Five Short But Rewarding Hikes In The Dolomites Of Trentino

Five Short But Rewarding Hikes In The Dolomites Of Trentino

There’s many amazing hikes in the Dolomites, and a lifetime wouldn’t be enough to do them all. Part of the Alps and scattered across the North East of Italy across the regions of Trentino – Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, the Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.

This is one of the most stunning mountain ranges in the world, with 18 peaks which rise over 3000 meters. Needless to say, it is a real paradise for nature and adventure lovers, home to some of the best hikes in Europe, as well as plenty of opportunities for rock climbing and via ferrata. Hiking in the Dolomites is always a very rewarding experience, whether on a long or short distance walk.

I love hiking and never miss an opportunity to go (though I do not go alone, and here’s why). It actually all started when my parents first took me hiking in the Dolomites during our first trip to Trentino. I enjoyed the feeling of being away from it all, breathing the clean air and then admiring the view from the top.

I’ll take any kind of hike, really. I am a massive fan of volcano hikes, especially of active volcanoes such as Bromo, in Indonesia, or Etna, in Sicily. I absolutely love multi-day hikes, such as the Poon Hill Circuit of Nepal or the Jesus Trail of Israel. And when I need a quick fix and feel the need to escape from the stress of daily life, I go on a short distance hike. I have done it in the Picos de Europa, and I love doing it in the Dolomites of Trentino.

There’s many short distance hikes in the Dolomites. I haven’t walked them all (though I wish to!), but I have selected three of them in Trentino Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa that will guarantee breathtaking views, interesting cultural experiences and an overall fun day out.

At the end of this post, I will also share some tips and extra information that will be of great help to make the most of shorter walks in the Dolomites of Trentino.

hiking in the Dolomites

Corno Bianco is one of the nicest short hikes in the Dolomites

Five Short But Rewarding Hikes In The Dolomites Of Trentino

Corno Bianco Hike, Val di Fiemme

Corno Bianco has some of the nicest hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino and Alto Adige’s Val di Fiemme. The area is easily accessible, and there’s several trails that all go to the peak, some of them loop trails and others there and back. I followed trail K to begin with, and then took a turn to trail W.

The peak of Corno Bianco is at 2317 meters above sea level, and the main access point is Passo Oclini, which is at 1989 meters above sea level. The trail starts right behind the hotel and restaurant located at the end of the parking lot. It definitely isn’t the biggest ascent one can come across when hiking in the Dolomites, but I have to say the first part of the trail is quite steep.

The first part of the walk is along some beautiful pastures where cows graze peacefully. This actually is a very common sight throughout hikes in the Dolomites. Once off the pastures, the trail goes through the beautiful vegetation. Going up, trees give way to a more arid landscape of rocks and gravel.

Among the shorter walks in the Dolomites, the trail I followed to the peak of Corno Bianco would classify as a medium difficulty one: it’s easy to follow, the terrain is mostly good (grass, a well marked trail and gravel until a certain point); but the steepness of the ascent make it hard on the legs and the last bit to reach the peak is quite technical, as it’s necessary to climb over some boulders. The overall walk takes around 3 hours.

This it is one of the most pleasant hikes in the Dolomites. I wasn’t really lucky with the weather when I hiked Corno Bianco, as it was mostly overcast and actually quite chilly. But when the wind blew away the clouds for a few moments, the view opened up a bit and I could see all the way through the Bletterback Canyon. There’s a nice trail going through the canyon, with an ascent of 900 meters – one of the most interesting Dolomites hiking trails.

hikes in the Dolomites

The last bit of Corno Bianco – one of the shortest but technical hikes in the Dolomites

Important things to note when hiking Corno Bianco

This is one of the nicest hikes in the Dolomites in Val di Fiemme, and a popular ski station in the winter times. Though there’s ski-lifts in the winter months, these are not working in the summer. There’s no water fountains along the trail, so make sure to bring enough water for the duration of the hike.

How to reach Passo Oclini

Cavalese and the villages surrounding it, in Val di Fiemme, are great bases for some of the nicest hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino. It takes around 25 minutes to drive the windy road from Cavalese to Passo Oclini, via Passo Lavazé. There is a bus that goes all the way from Cavalese to Passo Oclini, but it doesn’t run at weekends and the first one leaves from the bus station at 9:30, taking around 40 minutes to get to Passo Oclini.

hiking in the Dolomites

The view during the Alta Via dei Monzoni, one of the nicest hikes in the Dolomites

Alta Via Dei Monzoni

Val di Fassa has some of the nicest hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino, and the Alta Via Dei Monzoni trail is a fantastic one. What I enjoyed the most about this trail is that not only it offers stunning mountain views, but also an opportunity to learn more about World War I (WWI), as lots of trenches of both the Austrian and Italian army are scattered here.

The main access point to the trail is the parking lot right outside Seggiovia Costabella (Costabella Skilift), in Passo San Pellegrino. From there, it is possible to get the ski-lift to the initial point of the trail, which is located at around 1918 meters above sea level – doing this saves around 1 hour time off the overall hike. Many hikes in the Dolomites are located in the same areas where it’s possibly to ski during the winter, so it is not uncommon to catch the ski-lift to the starting point.

Once off the skilift, the trail follows beautiful pastures of Campagnacia, where cows graze placidly and slowly yet quite steeply ascends all the way to the Rifugio Passo delle Selle, which is located at 2528 meters above sea level. The view from there is splendid, making this one of the best hikes in the Dolomites: on a clear day like the one I enjoyed, it is possible to see the Cimon del Bocche massif, Lagorai, Latemar, Catinaccio and Pale di San Martino peaks.

After reaching the Rifugio Passo delle Selle, the trail becomes very narrow, following what is known as the first Austrian line: this is where the Austrian army had built its trenches during WWI. Throughout the trail, it is possible to visit sniper stations, cannon stations and artillery tunnels that, thanks to the efforts of a local association called Sul Fronte dei Ricordi, are well kept.  The historical aspect is what makes this one of my favorite hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino.

The trail goes on to Ponta de Recoleta, and from there it starts descending all the way to Fango. Instead of following the official trail, it is also possible to go to Colifon, where there are the Italian trenches built during WWI, and once again walk through the pastures to either go back to the ski-lift or, a much better idea, to the Rifugio Paradiso, a fabulous restaurant that serves delicious traditional local food.

Of the day hikes in the Dolomites, this isn’t a particularly hard one, save for the bit that goes from Rifugio Passo delle Selle to Ponta de Recoleta: in some parts, the trail gets really narrow and goes along a cliff; and in order to visit some of the snipers’ hideouts it is necessary to climb over rocks and boulders, with not much to hang on to – so I wouldn’t recommend it to those who are afraid of heights or are not too confident with their steps.

This is one of the nicest shorter walks in the Dolomites of Trentino, taking around 5 hours to complete, including all the photo stops and the visits to the various trench lines and hideouts. It is best enjoyed with a local guide – I had the privilege of having a member of Sul Fronte dei Ricordi as my guide.

shorter walks in the Dolomites

A lot of hikes in the Dolomites go through pastures

Important things to note when hiking Alta Via Dei Monzoni

The Alta Via dei Monzoni is only one of the best hikes in the Dolomites that can be found in the area. There’s at least 6 more historical trails that can be followed in the same area and that are all maintained by a group of volunteers called Sul Fronte Dei Rircordi. No water fountains can be found along the trail, but the Rifugio Passo delle Selle sells water, food and many other things – make sure to take enough for at least the first part of the hike, though.

The trail goes along beautiful green fields where there’s plenty of flowers. One of them is the Alpine Star, which can be seen regularly when hiking in the Dolomites. However, keep in mind that this flower is at risk of extinction due to persistent picking, so make sure not to touch it or pick it!

How to reach Passo San Pellegrino

Moena and Canazei, in Val di Fassa, are fabulous places to stay when planning to go hiking in the Dolomites of Trentino. It takes around 15 minutes to drive from Moena to the parking lot of Passo San Pellegrino, where the Seggiovia Costabella is located. Alternatively, bus 71 of Dolomiti Bus and 123 of Trentino Trasporti also go from Moena to Passo San Pellegrino.

hikes in the Dolomites

Val San Nicolò is one of the nicest places for hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino

Val San Nicolò Hike, Val di Fassa

Val San Nicolò is located in what is known as the middle Val di Fassa, not far from a small village called Pozza di Fassa. It’s a bit of a surreal place, for how incredibly pretty it is. Just picture tiny mountain huts, a windy road going through the forest, gorgeous peaks all around and cows chewing on the greenest grass. And needless to say, some of the nicest short hikes in the Dolomites.

The main access point is the parking lot in the village (well, hardly more than a few houses) in Sauch, which is at 1700 meters above sea level. That’s where the tar road ends and the dirt road starts, getting deeper into the forest and then into the valley, where there’s a multitude of trails – some among the best hikes in the Dolomites. One (trail 604) goes all the way to Passo delle Selle, which I mentioned above.

I picked a nice and easy trail, so from the parking lot I followed the main road into the forest and next to the river, and then continued walking to reach some small yet pretty waterfalls. It isn’t a hard trek – in fact, this is one of the easiest Dolomites hiking trails. Needless to say, there’s much harder trails in the area.

One of the things that make me mark this as one of the nicest hikes in the Dolomites is the incredible views of the mountains and the atmosphere. This is the kind of place where there’s no phone reception; where families go spend the weekend at a mountain hut; where cows roam freely, and it is possible to also spot marmots.

hikes in the Dolomites

Val San Nicolò has some of the nicest short walks in the Dolomites of Trentino

Important things to note when hiking Val Nicolò

As it is one of the nicest places for hikes in the Dolomites, Val San Nicolò does get crowded as the day goes along. I was there quite early, but as I made my way back to the parking lot I could see many more people coming, including lots of families with children. If you want the place to yourself, make sure to set for the hike bright and early.

There is a coffee shop and restaurant at the very beginning of the trail, but nothing else for a while, so make sure to carry enough water for the hike.

How to reach Val San Nicolò

The best starting point to enjoy the hikes in the Dolomites around Val San Nicolò is Moena. There’s bus 101 that goes from Moena to Pozza di Fassa and from there the tourist train that goes all the way to Sauch . It is around a 25 minutes drive to get there.

Cimon della Pala

The gorgeous view of Cimon della Pala during the hike to Baita Segantini

Passo Rolle to Baita Segantini Hike

The hike that goes from Passo Rolle to Baita Segantini is a very short one (less than 6 km) and you can cover it in a couple of hours – but it’s rewarding, with incredible views, and as such well deserves to be mentioned as one of the best hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino.

Passo Rolle is a high mountain pass that is located at almost 2000 meters above sea level in Val Venegia and which connects Fiemme and Primiero Valley. The area is packed with fantastic hiking trails and there even are some fantastic via ferrata as well as climbing opportunities.

The hike from Passo Rolle to Baita Segantini starts right from the parking lot of Passo Rolle – you can follow one of two trails. One is very easy and it basically is a dirt road that was once used by mules. The other is slightly more difficult, though the trail remains between easy and moderate, and cuts through the field.

During the hike, you will be rewarded with beautiful sights. Yet the best are those you will get once you reach Baita Segantini, where you will find a small lagoon and from where you will get impressive views of Cimon della Pala, one of the most beautiful peaks of the Dolomites.

Once you get to Baita Segantini, you can continue either head back or continue by picking one of the many trails that depart from there. Once goes all the way to Val Venagia. The “Trekking of Cristo Pensante” (Hike of Thinking Christ) is thought to be one of the best in the region, leading all the way to Mount Castelaz.

Important things to note when hiking from Passo Rolle to Baita Segantini

The hike from Passo Rolle to Baita Segantini is one of the easiest hikes in the Dolomites. However, make sure to wear appropriate gear as the terrain can be very muddy after heavy rains. Depending on the season, you will still find some snow along the trail – that was the case for me, when I hiked at the beginning of June.

You won’t really need to pack lunch for this hike as you will be able to get a proper local meal at Baita Segantini – however, make sure to check it is open before you go.

How to reach Passo Rolle

You can easily reach Passo Rolle from the nearby Fiera di Primiero. If you don’t have a car, you can ride bus B122 which leaves at regular times. The journey takes about 50 minutes.

Pale di San Martino

Taking in the view of Pale di San Martino

Lago di Calaita to San Martino al Lago hike

The trail that goes from the scenic Lago di Calaita, located at 1621 meters above sea level, to San Martino al Lago is by far one of the best hikes in the Dolomites. To be fair, the lake itself is pretty but nothing special, but the views along the hike are incredible. The trail starts right by the lake and follows a thick, scenic forest. Once you get to an opening in the forest, you will be afforded splendid views of the Pale di San Martino, among the most famous peaks of the Dolomites.

This is a 10 km hike that takes around 2 and a half hour to complete, and it is fairly easy. You have to follow trail n. 350, which is very well marked. Make sure to wear proper hiking boots though, as there are some parts where the trail may be muddy or uneven.

If you are in the mood for something very very easy, you can opt to just walk around the lake for better views of the Pale di San Martino. If you, on the other hand, want something a bit more challenging, you can also pick other trails such as the one to Cima Folga or that to Pisorno Lake.

Important things to note when hiking from Lago di Calaita to San Martino al Lago

This is a there and back trail so if you want to return to the starting point you will have to calculate an overall 5 to 6 hours hike. You can start in Calaita or also in San Martino. Make sure to bring enough water for the hike, and depending on your starting point and on whether you plan to hike back also take some food.

There is a restaurant right on the lake, but it’s not open throughout the year so make sure to double check before going and prepare accordingly.

How to reach Lago di Calaita

The best way to reach Lago di Calaita is by car. Alternatively, you can take bus B506 from Fiera di Primiero. The trip lasts around 55 minutes and goes along a very windy road.

hikes in the Dolomites

Summer months are perfect for hiking in the Dolomites – that’s the best time to spot Alpine Stars

Practical Information For Hiking In The Dolomites

The best time for hiking in the Dolomites

I went to Trentino in July, and I feel that summer is the best time to fully enjoy all the hikes in the Dolomites. The days are nice and long, and the weather pleasantly warm – the altitude keeps the temperatures down. It does rain quite regularly; in fact it rained almost every day at some point when I visited. But the good news is that rains typically comes at night and only lasts an hour or so. Here’s more reasons to visit Trentino in the summer.

The nicest villages to access the hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino

The main city in Trentino is Trento; yet the best access points to the hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino are the villages scattered around Val di Fiemme, Val di Fassa and Primiero Valley. When I visited, I spent a few nights in Castello di Fiemme, a lovely small village near Val di Fiemme main village, Cavalese; some in Moena, in Val di Fassa and some in Fiera di Primiero, in Primiero Valley. All of them are lovely places to visit.

Cavalese was founded in the 11th century, and nowadays is a major tourist hot spot as it is really well connected to all the ski slopes and it provides easy access to the best hikes in the Dolomites. The village is itself a really nice place to visit, with an interesting museum and art gallery that have permanent as well as temporary exhibits; and there’s plenty of good hotels, restaurants and bars.

Moena is one of the many lovely villages of Val di Fassa, perhaps the most charming. It’s a pleasant place to spend a few days, with tiny cobbled streets, a beautiful old quarter, charming bridges and plenty of good accommodation options and restaurants. Needless to say, it is an excellent starting point to explore Val di Fassa and access the Dolomites hiking trails of Trentino.

Fiera di Primiero is a gorgeous small village in Primiero Valley, near the more famous San Martino di Castrozza. It’s an incredibly scenic place, surrounded as it is by the gorgeous Dolomites, and from there you can easily reach Mezzano di Primiero, also known as Mezzano Romantica – one of the prettiest villages in Italy. It’s a great access point for more hikes in the region.

Stay tuned as I will be publishing a detailed post about Mezzano Romantica soon.

Where to stay when hiking in the Dolomites of Trentino

There’s a good choice of accommodation options for those hiking in the Dolomites of Trentino. The best hotels are in Cavalese and Moena. Anyways, here’s a selection of places to stay in Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa:

Nearest Airports

There’s no airport in Trentino. The best option for those who want to visit Trentino and spend some time enjoying the hikes in the Dolomites is to fly to Verona (lots of budget airlines fly there) and either rent a car or take a bus to one of the villages of Trentino. It’s around 180 km from Verona airport to Moena, which takes about 2 hours depending on traffic; and 155 km to Cavalese, taking around 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Alternatively, it is possible to fly to Bergamo (there’s plenty of budget airlines going there) or Venezia Marco Polo, which is well connected internationally.

hiking in the Dolomites

Wearing appropriate gear is important when hiking in the Dolomites

What to pack when hiking in the Dolomites

I always recommend wearing appropriate gear when hiking, as having the right pair of shoes and pants will make a difference in the overall experience. This is even more so the case when hiking in the Dolomites of Trentino, for some of the trails, despite short, can be very technical. Here’s a few essential items to pack:

  • A good pair of hiking boots, preferably water proof and that provide proper ankle support
  • Hiking pants, best if water repellent. I wore my Kuhl Skulpt Skinny once, and my Kuhl Kliffside Convertible on another occasion. They both proved comfortable.
  • Either a cotton shirt, or a technical one. I recommend Kuhl Kyra or Nora TankAlva is perfect for colder days.
  • A sweater (my favorite is Kuhl Lea Pullover) and a wind and rain proof jacket (I love Kuhl W’S Airstorm Rain Jacket).
  • A 20 liter backpack. Mine is an Osprey Daylite Plus.
  • A flask – I prefer this to buying water, as it saves on plastic. Plus the water in Trentino is really good.
  • Sunglasses are necessary to protect from the sun and the wind. Wearing a hat may also be a good idea.
  • Sun screen with a high protection factor. The sun can be really strong in the mountains. I wore 100 SPF on one of my hikes and despite that I managed to get a bit sunburnt!
  • Last but not least, don’t forget to pack a good camera and lens. I have a Nikon D3300 and a 70-300 mm wide lens. A good smartphone can also do wonders when taking photos. I have an iPhone 6S Plus.

Other useful information

There are many more hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino – some short and fun like the ones I have mentioned on my post, others long and challenging. The websites of the tourism boards of Val di Fiemme and Val di Fassa provide updated information on the best trails and on many other things to do in the area.

Remember to always get a good travel insurance for your hiking trips. You can find a good one here.

What are your favorite hikes in the Dolomites of Trentino?

If you are looking for a great itinerary in Trentino, make sure to check out my post A Great Itinerary For A Summer Week In Trentino.”

Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of Visit Trentino during my trip, and I wish to thank them for the wonderful experiences. Needless to say, the views expressed in this post are my own.

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Discover the best hikes in the Dolomites - via @clautavani