The Dolomites are of course known for the great lakes and mountain ranges. When we booked our hut-to-hut hike following the Alta Via, I also did some additional research on the Dolomites. The Alta Via was described as a hike covering the Tre Cime area. However, the trail doesn’t touch upon visiting the Tre Cime / Drei Zinnen themselves. I soon figured that the Tre Cime di Lavaredo is one of the prettiest areas and hikes in the Dolomites, so what a shame would it be to not touch upon those?! We decided to head to Italy one day before the original start of our trail, which allowed us to 1. decide to do nothing if the train ride would be too tiring (it was…) or 2. the option we took nevertheless, to add day hike to our trip! No regrets about that. Let’s start with everything you need to know about this hike and let the pictures convince you this Tre Cime / Drei Zinnen day hike should be on your bucket list!
The start of the Tre Cime day hike can be found at Rifugio Auronzo. A great place to start from or to stay is in the neighbourhood of Dobbiaco (Toblach) as direct busses go to both the Tre Cime and to the famous Lago di Braies. If you are touring the Dolomites for longer, it’s probably best to rent a car and drive to Rifugio Auronzo. You have to pay 30 euros to park here (which can’t be easily avoided as you have to pay way before your actual arrival at the Rifugio. Another way to head to Tre Cime is by bus, which is what we did. Busses depart from Dobbiaco bus station and train station and you’ll pay 16 euros for a return ticket. Busses leave approximately every hour but outside of peak season they might skip an hour, so make sure to check this beforehand. Well, otherwise just enjoy your well deserved beer at the end of the hike in the Rifugio. You can check the departure times with Google Maps.
The best way to hike around the Tre Cime is to hike counterclockwise, which means you’ll have the amazing three peaks on your left hand during your hike. The trail is well-marked, so it is near impossible to get lost. The trail starts quite flat on a broad and decent path. Soon, you’re already rewarded with great views of Rifugio Aurenzo and you’ll walk past the Cappella degli Alpini, before starting your first climb. You might not yet be rewarded with views of the Tre Cime / Drei Zinnen / Three Peaks, however, the mountains surrounding will not disappoint.
After not too long, you’ll arrive at the first Rifugio on the way, which is Rifugio Lavaredo. Personally, this coffee spot was slightly too early on the route for us, so we didn’t stop and continued climbing towards Forcella Lavaredo, the most famous viewpoint during this route. I have to admit, the most beautiful views in my opinion on the Tre Cime were indeed from this point. If you’re not that keen on hiking, you could also return after visiting Forcella Lavaredo as some do, however, I would recommend continuing the loop as the views are pretty all around.
At Forcella Lavaredo, we decided to quickly walk up a bit more, where others might go down to follow the trail straight away as the pictures below show (follow the backpack with the green rain cover). Doing this, rewarded us with some of my favourite pictures shot during the day. We were up all alone, while so many visitors gathered at the original viewpoint.
From Forcella Lavaredo you’ll continue following path 101 towards the Dreizinnenhütte. From this Tre Cime viewpoint, you can already spot this beautiful hut. Look at those views! We didn’t expect that much snow (end of July), however at this part of the trail there was some snow left, however, it wasn’t too hard to pass while on the other hand, it did reward us with quite dramatic views. From the route, you can keep following path 101 towards Rifugio Locatelli to make a pit stop, which I would definitely do as the views are amazing! How often in your life will you have a coffee with such beautiful views. Let’s not focus on the fact is was slightly raining. 😉
Unfortunately, we missed the WW1 bunkers. Looking at Instagram pictures, the view from the bunkers is quite cool. However, we saw a path going up where no one was going and which seemed quite dangerous. (We probably would have thought differently after the entire tour.) I wouldn’t be able to explain the exact location, but you should head up behind the Rifugio. We continued following path 102, which starts from behind the Rifugio as well (you’ll see the church). From here you start a descent and some climbing over more rocky parts. I didn’t think this was the most interesting part, however, it’s great that you will continuously see the majestic Tre Cime.
Soon, you’ll reach a junction from where you have to follow path 105 which will bring you back to Rifugio Auronzo. I loved the fact that there are some streams, which bring a new dimension to the Drei Zinnen. Following path 105, you’ll also pass by Malga Langalm. Malga Langalm is one of the other Rifugios you’ll find along the route and is a great place to stop and relax in the sun. The rest of the hike isn’t too long anymore, so why not continue to enjoy the views a bit longer?
After a potential stop at Malga Langalm, you can start the last leg of the trail (105) back to Rifugio Auronzo. This will take you approximately 1 hour. The trail and route are easy, as you can at all times follow the signs back to the Rifugio. Slowly, you’ll lose your main view of the Tre Cime and you can once again admire all other beautiful views of the surroundings.
And that was it – following this route will bring you back to Rifugio Auronzo where you can enjoy a well-deserved beer with a great view and afterwards take the bus or continue by car. We returned to our hotel in Rifugio for a dip in the pool and some additional relaxation in the sauna to prepare for another six days of hiking.