Tre Cime di Lavaredo - Reaching New Heights - CycleBlaze

September 21, 2021

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Today was one of handful of the days I had circled when planning this tour – a hike to Tre Cime de Lavaredo. I first heard of these famous peaks right here on CycleBlaze, from intrepid and inspiring CBers who’ve cycled through the Dolomites. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but I was determined to find a way. For a variety of reasons, and after considering several options, I decided on a private guide, one who would take me on an alternate route, something beyond the 6.2 mile circuit, described as a “heavily trafficked loop.” Today was the day – I was just hoping for good weather!

Guido arrived at my Airbnb at 8:45 and we headed out of Cortina and up the mountain, parking just in front of the toll booth that collects a 30€ fee for driving your car up to the Tre Cime car park. Why pay if you’re going to hike up??  We followed an easy path a short way through the woods and up a meadow, passing Malga Rin Bianco Ristorante a place we would return to later for lunch. For the next ~2 miles we climbed through the forest on a fairly good path with a steady but not too steep incline. At some point on this stretch, I remembered to activate RWGPS – losing the first mile or so of the hike.  We kept a steady pace, save for my frequent stops for photos. We soon came to another meadow with great vistas to north and to the east, across the valley we had just ascended.

Morning inspection from my terrace suggests it will be a wonderful day for a trip to Tre Cime
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We avoided waiting in line to pay a 30€ fee by parking here and hoofing it to the top
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Guido - my fearless guide
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Malga Rin Bianco Ristorante
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The hike started on a gentle incline through the forrest
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Looking west across the forested valley
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Looking northward across the forested valley
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Looking down at line of cars waiting to pay their 30€ toll
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View to the north
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Happy hiker
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After sufficient time on the meadow for more than enough photos, we retraced our steps back down to a trail junction and headed east, up a steep path that would take us across a ridge toward Tre Cime. We’d gone only a very short distance up the trail when my heart stopped – I was faced with a ~25 ft  long, narrow ledge with rock face on my left and air on my right. I am not good with heights, and the thought of turning around flashed in my head. So, it was with great care and encouragement from Guido, sometimes accompanied by a steadying hand, that I gingerly made my way across to safer ground. I was to shaken to turn around in the narrow space to take a picture, but the image and experience are burnished on my hard drive. We continued climbing up a series of narrow switchbacks that took us onto another high meadow - this time we were greeted by west face of Tre Cime. Across the way, we could see the horizontal mark denoting the circuit trail, where we would soon join hundreds of people also out to hike around Tre Cime. But for now we were alone, facing one of the most iconic landmarks and surrounding peaks of the Dolomiti. It was beyond my expectation and truly awe-inspiring.

A selfie to commemorate that I was there. This is not the scary ledge - just a section of narrow trail across the ridge
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Guido is enjoying my "selfie"
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We do have good views of the recent snow on the distant peaks
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And looking down to the west, we spot the Dolomite Cycleway and the site where Vivien George met Tre Cime
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Greetings from the west face of Tre Cime di Lavaredo
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Panorama looking north
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While the jagged peaks are always impressive, I have a soft spot for the flat little chimney rocks
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The Cadini di Misurina group of mountains on the left, with Lago di Misurina in the lower right
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Lago di Misurina
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Jagged peaks of Cadini di Misurina, which are Guido's favorite
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After wallowing and snapping pictures in our magnificent surroundings, we descended down a short trail to join the major circuit around the peaks of Tre Cime. We wound around the west face and then north toward the Malga Langalm where we left the main path and headed east on Guido's “secret” trail. This would avoid a large and, to him, “boring” part of the main circuit that would be filled with people. Plus, it was a shortcut to the east face of the peaks. At first, it did seem to be a secret trail as we encountered only a handful of people picking their way through a rocky and poorly defined trail. It soon became apparent, however, that the secret was out as more and more groups - many with dogs, some with small children - came our way. Guido was not thrilled. We finally reached the main circuit and headed down the path to the car park  - our visit to Tre Cime completed.

The light band about two-thirds down is the Tre Cime circuit trail - if you look closely you can see hikers along the trail. Farther right, you can spot the junction with our route to the circuit trail
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The shadows and north face of Tre Cime
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Guido's not so secret short cut - but it sometimes is a bit hard to find the trail
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Tre Cime - almost to the east face
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A closer view as we traverse the trail at the base of the peaks
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Tre Cime from the east - a popular photography spot for those who do not want to hike the circuit
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We were both hungry and rather than hike back down to the car, we opted to take the bus. Once at Guido’s car, we made a beeline to the Malga Rin Bianco Ristorante, which we had passed earlier this morning. We scored a corner table outside in the sun and enjoyed a very fine meal capped with “one of the best” tiramisu and a good Italian espresso. We both agreed that taking the bus and lingering over a good Italian meal was a much better choice than a 90 min walk down the hill. After a final stop at Lago di Misurina, we headed back to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Heading on the long trek back to the car park, with Cadini di Misurina cheering us along
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Just a few more of the jagged peaks of Cadini di Misurina
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Our corner table in the sun at Malga Rin Bianco Ristorante - great food and the views are free
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Lago di Misurina
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Lago di Misurina
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Final thoughts on the day:  I am so glad I took the decision to get a guide and opt for the medium difficult hike to Tre Cime. Only 2.5 miles of our 7-mile hike/walk were outside the popular Tre Cime circuit. In those 2.5 miles, we met only one other person. I got a taste of actually hiking in the Dolomites, something I hope to do more of in the future. Tre Cime di Lavaredo is spectacular, and I encourage everyone who visits the area to pay a visit. If you do go, I also encourage you to take the short detour off the main circuit over to the high meadow on the west side. There you will find the time, space and quiet to savor the breathtaking views of the eastern Dolomites. I also hope you are as lucky as me with the weather!

Note - the map does not include the first mile of the hike, which started at the toll booth on the main road to the Tre Cime car park
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Rachael AndersonGlad you had such great weather for the hike! Getting a guide was a great choice. Congratulations on conquering the steep ledge, it’s makes it much easier to have someone else there for encouragement.
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1 month ago
Susan CarpenterThanks Rachael-I was so happy to have such great weather. A helping hand and encouraging words are always appreciated, as are your comments.
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1 month ago