Around Tre Cime

Italy, Cortina d'Ampezzo

Tre Cime (Drei Zinnen in German or Three Peaks in English) is one of the highlights of the Dolomites and a very popular attraction among photographers. The impressive structures, dramatic plummets, jagged peaks, and a heavy WWI legacy make this walk stand out among other European options. This circular trail is one of the most popular in Dolomites and surely a must-do for any mountain enthusiasts. While you can hike as a family, please note that the trail is a bit long for small children.

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The most convenient way to hike around Tre Cime starts from the Rifugio Auronzo (an alpine hut) which has a vast parking area nearby. Arriving by car requires driving a toll road of five kilometres (costing 25 Euros per car).

Immediately upon starting the hike we were exposed to epic landscapes; it was so beautiful we rarely put down our cameras.

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A quick gaze backwards on the Rifugio Auronzo.

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The jagged peaks of the Bonacossa trail are part of the Via Ferrata (the "iron paths"). That trail requires a much higher level of mountain experience and even some special equipment, so we saved it for another time.

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Shortly after the start of the hike we noticed a short detour from the main trail which led to some kind of monument. It was a good chance to have a look at Tre Cime from a distance. But from this viewpoint, Tre Cime doesn't look like three peaks. I’m curious how they counted the three peaks, as there were any number of stone structures from various angles.

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Monument ai Bersaglieri (meaning “snipers” in English). The Angel of the Fallen is the work of sculptor Ancona Vittorio Monelli, who was enlisted in the WWI’s 8th Regiment of the Corps of Sharpshooters in 1916. It is a winged man with a sword in his right hand and a laurel wreath in his left. At the foot of the figure there's a tangle of hedges representing the pitfalls of the war. There's also a frieze of the 8th Bersaglieri Corps and emblems of the various regiments committed to patrol the stretch of the front line. The inscription below honours the fallen.

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Forcella di Lavaredo is the next stop where the trails criss-cross near the spiky Paternkofel Mountain. From here we did another quick detour to see the tunnels and WWI fortifications that were built inside Paternkofel. It is also a good opportunity to experience some thrills, as the drops are very high in this area and you are required to walk with locking carabiners.

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The tunnel entrance that serves as a reminder of WWI. To this day, the trenches, tunnels, and iron ladders around Tre Cime remind us of the fierce fighting witnessed by these peaks during the war.

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This is what hiking the Via Ferrata looks like. You simply attach yourself with locking carabiners to the metal constructions to prevent a fall into the chasms below.

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Finally, we can see the three distinct peak silhouettes.

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Rifugio Locatelli has a strategic position midway the trail with the best view of the Tre Cime, including two small lakes. It also serves delicious food, and I tried their minestrone soup and a pasta, both of which were served in huge portions!

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The well-known spot for taking photos of Tre Cime.

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Two lakes near the Rifugio Locatelli. Light mountain drizzle turned into showers, so we got quite wet. Most of the hikers around seemed to be well-prepared for this turn in the weather, as they donned their transparent waterproof raincoats and continued the trek further along the trails, barely missing a beat.

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After recharging our batteries and waiting for the rain to finish, it was time to hit the road. One of the biggest discoveries for me was the beauty of mountain walking in "bad" weather. Scattered clouds along the trail and the surrounding mountains change the view every second. It feels very spiritual and makes you feel like you’re on a true adventure.

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The final stretch of the walk felt like the finish line was always around the next corner, but every time we went around the bend, another picturesque configuration of rough rocks, ragged clouds and mountain greenery appeared.

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Lange Alm mountain hut is in a tranquil environment, and is great for those who would like to have a bit of rest before finishing the walk.

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Three small lakes on the Tre Cime trail with Rifugio Locatelli in the distance.

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At the very end of the walk the sun appeared, highlighting the gorgeous landscape and helping to dry our clothes.

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