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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Are you leaving for Dolomites and want to travel with your tent? Your dream is to sleep under the starry sky or do you love the idea of ​​a low-cost travel? Beware, it’s not so simple. Italy is well known for having one of the most complicated bureaucracies in the Western World, and camping rules are not so clear. So it is much better to ask before leaving, so as not to incur in sanctions. Below I give you some indications.

First of all, there is no one law in Italy that regulates overnight stay in the tent throughout the whole National territory. As in many other cases, the Regions or Parks issue different laws depending on the area. For this reason, you may find different laws depending on the area you are visiting.

Let’s start by distinguishing two important things: the campsite and the night bivouac.

For Italian law, it is defined as camping to stay in a tent site for at least 48 hours. This is generally prohibited in all areas not specifically dedicated to camping (camping, caravan parking areas, and similar). In this case, if you settle down for more than 48 hours in the same place you are definitely be punishable by law. For a closer look at the rules in the various Italian regions, take a look here (in Italian).
In any case, in the 2 Regions that particularly concern to us (Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige), camping is strictly forbidden outside the areas specifically dedicated to.
It is different for the night-time bivouac.

For night-time bivouac is meant to spend the night outdoors from evening to morning, which can be done in the mountains either by necessity (f.e. impossibility to reach a hut, bad weather, physical difficulties), and by choice (and it is the case that we are seeing).

We have already seen in another post that in the Dolomites, in addition to huts, there are free and unattended bivouacs, in which you can stay overnight in case of need or even during an excursion.

But what if I would sleep in my tent? Can I do it?
Here we go into a not very clear regulation. In general, the night-time camp for necessity or emergency is always allowed, but of course in case of control of the Forestry Guards you should explain why, if you did not think about sleeping outdoors, you had a tent with you. And if we check the website of the Parco delle Dolomiti Bellunesi we see that the ban applies only to camping. However, I wrote to the Park and the answer was that both the campsite and the night bivouac are always forbidden.
During my excursions it happened to me to find hikers with tents.

My personal impression is that Regions and Parks try to limit the number of overnight stays in the tent, and this is understandable, considering the protection of the environment, security reasons (not each hikers is well prepared to sleep in the Dolomite enviroment!) and all the unforeseen events that can happen during the night on the mountains.

It is not possible for the Forestry Guards to sanction each hiker or hinder those who want to move to the mountains by going to the tent, however they try not to publicize this possibility. In any case, the best choice is to ask the Tourist Office or the Alpine Guides Office closer to the Dolomite town you are, and of course to get all informations about the areas where you are going.

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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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Everyone for sure has an idea of what to put in a backpack. But it is very important to chose correctly what is really fundamental, what is less important, and what is unnecessary. I remember once time ago a friend of mine that came for a 2-days hike in the Dolomites in Friuli Region with a backpack of around 20 kilograms (!). He really had everithing inside, but after few hours of path he lost all his energies.

How to choose the really useful equipment? A good starting point is to put only what is strictly necessary.

Considering the season, the lenght of your hike, the weather forecast is necessary.

CLOTHES
Rain-Jacket: a sunny day can quickly change into a windy or rainy day. Expecially in summer. The rain-jacket must be unpadded, light, absolutely waterproof. A wind-stopper technolgy is a plus. The most the jacket is light, the less space and weight it has. If you use it during a hike, your body will go on sweating even in case of rain, so the jacket must be breathable.

Softshell: this is a all-around dress you can use in different situations. In a Spring or Autumn hike, it allows to you to do the hike staying warm and wind-protected all the time. Usually softshell are also a little water-resistant, so in case of light rain you can be protected without use the rain-jacket. On Summer, it can be used in the hikes at higher altitudes or in case of sudden drops in temperature.

Tshirt or shirt: today the dress industry provides a lot of technic shirts for sport and hike, so you have no problems to choose a breathable shirt. I still prefere cotton shirts instead of synthetic fabrics. If your hike will take 1 entire day or more days, you should take with you 1 shirt for each day.

Pants: short or long?: it depends from the kind of your hike. A Summer hike in a sunny day along meadows allows you to use short pants, but in the most of other situations I prefere long pants. Long pants protect your leg from wood, rock, rain, and also from some unusual but possible meeting with vipers, a common snake on Dolomites. If you are afraid of hot weather, you can put a simple cotton short pant in your backpack to quickly change your dress if needed.

Water: it is fundamental. Finding water sources is not easy if you do not know the enviroment around you, so a water bottle is needed. You can consider 1 liter per person per day, and as my granpa said: “Se bevi troppo ti tagli le gambe!” (If you drink to much water you obtain tired legs). Avoid coke or sodas, they make you thirsty. Wine, bier or grappa are allowed during a pause in a hut 🙂

Food: this is very personal… I usually do not eat so much during a hike, so for 1-day I can only take with me 1 sandwich with ham and cheese, 1 fresh fruit (apple or banana), 1 chocolate bar and some dried fruit. But it is up to you.

Emergency kit: it is a good idea to bring with you some blister plasters, a disinfectant, a multipurpose boxcutter and a torch, they could be useful in many needs.

Never forget to take with you the paper map of the area you are hiking.

Read how to choose a good paper map

A good backpack for 1-day hike in Dolomites should not be more than 4-5 kilograms heavy. Put the lightest and less fundamental things on the bottom of tha backpack, and let’s go!

Remember to calibrate this suggestions considering the hike you are going to do.

 

 

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Despite of the impressive development of new Technologies, a good old paper map is still your best hike partner.

As you can see also in my website, it is fantastic to use a GPS track to see whenever you want your exact position and altitude, and now we have a lot of instruments that allow us to check it: smartphone, smartwatch, smart-everything, … but let me say that nothing will substitute a paper map. Why? Firs of all because a digital instrument can anytime have some problem that make it does not work perfectly (low battery, bug, system down, inaccurate GPS, and similar).

And then, if you fully use a paper map, you will obtain a lot of useful informations about the territory you are going through. Which? First let’s take a look to the maps the market offers.

In Italy there are 2 top publishers for hiking maps, that for decades have been the reference points for all hikers:

  1. Tabacco (website here)
  2. Kompass (website here)

You can easily find any map in bookshops or general stores in all Dolomites villages.

How To Choose Your Map

To choose your map you have to follow some easy and smart steps:

  1. Choose the area you are going to hike: usually maps report the area they cover with a progressive number. The areas often overlaps to avoid any “black hole”. A good idea is to check if the area you are interested in is positioned in the center of the map. A peripheral position or near the edges is an indication that your path could
    leave out of the area covered by the map.

    territory
    Dolomites territory and maps index

  2. Choose the correct scale reduction: the most common scale reductions are 1:25.000 and 1:50.000. The firts one reports a smallest area in a more detailed view, the second one a biggest area in a less detailed view. A 1:25.000 scale reduction is absolutely preferable to see any important detail of your path.

    dolomites-tobacco-map
    dolomites-tabacco-map

  3. Buy a recent map: in a medium period (10-15 years) some path could change significantly, due to landslides, landslips, changes of the territory, so using old maps provided by your friends in previous trips to Italy could be not a good idea.
  4. Check if the map reports the number of paths: it is almost obvious, but it is better to say the same … the maps must contain the numbers of the paths, which are essential for proper orientation during the excursion
  5. Check if the map reports the elevation contour lines: This is another important point. The map must show the elevetion contour lines to allow you to properly evaluate the land slopes of your hike.

Now you are ready to take your map! In another article we will see how yo ise correctly and fully a hiking map.

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