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 Nature Park Fanes – Senes – Braies. So, we decided to hike to Rifugio Fanes and see a huge chunk of what we had missed.

The day hike to Rifugio Fanes, or Fanes Hütte, from Capanna Alpina, 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. This was a very long route, and our knees were aching by the end of it. Only do it if you’re comfortable with long descents. Otherwise, stick to the return hike. 

Planning a trip to the Dolomites? Read Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer.

Pin It!

And while you’re there, connect with us on Pinterest! And, Instagram too!

This post links to products and services we love, which we may make a small commission from, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our blog!! – Sabrina and Kati

Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes Trail Options


Option #1 Moderate Return Hike | Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes

  • Distance: 17.2 km out and back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highest Point: Lec de Limo (2159 m)
  • Elevation Gain / Loss: 640 meters ascending, 640 meters descending 
  • Time Needed: 6 hours 
  • Trails: 11, (12)

Option #2 Difficult Linear Hike | Capanna Alpina – Rifugio Fanes – Forcella de Medesc Scharte – La Villa

  • Distance: 19.6 km
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Highest Point: Forcella de Medesc Scharte (2533 m)
  • Elevation Gain / Loss: 1230 meters ascending / 1870 meters descending 
  • Time Needed: 8 hours 
  • Trails: 11, 12

Hiking Map

Recommended Hiking Gear for the Rifugio Fanes Day Hike

If you opt for the long linear route over the Forcella de Medesc Scharte pass, you definitely need hiking poles like these women’s hiking poles, men’s hiking poles to stabilize your descent to La Villa. You should also have grade B/C hiking boots like the women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX, or Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (what Kati and I wear) or the men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX

Other hiking essentials: a reusable water bottle, polarized sunglasses, rain jacket, sunhat, and camera. We love our Sony Alpha A6000 mirrorless digital camera. It’s lightweight, easy to hike with, and captures landscapes beautifully. 

When to Hike to Rifugio Fanes

Mid-June to mid-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.

Lavarella Hütte Day Hike, Dolomites, Italy

Lavarella Hütte

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. 

Read Next: Alta Badia Summer Guide

Rifugio Fanes Day Hike in the Dolomites

Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes Day Hike, Dolomites, Italy

Walk to Capanna Alpina from Sciaré Bus Stop

Trail 11 | 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 river over a bridge. The ascent to Col de Locia takes about 1 hour and is continuously uphill though never too steep. At Col de Locia, the trail levels and there’s a bench to enjoy the view.

Trail 11, Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes Day Hike, Dolomites, Italy

Trail 11 from Col de Locia

Trail 11 | 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 open 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. 

Trail 11, Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes Day Hike, Dolomites, Italy

Trail 11 to Rifugio Fanes

Trail 11 | 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). 

Rifugio Fanes, Trail 11, Dolomites

Rifugio Fanes

Eat Lunch at Rifugio Fanes or Rifugio Lavarella

You can either eat lunch at Fanes or continue another 10 minutes to Lavarella. There’s no wrong decision. We stayed the night at Fanes during our Alta Via 1 trek and enjoyed the food very much. So this time, we opted for Lavarella, which happens to also be the highest microbrewery in Europe. Lavarella is surrounded by tiny rustic sheds and cows, making it perhaps the more scenic choice.

Lavarella Hütte, Dolomites Day Hike

Approaching Lavarella Hütte

Return to Capanna Alpina, or Continue on Trail 12 to Forcella de Medesc

Lavarella mountain hut, Trail 12, Dolomites, Italy

From Lavarella Hütte (2,042 m), it’s a 4.5-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 about 320 meters along a narrow trail through the forest. The views of Lé Vert and the huts below are lovely.

Trail 12, Hike to Forcella Medesc, Italian Dolomites

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. 

Trail 12 to La Villa, Fanes, Dolomites Day Hike

Trail 12 | 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 bushline and you’ll continue to hike through a dwarf pine forest. Continue along trail 12 following signs to Stern.

Forcella Medesc to La Villa, Trail 12, Dolomites, Italy

Descent from Forcella de Medesc

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 to find our way to Hotel Ciasa Soleil.

Hike to La Villa on Trail 12, Alta Badia, Dolomites

Trail 12 to La Villa

Where to Stay in Alta Badia

Camping Sass Dlacia in San Cassiano

If you’re doing an out-and-back hike starting and ending at Capanna Alpina, we recommend staying in the village of San Cassiano. A great budget-friendly option is Camping Sass Dlacia (also a guesthouse), which is located at the entrance to Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park. From the campground, it’s a 15-20 minute walk to Capanna Alpina. 

Look for accommodation in San Cassiano.

Hotel Ciasa Soleil in La Villa

If you’re doing the point-to-point hike from Capanna Alpina to La Villa, we recommend staying in the Alta Badia village of La Villa. 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 lovely. And, we loved the views of the Fanes mountain group from the dining room, outdoor hot tub, and terrace.

Book your stay in Hotel Ciasa Soleil.

Look for accommodation in La Villa.


More Information for Your Trip to the Dolomites:

More Information for Your Trip to Italy: