Lago di Sorapis (also spelled Lago di Sorapiss) is a glacial lake in the Sorapiss Group in the Italian Dolomites. Famed for its milky turquoise color and dramatic location at the foot of Dito di Dio (“Finger of God”), Lake Sorapis attracts hordes of visitors each hiking season. 

The hike to Lago di Sorapis starts at the Passo Tre Croci mountain pass, about halfway between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Lake Misurina. Following the well-established trail 215, it only takes 2 hours to reach the lake and the nearby Rifugio Vandelli. This direct route is scenic and varied, but it’s also alarmingly crowded. 

For a more peaceful descent, we recommend returning to Passo Tre Croci via trail 216 and the Forcella Marcoira saddle. Far less busy, trail 216 allows you to stretch your legs and enjoy the beauty of the Sorapiss mountains, without the masses. However, this holy solitude comes with a price. Hikers must tackle a treacherously steep, rubble-filled slope in order to complete the circuit to Passo Tre Croci.

The complete Lago di Sorapis loop trail is 13.2 kilometers and takes just over 5 hours. The return hike from Passo Tre Croci to Lake Sorapis is 11.5 kilometers and takes only 4 hours out-and-back.

Lago di Sorapis Hiking Guide

Hiking to Lago di Sorapis, Dolomites
  • Trailhead: Passo Tre Croci, Belluno, Italy
  • Distance: 13.2 km circuit
  • Time Needed: 5:10 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 846 meters ascending/descending
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Minimum Elevation: 1726 meters
  • Maximum Elevation: 2311 meters
  • When to Hike: Late June – mid-late October, depending on snow conditions.
  • Where to Eat: Rifugio Vandelli (late June – late September)
  • Toilets: Rifugio Vandelli
  • Where to Stay: Jaegerhaus Agriturismo (budget), Camina Suite & Spa (midrange), or Dolomiti Lodge Alverà (luxury) in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
  • Swimming: It’s forbidden to swim in Lake Sorapis.
  • Camping: Wild camping is forbidden around Lake Sorapis.
  • Get the Guide: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites

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Where is Lago di Sorapis

Lago di Sorapis is located in the province of Belluno in the region of Veneto in Northeastern Italy.

Lake Sorapis is situated at an elevation of 1923 meters in the Circo del Sorapis (“Circus of Sorapis”), the basin under the northern slopes of the Sorapiss massif.

The Sorapiss Group borders the Marmarole Group and Antelao, the second highest mountain in the Dolomites. The Sorapiss mountains are bounded by 4 major valleys: Ampezzo Valley, Boite Valley, Ansiei Valley, and Oten Valley.

Lago di Sorapis Hiking Map

Lago di Sorapis Hiking Trail Difficulty

Lago di Sorapis Circuit Hike, View of Cristallo, Dolomite
Trail 216

The hike from Passo Tre Croci to Lago di Sorapis is moderately difficult. There are some narrow, slightly exposed passages, but they are all secured with cables.

The elevation gain isn’t overwhelming, but the path itself can be a bit dangerous due to the slippery stones and sheer amount of people. 

Because trail 215 is so heavily-trafficked, many of the rocks underfoot are polished and have very little traction. Hiking poles are helpful for stabilization. 

For us, trail 215 Lake Sorapiss isn’t so much difficult as it is frustrating. The average hiking etiquette encountered along the trail is abysmal. 

Most hikers will return to Passo Tre Croci along the same route. However, there’s an exciting alternative route via trails 216 and 213. This route is best undertaken by experienced alpine hikers, who are confident in steep rocky terrain. 

How to Get to Lago di Sorapis

Passo Tre Croci - Lago di Sorapis Trail 215 Starting Point
Trail 215 Starting Point

Passo Tre Croci Trailhead 

The hike to Lake Sorapis begins at Passo Tre Croci, a mountain pass in Belluno, between the Cristallo Group and the Sorapiss Group. The pass is situated on Strada Regionale 48 delle Dolomiti, about halfway between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Lake Misurina. 

You can drive or take the bus to Passo Tre Croci. Dolomiti Bus line 30/31 runs from Cortina d’Ampezzo through Passo Tre Croci and on to Lake Misurina and Rifugio Auronzo, at the base of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

  • Cortina d’Ampezzo to Passo Tre Croci | 8.7 km, 15-20 minute drive
  • Lake Misurina to Passo Tre Croci | 6.1 km, 10-12 minute drive 
  • Dobbiaco/Toblach to Passo Tre Croci | 26.5 km, 40-50 minute drive

You’ll find the Lago di Sorapis trailhead (trail 215) directly at the SR48 (Strada Regionale 48 delle Dolomiti), just east of Passo Tre Croci and B&B Hotel Passo Tre Croci Cortina. There’s a metal gate at the starting point, flanked by trail signs and a large info board, with a trail map and tour suggestions. 

Passo Tre Croci Parking 

You can park along the SR48 road at/near the trailhead. Parking is free. 

Lago di Sorapis Trail Description

Passo Tre Croci to Rifugio Vandelli and Lake Sorapis (2 hours)

Trail 215 Passo Tre Croci to Lago di Sorapis, Dolomites
Trail 215

Follow trail 215 in the direction of Rifugio Vandelli. The wide track leads you across a meadow and into the forest. After about 15-20 minutes, trail 215 continues along a ledge. Gaps in the wood reveal Monte Cristallo, Piz Popena, and Cadini di Misurina. 

The path traverses a scree field and then soon crosses a trickling creek, which can be slippery. Be extra careful here.

After another 5 minutes, you’ll reach a trail juncture. Continue right on trail 215 towards Rifugio A. Vandelli. 

Soon the trail emerges from the forest, and you’ll see Val d’Ansiei, a 32-km-long valley, flanked by the Marmarole range.

Val d'Ansiei, Trail 215 to Lake Sorapis, Dolomites
Val d’Ansiei

The trail steepens in earnest for the first time. You’ll encounter several protected passages, secured with steel cables. The cables are especially helpful when the rocks underfoot are slippery. 

A series of metal ladders helps you gain elevation quickly. Following the ladders, the path levels, but soon ascends again. 

A cable guides you safely around a narrow ledge. 

Trail 215 Ledge Path to Lago di Sorapis, Dolomites
Secured Ledge Trail

Trail 215 becomes increasingly rocky and uneven as it continues south. In some places, the track is further bolstered by metal ladders and boards. The final stretch leads through forest and across a bit of karst pavement.

Shortly before reaching the lakeshore, a path veers left to Rifugio Vandelli, a managed CAI (Club Alpino Italiano) mountain hut. During the summer season (late June until late September), you can eat lunch at Rifugio Vandelli from 11:30 am until 3 pm. Bring cash, as credit cards are not accepted. 

Set in a natural natural amphitheater and ringed by forest and rock, Lago di Sorapis enchants with its milky-blue hue and rugged mountain backdrop. The milky appearance of the water is due to suspended powdered rock.

Lago di Sorapis, Dolomites
Lago di Sorapis in late October

You can walk along the lakeshore in either direction, soaking up the majesty of the northern slopes of the Sorapiss Massif along with La Cesta and Cime Ciadin del Loudo (also spelled Cime del Laudo).

The prominent finger-shaped peak towering above Lake Sorapis is called Dito di Dio, Finger of God (2603 m).

Lago di Sorapis to Forcella Marcoira (1:40 hours)

Trail 216, Sorapiss Group, Dolomites
Ascending Trail 216

You can return to Passo Tre Croci along the same route (the easier option), or via Forcella Marcoira (also spelled Marcuoira). The latter option is far more interesting, but it’s also more challenging and technical. 

From Lake Sorapis, backtrack along trail 215 for 560 meters. At the trail intersection, continue left onto trail 216 (direction: Forcella Marcoira). 

The narrow path ascends steadily through dwarf pine towards Cime del Laudo. There are some steep, rocky passages, where light scrambling is needed. 

As you gain elevation, Val d’Ansiei is again a focal point. You’ll also see Lake Misurina and the instantly-recognizable peaks of the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites: Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Cadini di Misurina.

Related: Sentiero Bonacossa Trail across Cadini di Misurina

Trail 216, View of Val d'Ansiei, Dolomites
Trail 216, View of Val d’Ansiei

The trail skirts Cime del Laudo, crossing scree slopes and then eventually flattening out.

You’ll come to a dramatic viewpoint overlooking the Ansiei valley. From this lofty vantage point, Cime di Marcoira (also spelled Zimes de Marcuoira) peak and the Forcella Marcoira saddle (our goal) is visible ahead. Just beyond the Marcoira ridge, you’ll also see Monte Cristallo and Piz Popena. 

From the viewpoint, a secured path descends suddenly down the rock wall of Cime del Laudo. After a few switchbacks, cables aid you across an exposed ledge to the grassy basin of Ciadin del Laudo

Ledge of Cime del Laudo/Cime  del Loudo, Sorapiss Group
Secured Ledge Trail

Follow the undulating path across the boulder-studded basin towards the Forcella Marcoira saddle. It’s a straightforward ascent to the saddle. 

Hiking across Ciadin del Loudo, Sorapiss Group
Ciadin del Laudo Basin

Forcella Marcoira to Passo Tre Croci (1:30 hours)

Forcella Marcoira, Lake Sorapis Hike, Dolomites
Forcella Marcoira

This is where things get a bit dicey. From the Marcoira saddle, trail 216 plunges down a steep gully of scree and loose rocks. 

Without sufficient experience, this descent can be potentially hazardous. The path isn’t clear and you have to navigate unstable, slippery terrain, without any aids. Sturdy hiking poles, like the Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles, are essential in successfully brutal. 

Forcella Marcuoira Descent, Sorapiss Mountains, Dolomites
Descent from Forcella Marcoira

After conquering this treacherous, rubble-filled gully, outstanding views of the Cristallo group await you.

A jut of rock arches towards the sea of trees and serves as a perfect viewpoint and photo spot.  

Cristallo Viewpoint, Trail 216, Lake Sorapis Hike
Viewpoint of Monte Cristallo and Piz Popena

The trail continues descending west across scree, less difficult than before. As you approach a line of larch trees, the trail gets increasingly easier and flatter. 

Trail 216, Scree Field, Lago di Sorapis Hike

Follow the meadow trail, lined with lacey larch, to the “Tardeiba” trail intersection. From here, make a sharp right on trail 213 to Passo Tre Croci (45 minutes). 

Larch Trees, Trail 216, Lake Sorapis Hike
Approaching Trail 213 intersection

Trail 213 descends through forest and across grassy meadows to Passo Tre Croci – an easy conclusion to a most challenging hike. 

Just before reaching Passo Tre Croci and the SR48 road, follow the path that bears right across the meadow, behind B&B Hotel Passo Tre Croci Cortina. This footpath rejoins the start of trail 215. 

View of La Cesta and Cime del Laudo, Dolomites
La Cesta and Cime del Laudo

When to Hike to Lago di Sorapis 

Lake Sorapis in late October, Dolomites
Late October

The hiking season in the Dolomites starts in mid-late June and ends in mid-late October, depending on snow conditions.

The best time to hike to Lago di Sorapis is in September, and/or early October on weekdays

As the season progresses, Lake Sorapis will have less and less water. By October, Lago di Sorapis is reduced to a small pool. By late October, it’s likely that Lake Sorapis will be completely frozen. 

The hike to Lago di Sorapis is overwhelmingly popular and can feel like a highway. It’ll be nearly impossible to escape the crowds entirely. However, you’ll find the trail less jammed on weekdays and during low season. 

Learn more about when to visit the Dolomites:

Visiting Lake Sorapis Responsibly

Monte Cristallo and Piz Popena, Dolomites
Monte Cristallo and Piz Popena, Trail 216

During your visit, please respect the fragile environment.

  • Pack up all your trash and do not liter.
  • Keep your dog on a leash.
  • Stay on the established trails.
  • Boating of any kind is strictly prohibited.

Can You Swim in Lago di Sorapis?

Swimming is strictly forbidden in Lake Sorapis.

Can You Camp around Lago di Sorapis?

Wild camping is strictly forbidden around Lake Sorapis. There is an ordinance forbidding wild camping in the entire municipality of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Offenders will be prosecuted. If you want to stay near Lake Sorapis, you can overnight in Rifugio Vandelli.

Reservations for overnight stays are mandatory. You can find instructions for making reservations on the Rifugio Vandelli website. During the opening season (late June – late September), it’s best to call the hut directly. When the hut is closed in winter, you can email the Vandelli hut staff.

Where to Stay Near Lake Sorapis

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Ringed by the Ampezzo Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo boasts a central and stunning location in the Ampezzo Valley in Veneto. You can stay here for a few days or for several weeks and never run out of things to see and do: Passo Falzarego and Rifugio Lagazuoi, Tofana di Rozes Circuit, Croda da Lago Circuit, Lago Federa, Passo Giau to Mondeval, Sentiero Bonacossa Trail, Cadini di Misurina Viewpoint, and Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Budget | Jaegerhaus Agriturismo is a highly-recommended farm stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo. The farm is located 2 km north of the town center in a dreamy location, facing Punta della Croce and Croda del Pomagagnon. Expect a delicious breakfast buffet. You can also eat dinner in their restaurant, which features ingredients sourced directly from their farm. Rooms are clean, cozy and designed in an alpine-rustic style. 

Midrange | Camina Suite & Spa is a modern and stylish accommodation, managed by a caring and kind staff. Highlights of staying here are the bright, spacious suites, lovely furnishings and design accents, balcony views, and air conditioning. The breakfast is outstanding. Don’t miss out on their spa facilities (may need to be booked in advance due to COVID regulations). 

Luxury | Dolomiti Lodge Alverà is a splurge-worthy hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo, featuring an on-site spa and pool, on-site restaurant, and plush suites. Guests rave about the hotel’s mountain views, breakfast, wellness facilities, and design. 

Look for accommodation in Cortina d’Ampezzo.

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