Tre Cime Natural Park
Tre Cime is one of the outstanding symbols of the UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned Dolomites. A century ago, during World War I, this region was the site of a fierce battle between Italian and Austrian forces for almost three years. Even today, you can see bullet holes in the rocks or rusty shell splinters on the grounds. A vast network of tunnels in rocks with steel ropes preserved since then and it constitutes most of Via Ferrata's (steel rope secured climbing paths). More recently, in 2017, Star Wars took place here but no artifacts are left (luckily or sadly). And now, all the beauty is exposed to peaceful hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Don't miss this place. No visit to the Dolomites is complete without wandering around Tre Cime!
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The trail starts from a vast parking area near the Dolomitenhof Hotel in the Fischleintal Valley. Prepare 3 euros in coins to pay for the whole day parking. As the area is trendy for its beautiful rugged terrain, it is advised to come earlier or even staying in the hotel overnight. This way you would have plenty of time to enjoy magnificent views of Croda dei Toni (3.095m) and Cima Una (2.698m).
Sunrises and sunsets are magical in the Dolomites and the magic is called enrosadira (a Ladin (local language, not Latin) term literally meaning “turning pink”). It is the term given to the phenomenon by which most of the peaks in the Dolomites at dawn and dusk take on a reddish color which gradually turns into violet. The reason behind the changing colors is due to the calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate of the dolomite, the mineral found in large quantities in the rocky walls of the Dolomites. At sunrise and sunset, the rocky cliffs take on hues that vary from light yellow to bright red, to different shades of pink and violet, until the mountains disappear in the dark of night.
There are many peaks in the Dolomites with hard to pronounce names but the PeakVisor app will make you know all of them as a local. I use it every time in the mountains in order to better understand surrounding mountains, get information about peaks and mountain huts.
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The trail goes along Rio Landro up the Valle Sasso Vecchio (literally, Old Rock Valley).
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Water in the Rio Landro stream looked perfectly clean, so I took a risk and filled already empty bottles with it. Taken into account that the Locatelli mountain hut was closed (not yet opened for a season) it was a great decision.
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The peaks and slopes of the Dolomites have excited the imagination of mountain climbers since the 19th century. On the trail, it felt like being in the no-man’s land. Massive rocks, enormous cliffs, rugged terrain, high waterfalls, and most of the time no one in sight.
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A bench with a view... Don't spend too much time, there is still a long way to go.
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The Rio Landro starts near Lago dei Piani and almost immediately creates a waterfall rushing down the Valle Sasso Vecchio. Slightly to the left from the centre just out the summit of Monte Paterno - Paternkofel (2.744m).
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Tre Cime trails might be tough for your legs (and body fat if any), but what a treat for the eyes!
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Looking back from this high point, we can see Catena Carnica - Karnischer Kamm which constitutes the border between Italy and Austria. Hollbrucker Spitze - Cima di Pontegrotta (2.580m), Demut - La Muta (2.592m), Schöntalhöhe - Cima du Valbella (2.653m), and Eisenreich - Montagna del Ferro (2.665m) summits are visible from here. The ridge walk from Helm - Monte Elmo (2.434m) is a great option for another day hike.
Don’t be surprised by the double names of the mountains, it is a frequent phenomenon in the Alps. You can find out more about double nominations here.
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Another waterfall by the trail and magnificent Torre di Toblin - Toblinger Knoten (2.630m). The peak, in fact, looks like a fortified rock tower. It offers probably the best view on the Tre Cime peaks and surrounding area. It also has a historic value. During World War I, there was a viewpoint of Austrian soldiers at the very top. Nowadays, the so-called "Sentiero delle Scalette" (literally, Ladders Path) allows climbers to get to its summit. It is a medium difficulty Via Ferrata with 17 ladders (hence, the name).
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A quick detour to Lago dei Piani offers tranquil environment and picturesque reflections of Torre di Toblin (2.630m) and Sasso di Sesto (2.539m) to the left.
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Finally, the very gem of the Dolomites - renowned symbol of the whole Südtirol region - Tre Cime. A perfect place for lunch. For those who get here from down the valley with almost 1.000m elevation gain, the lunch will be well-earned. Bear in mind that Rifugio Locatelli portions are huge and very tasty. And don't be upset if the mountain hut is closed, on your way back there is Rifugio al Fondo Valley. I did this hike more than a month ago but I still remember delicious Minestrone (vegetable soup), Ravioli with Spinach and Ricotta, and mouth-watering homemade desserts. The meal alone was worth the whole effort.