4 Day loop in the remote Friulian Dolomites starting and ending at Rifugio Padova, a few miles from the town of Calalzo di Cadore and less than 2 hours North of Venice. The trail starts and ends each day at a Refugio in the valley, and each day climbs up to at least 1 mountain pass. Most of the hiking is above treeline, but the scenery and landscape varies as you pass through the different alpine environments. The mountain rock here is unique -- crumbly and jagged. The loop is incredibly remote considering its proximity to Venice and Milan
You can stay in Rifugios each night which serve full breakfast and dinner, so the amount of gear you have to carry is limited to rain gear, clothes, and snacks during the day. Each day takes about 8 hours at a moderate pace, including lots of breaks and lunch.
Note that this is not the most popular or classic part of the Dolomites, but the scenery is spectacular and there are no crowds. The route itself is very well marked and easy to follow, but beware that the mountain passes are full of scree. The descents may be quite unnerving if you are not used to hiking and sliding down scree fields. Other than that, it is beautiful and enjoyable hiking.
Day 1: Start @ Rifugio Padova (1287m), end @ Rifugio Giaf (1400m). Peak Elevation 2309m. Rifugio to Pass elevation gain 1022m (3353 ft)
Day 2: Start @ Rifugio Giaf, end @ Rifugio Flaiban-Pacherini(1587m). Peak Elevation 2107m. Rifugio to Pass Elevation gain 707m (2319 ft)
Day 3: Start @ Rifugion Flaiban-Pacherini, end @ Rifugio Pordenone (1249m). Peak Elevation 2107m. Rifugio to Pass Elevation gain 520m (1706 ft)
Day 4: Start @ Rifugio Pordenone, end @ Rifugio Padova. Peak Elevation 2333m. Rifugio to PassElevation gain 1084m (3556 ft)
Before you drive up to the hut, you can pick up maps, gear, and food in Calalzo. Maps and gear are available at Sportler
, and there is a good supermarket next door.
Then drive North a few minutes to Domegge Di Cadore, and then take a winding and narrow (but paved road) 7km up to Padova. You can see their location here: http://www.rifugiopadova.it/dove-siamo.html
. You can also hike up the 7km if you want, but you have plenty of hiking in the days ahead.
Day 1: Rifugio Padova to Rifugio Giaf
From the Rifugio take trail #346. The first few miles are a steady climb on a nice trail through thick forest. You could stay on #346 all the way to Giaf, but a more challenging route with better views would be to take #342. The junction is clear and well-marked. #342 takes you above treeline and eventually towards the mountain pass Forc. Monta con di Forni. It is a spectacular pass with excellent views in every direction. Once you get to the top you can see the small red bivy ahead (Biv Marchi Granzotto). It is cool to check out! The path at this point is all scree, and it can be difficul descending on it, so keep in mind it may take longer than you think. After the bivy the trail takes a sharp left, and descends steeply down a ravine. There are markers, but they can be hard to follow in the scree so pay attention. Eventually you descend into the forest again and arrive at Giaf. With the elevation and scree, this is definitely a full day hike (6-8 hours)
Day 2: Rifugio Giaf to Rifugio Flaiban-Pacherini
Take trail #361 (retracing your route yesterday for the first 15 minute or so) steeply up the mountain ridge to Forc. Urtisiel. The views are awesome all the way up. Continue on #361 on to the other side of the mountains, eventually passing by the small hut Valmeron. It is a great place to stop. The landscape here is like something on a postcard -- serene and untouched, with just enough features to make it interesting. Take #369 from here, slowly climbing up to Forc. Val di Brica and then Forc dell' Inferno. Not the most dramatic climbing, but beautiful scenery. Here you can take #369 or #369a down to Rifugio Flaiban-Pacherini. #369 is steeper and more interesting.
Day 3: Rifugion Flaiban-Pacherini to Rifugio Pordenone
The easy option is to take trail #369a to #369 to #362, and then follow #362 to #361, which leads to Pordenone. All the climbing was at the beginning (reclimbing what you descended on Day 2). The remainder of the day is a slow, gentle descent along a water flow to Pordenone. This could easily be a half day.
An interesting and popular alternative would be to take #363 to #366 and summit M. Pramaggiore, and then hook up with #362.
Day 4: Rifugio Pordenone to Rifugio Padova
Arguable the most difficult day. The route is simple -- most of the day is on #353, climbing steeply up the pass and then descending. Eventually you meet up with #342 and then #346 (which we hiked on Day 1), which take you back to Padova.
The highlight of the day is Camp. Di Val Montania, a giant rock tower that you pass by near the top of the pass.
The climb is hard, but not technically difficult. The descent was much more precarious, as you are descending on 100% scree all of the way down. You have to watch your footing and keep your balance all the way down, and also be careful not to kick small rocks and hit the hikers below you. Take your time.
The Rifugios provide excellent 3-course dinner and a light breakfast, showers, beer and wine, and beds and blankets. You need to bring:
- sleeping liner for hut (They have pillows and blankets)
- light boots or trail runners
- rain gear, definitely
- sun screen
- light lunch / snacks
- towel for shower
- sandals for huts
- cash for huts (bed and meals are about 40 euro/night, but bring extra cash for showers, beer & wine, and tips). I would suggest 60 euro/night to be safe.
- an extra mid layer for cool morning and nights
- 2-3L of water each day (all huts have drinkable water sources)
Maps: use Tabacco map #02 (Forni di Sopra - Ampezzo Sauris - Alta Val Tagliamento). you can get it at Sportler
the German Alpine club is an excellent resource
and Rifugio Giaf also has a great description.
Rifugios: Here are the links to the Rifugios. The care-takers mostly spoke Italian and German, but some English.