In summer 2019, Kati and I hiked the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites. Holding back our tears, we hiked through rain and snow for the first three days of our trek. We were crushed with disappointment, as we saw absolutely nothing during those initial days. Fortunately, after the trek, we spent a few days in Alta Badia and were well-positioned to revisit the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park. So, we decided to hike to Rifugio Fanes and see a huge chunk of what we had missed.
The day hike from Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes/Fanes Hütte is a moderate one. Most people will do a return hike, starting and ending in Capanna Alpina. This is the easiest option.
We opted for a long linear route. After reaching Rifugio Fanes and Rifugio Lavarella, we continued the hike to the mountain pass Forcella de Medesc (2533 m) and descended all the way down to La Villa in Val Badia.
This was a very long day hike and our knees were aching by the end of it. Only do this variation if you’re comfortable with long descents and you have hiking poles like these Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles. Otherwise, stick to the out-and-back hike.
Rifugio Fanes Day Hike
Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes
- Distance: 17.2 km out-and-back
- Time Needed: 6 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 640 meters ascending/descending
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trails: 11, (12)
Capanna Alpina – Rifugio Fanes – Forcella de Medesc – La Villa
- Distance: 19.6 km point-to-point
- Time Needed: 8 hours
- Elevation Gain: 1230 meters ascending
- Elevation Loss: 1870 meters descending
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Trails: 11, 12
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Rifugio Fanes Hiking Map
When to Hike to Rifugio Fanes
June to October. It only makes sense to hike here when the mountain huts are open. The Fanes mountain hut is open from the start of June to the middle of October. Ten minutes away from Fanes is another lovely mountain hut called Lavarella Hütte. Lavarella is open from mid-June until mid-October.
- Best Time to Visit the Dolomites
- Hiking in the Dolomites in September
- Hiking in the Dolomites in October
Rifugio Fanes Trailhead
The day hike to Rifugio Fanes begins at Capanna Alpina (1726 m), close to San Cassiano in Alta Badia.
How to get to Capanna Alpina
From La Villa in Alta Badia, we took the bus line 465 in the direction of Passo Falzarego to Sciaré (1.50 EUR one-way). Bus 465 is operated by SAD. It takes 20 minutes to walk from the bus stop in Sciaré to the Capanna Alpina mountain hut.
If you’re driving to the trailhead, there’s a parking lot directly at Capanna Alpina. Bring cash, as they don’t accept credit card payments for parking. In Summer 2019, the rate was 5 EUR for 5 hours or more.
Rifugio Fanes Trail Description
Capanna Alpina to Col de Locia
It takes about 3 hours to hike from Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes.
From Capanna Alpina (1,720 m), follow trail 11 to Col de Locia (2,069 m). Initially, you’ll cross a bridge over a river. The ascent to Col de Locia takes about 1 hour. It’s continuously uphill though never too steep. At Col de Locia, the trail levels and there’s a bench to enjoy the view.
Col de Locia to Malga Gran Fanes Alm and Ütia de Gran Fanes
Continue on trail 11 to Malga Gran Fanes Alm (2,105 m).
The hiking path is mostly flat. At the alpine pasture of Malga Gran Fanes, you’ll see cows eating and sunbathing. You’re now on the Alta Via 1. The trail continues to Ütia de Gran Fanes (2,105 m), a mountain hut with resident donkeys. The trail marker says 40 minutes to Fanes Hütte.
Ütia de Gran Fanes to Lec de Limo and Rifugio Fanes
Continue hiking on Trail 11. The trail divides. Opt for the upper left trail (the hiking path). The lower trail is a cycling path. You’ll pass by the lake Lé de Limo (2159 m). The final stretch is a descent to Fanes mountain hut (2060 m).
Lunch at Rifugio Fanes or Rifugio Lavarella
You can either eat lunch at Rifugio Fanes or continue another 10 minutes to Rifugio Lavarella. There’s no wrong decision. We stayed the night at the Fanes mountain hut during our Alta Via 1 trek and enjoyed the food very much. So this time, we opted for Rifugio Lavarella, which happens to also be the highest microbrewery in Europe.
Rifugio Lavarella is surrounded by tiny rustic huts and grazing cattle, making it perhaps the more scenic choice.
Return to Capanna Alpina, or Continue on Trail 12 to Forcella de Medesc
From Lavarella Hütte (2,042 m), it’s a 4:30-hour hike to La Villa (Stern).
The trail to the Forcella de Medesc (2533 m) mountain pass begins just above Lavarella Hut. You’ll ascend along a narrow trail through the forest. The views of Lé Vert and the huts below are enchanting.
After an hour, the trail dips into an expansive and wide karst plateau. You’ll hike across this plateau for another hour to the pass. Off to the left, you’ll see the small mountain lake Lé Parom.
Forcella de Medesc to La Villa
At the pass between Piz de Medesc (2,655 m) and Piz D’Lavarela (3,055), a sign indicates 2 hours and 10 minutes to La Villa (Stern). Here, you’ll descend down scree slopes for a long time (6 km).
The trail eventually reaches the tree line and you’ll continue to hike through a dwarf pine forest. Continue along trail 12 following signs to Stern.
As you near the valley floor, you’ll hike by happily situated farmsteads.
Make sure to turn back around to see Fanes in all her glory. To get into the heart of La Villa, you’ll cross a few roads. We used Maps.me to find our way to Hotel Ciasa Soleil.
Where to stay in Alta Badia
La Villa (Stern) is a small village in Alta Badia between Badia and Corvara. Advantageously situated between the Fanes Group and Puez Group, La Villa is one of the dreamiest places to stay in the Dolomites. Set further away from Passo Gardena, La Villa enjoys a quieter location than neighboring Corvara and Colfosco. Sunset views here are unforgettable. When we stayed in La Villa, we hiked to Gherdenacia Plateau, Rifugio Fanes, and the Armentara Meadows.
Budget | Pensione Camoscio is a well-run charming hotel with cozy, Tyrolean-style rooms, excellent breakfasts and dinners, and a peaceful setting. Great value for money.
Luxury | We loved our stay at Hotel Ciasa Soleil, a beautifully designed boutique hotel that feels fresh and modern. The cuisine is excellent. The wellness area is small but lovely. And, we loved the views of the Fanes mountain group from the dining room, outdoor hot tub, and terrace.
San Cassiano (St. Kassian) is a high-alpine village in Alta Badia between La Villa and Falzarego Pass, the gateway to the Ampezzo Dolomites and Cortina d’Ampezzo. This is an excellent base for exploring the Fanes Group and the Pralongià High Plateau. From the village, you can walk the Path of the Larches. From Capanna Alpina, you can hike to Rifugio Fanes and Rifugio Lavarella. Drive over Falzarego Pass to Belluno and Rifugio Lagazuoi, Cinque Torri, Rifugio Dibona (starting point for the Tofana di Rozes Circuit), and Lago Federa are within reach.
Budget | Camping Sass Dlacia is a guesthouse and campground at the entrance of the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park. From the campground, it’s a 15-20 minute walk to Capanna Alpina. They have one of the best pizzerias in the region.
Budget Apartments | Ciasa Milandura offers spacious, clean apartments with fully-equipped kitchens and balconies in San Cassiano.
Midrange | Hotel Conturines is a very welcoming hotel in the heart of the pedestrian zone of San Cassiano, offering comfortable rooms, high-quality breakfasts and dinners, and a small spa area.
Luxury Aparthotel | Lagació Hotel Mountain Residence ingeniously blends rustic alpine charm with modern comforts. Guests enjoy spacious apartments with kitchens as well as a wonderful spa area and daily breakfast.
5-star Luxury | Hotel Fanes dazzles with its first-class spa facilities and skypool, phenomenal food, flawless staff, and magical setting. Breakfast, a Marende (afternoon snack buffet), and dinner are included in the rate.
The town of Corvara is centrally located in Val Badia at the base of Sassongher mountain, between Colfosco and La Villa. It’s the tourist center of Alta Badia and offers the most in terms of shops, restaurants, and accommodations. Several cableways connect Corvara with the surrounding plateaus like Col Alt Pralongià and mountains like Sella easily accessible. Hikes near Corvara: Sass da Ciampac, Cima Pisciadu, and Gran Gir.
Midrange | Ciasa De Munt Lifestyle Living strikes just the right balance between urban and the outdoors, with its clean aesthetic, modern elegant lines and location. Guests have access to top-notch wellness facilities, storage lockers, and a washing machine. A fresh breakfast buffet featuring homemade cakes, cold cuts, and eggs is laid out each morning. Take advantage of the mountainside breakfast offering in their Piz Boé Alpine Lounge (2200 meters).
Luxury | We stayed in Hotel Col Alto, a 4-star hotel facing Sassongher peak in Corvara. We loved the hotel’s extensive wellness and spa area, the half-board experience, and the accommodating staff.
Read Next: Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer
Dolomites Hiking Essentials
- Day Hiking Backpack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- Polarized, CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Reusable Water Bottle: Ion Leakproof 32 oz Water Bottle
- Climbing Gloves: Black Diamond Half Finger Gloves
- Headlamp: Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp
- Crampons: CAMP USA Inc Chainsen Pro
Outdoor Photography Gear
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Sony Vario-Tessar 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS ZEISS
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
- Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites
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Plan your trip to the Dolomites:
- Dolomites Travel Guide
- Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
- Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites
- 7-Day Dolomites Road Trip Itinerary
- Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
Where to Stay in the Dolomites:
When to Visit the Dolomites:
Villages and Towns in the Dolomites:
Top Places to Visit in the Dolomites: