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 Medesc (2,584 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.
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Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes Trail Options
Option #1 Moderate Return Hike | Capanna Alpina to Rifugio Fanes
- Distance: 17 km
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Highest Point: Lec de Limo (2,159 m)
- Elevation Gain / Loss: 450 meters ascending, 450 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: 20 km
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Highest Point: Forcella de Medesc Scharte (2,584m)
- Elevation Gain / Loss: 910 meters ascending / 1200 meters descending
- Time Needed: 8 hours
- Trails: 11, 12
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.
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
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 | 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 | 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).
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.
Return to Capanna Alpina, or Continue on Trail 12 to Forcella de Medesc
From Lavarella Hütte (2,042 m), it’s a 4.5-hour hike to La Villa (Stern). The trail to the Forcella de Medesc (2,584m) 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.
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 | 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.
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
Hotel Ciasa Soleil in Alta Badia
Hotel Ciasa Soleil is a beautifully-designed hotel that feels fresh and modern. We loved the views of the Fanes mountain group from the dining room, outdoor hot tub, and terrace. We also loved the cuisine.
More Information for Your Trip to the Dolomites:
- Dolomites Travel Guide
- Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
- Hiking in the Dolomites in September
- Dolomites Road Trip Itinerary
- Best Hikes in Val Gardena
More Information for Your Trip to Italy: