Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is an excellent day in the Dolomites with stunning views of jagged limestone peaks, top quality rifugios and awesome photo opportunities. Here's everything you need to know.


In the south-east corner of the Alps, the Italian Dolomites beckon hikers with jagged peaks, vertiginous slopes and high alpine meadows.

And it’s hard to go past Tre Cime di Lavaredo for iconic Dolomites scenery. Beyond the inviting paths and  massive sandstone monoliths which give Tre Cime its name, hundreds of rocky peaks, framed by lush green valleys, dot the horizon.

The scenery is mesmerising.

The best way to explore this remarkable landscape is to put on your hiking boots and walk the 10.3km Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop. An easy to follow trail across high rocky ledges, verdant alpine meadows and panoramic mountain vistas.

To cap it off, Tre Cime has some of the best-positioned rifugios to stop for a refreshing beer along the trail.

Here’s what you need to know.

HIKING TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO


SUMMARY / A circular hike around 3 iconic peaks in the Italian Dolomites.

DISTANCE / 10.3km circuit

TIME / 3 hours, 20 minutes

ELEVATION / 400 metre ascent and descent

DIFFICULTY / Easy to Medium

HIKERS / Mark & Paul

BREATHTAKING VIEWS ON THE TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO LOOP

As soon as we set off from the car park at Rifugio Auronzo, an endless array of jagged peaks stretched across the horizon. We followed the well-maintained trail as it curved along the base of Tre Cime di Lavaredo. But the three towers, foreshortened by proximity, were saving their majesty for a little later.

We passed a small chapel and a cross – slightly off the path – with views across the valley before we dropped down to Rifugio Lavaredo. Being a little too early to stop, we proceeded up to the ridge at Forcella Lavaredo where we were thoroughly gobsmacked with the phenomenal view in front of us.

Hundreds of jagged peaks in a variety of twisted shapes lined the horizon like a crumbling forest of rocky skyscrapers. To our left, the light reflecting off the massive sandstone monoliths of Tre Cime di Lavaredo, made the whole scene look surreal.

The trail gently dropped below the summits of Croda Passaporto and Monte Paterno to Rifugio Locatelli (Dreizinnenhütte) which has an enviable position in front of Tre Cime’s three towers. It’s the iconic image of the Dolomites and the ideal place for lunch.

After Rifugio Locatelli, the trail dropped, rose again and followed a narrow rocky ledge. A deep drop on one side provided panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, while the other side clings to the base of the three towers. It was a spectacular part of the walk.

Soon we came to Malga Langalm. We grabbed a beer in the sun and found Sorgenti del Rienza; an idyllic location with Tre Cime reflected in a small lake. From here the trail rose to Forcella Col di Mezzo ridge where a high alpine grassy meadow shifted the scenery to a winding picturesque trail dotted with alpine flowers that delivered us back to the car park.

TRAIL CONDITIONS FOR HIKING TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO LOOP

From Rifugio Auronzo car park, the trail can be completed in either direction, but we recommend walking anti-clockwise keeping Tre Cime di Lavaredo on your left. The views are better.

The path around Tre Cime is straight-forward – although rocky in places – and easy to follow. A number of different trails traverse the area. Pay attention to the signs to make sure you stay on the correct path (see below). The Tre Cime towers should always be on your left-hand side, so it will quickly become clear if you go wrong.

The 10.3km loop has 400 m of ascent/descent with a nice mix of uphill and downhill sections. There are no particularly tricky places and no special equipment is needed.

The most challenging section is the drop from Rifugio Locatelli down the valley and back up the other side. But it is not too difficult and anyone with a reasonable level of fitness should have no problem.

If you need a rest there a many great rifugios in which to recharge.

ROUTE FOR HIKING TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO LOOP

The trail begins at the car park at RIFUGIO AURONZO. The path, a wide gravel track (PATH 101) starts from the car park and heads east past the rifugio with the three towers on the left. It gently descends to a wayside chapel and then to RIFUGIO LAVAREDO.

A number of paths meet here but turn left and remain on PATH 101 to ascend to the FORCELLA LAVAREDO ridge for a great view. Keep following the wide track (101) as it drops down the other side, passing under the peaks of Croda Passaporto and Monte Paterno, before a short climb up to RIFUGIO LOCATELLI (DREIZINNENHÜTTE).

Leaving Rifugio Locatelli – via the church tucked behind it – take PATH 102 which makes a small clockwise loop before zigzagging down the rocky valley. This is the steepest and hardest part of the walk but it’s not too difficult.

Upon reaching a junction of trails, take PATH 105 heading south-west rising up the other side of the valley, past Malga Langalm and up to FORCELLA COL DI MEZZO ridge. Follow PATH 105 as it bends round Tre Cime and drops gently back to the car park.

The paths are well signposted and clearly shown on Google Maps.


HIKING TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO LOOP / DURATIONS & RIFUGIOS

RIFUGIO AURONZO TO RIFUGIOO LAVAREDO / 30 minutes | 1.7km

RIFUGIOO LAVAREDO TO FORCELLA LAVAREDO / 15 minutes | 0.6km

FORCELLA LAVAREDO TO RIFUGIO LOCATELLI / 45 minutes | 2.2km

RIFUGIO LOCATELLI TO MALGA LANGALM / 1 hour | 3.2km

MALGA LANGALM TO RIFUGIOO LOCATELLI / 1 hour | 3.2km


HIKING TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO MAP

Although the paths are well marked and clear, it’s a long walk and the cloud can come in quickly so take a map. A handy book to take with you is Shorter Walks in the Dolomites which has good maps and details of Tre Cime and other great walks in the area.

To save this map, click on the star the right of the title – this will download to: YOUR PLACES -> MAPS in Google.

WHAT TO TAKE ON THE TRE CIME LOOP

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is a medium length walk and the path is sometimes rocky, so decent hiking boots are best. However, with no particularly tricky sections, there is nothing to stop you doing the walk with any shoes – as long as they have good grip.

Weather conditions on the walk can change dramatically. Make sure you take a waterproof and some warm clothes. The walk is not in shade, so bring sunblock and a hat on hot days.

There are plenty of refreshments on route with rifugios well placed along the route. All of them sell food and drink, but we recommend lunch at Rifugio Locatelli for their hearty pasta, ice cold beer and sensationally good view.

Make sure you have a water bottle to fill at the rifugios up as you go around or a camel pack like this one.

Take a map, a compass, and a download of our map.

Don’t forget your camera.

BEST TIME TO HIKE TRE CIME

The hiking season in the Dolomites roughly runs from late May to early October depending on the weather conditions and the height of the walks you want to undertake. The best weather is in the summer months, but it is also the busiest time and this is a popular walk.

Another consideration is that many cable cars and rifugios in the region only open from mid-June to end of September / early October.

We recommend hiking Tre Cime in early July or September. The snow should have gone, the crowds will be a bit lower and the cable cars and rifugios in the region will be up and running.

The views are great at all times of the day, but make sure you leave early enough so you don’t have to rush and in peak season it will help you beat the crowds.

HOW TO GET TO TRE CIME

Tre Cime is in an area of the Italian Alps known as the Dolomites. It can be accessed via a number of airports: Innsbruck airport is a 2-hour drive, Verona airport 2 hours and 40 minutes and Venice airport 3 hours.

Most hikers start the Tre Cime walk from the car park at Rifugio Auronzo. Access to the car park is via the toll road that leaves the SP49 near Misurina, northeast of Cortina (40 minutes). The toll gate is just passed Lago d’Antorno and charges €30. It is a large car park with considerable parking but it can get busy at peak times.

To escape the fee take the bus. From Cortina you have a choice of taking the 445 and changing onto the 444 or the 030 and changing onto the 031. Both routes take about 90 minutes and run regularly from June to mid-October.

WHERE TO STAY

The best place to stay to do the Tre Cime hike is Cortina. It’s a cute town with good facilities about a 40-minute drive to the car park at Rifugio Auronzo.

BOOK YOUR STAY

WHERE NEXT?

The Dolomites is one of our favourite mountain destinations, it’s a great place for a road trip with some truly magnificent day hikes. Try the hike around the spectacular Sassolungo massif or the rough climb to the rocky buttresses of the Vajolet Towers. Both of which are excellent.

HIKING THE SASSOLUNGO MASSIF

OUR TOP SUMMER ALPINE DESTINATIONS

ALL OUR HIKING ARTICLES

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All the details you need to hike the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop in the Italian Dolomites / #trecime #dolomites

All the details you need to hike the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop in the Italian Dolomites / #trecime #dolomites

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