High above the village of Misurina in the heart of The Italian Dolomites lies Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Not only is this one of the most popular day hikes in the region, but it’s also one of the most beautiful.
Our journey through the Dolomites had begun several weeks earlier, on a Summer tour of Northern Italy. Arriving in the bustling town of Cortina D’Ampezzo our overnight parking spot in the centre proved an ideal place to find our feet.
The tourist office in the middle of town at Cortina D’Ampezzo was our starting point. Finding out exactly what walks were right for us and where to find them came next.
For just a couple of Euro’s the really helpful chap at the information desk, not only gave us a map of walking routes, but also marked out various paths in his thick black marker pen.
In this part of Italy, the Via Ferrata are in abundance. That’s great for those who want to be hooked up to a harness and dangle from a Mountain, but we wanted a less hair-raising choice of walks!
Looking at the map we found some routes marked with a cross. Thank goodness we realised this marked a Via Ferrata, that meant keeping a very wide berth!
Above all, one particular hike stood out. This was no other than the all time favourite hike in the Dolomites , the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
The walk at Tre Cime di Lavaredo takes about 4 hours to complete. We wanted to start early in the morning, mainly because our walks always involve plenty of coffee en-route, followed by a loo break along with lots of stopping still to admire those views!
With this in mind, we took took to the private mountain pass, leading up the mountain amid plenty of hairpin bends. The “Strada a pagamento” toll road cost 45 Euro but it included 24 hour parking for the campervan at the top.
Well what a climb it is too! Winding up 2320m of mountain until we reached the Rifugio Auronzo, a typical Dolomites style mountain chalet alongside the start of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
No sooner had we decided on a parking spot and the fog rolled in from nowhere. As usual, it took a while trying to bag the best view, soon this had disappeared into the pea soup that surround us.
Worse still, the roar of next doors generator powered up with gusto, making Nigel’s tinnitus pale into insignificance.
I hopped out the van to try and get my bearings but quickly jumped back in and put the heater on to warm up. The air temperature up here was super chilly, certainly time to dig out the base layers for that big old hike tomorrow.
Certainly, it seemed everyone else had the same idea. By early evening, the parking area was getting pretty busy. Mostly campervans and motorhomes, but even a caravan had made it up.
Trying to be at least a bit organised, we packed the rucksacks and made a packed lunch ready for the morning.
All we had to do now, was wait for the weather to clear and hope that the forecast of a clear day would materialise.
I’m afraid to admit, whenever we promise ourselves to leave early, we never actually do! So, eventually by 10am, we found ourselves a few minutes from the van at the start of the path.
One thing we hadn’t expected was crowds and my goodness, they were out in the masses. Some of you may be glad to know that there’s toilets at the start, always a good sign, if like me you need to go again as soon as you leave the car park!
So soon we were at a bright yellow sign for Tre Cime di Lavaredo, surrounded by the most fabulous views ever. Best of all, the fog from the previous day had cleared and the sun looked like it might just make an appearance.
Despite the better weather, although this was Summer, the temperatures were still super chilly. Wrapped up in walking gear consisting of a coat, hat, snood and thick woolly socks inside warm boots, made us feel ready for action!
The walk itself takes you on a circuit beneath the rocky peaks of Occid, Grande and Piccola. Towering above the mountain, these dramatic rock faces rise to almost 3000m. Not only are they great to see but it’s also a hub for rock climbers, making it even more visually intriguing.
I’m not one to follow the crowds, but here we had no choice as the gravel path led everyone along the mountain. Thankfully, we soon gained a little more space, as the route opened up below the first of the three iconic Dolomite peaks.
Surrounding us were masses of rock, loose stones underfoot and the most incredible views.
Unfortunately, once the path narrowed again, the people on it made it all a bit uncomfortable! Especially having to wait for people to move out of the way or simply for us to let people pass.
By the time we reached the Rifugio Locatelli at 2405m, we were ready to open the butty bag and reach for the flask of hot coffee. Parking our backsides on a wooden bench below the chalet gave us a chance for a chat with our picnic neighbours.
I love to speak to people, generally you learn so much, but more precise I’m a bit nosy!
This lovely American family next to us, were about to embark on an overnight Via Ferrata adventure through some war time tunnels.
Incredibly, this whole Dolomites region was home to Italian forces during the war years. Not only that, but they built tunnels and shelters up here in the harshest conditions.
After watching the Americans being fitted out with harness and helmets by their Italian guide, it was time for a quick loo stop at the chalet before trundling on. Waving our goodbyes as they disappeared up the mountain, our own walk now seemed a bit less adventurous.
Feeling refreshed we were ready to carry on along the well marked path. Soon, we’d dropped down into a lush green meadow where the most gorgeous cows grazed.
I love the sound of the cattle bells as they ring out across the mountains, the tone just feels so calming. Getting up close as they munch on the fresh grass is even better, before long, our paths were crossing yet they carried on regardless. Obviously, these mountain cattle are well used to the crowds sharing their pastures over Summer.
As with most mountains, if you go down, at some point you also have to go up again! Unfortunately for us, the crowds ahead were every so slightly slower, even more annoying was having no place to pass as they converged on the narrow paths.
I don’t know about you, but I always find it harder to walk if I have to go slow. I’m more of the mindset of picking up a pace and just getting the hills over and done with.
As we both gritted our teeth, eventually, a few passing places opened up and we took our chance.
Before we knew it, the views opened up again. In the distance ahead of us appeared a fabulous panorama, the glorious Dolomite ranges glistened in the sun that now shone above.
Behind us rose the three peaks of the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo. If nothing else this place is simply breathtaking, despite the crowds on the mountain, it’s worth it.
The scenery in all directions was amazing, so many dramatic peaks, yet from here, we seemed to be gliding above them all.
Before long we’d finished, coming full circle and stepping out into the parking area with the campervan in front of us.
What a day it had been. We may not have been the only ones on the mountain, but then again, is there anywhere left undiscovered in this world?
I guess in high season, it’s only to be expected. Yet this wasn’t school holidays, we were still in June, so July and August would no doubt be busier still.
By 3pm with the circuit completed, there was only one thing left to do. A quick cuppa at the campervan, before heading off down the pass before for our 24 hour pass ran out.
The Dolomites Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike was for us, a great day of exercise without being too difficult. Although there were a few steep sections, overall it was an ideal day walk, now all we had to do was plan the next one!