Dolomites, Day 3 – Cortina d’Ampezzo to Federa Lake


Day 3 of our Dolomites trip starts with an idea: “Let’s take it easy today, and chose an easy trail to recover from the previous days”.

Looking at our maps, we decide to move towards Cortina D’ampezzo, with the goal to get to Federa Lake for lunch. On paper everything looks easy. There is a road that should take us to a decent altitude, leaving only a short walk for the final part of the path. 

With this in mind we take our car, drive through Valparola Pass and Falzarego Pass (a kilometer, maybe a little more, separate them), and then drive down to Cortina d’Ampezzo. The road to Federa Lake is on our right, and following our navigation system we easily get to a parking spot in the middle of a beautiful woodland. The road goes up, but we have to stop because there is a barrier and a no access sign in front of us.

The drive was shorter than we expected, but we’re too excited to think about it and check our maps…we dress up, put our boots on, get our backpacks and start walking on the road in front of us. The path is easy, a decent size asphalt road, between spectacular trees. 

We can hear water flowing around us from different directions, we get to see a narrow stream on our left, and some micro waterfalls in the surrounding area. Everything is perfect, the air is hot but the sun doesn’t hit us thanks to the trees. Despite all of this, we can definitely feel that the walk is not as easy or short as we thought. The road slope is steep, every step we take we can feel we’re going up. 

After a half our of continuous, steep slope we realize it’s time to check our maps and see if we’re going the right direction… We are, and that’s good, but we immediately realize that the parking slot we were forced to use is far from the end of the road… We’re basically climbing all the road we should’ve drive with our car, and we’re far from the end of it. 

Considering that someone it’s not at its best today, we stop and try to decide if it’s worth going up or if it’s better to go back, change destination and plan to come back in a different date.

By the way, I checked again in November… Google maps just updated the road… Now it’s clear it stops at the parking area, therefore it should be easier in the future to understand the extent of the walk.

After some talking (useful to get some rest) we decide to go up, hoping that the slope would become easier in the following portion. 

Our hopes get frustrated as the road keep going with the same slope all the way up to a plateau, where there is a restaurant called Malga Federa. The majority of the climb is done, and we’ve already walked for more than 2 hours. It’s hot, we sweat a lot, but we also realize that the area is simply amazing. Green grass, trees, mountains in front of us, mountains on our back… One last effort and we should get to the lake in time to have a well deserved lunch, and a decent rest.

We check our statistics and what comes us is that we’ve already climbed for almost 6 kilometers, with an average slope of 12% and peaks of 20%. That’s why the ascent was so hard. However, we’re almost there, we have to move forward and get to the lake.

To our surprise, the remaining slope gets even steeper, and it’s dirt. Some areas are filled with concrete and there are signs that forse people with bicycles to get off and walk that portion of the path (regardless of the direction). All of this because of the slope which, as highlighted in the signs, get to and over 25%.

We’re tired, but we’re almost there… In 45 minutes we finally get to the lake.

It took us almost 3 hours to get from the parking area (1250mt above sea level) to Federa Lake (2040mt above sea level), but it was worth the effort. Not only the lake is beautiful, but getting to the lake brought us in the middle of a wonderful woodland. 

As usual, clouds start building up upon us. It should rain later today and…we’re too tired to immediately walk down. Worst case we will take advantage of the private transportation vehicles available. It’s not cheap at all, as 15ā‚¬ each to go down is a lot of money for approximately 6km. It’s definitely our last resort (and that’s also why we did not take it to come up).

Our lunch at the lake is refreshing, we needed to stop, get our boots off and relax. We spend a couple of hours getting some rest and than walking around the lake, but again…a couple of rain drops wake us up. It’s probably time to get our stuff and start walking back to our car. Too late… while I’m drinking my mandatory coffe at the local mountain hoot, Rifugio Croda da Lago, a heavy rain shower hits the area. Luckily it lasts less than 5 minutes, than a pale sun comes back. It’s definitely time to get back to our car, hoping that rain doesn’t hit us during our way down (We’re also scared about lightning strikes considering that all the way down will be between tall trees).

We “quickly” (an hour and a half walk) reach our car but while going down we find out we could have waited…All the clouds are gone now, and a wonderful, warm sunlight is hitting the area. It would have been perfect to stay and enjoy this wonderful light at the lake, take some spectacular pictures and even wait for sunset.

No big deal … We’re tired, we spent a lot of energies and we were able to enjoy the lake anyways, even though the light was not perfect. We get back to our apartment fully satisfied with our day and, to our surprise, the sun is willing to compensate for playing with us at the lake… From our apartment’s window we get to see a spectacular sunset over Monte Cavallo. Blue sky, few white clouds, and a warm red light hitting the mountain in front of us… It’s the perfect end for another spectacular day in the Dolomites.


Note: Some of the places shown in the posts from our Dolomites trip were dramatically hit by unexpected severe weather conditions at the end of October 2018. Strong winds and heavy rains damaged several woodland, villages and hiking trails. Images and descriptions on my blog refer to a trip we had almost 3 months before (beginning to mid August 2018). What shown in this blog may differ from what is the current status. Iā€™m not aware of all the damages created by the weather, therefore this general note will be inserted in all the following posts. For those areas that I know for sure were damaged, I will point it out in the description.  


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