Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo/Hohe Gaisl (3146 m) is the highest mountain in the Braies/Prags Dolomites in the Italian Dolomites.
The northern slopes of the Hohe Gaisl are located within Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park (South Tyrol), while the southern slopes lie within the Ampezzo Dolomites Natural Park (Belluno).
A very satisfying hiking trail runs along the northern base of the Hohe Gaisl massif, cutting across a series of cirques (Cadin in Italian, Kar in German).
This Northern Gaisl High Trail links the high plateau of Prato Piazza/Plätzwiese to Malga Rossalm in Upper Kaserbachtal valley.
Along the route, there are spectacular views of the Braies/Prags Dolomites, Sesto/Sexten Dolomites, and the Austrian Alps.
Ambitious hikers may want to combine this hike with the Monte Specie/Strudelkopf summit.
How to Hike the Gaisl High Trail in the Braies Dolomites
- Parking: Ponticello/Brückele Car Park | Google Maps
- Starting Point: Prato Piazza Car Park
- Ending Point: Ponticello/Brückele Car Park
- Distance: 12 km point-to-point
- Time Needed: 4:10 hours
- Elevation Gain: 482 meters
- Elevation Loss: 958 meters
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum Elevation: 1495 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2341 meters
- Where to Stay on Prato Piazza: Hotel Hohe Gaisl
- Where to Stay in Valle di Braies: Garni Bergblick (budget), Berggasthaus Agritur Moserhof (midrange), or Farmhouse Hanslerhof (midrange)
- Where to Stay in Val Pusteria: Hotel Christof (luxury), or Silentium Dolomites Chalet Since 1600 (luxury)
- Recommended Trail Map: Tabacco 031: Pragser Dolomiten/Dolomiti di Braies
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Northern Gaisl High Trail Map
Northern Gaisl High Trail Difficulty
In terms of difficulty, this is a moderate hike.
There is a secured section along the route. Though no special equipment is needed, hikers should be comfortable with narrow trails and light exposure.
If you’re planning on hiking this trail early in the season (early June), or late in the season (late September – October), keep in mind that there may be lingering snow along the Gaisl High Trail, because it traverses northern slopes. Northern slopes get less light, so snow lingers longer.
Getting to Prato Piazza /Plätzwiese
Because this is a point-to-point hike, we recommend parking at the pay-and-display car park at Ponticello/Brückele in Val di Braies Vecchia/Altpragstal (Old Braies Valley).
From here, you can take bus 443 to Prato Piazza to start this hike.
Before visiting Prato Piazza, consult the Prato Piazza website to find out what the current traffic regulations are in Braies Valley.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to Ponticello/Brückele. Use the Südtirolmobil journey planner to find the best connections.
Ponticello/Brückele Car Park
There is limited parking at the pay-and-display car park at Ponticello. If you’re visiting in high season, arrive early (before 9 am) to secure a parking spot.
Parking Fee |
- Cars: 4 EUR for less than 2 hours, 6 EUR for more than 2 hours
- Vans: 12 EUR
- Buses: 20 EUR
Payment | EUR coins, or credit cards. If you want to pay by card, locate the weather-protected “Kassa.”
Ponticello/Brückele Car Park to Prato Piazza
Bus 443 connects Ponticello/Brückele with Prato Piazza/Plätzwiese.
The bus stop is located just beyond the cattle grid, south of the car park.
Bus Ticket | 3 EUR one-way
Prato Piazza – Malga Rossalm – Ponticello Trail Description
Prato Piazza Bus Stop to Rifugio Prato Piazza (5 minutes)
Follow the wide gravel road to Rifugio Prato Piazza.
Rifugio Prato Piazza to Malga Stolla (20 minutes)
The imposing mountain on your right is Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo/Hohe Gaisl. That’s where we’re headed.
Follow trail 3 in the direction of Malga Stolla/Stolla Alm. Trail 3 path branches off the road on the right and cuts across the alpine meadow.
The trail leads through patches of forest and swiss pine peppered meadows in a southwesterly direction.
Looking south, you’ll see the Cristallo massif.
The way descends to Malga Stolla/Stolla Alm (1950 m). They raise 94 cattle on their mountain pasture, which covers a grazing area of over 500 hectares.
Malga Stolla is usually open from mid June until mid September. They serve warm food from 11 am until 3 pm.
We arrived after 3 pm and had a delicious Brettljause, which is a cheese and speck board. Payment is cash only.
Malga Stolla to Malga Rossalm (2:20 hours)
Follow trail 3 in the direction of Malga Rossalm/Rossalm.
The way rises and falls amid larch and swiss pine forest for 25 minutes and then climbs up along a timber railing to a bench. From here, you can see the full sweep of Prato Piazza flanked by Picco di Vallandro.
The ascent continues through thinning forest, before sliding down to the northeastern base of Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo/Hohe Gaisl.
From the Gumpalkar cirque, head west and hike uphill around the massif.
As you gain elevation, you’ll be able to see the conspicuous Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen and the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites to the southeast and the Austrian Alps to the north.
The trail levels and traverses rocky/scree slopes and meadows.
Straight ahead you’ll see Croda del Becco/Seekofel, Giovo Grande/Grosser Jaufen, and Sasso Rosso di Braies/Grosser Rosskopf.
A timber fence signals the beginning of a protected passage. Grasp the fixed chains as you hug the northern wall of Gaisele (2445 m). The trail is very narrow at times and semi-exposed.
There are more chains as you wrap around the brittle Schrofenwand wall of the Gaislleiten.
Still heading west, the path drops into a grassy cirque, bordered by a cascade of rocks.
Follow the posts around the mammoth rock slope, which was the result of a series of rockfalls in 2016.
Soon, the path slithers down to a gravel road and the tiny Malga Rossalm (2159 m) in Upper Kaserbachtal valley.
This alpine pasture hut is open from June to October.
Malga Rossalm to Ponticello/Brückele (1:30 hours)
Turn right on trail 4, a gravel road, in the direction of Ponticello/Brückele.
The road descends in serpentines to the Kaserlewiesen meadows.
Cross a scree field and walk all the way down to Ponticello/Brückele.
Where to Stay near the Gaisl High Trail
Valle di Braies / Pragser Tal Valley
Valle di Braies valley is the best base for exploring everything that the northern Prags/Braies Dolomites has to offer. The top attractions are Prato Piazza and Lago di Braies. But with more time, you can venture off-the-beaten-path to the Ütia Fojadora mountain pasture, Grünwaldtal valley and Hochalpensee lake, Hochalpenkopf peak, Croda del Becco/Seekofel summit, Herrstein peak, Grosser Rosskopf peak, and the Gaisl high trail (Prato Piazza to Malga Rossalm).
Budget | Garni Bergblick is a top-rated guesthouse in Valle di Braies, located a mere 5.6 km (10 min drive) from Lago di Braies, 6.2 km (9 min drive) from Ponticello, and 11.3 km (18 min drive) from Prato Piazza. Set in a romantic meadow surrounded by stone pine trees, Garni Bergblick is the perfect place to base yourself when exploring the northern Braies/Prags Dolomites. Breakfast included.
Budget-Midrange | Berggasthaus Agritur Moserhof is a traditional and cozy farm stay, perched high above Braies/Prags Valley. Breakfast and dinner are included in the rate. From Moserhof, it’s a 5-minute drive down to the valley and a 11-minute drive to Lago di Braies.
Midrange | Farmhouse Hanslerhof is a mountain guesthouse and farm overlooking Braies/Prags Valley and surrounded by meadows. Guests love the charming stone pine rooms, homemade breakfasts (included the room rate), and quiet location. From Hanslerhof, it’s an 8 minute drive to Lago di Braies.
Midrange | Hotel Erika is a 3-star hotel situated at the entrance of Valle di Braies. Guests have access to a lovely 400m² wellness area containing a Finnish Sauna (90 °C), steam bath (42-45° C), bio sauna (60 °C), infrared lounge, jacuzzi, and relaxation rooms. Rooms are clean and comfortably furnished in a Tyrolean-alpine style. A rich and varied breakfast buffet and a 5-course dinner are included in the room rate (half board). From Hotel Erika, it’s a 10-minute drive to Lago di Braies and a 20-minute drive to Prato Piazza.
Midrange | Hotel Turmchalet (3 nights minimum) is a family-run 3-star-superior hotel in Valle di Briaes, praised for their superior service and friendliness. The hotel was recently renovated, resulting in tastefully-designed, alpine-modern bedrooms and a standout facade. Guests describe the cuisine as delicious, sensational and outstanding. Breakfast and dinner are included in the room rate (half board). And, there’s also a wellness area.
Look for an accommodation in Braies Valley.
Monguelfo / Welsberg
Monguelfo (Welsberg in German) is a village in Val Pusteria, which is only a 3-minute drive to the entrance of Braies Valley.
Luxury | Hotel Christof is a new and stylish hotel in the village of Monguelfo/Welsberg in Val Pusteria. Stay here for the striking fresh-faced architecture, modern 600 m² wellness area, and excellent cuisine (you can book breakfast-only or half board). This modern hotel is a splash of cheerful color and laid-back fun on the South Tyrolean hospitality scene. From the hotel, it’s a 13-minute drive to Lago di Braies.
Luxury | Silentium Dolomites Chalet Since 1600 is tucked away on the edge of a forest, 2-km from the town center of Monguelfo/Welsberg. It’s a 15-minute drive from Silentium Chalet to Lago di Braies. Guests love the kind hospitality, picturesque location, and excellent breakfasts (included) and dinners (optional).
San Candido / Innichen
San Candido is a charming town in Val Pusteria/Pustertal Valley between Dobbiaco/Toblach and Sesto/Sexten in the Alta Pusteria holiday region. It’s an excellent base for exploring both the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites and the Braies/Prags Dolomites. From San Candido, you can quickly access Val Fiscalina/Fischleintal and Val Campo di Dentro/Innerfeldtal (e.g. Torre dei Scarperi hike) two gateways to Tre Cime Nature Park.
Budget | Residence Silvia is a budget-friendly aparthotel set in the middle of San Candido with a bar, private parking (small garage), and breakfast (optional/extra charge).
Apartments | Residence Kugler offers new, fully-equipped apartments in San Candido.
Luxury | Naturhotel Leitlhof is a 4-star-superior, climate-neutral wellness hotel in San Candido. Situated at a slight elevation and bordered by forest, idyllic Naturhotel Leitlhof overlooks the village and the gorgeous Sexten mountains including Haunold/Rocca dei Baranci and Dreischusterspitze/Cima di Tre Scarperi. Sunsets and sunrises are glorious here. The 2000 m² wellness facilities and outdoor pool are stellar. And, the cuisine is second to none. This is one of the very best hotels in the Dolomites.
Luxury Aparthotel | ATTO Suites & Cuisine is a new luxury aparthotel in San Candido, furnished with the highest quality local materials. These gorgeous, minimalist apartments teeter stylistically between Alpine and Nordic. An excellent breakfast is included (with gluten-free options). Other included services: parking, shuttle service to the Leitlhof spa, and bicycle storage room.
Luxury | Boutique & Gourmet Hotel Orso Grigio is a 4-star hotel in San Candido’s lively pedestrian center. This central hotel offers an excellent breakfast, gourmet dinners (on-site restaurant, half board available), and free reserved parking behind the property.
Adults-Only Luxury | Post Hotel – Tradition & Lifestyle Adults Only is located in the center of San Candido, close to the pedestrian zone. This chic boutique hotel offers a spa, rooftop terrace, and on-site restaurant and bar. Half board is available.
Look for an accommodation in San Candido.
Rules for VisitingFanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park
While you’re visiting Prato Piazza, please adhere to the following rules:
- No motor vehicles are allowed within the park.
- Wild camping is prohibited in the park.
- Always stay on marked trails and paths. This helps prevent damage to the meadows and alpine pastures.
- Do not pick flowers.
- Respect the habitat of animals. Do not make any unnecessary noise.
- Do not light fires.
- Do not litter. Please take your garbage with you and dispose of it responsibly.
- Do not touch, or approach grazing animals.
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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.
The easiest way to travel between hiking destinations in the Italian Dolomites is with your own car. Check out our 7-Day Dolomites Road Trip itinerary 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 several 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
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, Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Sorapis, Lago Federa, Cadini di Misurina, Seceda, and Baita Segantini.
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
- Reusable Water Bottle: Ion Leakproof 32 oz Water Bottle
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 25+ 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