If you love hiking, mountains and good food then you just have to visit the 3 Zinnen Dolomites in Italy. It is one of the best and also most impressive places for hiking in the Alps. I want to share two of my two favorite hikes in the Dolomites for all the ambitious hikers among you. Of course, you can adapt these trails or add in a “small” via ferrata for even more fun 😉 These are challenging tours, but every ascent is absolutely worth the effort as you get rewarded with spectacular views.
Hike No. 1: Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen)
I would recommend to do this trail off season (not in July or August) otherwise you will be in good company all the way up and down. I prefer hikes where you have some peace and quiet and just go on your own pace without having to watch out for others all the time. For me the end of September/beginning of October is the perfect time of year to do this hike.
18 km Hike
Starting point is the car park (5 Euros per day) in Sexten in the Fischleintal. You can get here by car or by bus. Be sure to arrive here early, so you have enough time for the hike (it’s 18 km in total). We started at around 9 am and were back at the car at around 4 pm. There’s a small restaurant directly next to the car park just in case you want to use the toilette before starting (I always do ;-)).
You follow the trail till you reach the junction after the Talschlusshütte (Rifugio Fondo di Valle) and now you can choose which way you want to go up. I personally prefer the right path because it leads you directly to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen) with one of the most amazing views in the Alps (Trails 102, 101, 103). But it’s up to you which path you ultimately take.
Be sure to check the opening times of the mountain huts if you plan to stop for a bite to eat or even stay for the night. The Dreizinnenhütte (Rifugio Locatelli) is one of the first ones that closes (end of September). But don’t worry, there are plenty of others mountain huts where you can go and get your well deserved lunch or sleep.
Personally, I like the Büllelejochhütte (Rifugio Pian di Cengia) the best. It’s a remote mountain hut at 2.528 m surrounded by a dramatic mountain scenery.
The hut is nice and cosy and has a lovely sunny terrace (depending on the weather). The menu boasts with typical south Tyrolean food. I would go for the “Drei Knödel”, a mix of spinach, bacon and cheese dumplings or/and the desserts. You can either hike to the Büllejochhütte from the Dreizinnenhütte or take the Via Ferrata (over the Paternkofel). I’ve done both and can recommend the two. I would say it depends on the weather and also on your mood regarding your activity level.
Pick the right clothes
Make sure to pack warm clothes, that you can layer up and definitely wear sturdy mountain boots. At the beginning of October, we even had snow and saw people with sneakers and shorts. This hike is in alpine territory over 2.500 meters. It’s much colder than down at the car park and weather can always change spontaneously up in these altitudes. But even in bad weather I love this hike … the views may not be that perfect though.
Hike No. 2: Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee)
There are car parks all the way up to the Lago di Braies. The closer you get the more expensive the parking ticket is. We paid 6 Euros for a day ticket. Alternatively, you can also take the bus.
10 km Hike
This is a beautiful hike near Lago di Braies. Right after the car park you leave the tourist crowd and head up into the forest on your own (hiking trail No. 20) past Riedlalm and onwards towards Kühwiesenalm. Here you turn left onto 20A and follow the trail all the way to the top. The scenery changes so often on your way up, you can literally take thousands of pictures or just absorb the view and the moment.
You cross the mountain at the top (it goes up quite a long way actually). I thought we had finally reached the highest point about ten times and after every bend it went up a little bit higher. You hike back down on the other side (22A) and at the bottom merge with all the other hikers and strollers. The last part goes around the Lago di Braies (perfect for photos) and back to the car park.
Have a Picnic
The hike is 10 km and takes about 3 hours. There are no huts on the way up, only when you get back down again (Grünwaldalm). Lago di Braies is a very popular spot, especially with Italians, and the huts are easily accessible, quite spacious and full. Therefore, I would recommend to take a picnic with you and choose a nice calm spot with a beautiful view somewhere at the top.