Hiking in the Dolomites: Trails for Different Difficulty Levels

mountain peak

With its breathtaking slopes and views, the Dolomites is a popular destination for mountain adventure activities. Tourists flock the area during summer for skiing, snowboarding, climbing, and even cycling. But the UNESCO World Heritage site is most popular for Italian alps hiking, with the peaks offering the perfect vantage point of the entire mountain range.

The Dolomites has multiple trails with varying levels of difficulty. So you’ll find a mountain excursion suitable for your skill and experience, whether you’re a beginner or a long-time hiking enthusiast.

Easy Trail: Experience the Dolomites at a Relaxed Pace

The Lago di Braies Circuit, also known as Pragser Wildsee, is a crystal blue lake surrounded by a wall of mountains and greenery. Its accessibility and ease make it a popular tourist destination.

Plenty of visitors only go as far as the wooden boathouse. But if you want to escape the crowd,  a hike to the end of the lake is your best option. Several beaches wait for you at the back end of the lake, so you can go for a swim. Just keep in mind that the water is extremely cold.

The Pragser Wildsee is a  favorite among families because its trail goes around the lake, forming a circular hike that children can easily do. The path on the right side of the lake is flat, which is ideal for young kids and babies on strollers. Hike on the left side when you want a more challenging experience since the trail here is rocky and steep.

The loop takes about an hour or two at a leisurely pace. You can go to the restaurant, hotel, and car parks around the lake when you’re ready to retire.

Moderate Trail: For an Active yet Enjoyable Hike

Another circular trail, the  Sasso Piatto and Sasso Lungo or Plattkofel and Langkofel circuit offers a relatively relaxed hike. The distance, however, makes this trip more trying than Lago di Braies. The Sasso Piatto-Sasso Lungo trail is less traveled compared to other trails in the Dolomites because of its distance. Depending on the frequency of your stops, the entire hike takes about five to seven hours.

Constantly changing views make the over 17-kilometer stretch worth it. Domineering mountains and peaceful green fields create a contrasting yet visually stunning landscape. On the circular route, you’ll also see the Odle Peaks and Sciliar Massif from afar.

You can take the bus or cable car from Selva di Val Gardena to Passo Sella, which is both the start and endpoint of the circuit. Another option is to drive and leave your vehicle in the car park, but you have to purchase an access pass to the mountain area.

mountain climbing

Difficult Trail: A Challenging Climb for the Experienced

With a total distance of nine miles and an ascent of 500 meters, the Puez-Odle Altopiano (Selva to Rifugio Puez) hike will test your endurance. Although the journey takes about seven to nine hours, this trail is popular among tourists. You can purchase a map of this hike at souvenir shops, outdoor suppliers, and tourist offices in the Dolomites.

The spectacular views keep you engaged and motivated to finish the hike. During the summer months, the wildflowers are in bloom, complementing the tall, daunting mountain peaks.

The Puez hut has a restaurant, Rifugio Puez, where you can have lunch and rest. Beds and dormitories are also available in the hut.

Puez-Odle Altopiano is accessible through Selva di Val Gardena.

Regardless of which trail you choose, make sure you cover all of your bases to make the trip as smooth as possible. You can book a guided walking or hiking tour for a convenient and safe excursion. And know your route, bring a map, and pack your essentials.

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