Trekking in the Dolomites
Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 with Alta Via 3 - 6 in outline
Trekking guidebook for walking Alta Via routes 1 and 2 across the Italian Dolomites. The 120km AV1 is described over 11 day stages and is ideal for beginners to Alpine long-distance walking, whereas the AV2 covers 160km in 13 days and is more strenuous and technical. The more demanding AV3-6 routes are described in outline.
SeasonsMid-June to late September, when the majority of the refuges are open: the peak Italian holiday season is August, especially around 15th August
CentresMain centres for the Dolomites include Cortina, Belluno, Selva di Cadore, Arabba, La Villa, Selva, Bressanone, Dobbiaco and Canazei
DifficultyThese multi-day mountain traverses involve some scrambles and aided sections and exposure. Alta Via 1 has few exposed sections, however AV2 is considerably more challenging, and only suitable for experienced alpine trekkers with a good head for heights. AVs 3-6 are more challenging, with extended via ferrata sections and considerable exposure.
Must SeeSpotting your first chamois, marmot or ibex the majestic Marmolada and Pelmo, the towering Civetta, and the Cinque Torre (now there are only four of them!) includes the little known (and little-walked) Alta Via 3, 4, 5 & 6
Northern Italy's famous Alta Via long-distance walking routes are spread across the Dolomites, running roughly north to south and reaching as far as the Austrian border. There are six of these routes, and they increase in difficulty: Alta Via 1 has few exposed sections and is suitable for novice alpine trekkers; AV2 is much more challenging, only suitable for experienced alpine trekkers with a good head for heights, while AVs 3-6 have extended via ferrata sections and considerable exposure.
Both AV 1 and 2 are described in detail in this guidebook, with the demanding AV3-6 routes described in outline. The 120km AV1 is described over 11 day stages; AV2 covers 160km in 13 days and is more strenuous and technical. Overnight stops are either at mountain huts or at guesthouses. The book is written by an expert in Italian trekking, with information on the fascinating wartime history of the region, plants and wildlife. With advice on practical considerations such as the best time to go, what to take and hut protocol, this guide offers trekkers all the information they need to enjoy the mountains to the full.
Now a World Heritage Site, the Italian Dolomites make a first-rate trekking destination. There is an excellent network of paths dotted with welcoming 'rifugi' (mountain huts) in stunning locations, and efficient public transport serving key trekking points.
The Alta Via routes
Plants and flowers
When to go
Food and drink
What to take
Dos and don’ts
Using this guidebook
Alta Via 1
Stage 1 Lago di Braies to Rifugio Biella
Stage 2 Rifugio Biella to Rifugio Fanes
Stage 3 Rifugio Fanes to Rifugio Lagazuoi
Stage 4 Rifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Nuvolau
Stage 5 Rifugio Nuvolau to Rifugio Città di Fiume
Stage 6 Rifugio Città di Fiume to Rifugio Coldai
Stage 7 Rifugio Coldai to Rifugio Vazzoler
Stage 8 Rifugio Vazzoler to Rifugio Carestiato
Stage 9 Rifugio Carestiato to Rifugio Pramperet
Stage 10 Rifugio Pramperet to Rifugio Pian de Fontana
Stage 11 Rifugio Pian de Fontana to La Pissa bus stop
ALTA VIA 2
Stage 1 Bressanone to Rifugio Città di Bressanone
Stage 2 Rifugio Città di Bressanone to Rifugio Genova
Stage 3 Rifugio Genova to Rifugio Puez
Stage 4 Rifugio Puez to Rifugio Pisciadù
Stage 5 Rifugio Pisciadù to Rifugio Castiglioni
Stage 6 Rifugio Castiglioni to Passo San Pellegrino
Stage 7 Passo San Pellegrino to Rifugio Mulaz
Stage 8 Rifugio Mulaz to Rifugio Rosetta
Stage 9 Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Treviso
Stage 10 Rifugio Treviso to Passo Cereda
Stage 11 Passo Cereda to Rifugio Boz
Stage 12 Rifugio Boz to Rifugio Dal Piaz
Stage 13 Rifugio Dal Piaz to Croce d’Aune
ALTE VIE 3–6
Alta Via 3
Alta Via 4
Alta Via 5
Alta Via 6
Appendix A Glossary
Appendix B Route summary tables
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Visitors to the Dolomites in summer 2019 need to be aware of possible problems regarding paths. The best advice is to check locally with Tourist Offices and refuges, be versatile and don't take any risks.
Storm Damage in the Dolomites:
Six months ago, in October 2018, the Italian Dolomites were hit by a devastating hurricane - Tempesta Vaia. Winds up to 200km/hr caused widespread damage to villages, houses and roads, and there were several deaths. Millions and millions of trees were toppled. Forestry workers and sawmills are struggling to deal with the massive amount of timber that needs removing and storing.
Naturally, hundreds of kilometres of paths in the Dolomites have been affected by landslides, rockfalls and fallen trees. Despite the snowy winter season plenty has already been done to improve the situation - the authorities as well as volunteers have been hard at work clearing timber, rerouting, and affixing new signs where possible. (Though priority has obviously been given to essential services for villages). The Italian Alpine Club, CAI, as well as SAT, the Trento branch, are involved.
Things are definitely looking up - and even Rifugio Venezia on the Pelmo will hopefully open for the summer season despite having had its roof torn off, the top floor with beds and mattresses ruined by rain and snow, and its jeep access track blocked by rockfalls and landslips. Another refuge with supply problems is Rifugio Pordenone in the Dolomiti Friulane. Thankfully the building was not damaged but its access road all but washed away. But they plan on 'business as usual' this year too.
The following web site lists all the paths by number in the Belluno province (central-southern Dolomites) with notes about what's open and possible problems. It's updated regularly. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1L4qPpNhGaGyyMUkKfqRaeeNV0K2TN3mboDPM_R_OHic/edit#gid=1788649809 'Non percorribile' means 'not walkable' ie closed.
As regards the Trentino area (south-western Dolomites), see this web site: https://sentieri.sat.tn.it/wp/?p=2444. Moreover as of May 20 an App will be downloadable on www.visittrentino.info with up-to-date path info for the Trentino.
There's been an increase in cases of TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) across Europe, Italy included. Walkers should be aware that they may pick up ticks while walking through grass and woodland up to approx 1500 metres altitude. Not all ticks carry the disease but better safe than sorry. Simple precautions and plenty of useful information is available on the website: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/tick-borne-encephalitis. Vaccination is also an option.
p25 Tourist Office Belluno www.adorable.belluno.it
p48 3rd last line should read: Next point your boots S. Path n.7 branches R across the stream.
p79 Rifugio Carestiato sleeps 57, open weekends late May then daily late June to late Sept. Credit cards accepted.
p83 End page Note: many walkers have written to say they did not find these stretches exposed.
p87 Rifugio Pian de Fontana – open early June to late Sept.
p87 Stage 11 walking time should be 4hr 15min
p89 Rifugio Bianchet - Dolomiti Bus timetable + tickets available
p90 walking time to La Pissa should be 2hr
p126 Walking time should be 5hr 35min
p127 There have been route changes after Passo San Pellegrino so the description should now read:
From the main road at Passo San Pellegrino (1919m) opposite the derelict refuge turn across the main car park following path n.658 signposted for Passo Valles. It strikes out SE across marshy terrain chopped up by hoofs of cows and horses belonging to the nearby farm. You quickly enter pretty wood with larch and juniper and a cascading stream is crossed. Passing under the Col Margherita cable-car the climb continues steadily SE. As a ski slope is reached, turn uphill for 200m and look for a small marked path L into the trees. Follow this, then at a track, continue steeply up on the left side of the piste. Bear L to another ski piste and descent slightly to a signpost which points the way through trees and boulders. This climbs pleasantly E then SE to
1hr 10min - Forcella Cargol (2204m). You’re now on the edge of the Altipiano degli Zingari, a gently sloping upland scattered with boulders. The vast outlook takes in the Costabella group as well as the south wall of the Marmolada reflected in Lago di Cavia below. Follow cairns and red/white waymarks mostly SW meandering amidst flowers and rocky terrain to
40min – Forcella di Pradazzo (2220m).
An interesting and informative guidebook which really brings the drama of the mountains to life.
We walked this impressive route in 2006 and again in July 2018. Thank you for writing such an interesting and informative guide book which really brings the drama of the mountains to life.
Ian, by email
Gillian Price is a true gem amongst guide book writers!
We were on our first real hiking holiday and used Gillian Price's Dolomites guides. We'd selected walks based on her descriptions, which were so inspiring it was difficult to choose! Instead, we selected by a process of elimination, based on difficulty and length, rather than attractiveness. Most guide books are a rather dreary recipe of start here, turn left at creek, go up hill 200m, walk along spine. Gillian Price completely understands that the best walks are a story with a rhythm and narrative: a beginning, a middle, a climax, and an end, and her writing reflects this. She conveys the mood and tone of a walk, not just its facts. As a plant enthusiast, I appreciated her highlighting special vegetation or flowering alpines. Two years later, we returned to the Dolomites and did multi-day treks there, and her descriptions were once again a true reflection of every one of them. Gillian Price is a true gem amongst guide book writers!
Your wonderful guides have been a pleasure to read, and have been particularly helpful, thank you!
Dear Ms Price,
For the last 20 years, my wife and I have relied heavily on Cicerone guidebooks. Your wonderful guides for Amalfi, Dolomites, and Gran Paradiso have been a pleasure to read, and have been particularly helpful, thank you!
Dan & Cheryl
Packed with useful tips and beautiful colour photographs
I have no issue in recommending the fantastic Trekking series from Cicerone. If you are into hiking and experiencing the ‘great outdoors’, then you can place your trust in the hands of this first-class publisher. It uses the services of only the most skilled and informative writers, all of whom can boast about more knowledge of the various treks and routes and how to break them down into manageable sections than any other specialists. There is a satisfying hands on approach taken by Cicerone that provides it with a defined market advantage. The latest guides deal with the spectacular Dolomites mountain region of northern Italy and are packed with useful tips, beautiful colour photographs and the customary recommendations for short to medium hikes, all of which can be combined for the more adventurous travellers.
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Gillian Price has trekked throughout Asia and the Himalayas, but now lives in Venice and is exploring the mountains and flatter bits of Italy. Starting in the Italian Dolomites, Gillian has written outstanding Cicerone guides to walking all over Italy as well as Corsica and Corfu. An adamant promoter of public transport to minimise environmental impact, Gillian belongs to Mountain Wilderness and is an active member of the Venice branch of CAI, the Italian Alpine Club.View Articles and Books by Gillian Price