Monte Specie (Strudelkopf in German) is a panoramic mountain in Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park in South Tyrol, Italy.
Accessible all-year-round, Monte Specie is a popular place to visit in the Dolomites, because it’s extremely scenic and easy to get to. Atop Monte Specie, there are sensational views of Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Cadini di Misurina, the Cristallo Group, and even the Tofane Group.
You can hike to Monte Specie from Valle di Landro/Höhlensteintal, but the easiest ascent route starts at the Prato Piazza/Plätzwiese high alpine plateau, high above Valle di Braies/Pragser Tal Valley.
This guide outlines the Prato Piazza – Monte Specie hiking trail. It’s straightforward and suitable for families with small children.
Keen hikers should also take a look at the Gaisl high trail starting atop Prato Piazza.
Monte Specie/Strudelkopf Hiking Guide
- Trailhead: Prato Piazza Car Park | Google Maps
- Distance: 8.8 km circuit
- Time Needed: 3 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 389 meters
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum Elevation: 1961 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2307 meters
- When to Hike: Monte Specie/Strudelkopf is accessible all-year-round
- Best Time of Day: Sunrise, or Sunset
- Where to Eat: Rifugio Prato Piazza, Malga Prato Piazza, or RIfugio Vallandro
- Where to Stay on Prato Piazza: Hotel Hohe Gaisl
- Where to Stay in Braies Valley: 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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Monte Specie Hiking Map
How to Get to the Monte Specie Trailhead
This hike begins at the car park at Prato Piazza. We’ve outlined how to get here in our Prato Piazza guide.
Access to the plateau changes throughout the year. Check out the Prags – Plätzwiese website for up-to-date info.
Prato Piazza to Monte Specie Trail Description
Prato Piazza Car Park to Rifugio Prato Piazza (5 minutes)
From the Prato Piazza car park, follow the road (trail 37) to Rifugio Prato Piazza/Berggasthof Plätzwiese. Rifugio Prato Piazza is open all year, with the exception of 3 weeks in November and 3 weeks in May.
Rifugio Prato Piazza is situated on the plateau, between Picco di Vallandro/Dürrenstein (2839 m) and Monte Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo/Hohe Gaisl (3146 m). Many trails intersect at the Rifugio (37, 40, 18 and 3).
You can start the hike to Monte Specie on trail 37 (the flat macadam road that leads to Rifugio Vallandro) or on Trail 40/40a (the hiking path that crosses alpine pastures).
We opted for trail 40/40a.
Rifugio Prato Piazza to Malga Prato Piazza (30 minutes)
Trail 40 starts at the white chapel, between Rifugio Prato Piazza and Hotel Hohe Gaisl.
This path gently ascends through larch and stone pine trees.
After a few minutes, you’ll pass through an alpine pasture gate. In summer, these meadows are grazing pastures for cattle. Please keep your distance and do not disturb the animals. To learn more about alpine pasture safety, read our guide to visiting the Alps in Summer.
After crossing a large meadow, you’ll arrive at the trail 40/40a intersection. Turn right on trail 40a to Strudelopf/Monte Specie.
The views of the Cristallo Group are fantastic.
This level path brings you to the Malga Prato Piazza/Almhütte Plätzwiese alpine pasture hut.
Malga Prato Piazza to Trail 34/40a Intersection (15 minutes)
You can walk through the alpine pasture hut, or around. From the hut’s outdoor picnic table area, follow the downhill gravel path for a few meters. At the next intersection, turn left, following trail 40a to Monte Specie/Strudelkopf.
After about 10 minutes, you’ll arrive at the trail 34/40a intersection, where there’s a picture-perfect view of a serpentine path leading to Rifugio Vallandro.
At this intersection, turn left and follow trail 34 to Strudelkopf, signed 1 hour.
Trail 34/40a Intersection to Monte Specie (50 min – 1 hour)
This path leads to Strudelkopfsattel (2200) and then up the western slopes of Strudelkopf to the summit (2307 m).
The summit is marked with a wooden cross and an old WWI fort (ruin).
Tre Cime di Lavaredo is the main focal point. But, you’ll also see prominent peaks of the Sexten range, including Dreischusterspitze, Elferkofel, Paternkofel, Zwölferkofel, Cima Cadin di San Lucano and the Cadini Group (behind Monte Piana). Further southeast, Piz Popena and Monte Cristallo look like a giant peace sign.
Monte Specie at Sunset
We highly recommend hiking to Monte Specie for sunrise, or sunset.
Monte Specie – Rifugio Vallandro – Rifugio Prato Piazza (1:30 hours)
To return to Prato Piazza, descend to Strudelkopfsattel.
At the saddle, take the left trail (“Steig”) to Rifugio Vallandro/Dürrenstein-Hütte (45 min – 1 hr). This is a steeper hiking path, but far more interesting.
This trail leads you directly to Rifugio Vallandro, where you can grab a bite to eat.
To complete the circuit, follow trail 37, the road that bisects the plateau, all the way back to Rifugio Prato Piazza. It takes about 30-40 minutes to hike back from the Vallandro hut to the car park.
Where to Stay near Monte Specie
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.
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/Innichen is a charming town in Val Pusteria/Pustertal valley within the Alta Pusteria region. San Candido is an excellent place to stay when you want to split your time between the Sexten Dolomites and the Prags Dolomites.
To access the southern Sexten Dolomites, you can drive through Valle di Landro/Höhlensteintal to Lake Misurina, Lake Antorno, and onwards to Tre Cime di Lavaredo via the Rifugio Auronzo toll road. We recommend hiking the Sentiero Bonacossa North Trail (challenging day hike), the Three Peaks Circuit Trail (easy-moderate day hike), and the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint (short easy hike).
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. Read our Naturhotel Leitlhof hotel review.
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.
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.
Luxury Apartments | 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.
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Dolomites Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Dolomites Travel Guide to plan an unforgettable trip to northeastern 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
We suggest choosing 2-4 bases for your Dolomites trip and spending 2-4 nights in each base.
- Base 1: Val Gardena – Ortisei, Santa Cristina or Selva di 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 Sorapis, Lago Federa, 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 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
Recommended Trail Map: Tabacco 031: Pragser Dolomiten/Dolomiti di Braies