The Circuit Around Tre Cime - A Must Do Day Hike In The Italian Dolomites

A circuit around the Three Peaks is a must do day hike in the Italian Dolomites. Find the details of the route and photos of the hike in this article #italiandolomites #hiking

Trailhead: Rifugio Auronzo

Length: 10km loop

Elevation Gain/Loss: 

Duration: 5-6 hours (with stops and extensions)

Map: Tabacco 10

 

A trip to the Italian Dolomites wouldn’t be complete without seeing the three prominent monoliths of Tre Cime from all angles.

 

Although it’s certainly a busy hike, the views upon route will more than make up for it and because of the well established infrastructure litter and degradation is minimal.

 

The loop, which encompasses part of Alta Via 4, is of an easy grade and requires little elevation change, but before you start hiking anywhere, you have to decide how you are going to get to the trailhead.      

 

 



What You Need To Know About The Tre Cime Circuit Hike


Rifugio Auronzo at the foot of the southern face of the Three Peaks.
Rifugio Auronzo at the foot of the southern face of the Three Peaks

 

The hike around the Three Peaks starts at rifugio Auronzo, accessible via toll road. The toll varies between different vehicle sizes but for a normal car it is 30€ plus 15€ per day if you plan on staying overnight in any of the huts. 

 

To enter, the toll gate is usually open between 8AM and 5PM and you can leave at any time. The gate can close without prior warning if there has been a snowfall, I am speaking from experience here.  

 

Alternatively to paying the steep parking/toll fees, you can hike up to rifugio Auronzo from the free pothole ridden car park at Lago d’Antorno. This takes around 90 minutes and involves a considerable amount of elevation gain (ca. 500 meters).  

 

If  you want to save money (and the environment) there’s a much cheaper bus which leaves regularly from Cortina, Lago Misurina and Lago D'Antorno. The bus starts to run in June, when the hiking season opens and runs daily throughout the summer until late September. The return trip costs 8 Euros

 

 

First light on the Three Peaks visible from the Focella Lavaredo
First light on the Three Peaks visible from the Focella Lavaredo

 

No matter how you get there, your starting point will be rifugio Auronzo because that’s where the road ends and the hiking trail begins.

 

The route counter clockwise around the Tre Cimé is preferable because the views will be in front of you more of the time.

 

Hike to the right (east) of rifugio Auronzo and begin your circumnavigation on path nr 101. It's well maintained, flat and wide. Even wide enough for the farm vehicles that herd their cattle and for the maintenance/delivery vehicles working at rifugio Lavaredo.

 

 

Shortly after passing a scenic little chapel you’ll be at rifugio Lavaredo. This part takes around 20-30 minutes. From here it’s a short uphill burst to one of the most iconic viewpoints in the Italian Dolomites, Forcella Lavaredo.

 

This vantage point is the highest on the entire loop. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

Information about the Tre Cime Circuit, a day hike in the Italian Dolomites
Morning views from Forcella Lavaredo

 

From here continue on the upper or the lower path nr 101 toward Rifugio Locatelli which you’ll be able to see glistening in the distance to the north.

 

The upper path is considerably quieter and not that much harder. They run parallel to each other. Turn around and look at the three distinct peaks. That’s going to be your view for the next hour so get used to it! 

 

In roughly 45 minutes you’ll be at the next hut - rifugio Locatelli (Dreizinnenhütte). 

 

guide to Tre Cime Circuit in the Italian Dolomites
Tre Cime in all their glory

 

Rifugio Locatelli is one of the most popular and photogenic huts in the Dolomites and for good reason. It’s part of Alta Via 4 and lies in close proximity to two world class via ferratas: Torre di Toblin and De Luca/Innerkofler.

 

Both are excellent climbs and one can easily be added into your day trip. If you want to complete both I suggest booking a night in rifugio Locatelli.

 

Rifugio Locatelli in the afternoon sun with Monte Paterno in the background
Rifugio Locatelli in the afternoon sun with Monte Paterno in the background

 

If you are not a strong climber, or don’t have the correct equipment, I suggest exploring on foot the nearby Laghi dei Piani and the famous Tre Cime caves, which are only a few hundred metres away from rifugio Locatelli and clearly visible from the hut. 

 

Word War I Tunnels in the Tre Cime National Park
The tunnels are the remains of the World War I

 

From rifugio Locatelli the trail drops downhill towards the three peaks crossing sometimes waterlogged areas of grass and rock. You’ll have some serious neck ache if your eyes become captivated by the climbers seen attached to the faces of Tre Cime.

 

All too quickly you’ll be at Malga Langalm which unfortunately doesn’t have any overnight facilities but does have a great restaurant and bar. It is also situated next to three very photogenic reflective ponds.

 

The route then heads up hill to the Forcella del Col de Mèdo and then back round to rifugio Auronzo, where you started your journey.

 

Forcella del Col de Mèdo. The last landmark along the Tre Cime circuit
Forcella del Col de Mèdo. The last landmark along the Tre Cime circuit

 

All in all, this is a busy hike but its beauty more than makes up for its popularity. Remember not to litter, arrive as early as possible, and if you want to stay overnight in the park, book well in advance.

 

Tre Cime Circuit in the Italian Dolomites
Descending down from Forcella del Col de Mèdo to rifugio Auronzo

 

Are you planning this hike and looking for more information or simply need advice on your trip to the Dolomites? Post them in the comments below!

 



Join thousands of monthly readers and get my posts delivered straight to your inbox



More articles on the Dolomites



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I am Marta Kulesza - the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.comI 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. 

Follow:   InstagramFacebook,  Pinterest


Leave a reply

comments powered by Disqus