Alta Via 1 through the Dolomites
The Dolomites are a mountain range in the east Alps in Italy. They are located mostly in the Veneto province and some parts of Trentino and South Tyrol provinces. There is one national (Parco Nazionale Dolomiti Bellunesi) and several regional parks in the Dolomites. In 2009, the Dolomites were declared a natural World Heritage site by UNESCO. There are 21 peaks that are higher than 3.000 meters in the Dolomites and they cover a surface of more than 140.000 hectares.
This is the area where people can find some of the most beautiful alpine landscapes with vertical rocks, sheer cliffs and narrow deep and long valleys. Some standalone rocks are more than 1.500 meters high from their bottom and they are among the highest limestone cliffs in the world. This is one of the reasons why landslides, floods and avalanches are so frequent in this area. The Dolomites are known for skiing during the winter, mountain climbing, rock climbing, paragliding and hiking during later spring, summer and early fall.
In the recent period Dolomites the Alta Via 1 hiking trail is getting quite popular among hikers from all over the world. This is a 150 km long public footpath which means that it is one of the longest in Italy. It is located in the eastern part of the Dolomites in Italy. Some hikers know this trail as Dolomite High Route 1. The trail passes through the heat of the Dolomites in some of most beautiful scenery in Italy and between the most popular peaks like the Lagazoui, Tofana, Pelmo and the most famous one – Civetta. The trail is well organized and defined and if we compare it to the Alta Via 2 the trail is shorter, a bit easier and more crowded.
Hikers usually start their trip from Pragser Wildsee (Toblach) and end in Belluno. Most of Alta Via 1 is not difficult and experienced hikers won’t have any problems. There are some parts in the south that may require more time to be finished, but that makes this route more interesting. There are places where people can build temporary camps if they want to stay for few days although most experienced hikers use sleeping bags.
What many people like about this route is the fact that most of the nature is untouched and the place is isolated. It is worth mentioning that the original trail was altered few times and there are some more difficult parts that can be bypassed by inexperienced hikers. Depending on the weather and the experience it takes between 10 and 15 days to finish the full route.
When to go
The Dolomites are covered in snow during the winter. Sometimes the snow can form a layer that’s higher than 2 meters. Most hikers visit this hiking trail between July and September. This is the period when the snow is either completely melted or it doesn’t pose any threat to the normal hiking experience.
The refuges and temporary camps mentioned before are opened around 20th of June and closed about 20th of September. Of course, if you don’t want to use the huts you can go there before or after these dates. Many people visit this route in the beginning of June if the weather in May was good because the mountain is less crowded. July and August are months when the route is packed with people and it is hard to find free place in the huts along the route.
Day 1 - From the Lago di Bràies to the Rifugio Biella
This path is about 6 kilometers long and it will take about 3 hours and 30 minutes to finish it. There are several excellent places where you can enjoy the views and take photos.
Day 2 - From the Rifugio Biella to the Rifugio Fanes via the Rifugio Sénnes and the Rifugio Pederü
On the second day people increase the pace and hike for about 4 ½ hours. One of the most interesting things to see in this stage is the small mountain lake of Le Piciodel.
Day 3 - From the Rifugio Fànes to the Rifugio Lagazuòi
This part of the trail is 11 kilometers long. People can expect to see some rare specimens of deer here.
Day 4 - From the Rifugio Lagazuòi to the Rifugio Nuvolàu
It will take about 5,30 hours to finish the 15 km route on the fifth day. Most of the path is rocky and you will see some interesting high cliffs.
Day 5 - From the Rifugio Nuvolàu to the Rifugio Città Di Fiume
This stage is a little bit shorter, but it will take the same amount of time because of the terrain. You will have to use laddes and metal ropes for assistance.
Day 6 - From the Rifugio Città Di Fiume to the Rifugio Venezia
Hikers need to spend about 5,30 hours to finish this phase. Most of the path is actually a mule-track.
Day 7 - From the Rifugio Palafavèra to the Rifugio Vazzolèr
This is the first day where hikers need to spend 6 hours hiking to reach their next destination.
Day 8 - From the Rifugio Vazzolèr to the Rifugio Carestiato
This is one of the shorts stages and it is about 8 kilometers long and it takes 4 hours of hiking to reach the Rifugio Carestiato. This path is not very difficult and even beginner hiker won’t have any problems.
Day 9 - From the Rifugio Carestiato to the Rifugio Sommariva Al Pramperét
This is another beginner-friendly part of the route that is slightly longer – 13 km.
Day 10 - From the Rifugio Sommariva to the Rifugio Pian De Fontana
This is the shortest stage that lasts for 3 hours and it is 6 km long. There are some beautiful pine trees along the road.
Day 11 - From the Rifugio Pian De Fontana to the Bivacco Del Màrmol or Rifugio Bianchet
Although this phase is also 6 km long it will take 4 hours to finish it. Some of parts of the trail require presence of an experienced hikers that can assist beginner hikers.
Day 12 - From the Bivacco del Màrmol to the Rifugio 7° Alpini, Case Bortòt and Belluno
Finally, the last day will require 5 hours if you go to Case Bortot or 7 hours if you are headed to Belluno. Belluno is a nice small city with rich history and some beautiful structures and attractions.
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