This unforgettable Rifugio Mulaz circuit hike in the Pale di San Martino Dolomites is like a satisfying multi-course meal bursting with flavor, color, and texture.
It starts with an aperitif that stimulates your appetite: arriving at the Malga Venegia trailhead. It proceeds with an hors d’oeuvres that awakens your taste buds: walking through the heavenly Val Venegia. And, it continues with an amuse-bouche that delights your visual palate: Malga Venegiota alpine pasture. As for the main course and the dessert, you’ll have to read on to find out.
We loved this particular Dolomites day hike because of how it unfolds. It’s never boring, and the rewards are many. When we thought this hike couldn’t possibly get better, it did, again and again.
Val Venegia and Rifugio Mulaz Circuit Day Hike
- Trailhead: Val Venegia, Trentino, Italy
- Type of Trail: Lollipop Circuit
- Distance: 12.6 km
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1054 m ascending/descending
- Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
- Time Needed: 6:30 – 7 hours
- Route: Malga Venegia parking lot (1778 m) – Malga Venegiota (1824 m) – Passo Mulaz (2619 m) – Rifugio Mulaz (2571 m) – Sasso Arduini (2582 m) – Passo dei Fochet (2291 m) – Passo di Venegiota (2299 m) – Malga Venegiota (1824 m) – Malga Venegia parking lot (1778 m)
- Where to Eat: Rifugio Mulaz and Malga Venegiota
- Where to Stay: San Martino di Castrozza – Booking.com | AirBnB
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When can you hike from Val Venegia to Rifugio Mulaz.
Late June until early October, weather depending.
Rifugio Mulaz is open from mid-June until late-September.
How to Get to Val Venegia
Val Venegia is located between Passo Rolle and Passo Valles in Trentino. The closest towns are San Martino di Castrozza and Predazzo.
San Martino di Castrozza to Val Venegia (19.6 km, 34-minute drive)
- Head North on SS50 Passo Rolle
- Continue to follow SS50
- Sharp right onto SP81 (signs for Falcade/Belluno) in the direction of Passo Valles
- Slight right to enter Val Venegia
Predazzo to Val Venegia (18.7 km, 30-minute drive)
- Head east on SS50 towards Passo Rolle
- Turn left onto SP81 (signs for Falcade/Belluno) in the direction of Passo Valles
- Slight right to enter Val Venegia
Parking in Val Venegia
There are two main parking areas in Val Venegia: Pian dei Casoni and Parcheggio Malga Venegia. For this specific hike, we recommend parking at Parcheggio Malga Venegia.
Important: Parking is strictly prohibited in Val Venegia between 9:00 pm and 7 am.
Parcheggio Val Venegia Pian dei Casoni
Soon after entering the valley, you’ll see the Pian dei Casoni parking lot. When parking here between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, the fee structure is as follows:
- Car: 3 EUR for 4 hours
- Car: 5 EUR for all day parking
- Campervan/RV: 4.50 EUR for 4 hours
- Campervan/RV: 7.50 EUR for all day parking
To pay for your parking, use the blue parking ticket machine. These machines only accept coins (2 EUR, 1 EUR, .50 EUR, .20 EUR, .10 EUR, and .05 EUR.) Make sure to bring the exact amount of cash in coins.
Parcheggio Malga Venegia
This parking lot is located at the Malga Venegia alpine pasture, just below the Malga Venegia hut. We recommend parking here.
In order to drive to Parcheggio Malga Venegia, you have to pay a 7 EUR toll between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm. Pay the fee to the collector and drive 1.2 km to the parking lot.
Related: Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
Val Venegia to Rifugio Mulaz Trail Description
Val Venegia to Malga Venegiota (30 minutes)
From the parking lot at the Malga Venegia alpine pasture, follow the gravel road through Val Venegia valley to Malga Venegiota.
The gravel road cuts across alpine pastures, where free-roaming cattle graze in summer. For safety reasons, it’s important to maintain a safe distance and avoid disturbing these animals.
As you follow the road, you’re walking towards the northern chain of the Pala Group, which towers magnificently over the valley. As you progress, you’ll walk along the Torrento Travignolo stream and through a pine forest.
The Malga Venegiota alpine pasture hut is a destination in and of itself. To say it’s perfectly situated is an understatement. We grabbed a coffee and a cake here, before continuing on.
Malga Venegiota to Passo Mulaz and Rifugio Mulaz (1:40 – 2 hours)
From the Malga Venegiota hut, continue walking along the gravel road for about 10 minutes. At the trail intersection, turn left onto trail 720, in the direction of Rifugio Mulaz (signed 2 hours). Shortly thereafter (5 meters), turn right to stay on trail 720.
The trail gently ascends through the forest. When you get above the timberline, you’ll hike along switchbacks, steadily gaining elevation. There are some steel cables along the route.
If hiking in the morning, the ascent to Passo Mulaz feels quite manageable, because the trail is in shade almost the whole time.
As you near Passo Mulaz, the trail turns to scree and becomes steeper and steeper. Don’t forget to look behind you, as the morning light engulfs the valley and illuminates the Pala peaks.
At Passo Mulaz, it’s a 10 minute descent to Rifugio Mulaz along trail 751. Eat lunch here.
Optional: Monte Mulaz Summit (1 hour one-way)
Many hikers who venture up to Passo Mulaz and Rifugio Mulaz also hike to the summit of Monte Mulaz. We skipped it, because we were so beat from the hike to Cima della Vezzanna. However, on another day, that’s something we definitely would have done.
Rifugio Mulaz to Passo di Venegiota (2:30 hours)
Follow trail 751 in the direction of Sasso Arduini peak (2582). Soon after leaving the Rifugio, the trail divides. Take the upper, left track, and follow signs to Passo Valles.
Before reaching the summit of Sasso Arduini (which is a detour), trail 751 veers left and downhill. It’s easy to miss, if you’re fixated on heading to the summit.
The descent is initially a bit tricky. The path requires careful footing as you negotiate some rocky hairpins. There are some rusty steel cables that help you manage a slippery/watery section. We were happy to have our black diamond climbing gloves with us.
After about an hour, the trail nears a tiny tarn that makes for a great afternoon resting spot.
From here, you’ll descend through a gully along a secured path.
The trail levels out for a while, before dipping, and then diagonally ascending a rocky slope to Passo dei Fochet (2291 m).
From the pass, bear left and follow the balcony trail to a notch. At the notch, you’ll emerge on the northern side of the Pala peaks. Descend 5 minutes to Passo di Venegiota (5 minutes). At the pass, the trail sign indicates 45 minutes to Malga Venegiota.
Passo di Venegiota to Malga Venegiota (1 hour)
The trail descends gently across tussock slopes, peppered with boulders and the occasional stone pine or larch tree. It’s easy walking from here on out.
With delicious views of the Pala mountains, this sublime stretch of trail feels like the ultimate dessert. Shockingly, there was no one hiking this path.
As you continue, pay heed to the wooden pole trail markers. At one point, the trail splits and it’s easy to lose sight of your way, because of the poor waymarking. Make sure to follow the poles and stay left.
Eventually, the trail reaches the timberline. Head left onto trail 749, following signs to Val Venegia. Continue descending through the pine and larch forest until reaching the valley floor. When you reach the gravel road, turn right and walk the familiar track back to Malga Venegiota.
When we arrived at Malga Venegiota in the late afternoon, they had already stopped serving warm food. Luckily, they were still serving homemade yogurt with berries as well as beverages. We highly recommend the yogurt. Taking a break at this hut post-hike is almost compulsory.
Malga Venegiota to Malga Venegia (30 minutes)
Follow the gravel road back to the parking lot at Malga Venegia.
Val Venegia to Rifugio Mulaz Hiking Map
Where to Stay in San Martino di Castrozza
The best base for this hike and many others in Pale di San Martino is San Martino di Castrozza. This alpine resort town is a 34-minute drive to Val Venegia. We recommend staying in an apartment-hotel (aparthotel) so that you can be the most flexible with your hiking and trip planning. Here are three options:
Budget | Residence Taufer is an affordable apartment-style accommodation, located 1 km from the center of San Martino di Castrozza. Apartments are clean and fully equipped, with all necessary appliances to make your stay here comfortable. The check-in/out is easy and uncomplicated. There’s a welcoming bar downstairs, where you can order espresso, drinks, and snacks throughout the day. And, the views of the Pala Group are sublime!
Mid-Range | Residence Langes is a top-rated apartment-hotel in the center of San Martino di Castrozza. Apartments are spacious, clean, and functional and have fully equipped kitchens. Guests love soaking in the outdoor whirlpool facing Pale di San Martino. There’s also a hotel bar on the ground floor.
Mid-Range | San Martino Mountain Residence is a new and modern aparthotel (8 apartments only) in a quiet area of San Martino di Castrozza (15-minute walk to the center). Apartments are thoughtfully designed and stocked with all necessary amenities. Guests have access to an outdoor whirlpool, Finnish sauna, hotel bar, sun terrace, and garden. Breakfast is available for 6 EUR per person if booked the day before.
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More Pale di San Martino (Pala Group) Hikes:
- Passo Rolle to Baita Segantini Day Hike
- Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Pradidali Circuit Hike
- Cima della Vezzana Summit Hike
Plan your trip to the Dolomites:
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