Dolomites‘ most adventurous hike – The Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking

JUAN MARTINEZ

November 13, 2020

Dolomites‘ most adventurous hike – The Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking

Covering some of the best spots in the Dolomites, the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking is the ultimate hiking trek for adventure seekers in Europe

There is nothing more fascinating that waking up after the sun comes out and realize you just slept in a mountain hut above the clouds. This is how days start, when you plan a hiking trip to the Dolomites, one of the most beautiful mountain regions in the world and probably the best hiking area in Europe. Either you come here for a weekend hike, a climbing daytrip or a multiple day hiking experience, it is difficult to choose which route to take and which places to explore. However, if you are looking forward to hiking a demanding multiple day route, contemplating views that will constantly take your breath away and exploring a more “off the beaten path” section of the Dolomites, the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking is the route to go for.

Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking- Passo Giau
View of Passo Giau

A hiking route like no other in the Dolomites

Consisting of seven different stages and covering a distance of about 129km, the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking is not the route you choose as a beginner. The total ascent and descent is over 6700m and you have to expect hiking times up to 9 hours daily (not counting the time you stop for eating, photographing or marveling the views).

Therefore, days during the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking start very early and if you are not used to hike in altitudes over 2000m, you might find it a little strenuous after seven continous stages.  Nevertheless, the rewards of this magnificent route are worth the pain.

View of Cinque Torri and the Cortina Valley
View of Cinque Torri and the Cortina Valley

The trek covers some of the most iconic spots of the Dolomites, as well new enchanting locations that were once only traveled by mountain guides or locals. Additionaly, you will reach astonishing viewpoints at altitudes of over 2400m that will show you the vast size of the Dolomites and once you finish the stage of the day, you can relax at the cozy and charming rifugios.

Even though the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking can be planned and hiked completely independently, hiking tours with professional guides can also be booked during Summer.

NOTE: The biggest advantage of the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking is that the route starts and ends in Cortina d’ Ampezzo, one of the most famous alpine towns of the Dolomites. Travelers can simply reach the town using public transportation, get in Cortina all necessary equipment, as well easily depart or take a rest day once they finish the route.

Read more: Which are the most beautiful mountain landscapes of Europe

Hiking routes Cortina-Dolomiti-Ultra-Trekking
The Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking incluides sections of all levels in hiking.

Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking in a nutshell

  • Duration: 7 days / 6 nights
  • Distance: 129,35 km
  • Start: Cortina d’ Ampezzo
  • Finish: Cortina d’ Ampezzo
  • Altitude during the route: 1126m – 2446m
  • Up- and downhill distance: 6921/6919m
  • Online Map of the hiking route
Altitude map at the Cortina Dolomit Ultra Trekking
Altitude map at the Cortina Dolomit Ultra Trekking – Click to enlarge

Where to stay

Just like at any other hiking route in the Dolomites, rifugios are your only choice. There traditional mostly family-run mountain hut are located in several sections of the Dolomites. Furthermore, all the stages of the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking start and end in one rifugio. Prices for the night vary from location to location. However, expect to pay around 70-100 EUR per room (this price also covers dinner and breakfast).

Unfortunately, like in many other parts of the Alps, free camping is completely forbidden and if you get caught, you might end up getting a very expensive fine.

NOTE: Most rifugios are only open during Summer season. Check beforehand if the rifugio you plan to go is open, and book beforehand if possible. Spots are quite limited and even though a booking is not necessary, it is recommended. Some rifugios get booked 6 months in advanced during high season.

Read more: How to plan a road trip in the Alps

Rifugio at Cinque Torri in the Dolomites
Rifugio at Cinque Torri in the Dolomites

Stages of the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking

Map of the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking route
Map of the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking route – Click to enlarge

First Stage: Cortina d’ Ampezzo to Rifugio Son Forca

  • Length: 25km
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Uphill elevation: 1662m
  • Downhill elevation: 666m
  • Average hiking time: 8-9 hours

Stage 2: Rifugio Son Forca to Rifugio Citta di Carpi

  • Length: 18,4km
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Uphill elevation: 1210m
  • Downhill elevation: 1299m
  • Average hiking time: 7-8 hours

Stage 3:  Rifugio Citta di Carpi to Rifugio Lavaredo

  • Length: 13,8km
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Uphill elevation: 814m
  • Downhill elevation: 595m
  • Average hiking time: 5-6 hours

Stage 4: Rifugio Lavaredo to Malga Ra Stua

  • Length: 25,9km
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Uphill elevation: 794m
  • Downhill elevation: 1454m
  • Average hiking time: 8-9 hours

Stage 5: Malga Ra Stua to Rifugio Col Gallina

  • Length: 19,5km
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Uphill elevation: 1422m
  • Downhill elevation: 1049m
  • Average hiking time: 8-9 hours

Stage 6: Rifugio Col Gallina to Croda da Lago

  • Length: 14,5km
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Uphill elevation: 854m
  • Downhill elevation: 866m
  • Average hiking time: 7-8 hours

Stage 7: Croda da Lago to Cortina City Center

  • Length: 11,2km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Uphill elevation: 185m
  • Downhill elevation: 1015m
  • Average hiking time: 4-5 hours

For more detailed information about the stages of the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking, contact to the rifugios and indications about the route itself, visit the official site of Cortina.

NOTE: You can also do a shorter version of the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking. It takes just three days and two nights. Although might not cover some scenic views like the “Tre cime di Lavaredo”, it passes through very beautiful natural areas at the west side of Cortina.

Read more: Which type of hiking signs are there in the Alps?

View of the Tre Torri di Lavaredo
View of the Tre Torri di Lavaredo

Alta Via 1 or Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking?

For travelers visiting the Dolomites and looking forward to a multi-day hiking adventure, the Alta Via 1 is the most popular choice to go for. It takes 3 days longer, covers a different section of the Dolomites and is way less arduous as the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking. However, as one of the most traveled routes in the Alps, the Alta Via gets quite full during high season. Also, it starts and finishes in locations 120km away from each other, which makes it more complicated to plan.

If you are choosing between the Alta Via 1 and the Cortina Dolomiti Ultra Trekking, take into consideration how long you want to trek each day, what kind of difficulty do you feel comfortable with and how are you getting to the start and finish section of the route.

Each one of these two routes has their advantages and disadvantages. Still, when it comes to the beauty of the route itself, there is not much difference between these two.

Read more: Hiking the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites

Sunset View from Rifugio Lagazuoi
Sunset View from Rifugio Lagazuoi

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