The loop trail around Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen is arguably the best day hike in the Italian Dolomites. It simply upstages all others because of its accessibility and sensational scenery.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo is the name given to three mammoth peaks in the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites. These three peaks are the reigning symbol of the region and the reason why so many people flock to this corner of Northern Italy in summer.
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo circuit trail starts at Rifugio Auronzo in Auronzo di Cadore, which is easily accessible by car, or bus via a toll road.
It takes about 4 hours to do the whole loop, which is 9.7 km in length. For those that are interested in a more challenging approach to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, read our 3-day Tre Cime di Lavaredo trek.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Day Hike
- Trailhead: Rifugio Auronzo
- Type of Hike: Circuit
- Distance: 9.7 km
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 430 meters ascending/descending
- Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
- Time Needed: 4 hours
- Trails: 105, 102, 101
- Route: Rifugio Auronzo – Forcella del Col del Medo – Langalm – Rifugio Locatelli/Drei Zinnen Hütte – Forcella Lavaredo/Paternsattel – Rifugio Lavaredo – Rifugio Auronzo
- Where to Eat: Langalm is great for coffee and cake, but save your appetite for Rifugio Locatelli. Skip eating at Rifugio Lavaredo.
- When to hike: You can do this hike when the toll road to Rifugio Auronzo is open. The road is generally open from late May/early June until late October/early November), depending on snow conditions.
- Where to Stay: Camina Suite and Spa in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
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Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Hike Map
When to Hike around Tre Cime di Lavaredo
We recommend hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo anytime between late June and mid-October.
The road to Rifugio Auronzo, the trailhead, is usually open starting in late May, or early June. However, If you visit early in the season, you will likely encounter snow on the trail.
Another thing to consider is the opening times of the mountain huts (rifugios). Along the circuit trail, there are several huts that serve food and drink. But, these huts are only open between late June and late September.
We hiked the Tre Cime loop trail in August (while doing this hut-to-hut hike) and in September. The hike is gaining popularity each year. During our second visit in September, the trail was far more crowded than in August, two years prior. If you want to avoid the crowds, the best thing to do is get an early start. Or, come in October.
Check out our seasonal guides:
How to Get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Drive to Rifugio Auronzo via the Toll Road
The fastest and easiest approach to Tre Cime di Lavaredo is from the mountain hut Rifugio Auronzo, which you can drive to via a toll road.
It takes 40-minutes to drive to Rifugio Auronzo from Cortina d’Ampezzo. From Toblach, it also takes 40 minutes. No matter where you’re coming from, head to Lago di Misurina and follow the road to Lago d’Antorno.
Shortly after Lago d’Antorno, you’ll arrive at the toll station. Private cars must pay a 30 EUR mountain toll. The toll increases to 45 EUR for campervans.
When is the Tre Cime toll road open?
The toll road to Rifugio Auronzo is usually open from the end of May/early June until the end of October/early November. It depends on the snow conditions.
If you’re not sure whether the toll road is open (e.g. after a snow storm), you can contact the Auronzo tourist office by emailing them: firstname.lastname@example.org
What time can you drive up to Rifugio Auronzo?
The staff responsible for collecting the toll fee is present at the toll station from 6 am until 8 pm.
If you pass the toll station before 6 am (when the toll operator isn’t present), you can pick up your ticket by pressing the clearly visible button and pay the toll upon your return.
Park at Rifugio Auronzo
After paying the toll fee at the toll station, you’ll continue driving 3.4 km all the way to Rifugio Auronzo. Note: there is no additional parking fee for day visits.
But, if you’re planning to spend the night in one of the mountain huts in Tre Cime, you’ll have to pay an additional 15 EUR fee per night to park your vehicle overnight, or 25 EUR fee per night for a campervan.
Because parking is limited at Rifugio Auronzo, it’s best to get here early. If you arrive in the afternoon, you will likely have to wait in line at the toll station for up to one hour. As one car exists, another car is allowed to enter.
Which Direction to Hike around Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Starting at Rifugio Auronzo, you can either hike in the direction of Rifugio Lavaredo on Trail no. 101 (right), or towards Langealm on Trail no. 105 (left).
Most people will hike in the direction of Rifugio Lavaredo first (as indicated in the map above). So, if you go in the opposite direction, it’ll feel like you’re going against the current like a confused sardine. That’s how it felt for us in the afternoon, during our second visit. However, when we started the trail at 7 am (during our first visit), the trail was blissfully quiet, so no “sardine” feeling.
All that being said, I’m partial to hiking in the direction of Langealm first, because I love approaching Rifugio Lavaredo from the Forcella Lavaredo saddle. The views of the small mountain hut with the Cadini di Misurina backdrop is spectacular, especially during sunset.
Also Read: Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop Trail Description
Rifugio Auronzo – Forcella del Col del Medo – Langalm
From the parking lot at Rifugio Auronzo (2326 m), head left and join trail 105. You’ll see a footpath leading from the end of the parking area. As you savor the views of Cadini di Misurina on your left, follow the level path for 1.2 km to Forcella del Col del Medo (2315 m).
At the Forcella del Col del Medo saddle, the trail gently descends to Langalm alpine hut (2240 m). This is a great place for coffee and cake. Order your food and drinks inside, and grab a seat outside facing Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Langalm – Drei Zinnen Hütte/Rifugio Locatelli
From the alpine hut, continue hiking trail 105 past a small tarn. As you progress, the towering Drei Zinnen become more and more impressive. It takes about 1 hour to reach the red-roofed Drei Zinnen Hütte (Rifugio Locatelli), which enjoys the best vantage point of Tre Cime.
Though initially flat, the trail will ultimately ascend. You’ll hike up approximately 200 meters in order to reach Rifugio Locatelli.
Drei Zinnen Hütte (Rifugio Locatelli) is a great place for lunch or a drink. If you sit inside the hut, someone will take your order. If you sit outside, it’s self-service. After a relaxing break, make sure to check out the beautiful lakes Laghi dei Piani.
Drei Zinnen Hütte/Rifugio Locatelli – Forcella Lavaredo/Paternsattel – Rifugio Lavaredo
The loop trail continues beneath Paternkofel and stretches out linearly towards Forcella Lavaredo. As you progress towards Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the views continue to marvel.
It’s a gentle ascent to the Forcella Lavaredo saddle. When you arrive, you won’t believe your eyes. The jagged Cadini di Misurina mountains look like a fantasy novel come to life.
There are two trails that descend to Rifugio Lavaredo. You can take either.
Rifugio Lavaredo – Rifugio Auronzo
From Rifugio Lavaredo, the trail continues to wrap around the Three Peaks. With the Cadini di Misurina mountain group front and center, the final stretch of this Tre Cime di Lavaredo day hike is highly pleasurable. Walk slowly and enjoy it!
Tre Cime Di Lavaredo Hotels
There are no hotels directly at Tre Cime di Lavaredo. If you want to stay the night near the peaks, we recommend overnighting in Rifugio Locatelli/Drei Zinnen Hütte.
Misurina is very close to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, but there aren’t a lot of accommodation options.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is probably the best option because it’s a great base for exploring other hiking trails in the Dolomites like Lago di Sorapiss, Cinque Torri, Croda da Lago, etc… We recommend staying in the newly renovated hotel Camina Suite and Spa.
Learn More: Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer
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