ReasonAs this hike doesn't (necessarily) climb any summit, I think it's appropriate to post it here.
OverviewHike around Croda da Lago is one of Dolomites classics. It shows all beauties of Cortina Dolomites and the whole diversity of landscape: Great panoramas over Cortina basin and towards Monte Pelmo and Civetta, dreamy beautiful Lago Federa landscape, wild rocky towers of the Croda da Lago crest. That's why this hike is so popular.
Variants1. The ususally recommended hike starts on the road from Pocol (above Cortina) to Passo Giau, at Ponte di Rucurto, 1708m. From there it climbs up to Lake Federa, goes around Croda da Lago chain and returns back through Val Formin. This variant will be described here.
2. You can also start on Passo Giau, hike over Forcella Ambrizola down to Lago Federa and around the northern side of the chain to Passo Giau road (Ponte di Rucurto, 1708m) and up to the saddle. Probably the opposite direction would be better, especially, if you leave a bike on Passo Giau :-)
3. A narrow road (closed for public traffic from Ponte Federa, 1603m) climbs from Cortina up to Lago Federa and Rif. Croda da Lago. You can come to the lake by bike, leave it here and do the tour around Croda da Lago chain in any direction.
Route DescriptionFrom Ponte di Rucurto, 1708m the marked path (No. 437) first crosses both creeks, then continues through woods towards east. Soon it ascends into the bottom part of Val Formin, where on the crossroads we decide in which direction we want to do the circle. In the morning it's perhaps better first to go to the Federa Lake. So we ascend by path No. 434 to Cason di Formin, the north shoulder of the Croda da Lago chain (there's a great belvedere over Cortina basin!), and through a beautiful parc-like landscape descend slightly towards SE to the lake, 2055m.
After enjoying the lake scenery, we continue (No. 434) towards south, along eastern walls of Croda da Lago. Our goal is Forcella Ambrizola, 2277m, which we reach in good 30 minutes, enjoying great views over the Cadore valley. Many paths are crossing on this saddle.
On the saddle we sharply turn right, towards W, for a few meters go by path No. 436 (which goes on Passo Giau), but soon leave it, and go by path No. 435 towards NW, where we already see Forcella Rosa del Formin (saddle), 2462m. Another 30 minutes, and 200m of ascent.
On Forcella Rosa del Formin, 2462m we can simply continue around the Croda da Lago chain towards north, or - if we want to take with us a summit - go westwards over the plateau on Monte Formin, 2657m (the ascent is easy, marked by ciarns). Anyway, the plateau of Lastoni di Formin is itself worth of some exploring. A huge carst plateau of limestone plates and between them beautiful islands of green grassy meadows!
The descent through Val Formin is quite steep. It follows the ravine, where big stone blocks are all around. High above us are vertical west walls of Croda da Lago. Finally we reach the meadow, where the circle is completed, and return westwards to the starting point.