Sass da Ciampac is the highest peak in the Cir Group in the Italian Dolomites. The Cir Group forms part of the Puez mountain range and is situated firmly in the Puez-Odle Nature Park of South Tyrol, Italy.
The hike to Sass da Ciampac is a moderate one, beginning at Passo Gardena (Grödnerjoch in German, Jëuf de Frea in Ladin), the mountain pass connecting the valleys of Val Gardena and Val Badia. Along the way to Sass da Ciampac, you’ll cross the Cir Peaks, drop into Val de Chedul, and make a counter-ascent to Forcella de Crespeina, the gateway to the Crespëina High Plateau.
This is a great introduction to the Puez mountains. We loved this hike, but it’s a busy one. Start early to avoid the crowds.
If you start early, you could combine this hike with Gran Cir summit.
Sass da Ciampac and Lake Crespëina Hike, Alta Badia
- Trailhead: Passo Gardena, South Tyrol, Italy | Google Maps
- Distance: 14.7 km lollipop-circuit
- Time Needed: 6 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 931 meters
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum Elevation: 2115 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 2670 meters
- When to Hike: Late June – Mid-October, depending on snow conditions.
- Where to Stay at Passo Gardena: Hotel Cir (midrange)
- Where to Stay in Colfosco: Pension Mirandola (budget-midrange), Crëp Sella (midrange), or Kolfuschgerhof (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Selva: Hotel Garni Morene (budget), Hotel Freina (midrange), or Linder Cycling Hotel (luxury)
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Sass da Ciampac Hiking Map
How to Get to Passo Gardena
Passo Gardena is accessible from Val Gardena or Val Badia along the paved serpentine SS243 road.
During the high summer season (July, August), there’s a lot of congestion along this road. You’ll be sharing the road with motorcycles, e-bikes (damn technology!), cyclists (they seem to be multiplying each year!), and regional buses. Driving up here can be frustrating during the middle of the day. So, try to visit early.
Parking at Passo Gardena
There are several paid parking lots at the pass.
The parking lot adjacent to Rifugio Frara on the Sella side is gated and requires payment as early as 7 am. After your hike, you can pay using cash, or cards, at the parking machine.
The paid parking lot on the Cir side requires a single fee of 6 EUR anytime between 8 am and 6 pm. Someone oversees this parking lot. You’ll pay them directly (cash only) and put the receipt in your dashboard.
If you’re based in Selva, there’s no need to drive up to Passo Gardena. Hop on the Dantercepies cable car. The mountain station delivers you directly to trail 12A. Follow Trail 12A until you see the Gran Cir trail sign, steering you left.
Crespëina High Plateau Trail Description
Passo Gardena to Jimmy Hütte (15 minutes)
From Passo Gardena, follow trail 2 to Jimmy Hütte.
Jimmy Hütte to Passo Cir/Forcella Cier/Danter les Pizes (40 minutes)
When you arrive at Jimmy hut, continue up the narrow pathway for a few meters (past the kid’s playground). From here, locate the info board (flowers/birds/etc…) and follow the trail leading uphill, northeast. This is trail 2.
The wide track leading left is 12A, which leads to the Dantercepies cableway mountain station and the turnoff to the Gran Cir via ferrata.
Trail 2 zigzags up a rocky slope for about 30 minutes. As you gain elevation, the views of the Sella Group and Sassolungo get better and better.
The trail crests and you’ll follow an easy path through a jungle of rock pinnacles. As you walk between these bizarrely-shaped rocks, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a natural sculpture park. Total LOTR vibes!
Quickly thereafter, the trail climbs up to Passo Cir (2476 m).
Passo Cir/Forcella Cier/Danter les Pizes to Forcella de Crespeina (25 minutes)
From the pass, locate the sheep gate. From the gate, you’ll follow the path to the head of Val de Chedul valley. You’ll initially descend beneath the Cir Peaks and then make a counter-ascent to Forcella de Crespeina.
You’ll see Sciliar/Schlern and the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm Plateau on your left.
The final ascent to the pass is bolstered with some wooden beams.
Forcella de Crespeina to Sas Ciampac (20 minutes)
At the pass, trail 2A veers right towards the summit of Sas da Ciampac. With the exception of one short, steep section, which requires some scrambling, the ascent is easy and unproblematic.
As you hike above the Crespëina High Plateau, you’ll see Lake Crespëina and the Puez mountains. On the other side, your eyes will be drawn to the instantly-recognizable Mount Pelmo and Mount Civetta.
Sas Ciampac to the Crespëina High Plateau Trail 2A/2 intersection (1 hour)
From Sass Ciampac, continue along the ridge on 2A, descending slowly to the Crespëina High Plateau.
This descent is more difficult than the ascent, because of the slippery and unstable terrain (loose rock).
With hiking poles and Grade B/C hiking boots, you won’t have a problem.
- Recommended Hiking Poles: Unisex Black Diamond Hiking Poles
- Women’s Hiking Boots: Hanwag Tatra II GTX / Meindl Schuhe Island Lady
- Men’s Hiking Boots: Hanwag Tatra II GTX
As you descend, you’ll see Sassongher, the mountain that towers above Corvara, and the Fanes Group. Soon, you’ll also be able to spot Col dala Pieres, the Odle/Geisler Peaks, and Piz Duleda.
The trail approaches the red-colored gap between Sas Ciampac and Sas Ciampei. From here, the trail dips down towards the plateau (as opposed to staying on the ridge). It’s obvious, but there is a foot trail that continues along the ridge, which you should ignore.
From the gap, you’ll continue descending for 1 km to the plateau. The trail levels out eventually and it’s an easy walk to the signed trail 2A/2 intersection
Optional Detour to Rifugio Puez (30 minutes one-way)
When trail 2A joins trail 2, you can either head back to Forcella de Crespeina on trail 2, or continue to Rifugio Puez for lunch. It’s a 2.8 km hike to the hut.
You’ll hike up through a crevice, bolstered by wooden beams, to the Forcella de Ciampei/Forcella de Cimpac (2366 m) pass. From here, trail 2 passes over the head of Vallunga/Langental, a U-shaped glacial valley which is an impressive sight from above.
Rifugio Puez (2475 m) sits at the foot of Col de Puez. It’s a very popular hut, because it’s situated along the long-distance Alta Via 2 trail.
Note: from the hut, you can descend to Vallunga/Langental (trail 14) and walk to Selva di Val Gardena. If you’re staying in Selva di Val Gardena, we recommend it!
Rifugio Puez – Crespëina High Plateau – Forcella de Crespeina (50 Minutes on Trail 2)
After lunch at Rifugio Puez, we returned along the same trail, following trail 2 all the way to Forcella de Crespeina and ultimately back to Passo Gardena.
From the 2A/2 intersection, continue on trail 2 across the karst plateau. You’ll see Lake Crespëina from a closer vantage point, before ascending up to Forcella de Crespeina.
In the summer pasture months, sheep graze on the plateau as well.
Forcella de Crespeina to Passo Gardena (1:10 hours)
Follow the familiar trail back to Passo Gardena.
Where to Stay
Passo Gardena (Grödnerjoch in German, Jëuf de Frea in Ladin) is the high mountain pass between the Sella Group and the Cir Group in South Tyrol. The pass connects Val Gardena with Val Badia. Many fantastic hikes start directly at the pass including: Cima Pisciadù, Gran Cir, and Sass da Ciampac.
Midrange | Hotel Cir is situated directly at Passo Gardena. If you’re eager to hike early (before the crowds descend), or photograph sunrise and sunset, this is the best place to stay. Rooms are simple, but clean. The hotel offers a range of rooms including single, dormitory, and double rooms. Breakfast and dinner are available.
Colfosco (Calfosch in Ladin) is the highest village in Alta Badia, situated at an elevation of 1645 meters, between Corvara and Passo Gardena. It lies at the foot of the Sella Group and Sassongher on the edge of Puez-Odle Nature Park. With mesmerizing views of the Sella Group, Colfosco is an excellent base for actively exploring Alta Badia. Its close proximity to Passo Gardena and Passo Sella, makes it easy to explore Val Gardena and Val di Fassa as well.
Budget-Midrange | Pension Mirandola is a family-run guesthouse with spotless rooms and an on-site restaurant (half board available). Stay here for the warm hospitality, affordability, and location.
Midrange | Crëp Sella is a sparkling clean B&B with spacious and comfortable rooms.
Luxury Apartments | Lüch de Costa is a stylish aparthotel in Colfosco. In 2017, this historic farmstead was transformed into several high-end apartments. This is a great place to stay if you want the independence of an apartment but the convenience and finer features of a hotel (spa area, indoor pool, outdoor whirlpool, breakfast, daily room cleaning).
Luxury | Hotel Kolfuschgerhof excels on every level, from its excellent wellness facilities and superb Dolomites views to its fine dining, featuring local and Italian cuisine. Design-wise, the hotel is a winning combination of Tyrolean chalet-style and alpine-modern. Expect extraordinary service and the best spa views of your life.
Luxury | Romantik Hotel Cappella is a newly-renovated 5-star luxury hotel in Colfosco sporting the finest contemporary interiors and furnishings in the region. Guests relish the two on-site restaurants, modern lounge bar, and life-affirming spa overlooking the Sella Group. The wellness area features a brine sauna, a steam sauna, Finnish sauna, child/family-friendly sauna, indoor-outdoor pool, and fitness room. The hotel’s energetic and polished staff ensure that all your needs are met.
Selva di Val Gardena (Wolkenstein in German), the highest village in Val Gardena (1563 m), is blessed with a dramatic setting at the base of the Sella massif.
Selva is also the closest town to Passo Gardena, which is the mountain pass that connects Val Gardena to Val Badia (Alta Badia region), and Passo Sella, the mountain pass that connects Val Gardena to Val di Fassa.
Budget | Hotel Garni Morene is a clean and comfortable family-run guesthouse, set in an idyllic location outside the town center of Selva. Stay here for the unbeatable price, mountain views, and hospitality. Breakfast included.
Midrange | Garni Hotel Bel Vert is a B&B in Selva, located on the Biancavieve Slope, outside the town center. Rooms are beautiful and spacious. There’s even a small spa. 3 nights minimum stay.
Midrange-Luxury | Hotel Freina is a welcoming family-run hotel in Selva with an excellent on-site restaurant (serving vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free options), wonderful spa, and free garage parking.
Luxury | Hotel Tyrol is a traditional alpine hotel centrally located in Selva. The hotel’s restaurant offers creative interpretations of Ladin tradition with a Tuscan twist. Stay here for the cozy ambience, the wellness area (saunas, indoor and outdoor heated pool, indoor and outdoor whirlpool, salt cave with chromotherapy), and comfortable rooms. Outdoor parking is free and garage parking is an extra charge.
Luxury | Hotel Sun Valley is a 4-star hotel with a feel-good atmosphere, nice rooms, friendly management and staff, and a great restaurant (half board available). The spa comprises an indoor pool, whirlpool, Tyrolean parlor sauna, Brechel bath with fresh pine branches, and a steam bath, and relaxation areas.
Luxury | Linder Cycling Hotel stands out with its bold architecture, stylish urban accents, and laid-back atmosphere. Beyond the captivating design, Linder Cycling Hotel boasts excellent facilities, including a rooftop terrace, indoor pool, bar, and the à la carte Luis Eatery restaurant
Rules for Visiting Puez-Odle Nature Park
- Wild camping is prohibited in the park.
- Always stay on marked trails and paths. This helps prevent damage to the meadows and alpine pastures.
- Do not pick flowers.
- Respect the habitat of animals. Do not make any unnecessary noise.
- Do not fly drones.
- Do not light fires.
- Do not litter. Please take your garbage with you and dispose of it responsibly.
- Do not touch, or approach grazing animals.
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Dolomites Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Dolomites Travel Guide to plan an unforgettable trip to Northern Italy.
When to Visit the Dolomites
Winter Season. For skiing and winter activities, the best time to visit is between mid/late December and March.
Summer and Fall Seasons. The best time to road trip and hike in the Dolomites is between mid-June and mid-September. If the weather is stable, the hiking season can easily continue 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 Seceda, Alpe di Siusi, Lago di Braies, and Lago di Sorapis.
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
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