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 spot in the Italian Dolomites but due to its accessibility and recent surge in instagram fame, 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, there's a few sections where the trail runs along some very steep ledges that can make your head spin.
So far I have done this trail 3 times and despite its popularity, it still remains one of my favourite day hikes in the Italian Dolomites.
All You Need To Know About The Lake Sorapiss Day Hike In The Italian Dolomites
14 km / 8.7 miles roundtrip
460 m / 1500 feet
Passo Tre Croci
Where does the trail to Lago Di Sorapiss start?
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 up the hill from the Grand Hotel Tre Croci which, at the time of writing this post, was undergoing renovations.
In the initial field, horses can be seen grazing underneath the peaks you’ll be heading toward.
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 gushing between rocks. 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.
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.
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 in the area.
It’s also a great place to stay if you plan on tackling the 8-10 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, anything will taste good.
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 (I am talking to you instagrammers) is such a crystal blue colour that it’s hard to believe.
The lake 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.
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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I am Marta Kulesza - the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.