Croda Da Lago Circut

Rate this Adventure 7.8 miles 1148 ft gain  - Loop Trail

Added by Erica Anderson

You have endless options for insanely beautiful hikes in the Dolomites and you can’t choose because they’re all so lovely. You should absolutely choose this one. Unbelievable, sweeping views in every direction, mountain lakes, boulder fields, and larch forests.

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Hiking tracks: 437, 434, 435

Distance: 7.8 miles  / 12.5 km  - 759 meter elevation change.

Time: 7+ hours

Difficulty: Moderate/difficult

Stay: Rifugio Palmieri


Things to Note:

Trails in the Dolomites are defined by numbers. You will also notice in your planning that there are also trails called the Alta Via’s. These are routes that stretch through the entire range of the dolomites. There are eight in total. Some are good for rock climbing, camping, hiking, and great treks. Like the Appalachian or the PCT you’ll find that some of the smaller trails are along the Alta Via’s. For this particular hike, you are following part of the Alta Via 1.

If you can manage it, plan this trip towards late October early November (but if you’re spending the night at the refuge, be sure to do it before they close) The summer is nice and offers all the gorgeous views as any other time of year. But due to the density of Larches in this area, you’ll find the entire region on fire with the bright orange and yellows that only larch trees can impart. There will be less people as well. In my opinion, this is the best larch peeping hike in the region.

The Hike: 

Trailhead: The start to this trail is 20 minutes south of Cortina d’Ampezzo at 46°30'21.0"N 12°04'44.0"E or, if you prefer addresses: 32043 Cortina d'Ampezzo, Province of Belluno, Italy

You’ll begin on path 437. After a quick dip at the very beginning of the trail, and across a small bridge you’ll be walking through dense forest.

  • 0.7 / 1.2 km – Bridge crossing over the river, Ru Formin. Continue straight.
  • 1.0 mi / 1.7 km - About a quarter of the way up this burst, you’ll come to a clearing and an intersection. This is where path 437 meets 434. Continue straight onto 434 to head directly to the lake. After the going straight and rounding the corner, continue uphill with regular switchbacks.

            *On your way down, you’ll arrive at this intersection again but on the trail to your right.  

            Side note: By staying straight instead of navigating to the right - you’ll have a more gradual, less strenuous ascent to the summit. If you choose to go right and do the circuit counterclockwise, you’ll find yourself quickly ascending the boulder field paralleling Croda da Lago. This will be very strenuous on your legs and body, and therefore a little less fun.

  • 1.4 mi / 2.4 km - A refreshing scenic lookout. Before you spans wide open views of Cinque Torri, the city of Cortina, Tofana di Rozes, and Mezes.

            Following the designated trail, the gradation slowly stabilizes. While still uphill it’s steady and minimal. The air is fresh and you’ll find yourself surrounded by looming pines and larches.

  • 2.3 mi / 3.6 km  - Welcome to Lago de Federa! Reflecting in the lake will be the beautiful Beco De Mezodi in the distance. The lake is walled in by the one and only Croda da Lago range. Yyou can walk around the lake and enjoy the scenes and reflections. The water is cool and clear. It’s lovely place to rest or have breakfast if you’re spending the night.

            **We stayed in Rifugio Palmieri, the accommodation for the night was €22. It was a dormitory style with several other hikers in the same room (they also have private rooms if you reserve early enough.) But it is absolutely worth it to see the sunrise the next morning. I highly recommend you stay. The food is good and hearty, the family is kind and welcoming. Book in advance during peak season to ensure you have a place!**

  • 2.5 mi / 4 km – After you’ve drunk in the views at the Dolomites most photogenic hut, stick to the path on your right and carve your way uphill to the crest. It’s deceivingly long but incredibly rewarding as your views continue to change. The path is rocky and dusty, the sun is pretty hot without the larches to shade you. Make sure you have your hat or a good pair of sunshades.
  • 8.8 mi / 6.2 km – Reaching the crest, sink in the scene. Among these sweeping views, it feels like you’re split between two worlds in this space. Looking back to the right of the range, you see where you’ve been. Forward to the left of the range to where you’re going. It’s truly unbelievable.

            The new path is #435. This path will parallel the one you’ve just taken but on the other side of the range. You will see small spur paths along the way but pay them no mind (unless you have other plans.)

  • 4.8 mi / 7.8 km - Forcella de Formin - After another uphill burst similar to the one earlier on the hike, you’ll reach a very wide scape and scree slope. This is the highest point of the hike at 2462 meters (8077 feet). In front of you, is Monte Pelmo to your right is the Croda da Lago range in all its glory. Below you are the boulder fields you’ll be scrambling down to descend.

            There’s no real best way to navigate this. Just use the trail markers as guidelines and make your way down safely. KEEP A LOOK OUT!! I found fossils on this hike among the boulders and was absolutely beside myself. This is a great and ancient place. Don’t forget to take your time to appreciate that.

  • 5.3 mi / 8.6 km – You’ve survived the scramble (and probably happy you didn’t climb up that way.) And you’ll continue to descend through a gradually thickening larch and pine forest.
  • 6.8 mi / 11 km – Back at the intersection where you stayed straight the first time around! This time turn left to get back onto path 437 to return to your car.
  • 7.7 mi / 12.5 km – You’ve returned! Change your socks and drink some more water, you and your legs deserve a good rest.
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Tags

Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake

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