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.
Lago Federa & Rifugio Croda da Lago Hiking Guide
- Trailhead: Ponte di Rocurto, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Belluno | Google Maps
- Distance: 8.4 km out-and-back
- Time Needed: 3 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 469 meters
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum Elevation: 1681 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2089 meters
- When to Hike: Late June – late October, depending on snow conditions.
- Where to Eat: Rifugio Croda da Lago
- Where to Stay in Pocol: Hotel Piccolo Pocol (budget)
- Where to Stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo: Hotel Meuble Oasi (budget), Baita Fraina (midrange), Hotel Villa Alpina (midrange), Ambra Cortina Luxury&Fashion Hotel (midrange), Camina Suite & Spa (luxury), HOTEL de LËN (luxury), Grand Hotel Savoia (luxury)
- Recommended Trail Map: Tabacco 03 Cortina d’Ampezzo
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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.
How to Get to Ponte di Rocurto
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
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)
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.
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.
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 (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
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 toForcella 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 toPonte de Rocurto.
Learn More: Croda da Lago Circuit Hike
Other Ascent Routes to Lago Federa
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 famousAlta 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
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
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 ofBecco 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
Where to Stay near Lago Federa
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.
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).
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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, Prato Piazza, and Seceda.
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 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
More Hikes around Cortina d’Ampezzo
- Cortina d’Ampezzo Hiking Guide
- Tofana di Roses Circuit
- Passo Giau to Mondeval
- Lago di Sorapis
- Lago delle Baste
- Rifugio Nuvolau and Cinque Torri
Sesto / Sexten Dolomites:
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Trail
- Sentiero Bonacossa North Circuit Trail
- Cadini di Misurina Viewpoint Hike
- Torre dei Scarperi Circuit Trail
- Val Fiscalina
Braies / Prags Dolomites: