After getting in the hiking mood with our Tre Cime di Lavaredo Day Hike, it was time to start the adventure that brought us to the Dolomites. It was time to start our 6-day hut-to-hut hike along the Alta Via 1 and we were beyond excited. You might have heard of Lago di Braies, as it is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe and probably the most famous place in the Dolomites. The fact that the Alta Via 1 starts from the lake would already be a reason to pick this multi-day backpacking hike over others.
This article is the first one out of a series that describes every single day we hiked the Alta Via 1 in more detail. When hiking, we noticed that we were sometimes missing some detailed information and would have liked to know what the paths did look like. Also, before booking, this might be some information you would like to know. We did book our multi-day hike with idtravel.nl.
1 || Start at Lago di Braies and follow the path to the other end of the lake
2 || Start your ascend following path 1
3 || Continue your ascend following path 1 to Rifugio Biella
4 || Follow path 6/6A on an easy path to Rifugio Sennes
As mentioned, the Alta Via 1 starts at Lago Di Braies. We were staying in a hotel in Dobbiaco and decided to take the first bus to the lake, which was departing around 8 o’clock, which meant we arrived at the lake by 8:30 AM. It’s only a short ride and for this you can take bus 442, departing from the bus station but also in front of our hotel. You can check the recent departure times easily on Google Maps or ask your hotel. We thought this would be too late to enjoy the lake in peace and were thinking about grabbing a cab to the lake, but the hotel owner told us that 8:30 AM at the beginning of July (in COVID times) would be early enough. And that was true! We had enough space to enjoy the views and take some pictures of an honestly stunning and amazing lake. If you want to be here early, you can also stay at the hotel next to the lake.
The climb up only starts from the other side of the lake, so the first part and official start of your Alta Via 1 trip start with walking around the lake. You can reach the other end, by hiking clockwise or counterclockwise. The easiest way is to hike counterclockwise and head right around the lake, as there is less height difference on this end and the route is slightly shorter. We however were stubborn and decided to hike clockwise as that was supposed to be the quiet trail. It was beautiful but be prepared that you’ll add some more meters of going up and down to your already intense day. The path, however, is really easy to walk and therewith a great start. I also liked discovering the lake from the other side including the view of the Lago di Braies hotel that you don’t see as much on the internet.
The first day of the Alta Via 1 consists of quite a bit of climbing, which you of course can expect of a first day as you have to head into the mountains. After hiking around the lake, you’ll see the mark displayed on the picture below that tells you your ascend along path nr. 1 is going to start. The path up consist of gravel, however, when going up I didn’t think it was slippery (which is what I usually don’t like about gravel). The higher you climb, the more green you’ll see and you’ll finally find some shade. The first leg of the trip rewards you with amazing views over Lago di Braies from above, and I would recommend taking a small break here to enjoy the views before continuing the climb.
After passing by the bench, which is the perfect viewpoint over the lake, you’ll continue your way up. As you can see, the trail is well marked with red/white/red marks along the route, sometimes combined with an nr. 1 sign that marks the Alta Via 1. The trail starts with a small stair up, where you can hold yourself to a metal handrail. Afterwards, you’ll find yourself walking the ridge before climbing up and crossing the first mountain top. You have to climb here a bit more, but again, there are handrails to hold on to. It’s a bit scary, but if you just keep paying attention and hold yourself, it doesn’t take long before you reach the top. Up until here, you’ve climbed about 550 meters and hiked 6 kilometres and it will take you approximately 2,5 hours.
To warn you, you’re not done climbing when you reach this point as I quickly hoped for when reaching the first mountain top. You’ll have some time to catch your breath when walking through the meadows and concurring the first snow, but soon after you’ll have to continue climbing. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go all the way up towards the Seekofel, as we saw many people walking up there, which made us stress out a little bit that we still had a long way to climb. The point where we saw Rifugio Biella was a huge relief though, as I have to admit, the first day adjusting to a backpack and climbing loads in a relatively short amount of time wasn’t easy. When at Rifugio Biella, soak in the views, order a coke or a beer and something to eat if you wish before continuing with the final hour towards Riguio Sennes.
The last part of the Alta Via 1, Days takes you to the Fanes-Sennes-Prags National Park. From Rifugio Biella, you have to follow path 6 / 6A towards Rifugio Sennes. Fortunately, you don’t have to climb anymore and you can just hike through the lush green areas of the park before looking out on Rifugio Sennes, which was the Rifugio where we stayed the night. From Rifugio Biella, the hike to Rifugio Sennes took only around 45 minutes. When arriving, we were brought to our room and we had the chance to take a hot shower (facilities here were great!!) before enjoying a well-deserved weizen to celebrate a great first day!
Ready to start your second day of hiking?! Find the hiking report of the Alta Via 1, Day 2 here!