Cima Pisciadù (2985 m) is a panoramic peak in the Sella Group in the Italian Dolomites.
The hike to the Pisciadù summit is one of the most challenging and exhilarating day hikes in the Dolomites.
In this guide, we’ve described the hike up Val Setus to Lago Pisciadù, the small mountain lake beneath Cima Pisciadù, starting at Passo Gardena in South Tyrol. From the lake, you can extend your hike to Pisciadù Peak.
There are several secured sections along the ascent. Though via ferrata equipment is not necessary (this is not the Via Ferrata Tridentina), we recommend climbing gloves for comfort like these black diamond half finger gloves.
The hike to Lake Pisciadù and Cima Pisciadù can be done as a circuit, starting and ending at Passo Gardena. That makes sense if you parked your car at the pass, or if you’re staying in Val Gardena.
It can also be done as a point-to-point hike, whereby you start at Passo Gardena and end in Colfosoco or Corvara, two villages in Alta Badia. That’s the best option for anyone staying in Alta Badia.
Cima Pisciadù and Lake Pisciadù Hiking Guide
- Starting Point: Passo Gardena | Google Maps
- Ending Point: Corvara
- Distance: 12.4 km point-to-point
- Time Needed: 5 hours
- Elevation Gain: 935 meters
- Elevation Loss: 1540 meters
- Difficulty: Demanding
- Minimum Elevation: 1520 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2985 meters
- When to Hike: July – September
- Where to Stay in Colfosco: Pension Mirandola (budget), Crëp Sella (midrange), or Hotel Kolfuschgerhof (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Corvara: Hotel Gran Fanes (midrange), Sporthotel Panorama (midrange), Hotel La Perla: The Leading Hotels of the World (luxury) or Hotel Col Alto (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Selva: Hotel Garni Morene (budget), Hotel Freina (midrange), or Linder Cycling Hotel (luxury)
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Cima Pisciadù Hiking Map
When to Hike to Lake Pisciadù and Cima Pisciadù
July – Mid-October. In June, there will likely still be snow on the trail.
Lake Pisciadù / Cima Pisciadù Trailhead
The hike begins at Passo Gardena/Grödner Joch (2121 m), the mountain pass between Val Gardena and Alta Badia.
How to get to Passo Gardena
From Alta Badia, take bus line 471 in the direction of Val Gardena. From Corvara (in Alta Badia), the cost was 3 EUR per person and took about 30 minutes.
From Val Gardena, you can also take bus line 471. From Selva (Wolkenstein), or S. Cristina (St. Christina), you may have to take bus line 350 to Plan. From Plan, you can change to bus line 471. The ride takes 30 min from Selva or 45 min from St. Christina.
Cima Pisciadù and Lake Pisciadù Trail Description
Passo Gardena to Pisciadù Mountain Hut
Passo Gardena is a place where you could linger all-day, watching the light dance across the various peaks and valleys below. The view of Langkofel from the pass is a memorable one. When you’re ready to start, locate trail 666. If you’re facing the direction of Val Gardena, it’s on the left side of the road, opposite the Cir Peaks.
It takes 2 hours and 10 minutes to hike from Passo Gardena to the Pisciadù refuge and lake.
Initially, you’ll hike along a soft balcony path for about 1.5 kilometers. With views of the serpentine road below and the Cir peaks across the valley, it’s tempting to take a thousand photos.
Trail 666 ultimately intersects a scree slope and shortly thereafter, you’ll join the main trail to Pisciadù mountain hut. This is the Val Setus ascent route.
The ascent is relatively quick as you hike along switchbacks and ultimately along a lengthy secured section (no equipment needed).
The terrain is characterized by crumbling rocks and scree.
When you reach the plateau, it’s a 5-minute walk to the Pisciadù mountain hut (Franco Cavazza al Pisciadù, Pisciadù Hütte, Rifugio Pisciadù), which is located just above the lake.
Located at a lofty elevation of 2,587 m, Rifugio Pisciadù serves as a buoyant gathering place for hikers and climbers. The hut is open from late June until late September.
Pisciadù Mountain Hut to Cima Pisciadù
You can make the mountain hut your final destination, or continue another 1 hour 10 min to Pisciadù Peak. The ascent to the peak calls for some scrambling and sure-footedness. Your ascent is aided with several secured ropes.
The views along this route are some of the best we’ve ever encountered in the Dolomites.
At the top, you’ll see Piz Boè, the highest mountain of the Sella Group. You’ll also see Fanes, Sassongher, more peaks than I can name, and a string of Alta Badia villages.
However, what impressed me the most was the vertebrae-like peaks of Sella. It’s like walking through the mountain’s spine.
Lake Pisciadù to Val de Mezdi (Direction: Colfosco)
From the peak, head down the same way you came up. When you reach the lake, follow trail 676 to Colfosco (2 hours). This route is spectacular. The barren rocky landscape looks like a mighty sculpture park.
It’s also difficult. I’d say it’s harder than the ascent. There are some demanding steep passages that require agility and a head for heights.
Val de Mezdi to Colfosco
Trail 676 evens out and you’ll ultimately reach an intersection, where you’ll turn left and continue downhill onto trail 651 in Val de Misdé (Val de Mezdi). The trail marker says 1 hour 10 minutes to Colfosco.
Val de Mezdi to Passo Gardena
For those heading back to Passo Gardena:
Continue along trail 651 for 560 meters. Look for a trail on your left signed 29B. You’ll take that path and ultimately 666 back to Passo Gardena.
Val de Mezdi to Colfosco and Corvara
For those heading to Colfosco, or Corvara:
Continue on Trail 651 all the way to the valley floor. As you descend, a river gushes downhill on your left. The walls of Val de Misdé frame the Cir Mountains across the valley, creating a picture-perfect view in the late afternoon.
From the valley floor, follow relevant signs. We took trail 28 in the direction of Corvara (signed 40 minutes). The walk to Corvara is flat, easy, and altogether very enjoyable.
Where to stay in Alta Badia
Passo Gardena (Grödnerjoch in German, Jëuf de Frea in Ladin) is the high mountain pass between the Sella Group and the Cir Group in South Tyrol. The pass connects Val Gardena with Val Badia. Many fantastic hikes start directly at the pass including: Cima Pisciadù, Gran Cir, Sass da Ciampac and Crespëina High Plateau, and Rifugio Puez.
Midrange | Hotel Cir is situated directly at Passo Gardena. If you’re eager to hike early (before the crowds descend), or photograph sunrise and sunset, this is the best place to stay. Rooms are simple, but clean. The hotel offers a range of rooms including single, dormitory, and double rooms. Breakfast and dinner are available.
Colfosco (Calfosch in Ladin) is the highest village in Alta Badia, situated at an elevation of 1645 meters, between Corvara and Passo Gardena. It lies at the foot of the Sella Group and Sassongher on the edge of Puez-Odle Nature Park. With mesmerizing views of the Sella Group, Colfosco is an excellent base for actively exploring Alta Badia. Its close proximity to Passo Gardena and Passo Sella, makes it easy to explore Val Gardena and Val di Fassa as well.
Budget-Midrange | Pension Mirandola is a family-run guesthouse with spotless rooms and an on-site restaurant (half board available). Stay here for the warm hospitality, affordability, and location.
Midrange | Crëp Sella is a sparkling clean B&B with spacious and comfortable rooms.
Luxury Apartments | Lüch de Costa is a stylish aparthotel in Colfosco. In 2017, this historic farmstead was transformed into several high-end apartments. This is a great place to stay if you want the independence of an apartment but the convenience and finer features of a hotel (spa area, indoor pool, outdoor whirlpool, breakfast, daily room cleaning).
Luxury | Hotel Kolfuschgerhof excels on every level, from its excellent wellness facilities and superb Dolomites views to its fine dining, featuring local and Italian cuisine. The hotel’s design is a winning combination of Tyrolean chalet-style and alpine-modern. Expect extraordinary service and the best spa views of your life.
Look for accommodation in Colfosco.
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.
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).
Midrange | Sporthotel Panorama is a great value hotel with an on-site restaurant and spa, perched above the village of Corvara. Guests love the setting, outstanding food, and friendly staff. The outstanding room rate will have you overlook the slightly dated interiors.
Luxury Family Aparthotel | Movi Family Apart-Hotel offers new and stylish apartments for families. This modern property blends everything we love about a hotel (amenities and breakfast buffet) with everything we love about an apartment (self-sufficiency and space). Extra Perks: kids and family spa area with pool, adults-only spa, summer outdoor playpark, entertainment for kids (ages 3-12, 9:30 am – 9:30 pm).
Luxury | Hotel Marmolada is a superb 4-star hotel which delivers an all-around excellent experience: facilities, parking, breakfast, and spa. Half board is available. When booking, pay attention to room categories: many rooms are newly renovated, but not all.
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.
5-star Luxury | Hotel La Perla is a family-run hotel set in an 18th century building with charming alpine interiors, several restaurants, and a spa. Breakfast and dinner, both included in the room rate, are served in the hotel’s Les Stües restaurant. If you’d like to dine in the hotel’s 1-star Michelin restaurant, La Stüa de Michil, it’s necessary to make a reservation in advance.
Look for accommodation in Corvara.
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Dolomites Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Dolomites Travel Guide to plan an unforgettable trip to Northern Italy.
When to Hike in the Dolomites
The best time to hike in the Dolomites is between mid-June and mid-September. If the weather is stable, the hiking season can extend until late October.
How to Get to the Dolomites
Read How to Get to the Dolomites to find out how to travel to the Dolomites from the closest airports, train stations, and bus terminals.
If you’re traveling without a car, also check out How to Visit the Dolomites Without a Car.
The easiest way to travel between hiking destinations in the Italian Dolomites is with your own car. Check out our itineraries for trip inspiration:
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your car rental as early as possible.
Best Places to Stay
Figuring out where to stay in the Dolomites is probably the biggest hurdle to planning a trip to the Dolomites. We’ve created three guides to help you decide where to stay:
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer: best villages and towns in South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno
- Best Hotels in the Dolomites: best boutique and luxury hotels in the Dolomites
- Dolomites Accommodation Guide: farm stays, mountain huts, wellness hotels, aparthotels
- Best Val Gardena Hotels: best accommodations in Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva di Val Gardena
We suggest choosing 2-4 bases for your Dolomites trip and spending 2-4 nights in each base.
- Base 1: Val Gardena
- Base 2: Val di Funes
- Base 3: Alta Badia
- Base 4: Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Base 5: Alta Pusteria
- Base 6: San Martino di Castrozza
What to See & Do
During your trip to the Dolomites, you can go via ferrata climbing, culinary hiking, hut to hut hiking, cycling, paragliding, and so much more. We’ve highlighted our favorite experiences in Best Things to Do in the Dolomites.
Wherever you decide to stay, you’ll be surrounded by glorious mountain scenery and incredible natural landmarks.
In Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites, we’ve outlined the most iconic attractions as well as lesser-known destinations across the Dolomites, including Alpe di Siusi, Lago di Braies, and Lago di Sorapis.
Dolomites Packing List
- Day Pack: 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)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
Outdoor Photography Gear
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Tamron 17-70mm 2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
Dolomites Hiking Guides
Hiking in the Dolomites is our passion. Year after year, we love discovering new trails and expanding our knowledge of the area. For day hiking, check out Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites. For trekking, take a look at our guide to Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites and Alta Via 1.
For region-specific hiking trails, check out:
- Best Hikes in Val Gardena
- Best Hikes in Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Best Hikes in Alta Badia
- Sexten Dolomites Hiking Guide
- Puez-Odle Nature Park
Recommended Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites