Hike or Run the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites
Italy › Hotel Lago di Braies
Added by Josiah Roe
The Italian Dolomites in the Alps are a UNESCO World Heritage site and simply must be experienced to truly understand. The Alta Via 1 is the original high route through the mountains and showcases some of the best scenery in all of the Alps.
The Alta Via 1 is the definite trail through the Italian Dolomites, showcasing some of the most scenic terrain in all of the Alps. It begins at Lago di Braies and ends in the town Belluno, covering 150 kilometers and over 26,000' of elevation gain.
Unlike backpacking or fastpacking in the United States, camping is forbidden along the trail and in much of the national park. Instead through-hikers (and runners) stay in rifugios, which are high-altitude, often-times family-run hotels and hostels providing both food and shelter. Some, like Rifugio Biella, are quite rustic and sparse. Others like Rifugio Lagazoi (the highest on the route at 9114') have showers, private rooms, full menus, bars and space for 70 people. Many rifugios are working farms and feature local meats, cheeses, and infused grappa typical of the Ladin people.
Regardless of how you approach the trip, be sure to call a day or two ahead of your intended arrival to book a bed, as they can occasionally fill up during the busy summer months. Technically no rifugio is allowed to refuse a guest, but calling ahead may be the difference between sleeping on a wooden bench in the dining room and having a bunk.
The standard route through the Dolomites goes from north to south, takes 12 days, and averages 7.5 miles per day if hiking. Runners take about half the time with double the distance per day. A typical day begins with breakfast, pauses for lunch at a rifugio along the way, and finishes with dinner at your destination. There are many variations one can take, with fantastic side trips that loop back into the main trail allowing for peakbagging and swimming in pristine alpine lakes.
The main trail is always marked with the red "1" in a blue triangle.
While there are none on the Alta Via 1, no trip to the Dolomites is complete without taking a Via Ferrata. There are many along the Alta Via 1 and often times you can rent gear from a rifugio and knock out a summit or loop. Else take the ferrata gear with you.
The Classic Hiking Itinerary:
- Day 1: From Lago di Bràies to Rifugio Biella
- Day 2: From Rifugio Biella to Rifugio Fanes
- Day 3: From Rifugio Fànes to the Rifugio Lagazuòi
- Day 4: From Rifugio Lagazuòi to the Rifugio Nuvolàu
- Day 5: From Rifugio Nuvolàu to the Rifugio Città Di Fiume
- Day 6: From Rifugio Città Di Fiume to the Rifugio Venezia
- Day 7: From Rifugio Venezia to the Rifugio Vazzolèr
- Day 8: From Rifugio Vazzolèr to the Rifugio Carestiato
- Day 9: From Rifugio Carestiato to the Rifugio Sommariva Al Pramperét
- Day 10: From Rifugio Sommariva to the Rifugio Pian De Fontana
- Day 11: From Rifugio Pian De Fontana to the Bivacco Del Màrmol or Rifugio Bianchet
- Day 12: From Bivacco del Màrmol to the Rifugio 7° Alpini, Case Bortòt and Belluno
The Classic Running Itinerary:
- Day 1 : Lago di Braies – Rifigio Fodara Vedla
- Day 2 : Fodara Vedla – Rifugio Lagazoui
- Day 3 : Lagazuoi – Rifugio Nuvolao
- Day 4 : Nuvolau – Rifugio Tissi
- Day 5 : Tissi – Passo Duran
- Hiking/running boots/shoes
- Waterproof jacket (weather is always unpredictable in the Alps)
Maps from Casa Editrice Tabacco Maps (North to South):
- Number 31 Prags Braies
- Number 3 Cortina and Ampezzano
- Number 15 Pelmo Civetta
- Number 25 Zoldo Agordo
- Number 24 Dolomites Belluno - Nevegal
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