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Start Routes Alta Via 1 (AV1) by Alpenventures UNGUIDED
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Long distance hiking trail recommended route

Alta Via 1 (AV1) by Alpenventures UNGUIDED

Long distance hiking trail · Hochpustertal
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Alpenventures UNIGUIDED Verified partner 
  • Hiking toward the Cinque Torri in the Dolomites
    / Hiking toward the Cinque Torri in the Dolomites
    Photo: Brittany Haas, Alpenventures UNIGUIDED
  • / Views of Mt. Nuvolau from Passo di Giau on the Alta Via 1
    Photo: Brittany Haas, Alpenventures UNIGUIDED
  • / Dolomite views from Rifugio Averau
    Photo: Brittany Haas, Alpenventures UNIGUIDED
  • / Hiker in green valley just past Passo di Limo on the Alta Via 1
    Photo: Brittany Haas, Alpenventures UNIGUIDED
m 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 100 80 60 40 20 km Pederühütte Rifugio Attilio Tissi Rifugio 7° Alpini Faneshütte Rifugio Dibona Rifugio Vazzoler
The Alta Via 1 (AV1) is Italy's highlight long-distance hiking trail.  It traverses the Dolomites from North to South, and wanders through the most stunning landscapes on offer.  
moderate
Distance 104.9 km
40:30 h
6,824 m
7,870 m

The most famous hiking trail in the Dolomites, the Alta Via 1, lives up to its promise. Although it doesn't travel through villages like the Tour du Mont Blanc does, the rifugios (mountain huts) you stay at along the way offer up loads of Italian charm and heaps of Italian food. You'll experience brilliant green meadows, rugged monoliths towering overhead, and plenty of World War I history as you pass by former battlefields and fortification remnants.

There are multiple variations to the AV1. In this tour we highlight the route that most hikers tend to take. There are a couple exposed and sketchy sections along this route. A via ferrata lies at the very end of the Alta Via I, but our route exits beforehand, as few hikers complete this via ferrata, and it requires carrying via ferrata gear the entire length of the tour. 

 

The tour is often completed in 7 to 13 days, depending on your fitness level and preferences. 

Author’s recommendation

Although this tour is feasible from mid-June to mid-September, it is likely to encounter problematic snowfields in June and snowstorms in September.​​

 

 

Profile picture of Brittany Haas
Author
Brittany Haas 
Updated: February 03, 2021
Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2,573 m
Lowest point
462 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

IN AN EMERGENCY DIAL 112

The Alta Via 1 is well-marked and well-traveled, but it is not to be underestimated. Daily elevation gain may be more than you are used to in your home region and there are some sketchy sections (almost all can be bypassed) along the route. 

Conditions are best, and safest, from mid-July to the end of August. It is not unusual for snow to hang around on the passes through June, and it is also not usual for a snowstorm to block all visibility during the first week of September. Please know that snowstorms in the Alps usually mean that there will be very little visibility, and navigation will be both challenging and time consuming.

The AV1 is not recommended between October and May, except for those with extensive mountaineering experience, avalanche recovery experience, and the proper equipment. Most rifugios are closed during this time.

Always check at your accommodation for the conditions on the next day's route, and listen to local experts (guides and hut stuff) regarding weather forecasts and other potential risks. 

Tips and hints

You can make the planning and preparation much simpler by taking advantage of our hut booking service. Find out more about doing the AV1 self-guided at https://www.alpenventuresUNGUIDED.com/av1

Start

Lago di Braies (1,494 m)
Coordinates:
DD
46.699412, 12.085279
DMS
46°41'57.9"N 12°05'07.0"E
UTM
33T 277172 5175888
w3w 
///stubbed.tucking.dancing

Destination

La Pissa Bus Stop

Turn-by-turn directions

The route begins at Lago di Braies, also known as the Pragser Wildsee. You'll start by walking along the West shore of the lake, and eventually ascend up a giant scree field at the back of the lake. After some time, you'll find yourself in a wonderland of boulders, ascend a short and steep section that is secured with cables, and make your way up to Forcella (pass) Sora Forno. From here, you'll descend to Rifugio Biella (also Seekofel Hut) and continue through gentle rolling terrain to Rifugio Sennes. 

The route from Rifugio Sennes descends with intention to Rifugio Pederü in the valley below. Just when you've made it to the base of the valley, you turn left, only to ascend again toward Rifugio Fanes. Rifugio Fanes sits in a wide open valley and there are several summits that are accessible as day or half-day trips. From Rifugio Fanes, the route climbs shortly to Passo di Limo, and then you are treated to a meander through brilliant green and wide open valleys.

Eventually, you leave the green grass of the valley floor and ascend up to Forcella di Lago, known for its tedious descent through scree, although it has been greatly improved in recent years. After this descent from the forcella, you'll find yourself in a moon landscape as you ascend steadily, but persistently, toward Forcella Lagazuoi.

If you want to make a stop at Rifugio Lagazuoi, descend to Passo Falzarego via gondola, or descend via the historic World War I Lagazuoi Tunnels (the tunnels are great, but a headlamp is absolutely required and a helmet is strongly recommended), then you'll need to ascend at Forcella di Lagazoui. Otherwise, continue on to Forcella Travenanzes, and follow the good trail as it descends to Passo Falzarego. 

At Passo Falzarego, you'll have access to a small cafe and gift shop, along with a bus that heads back to Cortina d'Ampezzo. To continue on, cross the street and make your way uphill, first through grassy farmland and then through a world of stone, which includes a steep gully you may want your hands free on. You'll eventually find yourself at Rifugio Averau.

From Rifugio Averau, the main Alta Via 1 route ascends an impressive ridge to Rifugio Nuvolau (great views), and then descends on a very steep and exposed section secured with cables. This routing is best for those with via ferrata gear, or who are very experienced and confident in such terrain. Otherwise, we recommend descending from Rifugio Averau to Rifugio Scoiattoli, which lies right next to the famous Cinque Torri. From there, continue on toward Rifugio Cinque Torri and turn right just before, following signs to Passo Giau.

One of the most spectacular stretches of the tour begins just after you pass the road at Passo Giau (bus service available), as you find yourself surrounded by breathtaking terrain. Continue over Passo di Giau and then to Forcella Ambrizzola. Soon after, the trail begins a long descent as you make your way down past Rifugio Citta di Fiume and to Passo Staulanza. 

At Passo Staulanza, you'll follow the road until the next hairpin turn, where you leave it and begin your ascent through a ski area to Rifugio Coldai. Rifugio Coldai is very popular with day visitors, and you'll see why once you arrive. After ascending the pass just beyond Rifugio Coldai and the lake just below it, a heightened sense of remoteness will begin to settle in. You'll pass below Rifugio Tissi (unless you are staying there or want to enjoy a snack with a view), and make your way to Rifugio Vazzoler.  You'll be in the shadow of towering rock walls as you make your way toward Rifugio Carestiato. The scenery mellows out and traffic on the trail will pick up for the short stretch to Passo Duran.

At Passo Duran, you cross another road. There is no bus service here, but taxis are available. You'll follow the road downhill for a bit before branching off and experiencing yet another surge of remoteness. You'll ascend, first gradually and then steeply, toward some World War I ruins, before being treated to a descent to Rifugio Sommariva al Pramperet. 

From Rifugio Sommariva al Pramperet, you'll ascend once again toward Portela del Piazadel, with some of the steepest sections you have experienced so far. They are; however, short-lived. Keep your eye open for Edelweiss flowers as you ascend a steep and grassy slope. At the Portela del Piazadel, the Dolomites impress you once last time with the characteristic views of ridges that unfold into the distance. From here you'll descend very intentionally, partially through a very steep and grassy hang, to Rifugio Pian de Fontana. 

The trail continues downhill from Rifugio Pian de Fontana to cross a stream, and then climbs steeply up the other side. This is your last ascent. After reaching a saddle, and completing a thrilling traverse, our route deviates from the main Alta Via 1 (which continues with a via ferrata) and descends on the more traveled trail to Rifugio Bianchet. Eventually you'll find yourself on a dirt road with some marked sections of trail that cut the switchbacks. 

Shortly before reaching the valley below, you follow a trail that branches off to the left and heads for the La Pissa Bus Stop. This trail is steeper than may be expected and has some tricky sections, which can be unwelcome at the end of a long day when you think you are "almost there." Eventually the trail meets the road in the valley below, and you'll turn right to make your way to the La Pissa Bus Stop.

The La Pissa Bus Stop is, unfortunately, an undeserving end to your epic adventure. After 10 minutes of walking along the busy and narrow road, you'll find only an abandoned building and a bus stop sign waiting for you. The bus only stops here on demand, so when you see the bus, make sure you flag it down. But you can certainly find some celebratory gelato once you arrive with the bus in Belluno.

Note


all notes on protected areas

Public transport

To reach Cortina d'Ampezzo from Venice Airport or City:

Both Cortina Express (www.cortinaexpress.it) and ATVO (www.atvo.it) have direct buses. These need to be booked online in advance.

 

To reach Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee by bus from Cortina d'Ampezzo:

Take Bus 445 from Cortina d'Ampezzo to Toblach/Dobbiaco. Leave the bus at the last stop at the Bus Station (this is one stop beyond the train staton). Then take Bus 442 from the Toblach Dobbiaco Bus Station to its end stop at Lago di Braies/Pragser Wildsee. Timetables can be found at www.sii.bz.it. 

 

At the end of the route:

From the end of the route, take Bus 1 from La Pissa to Belluno. The timetable can be found at www.dolomitibus.it. The La Pissa Bus Stop is an on demand bus stop and is not listed on the schedule. It is located between La Muda and La Stanga Bus Stops. From Belluno, it is possible to return to Venice via train (www.trenitalia.it).

Coordinates

DD
46.699412, 12.085279
DMS
46°41'57.9"N 12°05'07.0"E
UTM
33T 277172 5175888
w3w 
///stubbed.tucking.dancing
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

Trekking the Alta Via 1 by Knife Edge Books is the most current and most thorough guide we have found.

Author’s map recommendations

 We recommend the Cortina d'Ampezzo and Alpi Bellunesi maps from Kompass. You can find a link to purchase the map on our Map Page

Book recommendations for this region:

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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
104.9 km
Duration
40:30 h
Ascent
6,824 m
Descent
7,870 m

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