Early July 2021, I traveled by train to the Dolomites in Italy. Wearing my hiking boots and a 36L backpack on my back. Ready for a new adventure! Together with a friend, we were going to hike the Alta Via 1, one of the most famous multiday hut-to-hut hikes in Europe. We did book this experience with idtravel (this is the exact trip we booked). In this article I’ll give you a condensed overview of what to expect of the Alta Via 1. Previously, I’ve written detailed hiking reports on every day of hiking. These will be linked in this article in case you would like more specific information on a day.
We chose to arrive one day early in Italy, so we were still able to hike the Tre Cime, one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen. On our way back, we took an earlier train to Innsbruck, so we could still explore this wonderful city (we did a lot, as you can read in the city guide!).
Also planning a hut-to-hut hike? Check out my packing list here.
The start of the Alta Via 1 can be found at Lago di Braies, a stunning lake and therewith a great start of this trip. You walk around the lake and on the other side of the lake, you will find path 1, and your first ascends starts. Be prepared, this is quite a steep and continuous ascend. The path is relatively easy to walk, however, includes some parts that require a little more coordination. The climb ends when you find Rifugio Biella and wow, I was happy to finally see the Rifugio as the ascend just didn’t stop and the first day was quite challenging with a backpack that wasn’t fully adjusted yet. After a snack and an ice cold Coca Cola we continued to Rifugio Sennes, our rifugio for the night, following path 6/6A.
Day 2 is an easy day, actually a really easy hike and we managed to walk all of it in 3,5 hours. This also left us some time in the afternoon to still visit a nearby lake, next to our rifugio for the second night. You start from Rifugio Sennes by following path 7 through lush green meadows and continue this same path and descend towards Pederu. Be prepared for many tourists here, as you can get here by car. From Pederu you start a climb, still following path 7 to Fanes, until we arrived at our destination: Rifugio Muntagnoles. This might have been our favorite rifugio of the trip, it was so nice and we enjoyed some sun on their terrace. From the rifugio it was a 10 minute walk to Lake Le Vert.
This day starts with hiking towards Rifugio Fanes and from there taking path 11 towards Lago di Limo and Gran Fanes. From there you follow path 20B towards Forcella de Lago. We still had some snow here, and had to do some climbing on parts of the path that weren’t fully maintained. Afterwards, it was part for the main part of the hike that day, which is a big switch back descend. It looked quite scary from the top, however, because of the switch backs and the well maintained path, this was relatively easy to do. You continue to follow path 20B towards Lago Lagazuoi, and afterwards towards Rifugio Scotoni (still path 20B), which was our place to stay for the night. Mind that this is a bit off the track, and you have to climb up this part again the next day.
On of the other amazing places in Italy is Cinque Terre. The five villages with the colorful houses, but all with their own atmosphere. You are in for a treat, both in nature, experiences as well as food and drinks.
Be prepared, as this is the most challenging day of the Alta Via 1. There is a lot of ascending to do during this day, but once again, it is incredibly beautiful. This day also marks the most different landscapes we have seen on a single day during this trip. You will start the day with climbing back up to Lago Lagazuoi to then start the ascend towards Rifugio Lagazuoi, following path 401. When we were there, there was still quite some snow in places, which also meant a more challenging climb as not all of the part was easily accessible. After you enjoy the view at the top, you take the funicular down and you start following path 441 towards Rifugio Averau and Rifugio Nicolai. After you arrive at Rifugio Averau, you start following path 439 towards Cinque Torri. From here, you continue on path 443 (this path really felt never ending) and head left on the junction to follow path 444 (this path is not visualized on the latest maps yet) towards Malga Giau, which was our place to sleep for the night.
Read the full hiking report on day 4 here, including many pictures.
From the Rifugio, you start following path 436 towards Passo Giau and Forcella Giau. Here we took a wrong route, as the path isn’t too easy to find, so be aware of that. In the end we managed to get back on track, but this way, the day took us a little bit longer. On the other hand, we were able to see Passo Giau from nearby, so not much lost there! Afterwards, you continue to follow path 436 towards Forcella Ambrizzola. Be prepared for some amazing views. We found this way was completely different from the other days, as it was way more lush and green! Subsequently, you follow path 458 and 467 towards Rifugio Citta di Fiume, which is a great place to get a sandwich for lunch! From there, you take path 472 towards Rifugio Staulanza. To be honest, this was our least favourite Rifugio, as it is located next to a main road, which doesn’t give you an off the beaten track hiking experience and there are many people there visiting for a day.
The final day! The final day is mainly descending. You start from Rifugio Staulanza to follow path 472 through the forrest, until you end up with very rewarding views of layered mountains. Gosh, I loved that view! Once you reach Passo du Rutorto, you change to path 475 which will take you all the way down to Villanova. Part of the descend is paved, but it is still quite heavy on the knees. From Villanova, we took the bus back to Dobbiacco to finish off in the same hotel as were we stayed the day prior to the start of the track. What an amazing experience has hiking the Alta Via 1 be and I’m definitely ready for more hut-to-hut hikes!