Trekking the Ortler High Mountain Trail in South Tyrol, Italy
The Ortler High Mountain Trail is a strenuous 7-day trek in South Tyrol and Lombardy in Northern Italy. This 119.5 km circular hiking route circumnavigates the Ortler Group (aka Ortles Alps), starting and ending at Stelvio Pass.
Opened in September 2018, the Ortler High Mountain Trail invites alpine hikers to marvel at Mount Ortler (3,905 m, 12,812 ft), the highest peak in the Eastern Alps, and many other notable peaks, from various angles. The rewards of trekking this route are many, including:
- Peace and Quiet. Very few people know about this trail, and therefore your experience will be solitary and tranquil.
- Glacier Views. The Ortler massif boasts almost 100 glaciers.
- Rare Wildlife Sightings. Keep your eyes out for Bartgeier (bearded vultures).
- Cultural Intersections. The trail begins in Val Venosta (Vinschgau) in Germany-speaking South Tyrol (Südtirol). South Tyrol was part of Austria, before the First World War, so the culture is distinctly Tirolean (Austrian). After the four-day hike in South Tyrol, the trail continues into the Italian-speaking Valtellina in Lombardy. Throughout this Ortler trekking guide, we’ve tried to use both the German and Italian names for each destination.
- Gourmet Cuisine. As you’ll be overnighting in both hotels and mountain huts along the route, there are multiple opportunities to eat regional and gourmet food.
When can you hike the Ortler High Mountain Trail?
July, August, September.
Accommodation along the Ortler High Mountain Trail
You’ll spend three nights in mountain huts (Rifugi, Hütten) and the other three nights in hotels.
Note: Wild camping is strictly forbidden along the route.
Modifying the Ortler High Mountain Trail
In order to hike the Ortler High Mountain Trail in its entirety, trekkers need the assistance of a certified hiking guide on Stage 4, to safely guide them across a glacier. You can download a document listing certified guides in Venosta Valley from this Stelvio National Park resource page (click: “Bergführer im Vinschgau”).
We’ve created this Ortler trekking guide for those that want to take in the highlights of the Ortler High Trail without the glacier crossing. This modified route isn’t technically demanding, but it still requires stamina and good conditioning. Though this is a “softer” version of the Ortler High Trail, it’s nonetheless strenuous.
Responsible Hiking in Stelvio National Park
While you’re hiking in the Ortler Alps, you’re also hiking within a protected area. In Stelvio National Park, please adhere to the following:
- Fires are strictly prohibited.
- Wild camping is strictly prohibited.
- Take all your rubbish with you.
- Respect wild animals and grazing animals and do no disturb them. Keep a safe distance.
- Close fences/gates.
- Drones are strictly prohibited.
Learn more about respectfully visiting Stelvio National Park.