almost certain you will find it in the Dolomiti.