Here are some fascinating little-known destinations for hikers who love mountains solitude.

Are you looking for little-known destinations for hikers on Dolomites?You are in the tight place. Nowadays all over the world tourism has reached levels never known before, and “overtourism” is a new word that indicates when a place has exceeded its capacity to welcome tourists and risks “dying of tourism”. Living most of the time in Venice, I exactly know the meaning of this word.

Mountains tourism is quickly changing.

Even if the Dolomites are not a great touristic destination as Venice, Rome or Florence, more and more people from all over the world go there for the fame they have actually achieved. It is to say that hikers are not “harmful” like other categories of tourists, they are more responsible, aware, carefully attentive to the environment, etc., but certainly tourism in the Dolomites is also quickly changing.

When I was a child, it was not unusual to find German hikers and sometimes some English on the trails, but today it is easy to find Poles, Czechs, or Canadians, Austrialians and people from the States, and also groups of Chinese and Koreans. If you are reading this post probably you belong to one of these countries. Mountain hiking is spreading as a sport and wellness practice, so it is growing more and more. On the main trails there is sometimes a shuttle services to easily reach huts by jeep, and some huts propose concerts, events and happenings, and more. 

It is easy to understand how even in the Dolomites it is possible to speak of overtourism. In particular, some areas are now very famous, thanks to social networks.

Parking at Lake Braies could be very hard…
(thanks to https://www.skiforum.it/forum/showthread.php?t=84938 )

There are beautiful hikes far from the crowd.

It is easy to understand how even in the Dolomites it is possible to speak of overtourism. In particular, some areas are now very famous thanks to social networks, instagram photos, and often assaulted by unprepared tourists with sneakers. Everyone wants to see the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lake Braies or Lake Sorapiss, which are now a must for everyone. 

I can understand that those who come from distant countries want to see these enchanted places. But if your stay in the Dolomites lasts for more than few days or simply you also love the mountains for their tranquility and isolation, here are some little-known destinations for hikers on Dolomites, some laces that will leave you with beautiful memories and above all a lot of peace!

1. Lastoi di Formin

A isolated and highly panoramic peak, well known for Winter ski-alp. Beautiful valley down of the peak

2. Val Popena

An alternative way to admire Misurina Lake from above, in a silent and not touristic area.

3. Settsass Peak

An easy peak, very well positioned between the highest Dolomites peaks.

4. Monte Pore

An unusual volcanic grassy and easy peak, in front of Marmolada nad others peaks.

5. Croda del Becco

An unmissable peak into the Prag-Sennes-Braies Natural Park, steeply above the Lake Braies.

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Here some good rules for hiking on Dolomites. Safely. Don’t you want to Turn Your Holiday into a Bad Experience, right?

Title too dramatic? Maybe … but not so much. Every year, especially in summer, the Alpine Rescue carries out numerous rescue operations for tourists and hikers in difficulty, some of which could have been avoided with some simple precautions. So read these good rules for hiking on Dolomites.

After all, we all want to go home happy and not find ourselves dealing with unpleasant situations, avoidable injuries and bringing back bad memories. Although now very popular with tourists and hikers of all kinds, the Dolomites remain a high mountain environment, where it is easy to encounter errors of assessment that can be dramatic or even fatal. Do not forget!

1. We must not overestimate our strength;

It is not just about physical forces. Maybe you are very trained, maybe you are used to going to the mountains, but remember that every place has its characteristics.
Consider altitude, altitude difference, technical difficulties of the hike you are about to do. Be well informed, using good guides (books) and good blogs (such mine, :-))). Don’t push yourself to the limit, you’re in places you don’t know and in another country. Plan an excursion in 70-80% of those who consider your limits, to have a margin in case you find out that it is more difficult than you thought.

2. You must never go away alone;

If you are part of a group, avoid making detours, shortcuts, unmarked routes that distance you from your group. Getting lost is easy and you could be forced to take long laps to get back on the right track or suddenly find yourself in front of overhangs, rock jumps, screeds or situations that are not nice to deal with, especially alone.

3. Be always with someone else;

Do not plan hikes in solitude. This is a rule that works everywhere, do it here too. It doesn’t matter that you have little time, that your friends are slow, that you absolutely want to publish the photo from the peak on Instagram. Going alone is never a good idea. You could stumble, fall, not be able to continue, not be able to communicate with your smartphone, not be able to establish your position, be in a bad storm and many other situations in which it is always better to be in 2, also to decide what to do together.

4. Don not underestimated your tiring out;

Do not underestimate the signals of your body of excessive fatigue, especially above 2,500-3,000 meters of altitude. If you feel sick you need to warn your companions and reach the nearest hut or call for help. If you come from the plains and have not had time to acclimatize to the altitude, you may feel dizzy. Even on a easy path, losing your balance and falling can lead to serious injuries. No path is too easy to avoid you from injures.

5. Find out where you are going and if paths are ok and huts are open;

Before leaving for a hike, make sure you find out if the paths are all viable (sometimes a landslide can block a path), if the huts are open, take the phone numbers of the huts and the number of the Alpine Rescue. You can get free information at the Alpine Guide offices in many Dolomite villages.

6. Forecast and communicate a return time to your friends;

If your friends or relatives do not come with you, inform them of the route you want to take, the hiking times, the stops you want to take and update them by telephone so often you can. This can be very useful if you need help and are unable to communicate. Your loved ones could say precisely where you were and speed up the rescue operations.

7. Use the appropriate equipment for the kind of hike you are going to do;

On this point a universe of possibilities opens up! I think many of you already know how to dress in the mountains, but always keep in mind the path you are about to take. Are your shoes suitable for a path in the woods or between rocks, but are they suitable for a gravel descent? or snow? If they are not, you could go home with a bad sprained ankle.
Does your hike include dangerous stretches or those with a metal rope? Bring a harness, safety is never too much, even if the difficult path can be short. Also think about the safety of those who come with you, not just yourself.

8. Watch the weather forecast;

Getting accurate weather forecasts before you go to hike is fundamental. This is valid all over the world, and Dolomites confirm it. A sudden cloudy and foggy weather can easily make you become disoriented, or a sudden rainy weather can heavily make your trail dangerous. This is why when you plan a hike on Dolomites you have to hold accurate weather forecasts. When I say “accurate” I mean a precise hourly forecasts. Take a look here for more infos on this point.

9. Take a map of the path you are going and always have it at hand;

We have beautiful apps and wonderful smartwatches with GPS. But nothing will substitute a paper map. Why? First of all because of a digital instrument can have any problem that makes it does not work perfectly (low battery, bug, system down, inaccurate GPS, and similar). And then, if you fully use a map, you will get lots of useful information about the territory you are going through. Which? Take a look here for more infos on this point

dolomites-map
dolomites-map

10. Don’t pick flowers and mushrooms if you can’t collect them.

When I was a child on many paths there was a sign that says something like: “Those who love mountains leave their flowers”. Some flowers here are very rare, like the famous Edelweiss. Leave them there. Take pictures of them and then leave them there. The same is for mushrooms, the collection of which is strictly regulated. If you are passionate about mushrooms, buy a collection permit at the municipalities where you are staying, they will tell you how far the collection is legal.

Well, now you know enough to leave safely and maybe you learnt some new good rules for hiking on Dolomites. But one principle is worth more than any other: prudence and don’t do anything stupid!

And do not forget to let me know what do you think about this post!

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Are you a hiking globetrotter or do you have just 1 day to visit Dolomites? Well, I am sorry you have just few time! Dolomites need at least 1 week for a good approach and taste! But…

But if instead of 1 week you want to spend just 1 day of hiking in the Dolomites, starting the same day from Venice and returning in the evening, it is a bit more complicated but…Yes, you can !
Here is some suggestion for this quick experience: first, you must rent a car. There is no possibility to spend just 1 day starting from Venice with public transport (bus or train). Public transport it is not so efficient in this area, unfortunately.

So, considered primarily to find accommodation not in Venice (I mean water city or city center) but in the so-called mainland areas (Mestre) or near the International Airport (Tessera). This will save you around 30′ minutes on the road to Belluno and the Dolomites. In particular from the Venice Airport a highway link allows you very quickly to take the A27 motorway that ends few kilometers after Belluno in the municipality of Longarone.

In case you choose this solution the advice is to look for a hike in the area of Belluno Dolomites. These valleys are easily accessible from Venice (in particular the Zoldo Valley, Comelico Valley, Cadore and Ampezzo Valley.

Each of this valleys are reachable in around 90 minutes by car from Venice Mestre. Consider to move early in the morning to be able to start your hike no later than 10:00 AM.

For a 1 day hike Spring and Autumn are preferrable. Summer has a couple of problems: heavy traffic (expecially on Saturday and Sunday) and weather that usually turns into bad in the afternoon, reducing your hiking possibilities. If weather forecast are good, during Spring and Autumn you will have more possibilities of good weather all day long.

Do you have some question? Ask me!

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The path signs of the Dolomites trails are different, but for the most they follow the guidelines of CAI (Alpine Italian Club), the historic mountaineering club that still owns many huts, and which is often responsible for information and maintenance of many alpine and dolomitic trails.

It is always very important to read all the path signs, to be sure to walk through the planned path. Also remember to check the correspondence between the signage you meet and the map you have in hand.
It is not uncommon to take old or wrong trails that suddenly ends or take you off the road.

The main signage is the vertical ones, and it is usually wooden signposts that provide information on: track number, main destinations, travel times.

Travel times are calculated on medium trained hikers.

If you are well trained you will probably spend a little less than indicated, and if you have children or people who are not trained you will need to calculate 30% more time at least, depending on the people.
There is also the horizontal signage, that is the characteristic white-red sign painted on rocks, trees or other elements of the environment .

Sometimes the sign also contains the number of the path. In case of paths where orientation is not easy, these signals are usually very close to each other, so that they can be seen one after the other. On an easy-going path they are more workout.

If you do not meet any horizontal sign for 10-15 minutes, consider that you could have taken the wrong path.

The “Little Men”

“Ometti” is the Italian word (that in English can sound as “Little Men”) used for the small stone pyramids that are used to indicate the path where orientation is difficult due to the lack of reference points, for example on stone, scree or near the peaks, where vegetation is completely absent.
They indicate the right path, so when you go to the side, you can add some stone so that they are always visible!

Other Signals

It is common to find on the trees other signs of yellow or blue colour, or black. Do not consider them, these are signs used by foresters or forest guards and do not in any way concern your path.

Scale of difficult

International books, guides and sometimes topographic maps usually indicate the paths according to the following table:

T for tourist path
Itinerary mule tracks or wide trails. Tracks generally are not long, do not have any orientation problem, and do not require a specific workout, except that typical of the walk.

H (or E) for hiking path
Hikers Itineraries on trails or obvious traces in various kinds of land (pastures, debris, stone …). They require hiking equipment and sufficient orientation and walking skills even for a few hours.

EE for expert hikers
They are generally marked off roads but with some difficulty: the terrain can be made up of slippery slopes of grass, mixed with rocks and grass, stone, mild snowy slopes or even easy climbing rocky passages (use of hands at some points). They require a discreet acquaintance from the Alpine environment, safe pace and no dizziness. Physical preparation must be adapted to a fairly continuous day.

EEA for equipped expert hikers.
Equipment paths is necessary, requiring the use of self-insurance devices. This symbol in the Dolmites is often used for the “vie ferrate”

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When a hut is open? Huts are a traditional element of Alps, but in the Dolomites they are characterized in particular by the high number and the short distance (usually) between them. On Dolomites there are dozens of huts, and in most of them you can find restaurant and rooms. Many of them are recently restored and full of comforts 🙂 Some huts are private, and some are managed by CAI (Italian Alpine Club). The biggest an full-optional huts are often under 2,000-2,200 mt. altitude, while over 2,500 mt. altitude they are usually very simple and essential.

In any case, you will always find a recovery in emergency case (every hut do it by law). The short  distance between them allows children and untrained persons to hike on numerous paths, and also allows anyone to quite easily reach a hut in case of need.

Remember that if you want to pass a night in a hut (it is a beautiful experience) it is fundamental to reserve the bed some day before you go, expecially during July and August. And, first of all, check if the hut is open!

When do the huts open?

Usually the most of huts open from June to September, according with the high tourist season. In that period you are reasonably sure that each hut is open. Of course it is always a good idea to look for updated informations or to call the hut. Some hut can also be open for a larger period, for example from May to October. There are also huts that are open in winter, because they are on the paths of snowshoeing.

Would you like to have a quick overview of the open huts? There is a great website, in my opinion, called RifugiAperti http://www.rifugiaperti.it/. The website is in Italian, but it is so easy and graphic that you do not need to know the language.

It is a Google Map based website, so you can move on the map and simply check which hut is open and which not at the moment you are connected. Informations are not 100% guaranted but the times I used it was right.

open hut

Huts and Bivouacs

It is very important to consider the difference between huts and bivouacs. The bivouac is a free recovery, usually built with metal and situated under the peaks over 2,500 mt altitude. The bivouacs are always open and they have no service but some camp bed (usually 9 or 12 camp beds). They are used as emergency recovery in case of bad weather and also as a good starting point for an early morning hike or climb to a peak. There is no possibility to reserve them, so “those who first come first served”. They not always have a water source nearby.

A typical bivouac on Dolomites

 

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Is Venice too far from Dolomites to make viable a day trip to these wonderful mountains?

Maybe you are one of the 20 Millions tourists that every year pass by Venice and Veneto Region, and because you love mountains, you would like to have a day trip to Dolomites. Of course, yes, you can.

The point is: how? and where to go? and how much does it cost?

First of all it depends from WHO are you and what do you want:

  1. I am just a traveller who want to see this beautiful mountains and their landscapes

  2. I am a hiker and I would like to taste the Dolomites with a 1 Day trek

1) TRAVELLERS
If your goal is to visit the Dolomites area without having any kind of trek, you really have many possibilities and kind lanscapes and small towns to choose. Venice is close to some of the main Dolomites towns, such as Alleghe, Caprile, Auronzo di Cadore (Misurina Lake), Cortina d’Ampezzo, Sappada.
The distance between Venice and these towns is no more than 150-170 km.

HOW TO TRAVEL
Train: is the worst idea you can have. Sustainable mobility is still not a reality in Italy, and often rail connections with small towns are not fast, often are delayed or require changes of train. The Venice-Belluno railway line is one of them. The arrival in Belluno requires at least 2 ½ hours, usually with at least one change of train, and once you are in Belluno you will need to take a bus that in about 1 hour takes you to Alleghe. To go to Cortina, Auronzo or Sappada, from Belluno you have to continue by train to the station of Calalzo-Pieve di Cadore (1 hour more train ride) and from there you need to take a bus that in 1 hour takes you in one of these locations.
So either you get up at dawn or it is better to choose another kind of transport. But if you love trains, here is the link to the timetables of the Venice railway station and bus from the Calalzo train station.
Train Ticket from Venezia to Calalzo: 10-12 Euros (1 way)
Bus Ticket from Calalzo to Cortina (or other destinations): 4-5 Euros (1 way)

Bus: travel by bus from Venice is not such a bad idea, but only if you want to go to Cortina d’Ampezzo. The Queen of the Dolomites has a direct bus line from Venice via the public company ATVO and private CortinaExpress, which in just 2’30 hours take you to Cortina. The first bus departs from Venice at 7:50 AM, which is a good time to enjoy a day at Cortina.
For the other Dolomites towns there are also bus lines, but with slower travel easily exceeding 4 hours. Here the link to the ATVO companion and CortinaExpress.
Bus Ticket from Calalzo to Cortina (or other destinations): 25-27 Euros (1 way)

Rent-a-Car: To rent-a-car could be a good and cheap solution. From Venice to Dolomites you have to consider 1’30-2’00 hrs depending from your destination. From Venice to Longarone (a small town few kilometres far from Belluno) the Highway A27 takes you easily in the hearth of the mountains, and then in less than 1 hour you will be at destination. Check everything when you rent the car, expecially where you have to pick up and to return the car. Venice is a no-car city, so only few rent-a-car companies are allowed to park in the city, and the most of them could tell you to pick up the car at Mestre or Venice Airport (15-30 minutes far).

Private Tour: some companies also offer you to rent a minibus with driver that will pick up and return you at Venice Piazzale Roma (very comfortable!), and they offer a lot of 1-day tours to Dolomites. For more infos about this solution please contact me email.

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Getting accurate weather forecasts before you go to hike is fundamental. This is valid all over the world, and Dolomites confirm it. A sudden cloudy and foggy weather can easily make you become disoriented, or a sudden rainy weather can heavily makes your trail dangerous. This is why when you plan a hike on Dolomites you have to hold accurate weather forecasts. When I say “accurate” I mean a precise hourly forecasts: to know hour by hour how the climate will change is very important to plan your hike, f.e. to plan a correct starting time, or to decide at what time your hike must be closed.

On Dolomites, as for all Alps, weather can change very quickly, and a sunny day can suddenly become windy or heavily rainy, especially on Summer. Sometimes this can give you only some discomfort, but can also be dangerous if you are on a peak or if you have to pass some difficult stretch of trail.

And so, where to take this accurate forecasts? Forget any web forecasts, general websites, or anything similar.

The top of the Dolomites weather forecasts are on these 3 website:

  • ARPA Veneto: ARPA is the Regional Agency for Enviromental Protection for Veneto Region. Its forecasts are really accurate and every hiker or Alpine Guide consult it the day before the hike. Their bulletin is updated 2 or 3 times every day, so they are really useful and precise. I suggest you to read the forecasts in Italian (helped by Google translate), because English version is very short.
  • Meteo Trentino: for the Province of Trento, it is the same service
  • Meteo Provincia di Bolzano: for the Province of Bolzano/Bozen, it is the same service

You can download bulletins in pdf format and print it to take them with you on your hike.

Remeber to choose your hike well considerng the weather, avoiding to climb on a peak if weather is not 100% sure and confortable (risk of lighting with storms!). Also remember that some path cam become dangerous and slippery with rain, or that a long trail in the rain or cold can heavily decrease your energy and safety and strength of your muscles.

bad-weatherWeather can quickly change on Alps and Dolomites

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Seasonality on the Dolomites is very important. Each season show us the mountains in a different way: woods, rocks, snow, flowers, all change from a month to another. So, how to choose when to take a holiday here?


Spring: is a great period. Hiking is again possible after the snow has melted, but the peaks are still white and snow is plentiful on them. So the panorama is similar to a little “Canada”: bright colours in the valleys, many flowers, a freshness all around you. Temperature is still fresh (easily under 15°C).

Spring top elements: no tourists, good weather, great panorama, good prices in Hotels and apartments.
Spring bad elements: huts are still closed, cold temperature possible.
Be careful of: snow on the paths is still possible, expecially over 2.000 mt. altidude; bring warm clothing with you.


Summer: is the most common season to hike. This not necessary means that it is the best period. Of course summer brings big benefits to hikers: temperature is warm, huts are all open, there is no risks with snow or ice on the paths, so it is surely a good period. Unfortunately most of the people think the same, so Summer bring also a lot of people on the paths. Wheather is usually good, but air is full of humidity, so afternoon thunderstorm or rainy days are frequent.

Summer top elements: general good weather, warm temperature, huts open.
Summer bad elements: many tourists, high prices in Hotels and apartments.
Be careful of: many tourists means more risk in some difficult or exposed passages. If you want to sleep in a hut remember to reserve it some days before, or you probably will not find a free bed.


tofana-di-rozes

Autumn: is the season I love. No longer tourists on the paths, no longer a too warm climate. Again the possibility to hike admiring the snow over the highest peaks, and especially the fantastic colours of the wood. Orange, red, yellow, dark green are the colours of the Leaves during Autumn, so the period between the second half of September to the first half of November is something you should absolutely see on Dolomites.

Autumn top elements: general good weather, great colours, few tourism.
Autumn bad elements: huts are closed, cold temperature possible.
Be careful of: snow on the paths is possible, expecially over 2.000 mt. altidude; bring warm clothing with you.


Winter: is usually an off limits season for hiking. The snow falls abundantly expecially in January and February, so it is not possibile to hike without snowshoeing. But snowshoeing means also having a good knowledge of risks of snow, avalanches, and having the correct saving devices with you. This arguments is out from this blog. So, simply, in this season you have to go down under 1.000 mt. altidude to find some good path without snow.

 

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If you are a passionate hiker, you surely heard to speak about Dolomites before. This fantastic mountain group grew up from the bottom of the sea million years ago. With the particular rocky colours and fascinating shapes Dolomites are a sort of paradise for every hiker, trekker and climber since the XIX century.dolomites-area

Dolomites are located in the North East of Italy, in the Eastern side of the Alps. The main part of them are included into Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige regions, not so far from the important International Airport of Venice, or from the smaller but well-served airport of Treviso.

There are fundamentally 2 main ways to go into the heart of Dolomites Region: one from the Brenner Highway that connect Verona with Innsbruck and Munich, or from Venice (Highway A27) that connect this beautiful city with the town of Belluno, the real gateway to the mountains of this area.

The distances are not so heavy. From Venice Airport “Marco Polo” to Cortina d’Ampezzo (the “Queen of Dolomites” and one of the must-to-see of the area) is only 150 km by car (2 hrs on a easy road). From Treviso Airport is about the same.

This road, called “Alemagna”, drive you in the eastern side of Dolomites, full of beauty. Is the kingdom of some famous peak, such as Tofane group, Tre Cime di Lavaredo (German “Drei Zinnen”), Dolomiti di Sesto (German “Sextener Dolomites”) with their beautiful Natural Parks.

On the other side, with a little longer trip (180-200 km by car) from Verona Airport you will easily reach 2 of the most beautiful dolomitic valley: the Ladins valleys Val di Fassa and Val Gardena.

Where do you think to go?

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