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How to Get to Lago Federa, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Dolomites

Lago Federa (Lago di Federa, Lago Fedèra, Lake Federa) is a mountain lake beneath the eastern wall of Croda da Lago in the Ampezzo Dolomites, southwest of Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Ringed by lacey larch trees, Lake Federa serves as the picturesque foreground for the solitary spire of Becco di Mezzodi. This enchanting landscape is somewhat of a pilgrimage site for photographers, especially in Autumn.

Directly at the lake, you’ll find the charming mountain hut Rifugio Croda da Lago G. Palmieri (2046 m). Unlike most huts across the Italian Dolomites, Rifugio Croda da Lago stays open until the end of October/early November, depending on snow conditions. 

Many hiking trails lead to Lake Federa, including the Croda da Lago Circuit Trail (day hike) and the Alta Via 1 variation (long distance hike). The fastest ascent route starts at the Ponte di Rocurto trailhead along the SP638 road. However, you can also hike to Lago Federa from Ponte Pezie de Parù, Passo Giau, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Cinque Torri, and even San Vito di Cadore. 

In this guide, we’ve outlined the Ponte di Rocurto to Lago Federa hike and summarized the other main ascent routes.

Rifugio Croda da Lago, Dolomites

Where is Lago Federa

Lago Federa is located in Val Negra, high above the Ampezzo Valley, in the Italian Province of Belluno. 

The lake hugs the eastern foot of Croda da Lago, a mountain chain neighboring Lastoni di Formin. 


Lago Federa Hiking Map


Lago Federa Trailhead: Ponte di Rocurto

The Ponte di Rocurto (also spelled Ponte de Ru Curto) trailhead is located along the SP638 mountain road, about halfway between Passo Giau and Pocol, a village about Cortina d’Ampezzo. 

Ponte di Rocurto, Lago Federa Hike Starting Point, Dolomites
Ponte di Rocurto / SP638

How to Get to Ponte di Rocurto 


Car

The easiest way to get to the Ponte di Rocurto trailhead is with your own vehicle. You can park along the road near the trailhead. Parking is free, but limited. Arrive at the trailhead as early as possible. 

  • Pocol to Ponte di Rocurto | 4.3 km, 7 minutes
  • Cortina d’Ampezzo to Ponte di Rocurto | 10 km, 17 minutes 
  • Passo Giau to Ponte di Rocurto | 8.9 km, 15 minutes 

Bus

During the high summer season (mid/late June – mid/late September), you can take Dolomiti Bus Line 30/4 (Cortina d’Ampezzo – Passo Giau – Selva di Cadore – Pescul) to the Ponte di Rocurto trailhead. The bus stop is called Pian del Pantan. This bus isn’t frequent, so please check the schedule in advance.

If you’re staying in Cortina d’Ampezzo, you can also consider taking the bus one-way to Ponte di Rocurto, hiking to Lago Federa, and then returning to Cortina d’Ampezzo on foot (trail 432). It’s a 6.2 km walk from the lake to Parcheggio Parú de Col / Campo di Sotto in Cortina.


Lago Federa Hike Description


Ponte di Rocurto to Rifugio Croda da Lago G. Palmieri (1:15 -2 hours)

Trail 437, Lago Federa Hike, Dolomites
Trail 437

The Ponte di Rocurto trailhead (1700 m) is marked with trail signs and a large info board. Follow trail 437 in the direction of Rifugio Croda da Lago/G. Palmieri. 

The path dips down, crossing a bridge over Ru Curto and then another one shortly thereafter. 

Trail 437 leads through a shady forest and then ascends along the rim of a narrow gorge. 

Trail 437, Gorge, Lake Federa Hike, Dolomites
Gorge

After crossing a wooden bridge over the Ru Formin stream, you’ll soon arrive at the Cason di Formin trail intersection, at the bottom of Val Formin.

Here, the two ascending routes merge: trail 437 from Ponte di Rocurto and trail 434 from Ponte Pezie de Parù.

Follow the left path, trail 434, to Rifugio Croda da Lago/G. Palmieri.

More steep than before, the trail continues uphill, crossing scree, and then zigzags up the forest. There’s a wonderful lookout point, just off the main trail, with sweeping views of Cinque Torri, Nuvolau, Tofana di Rozes, the Pomagagnon, and the Sorapiss Group. 

Soon the path levels. After passing a pasture gate, walk 15-minutes through Val Negra to Lago Federa, the famous lake beneath the eastern wall of Croda da Lago. 

Lago Federa and Becco di Mezzodi, Dolomites
Lago Federa and Becco di Mezzodi

For the best views of Lago Federa and Hershey’s-kiss-shaped Becco di Mezzodi, head to the lakeshore and follow the western shore around the lake to Rifugio Croda da Lago (also called Rifugio Palmieri). 


Rifugio Croda da Lago

Rifugio Croda da Lago in late October, Dolomites

Rifugio Croda da Lago (2046 m) is a CAI (Italian Alpine Club) mountain hut located on the eastern shore of Lake Federa. From the hut, you can also see the Cristallo Group, Sorapiss Group and Antelao.

The Palmieri mountain hut is typically open from early June until the end of October/early November, depending on snow conditions. 


How to Extend the Rifugio Croda da Lago Hike

Forcella di Formin to Val Formin, Trail 435, Croda da Lago, Dolomites

The hike to Lago Federa is just the beginning of an exciting circuit that wraps around Croda da Lago.

From the Rifugio Palmieri, the loop trail continues along the eastern wall of Croda da Lago up to Forcella Ambrizzola saddle, the gateway to the sprawling Mondeval pasture.

Turning right towards the titanic Lastoni di Formin, the path steadily ascends to Forcella di Formin (also called Forcella Rossa dei Lastoi), 2462 m, the highest point of the hike.

Between the flat karst plateau of Lastoni di Formin and the vertical spires of Croda da Lago, the Croda da Lago circuit continues down fields of boulders to Val Formin valley.

From the bottom of the valley (Cason di Formin), you’ll rejoin trail 437 back to Ponte de Rocurto. 

Learn More: Croda da Lago Circuit Hike


Other Ascent Routes to Lago Federa

Lago delle Baste to Monte Mondeval Summit, Dolomites

Ponte Pezie de Parù to Lago Federa Hike

Trailhead: Ponte Pezie de Parù, trailhead along SP638, 1.7 km west of Pocol and 13.2 km east of Passo Giau.

Distance: 4.5 km one-way

Time Needed: 2 hours one-way

Elevation Gain: 577 meters ascending

Elevation Loss: 55 meters descending


Cortina d’Ampezzo to Lago Federa Hike

Trailhead: Parcheggio Parú de Col / Campo di Sotto in Cortina d’Ampezzo

Distance: 6.2 km one-way

Time Needed: 2:40 hours one-way

Elevation Gain: 828 meters ascending

Elevation Loss: 0 meters descending


Passo Giau to Lago Federa Hike

The Passo Giau ascent route is the most scenic approach to Lake Federa. It follows stage 5 (Rifugio Nuvolau – Rifugio Città di Fiume) of the famous Alta Via 1 trail.

From the Giau mountain pass, you’ll ascend to Forcella Giau and then cross the Mondeval pasture along the south wall of Lastoni di Formin. At Forcella Ambrizolla, the trail glides down to Lago Federa.

Trailhead: Passo Giau

Distance: 7.4 km one-way

Time Needed: 2:30 hours

Elevation Gain: 283 m ascending

Elevation Loss: 474 m descending


When is the Best Time to Visit Lago Federa and Rifugio Croda da Lago

Sorapiss Group, Trail 434, Croda da Lago Circuit, Dolomites

Best Month: October

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

The best season to hike around Croda da Lago is Fall. In late October, the larches turn golden, and there’s nothing quite like it.

That being said, October can be really tricky. One year in mid-October, we trudged through snow to reach Rifugio Croda da Lago. Another year, conditions were perfect until the very end of the month. Each year is a bit different.

Rifugio Croda da Lago is open from June until early November, depending on snow conditions.

Related: Hiking in the Dolomites in October


Best Time of Day: Sunrise

Lago Federa, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Dolomites

It’s no secret that Lago Federa is a popular sunrise location, especially in late October.

Photographers flock to Lake Federa to watch the first rays of light illuminate the larch trees encircling the lake. It’s like watching an artist paint their canvas with broad, sweeping brushstrokes of gold and tangerine-orange.

The flushed-orange slopes of Croda da Lago contrast dramatically with the pastel, violet hues of Becco di Mezzodi and neighboring Rocheta peaks.

As the sun rises, the colors ripen. Violet turns to blue and orange turns to yellow. It’s a magical scene that you’ll replay again and again long after your visit.

If you decide to hike to Lago Federa for sunrise, make sure to bring a headlamp.

Recommended Headlamp: Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp


More Beautiful Sunrise Destinations

Gran Cir

Alpe di Siusi

Lago di Braies


Where to Stay near Lago Federa


Pocol 

Pocol is a tiny village above the Ampezzo Valley, west of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Pocol sits at the crossroads between SR48 (the road that connects Cortina with Passo Falzarego) and the SP638 (the road that connects Cortina with Passo Giau).

Its close proximity to the Ponte di Rocurto trailhead (7-minute drive) makes it an attractive place to stay, especially if you want to hike up to Lago Federa for sunrise. 

Budget | Hotel Piccolo Pocol is a basic, but very clean bed & breakfast in Pocol. The management is helpful, efficient, and knowledgeable about the region. The breakfast buffet features a number of cakes, croissants, breads, yogurts, sliced cheeses and meats, and of course coffee and juices.


Cortina d’Ampezzo

Hotel de Len, Cortina d'Ampezzo
HOTEL de LËN

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.

Budget | Hotel Meuble Oasi is a guesthouse set in the town center of Cortina d’Ampezzo, walking distance to the pedestrian zone and bus station. Book this 2-star hotel for the unbeatable price, location, spotless rooms, and on-site parking. 

Midrange | Baita Fraina is a charming B&B with six rooms with balconies, 3km from Cortina’s town center (5 minute drive). This guesthouse is also home to a Michelin recommended à la carte restaurant, which serves regional cuisine. Stay here for the mountain views, the affordability, and the food.

Midrange | Hotel Villa Alpina is a centrally-located 3-star-superior hotel housed in a historic villa. Rooms are comfortable and feature parquet floors and alpine furnishings. The room rate includes breakfast and outdoor parking. 

Midrange | Ambra Cortina Luxury&Fashion Hotel is a lovely boutique hotel with 24 thematic rooms and a bar in the very center of Cortina. Guests are treated to free on-site parking and an excellent breakfast. 

Top Choice – Luxury | Camina Suite & Spa is a 4-star boutique hotel, 1 km north of Cortina’ town center. This intimate hotel with 12 rooms offers alpine-style suites with comfy beds and ample closet space. Rooms are equipped with nespresso machines, air-conditioning, and soundproofing. We loved the high-quality breakfast and complimentary spa (3 saunas, relaxation zone, and showers). Read our Camina Suite & Spa hotel review

Top Choice – Luxury | HOTEL de LËN is a fresh-faced luxury hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo’s town center. Interiors blend natural and sustainable materials with fine furnishings to create a relaxing, yet refined atmosphere. The hotel restaurant showcases local Ampezzo flavors in unique and exciting ways. We loved the charming, enthusiastic staff, the rooftop spa (1 complimentary hour), and communal areas (living room, cocktail bar, and restaurant). Breakfast is included in the room rate. Parking is off-site and an extra charge. Read our Hotel de Len review.

Luxury | Grand Hotel Savoia Cortina d’Ampezzo, A Radisson Collection Hotel is a top-rated, 5-star hotel in the center of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Although housed in a historic building, the entire interior has been renovated. Rooms are delightfully modern. Stay here for the superb on-site restaurant, impeccable staff and concierge, top-notch facilities (spa, indoor pool,  bar, and lobby area).

More Luxury Hotels in Cortina d’Ampezzo: Dolomiti Lodge Alverà, Grand Hotel Savoia Cortina d’Ampezzo, Rosapetra SPA Resort, and Faloria Mountain Spa Resort

Look for accommodation in Cortina d’Ampezzo.



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


Car Rental

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.

Check car rental rates here


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:

We suggest choosing 2-4 bases for your Dolomites trip and spending 2-4 nights in each base.


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, Prato Piazza, and Seceda.


Dolomites Packing List

Hiking Gear

Outdoor Photography Gear


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:

Recommended Hiking Guidebook: Cicerone Guide: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites


More Hikes around Cortina d’Ampezzo

Ampezzo Dolomites:

Sesto / Sexten Dolomites:

Braies / Prags Dolomites:

Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails,

Sabrina & Kati

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