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Rifugio Nuvolau, Rifugio Averau, and Cinque Torri Hike, Dolomites

This short circuit trail links together some of the most popular destinations in the Averau-Nuvolau Group, which lies between Passo Falzarego and Passo Giau, west of Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian Dolomites

In only a few hours, you’ll hike to Lago di Lìmedes, Rifugio Averau, Rifugio Nuvolau, Rifugio Scoiattoli, and the striking Cinque Torri rock towers. 

Cinque Torri is also an open-air museum, where you can walk through a maze of restored trenches and shelters dating back to the First World War. 

Though there is a cableway that connects the valley (Bai de Dones) to Cinque Torri, this is the more interesting ascent route.

Nuvolau-Averau Group, Forest, Dolomites
  • Trailhead: Col Gallina | Google Maps
  • Distance: 9.6 km circuit
  • Time Needed: 3:45 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Minimum Elevation: 1974 meters
  • Maximum Elevation: 2575 meters
  • Trails: 419, 441, 439, 440, 424
  • Route: Col Galina Parking (2050 m) – Lago di Limedes (2171 m) – Forcella Averau (2435 m) – Rifugio Averau (2413 m) – Forcella Nuvolau (2415 m) – Rifugio Nuvolau (2575 m) – Rifugio Scoiattoli (2255 m) – Cinque Torri (optional) – Pian dei Menìs (via Alta Via 1) – Col Galina Parking (2050 m)
  • When to Hike: June – October
  • Where to Stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo: Hotel Meuble Oasi (budget), Hotel Villa Alpina (midrange), Ambra Cortina Luxury&Fashion Hotel (midrange), Camina Suite & Spa (luxury), and HOTEL de LËN (luxury)
  • Get the GuideShorter Walks in the Dolomites (Cicerone Guide)
  • Recommended Trail Map: Tabacco 03 Cortina d’Ampezzo

Rifugio Nuvolau and Cinque Torri Hike Map

Where to Start the Rifugio Nuvolau Hike

Col Gallina 

Col Gallina is located just below Passo Falzarego along SR48. There’s a car park and bus stop along the road, directly across from Ristorante Grill da Strobel. 

Exact Location | Google Maps 

Parking Fee | Free when we visited 

Rifugio Nuvolau and Cinque Torri Trail Description 

Col Gallina to Lago di Limedes (25 minutes)

Col Gallina to Lago di Limedes hiking trail, Dolomites

The trail starts at the south end of the car park. Follow trail 419 in the direction of Rifugio Averau, Rifugio Nuvolau and Lago de Limedes. 

The narrow path steadily ascends through a larch and stone pine forest. 

Follow the red-white-painted waymarks to stay on the official trail. 

Soon after passing a cave and a ruin, the trail crosses a wide-open meadow. To the north, the great ensemble of Lagazuoi, Col dei Bos, and Tofana di Rozes dominate the skyline. 

Lago di Limedes hiking trail, Dolomites

Trail 419 signs steer hikers left. 

Soon, you’ll arrive at the lake basin of Lago di Limedes. This is a very small body of water, fed by melting snow and rainwater. It usually dries up by the end of summer. 

If you visit earlier in the season (June – early September), Lago di Limedes serves as the picture-perfect foreground for the dome-shaped Tofana di Rozes. 

Related: Tofana di Rozes Circuit Trail

Lago di Limedes to Forcella Averau (50 minutes)

Lago di Limedes to Forcella Averau hiking trail, Dolomites

Follow trail 419 on the left side (north side) of the lake in the direction of the square-shaped Monte Averau (2649 meters), the highest mountain of the Nuvolau Group. 

The path ascends amidst sparse stone pine and larch through an increasingly rocky landscape. 

As you gain elevation, the trail crosses a gully and steeply climbs up a rugged rockscape to the saddle between Monte Averau and Croda Negra.

Forcella Averau to Rifugio Averau (15 minutes)

Forcella Averau to Rifugio Averau hiking trail, Dolomites, Italy

Trails 419 and 441 merge at Forcella Averau (2435 m). Follow trail 441 to Rifugio Averau

Views open up to Monte Pelmo, Monte Cernera, Monte Civetta, and the Pala Group. 

The trail skirts the southern wall of Monte Averau with little difficulty. 

Soon, you’ll see the long slanted ridge of Nuvolau. 

Rifugio Averau to Rifugio Nuvolau (25 minutes)

Rifugio Nuvolau view of Averau, Alta Via 1, Dolomites

Rifugio Averau sits on Forcella Nuvolau (2415 m), the saddle between Averau and Nuvolau. This is an excellent mountain hut with a lovely renovated interior. 

From the Averau refuge, a path climbs up to the ridge of Nuvolau and joins trail 439 for the ascent. The summit is crowned by the historic Rifugio Nuvolau (2575 m), which dates back to the late 1800s. 

Atop Nuvolau, hikers can enjoy 360° panoramic views.

Rifugio Nuvolau to Rifugio Scoiattoli (35 minutes)

Rifugio Nuvolau to Rifugio Scoiattoli hiking trail, Dolomites

Retrace your steps along 439 and descend to Rifugio Scoiattoli. You can stick to the hiking trail, or follow the wide gravel track (ski slope). 

The Tofane group is the main focal point along with the towers of the Cinque Torri. 

Shortly before arriving at Rifugio Scoiattoli, there’s a trail junction. Our circuit continues left (west) along trail 440 to Pian dei Menìs. 

However, feel free to detour to Rifugio Scoiattoli (2255 m) and Cinque Torri.

Optional: Rifugio Scoiattoli to Cinque Torri (10 min – 1 hour)

From Rifugio Scoiattoli, you can appreciate the massive block of Lastoni di Formin, backed by the jagged ridge of Croda da Lago. 

The Cinque Torri (Five Towers, 2361 m) is the name given to the cluster of striking rock formations, which are located just east of the Scoiattoli refuge. 

Cinque Torri is also an open-air museum. Several trails meander between the pillars to various restored trenches and shelters dating back to WWI. 

To get to Cinque Torri, follow the path leading between the 5 Torri chairlift mountain station and Rifugio Scoiattoli. 

Rifugio Scoiattoli – Pian dei Menìs – Col Gallina (1:15 hours)

Pian dei Menìs, Ampezzo Dolomites

Hike back up the gravel track. 

Trail 440 branches off to the right. Walk beneath the chairlift to the Monte de Potor (2264 m) trail junction and bear right. 

The trail descends across the pretty mountainside punctuated by dolomite boulders. 

As you drop below the forest line, the path gets steadily steeper. Timber reinforcements bolster the path. Hiking poles like these Unisex Black Diamond Hiking Poles are very helpful throughout the descent. 

The trail levels at the meadow floor of Pian dei Menìs close to the SR48 road. 

Veer left on trail 424 to Col Gallina. Cross a short footbridge and follow the trail markers across the marshy meadows of Pian dei Menìs. 

The trail enters the forest and makes a short ascent to Col Gallina. 

Where to Stay near Cinque Torri

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Camina Suite and Spa, Dolomites
Camina Suite & Spa

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.

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 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, 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 GuidebookShorter Walks in the Dolomites (Cicerone Guide)

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 and Kati

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