Monte Specie

The alpine meadow at Prato Piazza

Monte Specie is one of those underrated hikes that seldom appear in any Google searches for epic hikes in the Dolomiti.  That is unfortunate and fortunate at the same time.  It is unfortunate because it provides jaw dropping views and is not too difficult to get to. It is fortunate because it is not crowded unlike Tre Cime de Lavaredo.

You have to go to Prato Piazza before you can hike to Monte Specie.  Prato Piazza  is a high alpine meadow similar to Alpe di Siusi.  We actually like Prato Piazza better than Alpe di Siusi because the mountains are closer and therefore look larger. 

A hike to the top of Monte Specie is particularly rewarding because it provides 360 degree views of surrounding mountains.  You can even see Tre Cime from Monte Specie.  It is not a difficult hike either. It takes roughly three hours to do this out and back hike that has a modest elevation gain.

Here we describe how to get to Prato Piazza and the hike to Monte Specie.

Time of Visit: August 2023

Getting to Prato Piazza

You can either take shuttle Bus 443 or drive yourself there.  Though we had a rental car, it was easier for us to just buy the bus ticket from the bus driver and be driven there.  We were glad that we took the shuttle bus because there are a lot of hairpin turns to get to Prato Piazza.  The only downside of taking the shuttle bus is the limited schedule (about once an hour) and it seems like everybody gets done with the hike at the same time.  It can be standing room only in the bus on the way down.

There is a parking area at Prato Piazza (you can see it on Google Maps).  But the mountain road to get there from Parcheggio Ponticello is restricted (white circle with red border sign).  The restriction states 10 – 16.  Parcheggio Ponticello is about an 8km drive from the SS49 highway turnoff so you have to pass through the same toll gate on the way to Lago di Braies.

What we are unsure of is if the parking fee that needs to be paid to park at Lago di Braies needs to be paid or not if you are going to Prato Piazza.  That’s why it was just easier for us to just take the shuttle bus.   

There are a couple of places to stay at Prato Piazza.  These are Hotel Hohe Gaisl and Rifugio Vallandro.  We assume that if you are staying in one of the accommodations that you should be able to drive yourself to Prato Piazza (better check first before booking).

Hike to Monte Specie

The hike to Monte Specie can be done as a circular route or as an out and back route.  As you are walking the dirt farm road (Trail 37) from the bus stop to Rifugio Vallandro, you will encounter a cattle guard and gate.  Shortly after the gate, there is  a road on your left (Trail 40A) that goes up into the hill.  This road will later become a trail (Trail 34) up in the hill and leads to Monte Specie.

Trail 37 to Rifugio Vallandro. Trail 40A going to Monte Specie begins past the gate to the left.

At the time we did this hike, we did not know that the road leads to Monte Specie.  So we continued on the farm road towards Rifugio Vallandro.  We picked up the trail to Monte Specie behind the rifugio.  The trail goes through the pine forest on a steep incline for about 20 minutes.  Eventually, the trail emerges above the tree line and into a high alpine meadow.  It then meets up with Trail 40A that branched off from the farm road (Trail 37) we walked past earlier.

Rifugio Vallandro
Rifugio Vallandro from Trail 40A

The two trails then become one and continue on to Monte Specie.  There is some more gradual uphill walking but you should be able to get to the top of the mountain in 20 to 30 minutes. 

Going up the unnumbered trail from Rifugio Vallandro

At Monte Specie

There is a large cross erected at Mount Specie. You have a 360 degree view of valleys and mountain ranges that surround you once you set foot under this cross.  Tre Cime can be seen from here.  Most people just find a good grassy area to sit and have lunch while enjoying the view.  Most people also tend not to stray too far from the cross.  We walked about 100 feet away from the cross and were able to find a less crowded space facing Tre Cime.  It was wonderful.

At Monte Specie
Tre Cime from Monte Specie

Other Useful Information

We did this hike during the first week of September in 2023.  The temperature in Dobbiaco (Toblach in German) during the day wearing only one layer of clothing was comfortable.  At Prato Piazza it was about the same despite being at a higher elevation.  We put on another long sleeve layer at Monte Specie when we took our break as it would feel cool when there is a breeze as well as to provide sun cover.

Speaking of sun cover, there is no shade to speak of on this hike unless you take the steep trail through the forest from Rifugio Vallandro.  But this is short lived as the trail would eventually continue through high alpine meadow.  So just be aware of the lack of shade if you are doing the hike in the middle of summer when the temperature is warmer.   


Monte Specie and Prato Piazza are lesser known destinations in Dolomiti.  It is a high mountain meadow similar to Alpe di Siusi.  However, the mountains at Prato Piazza are closer compared to Alpe di Siusi.

Getting to Prato Piazza is easy.  A shuttle bus from Dobbiacco transports people at a reasonable fee.  The bus runs about every hour.  It may not be crowded on the way up as people tend to begin their day at different times.  But one thing is more certain is that the bus ride back to town can be standing room only as most hikers tend to finish at the same time, especially mid to late afternoon.

One of the more popular hikes from Prato Piazza is Monte Specie where you can have 360 degree views of mountains and valleys including Tre Cime.  It is not a long or difficult hike as it has a gradual and modest elevation gain.  An average hiker should be able to reach Monte Specie from the Prato Piazza bus stop in less than two hours.  Majority of the hike is through meadow.  It is an ideal hike as your return trip to Prato Piazza is mostly downhill.