Dolomites, Day 9 – Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Our Last day of hiking around Dolomites is dedicated to the most iconic place of them all. The Tre Cime di Lavaredo are known everywhere and for good reasons. They are easy to reach, easy to hike (unless you decide on purpose to take alternative roads to get there) and panoramic from all over the area.

As easy as they are to reach, it is really important to wake up early to access the road that brings to the Tre Cime. This is because once the parking spots are taken, the road gets closed and the area can be reached only through shuttle bus or hiking. Considering that in August the area is literally attacked by thousands of tourists, we planned on being on site before 08.30 in the morning. The plan came together as we managed to be on site perfectly on time to access the road (30€ per car, not cheap at all) and we easily found a parking spot close to Rifugio Auronzo, the usual starting point of the trails around the Tre Cime.

The classic trail is a circle around the Tre Cime, starting at the parking lot, through several hoots and than back to the parking area from behind the Tre Cime. The trail is easy, as it is basically flat with only minor altitude changes, and is also easy to walk.

Back of the Tre Cime

We don’t know yet if we will complete the whole round trip, as we are tired by the long hikes we’ve done in the previous days. Our destination is Rifugio Locatelli, located at one third of the entire round trail, with a spectacular view of the tre Cime.

Our hike starts with a small cloud covering the peaks of the Tre Cime, but the sky is blue and we hope te area will clear during the day.

The first part of the trail is flat, in a wide white road, with a wonderful panorama on our right. It doesn’t take much to get to Rifugio Lavaredo, the first “stop” for those who want to take it easy. From Rifugio Lavaredo the trail goes up for few hundreds meters, towards Forcella Lavaredo, the highest point of this part of the trail. From Forcella Lavaredo there are severl trails going in different directions.

Two of them are directed towards Monte Paterno, a peak located on our right. Both trails require special equipment to secure to the safety lines, as they are both exposed. We don’t have the equipment, nor we have the will to take those trails.

On our left there is another trail heading right at the foot of the Tre Cime, but we’re not going there either. Our destination is in front of us. The trail towards Rifugio Locatelli continues to be easy, it goes down a bit, showing an amazing panorama on our left, with the Tre Cime now more visible and defined in their iconic shape. The cloud, however, is still there, and more clouds seem to be coming from the back of the peaks. No problem, the weather changes quickly here, we still hope that, once at Rifugio Locatelli, we will be able to admire the panorama at its best.

Rifugio Locatelli below the Sasso di Sesto

We finally reach the mountain hoot with ease, with only few meters of steep ascent, but clouds are still there. As we’re not on a rush, we start walking the area, looking for the best location to shoot our picture whenever the light and cloud conditions will finally come together.

The location is spectacular, and we can easily understand why Rifugio Locatelli is famous for photographers looking for the perfect shot of the Tre Cime. You can basically shoot a perfect picture from your bed, with just one eye open. It’s a pleasure to spend our time here.

Clouds are still covering the peaks of the Tre Cime, so we decide to walk on the back of Rifugio Locatelli and reach the location called Laghi dei Piani, 5 minutes from the hoot.

There are two lakes, surrounded by mountains, with wonderful reflections. Not only this… Despite being only 5 minutes from the hoot, the area is quiet, not overcrowded, and there is room for us to lay our stuff down and just relax. We constantly look towards the Tre Cime, waiting for the peaks to be clear, but it looks like the sun is willing to illuminate only the lakes. Nothing to complain about it, the area is wonderful and the sun illuminating the area generates spectacular reflections on the water.

This is one of those locations where you could stay an indefinite amount of time without getting bored at all. There are other trails starting from these lakes, but we’re tired and our will to walk is way below our standards. Walking around the lakes is what we allow ourselves to do. And it’s fine. The view is fantastic, the clouds and the blue sky play a perfect game for our pictures… There’s everything we wanted here.

Reflections on Laghi dei Piani

This is also the perfect location to have our lunch on the green grass around the lakes, surrounded by choughs and few tourists. From time to time we give a look at the Tre Cime (we can’t see them but we can see the clouds) and it looks like clouds are glued to the top of the peaks. Not a big deal, we’re not on a rush, plus we paid 30€ for the parking… we have to get the most out of it!

After a couple of hours around the lakes, we decide to get back to the hoot, in the hope that luck will help us with those clouds. When we get to the hoot it seems impossible for clouds to clear anytime soon, so we move towards Sasso di Sesto, to explore the caves located at the base of the rock. From there the view is spectacular, as shown in the opening image of the post. Monte Pelmo is on the right, the hoot and a tiny church in the center, and the Tre Cime on the right. The location is just a dream… A dream surrounded by “sticky” clouds!

After some time, we decide to give up on seeing the clouds move from the top of the peaks, and take our way back to Rifugio Auronzo and then our car.

To complete our fight with weather conditions, during our way back a short, yet powerful rain shower hits us, not giving us time to seek shelter or to wear protective clothes. We don’t mind, water will dry out, but the beauty of the area and the beauty of our days spent on the Dolomites will always stay with us! While getting back for our last night here, we cannot help but thinking about when we’ll be back, what to visit, and what to plan differently to get the most out of it.

One thing is for sure. We need to plan, for our next trip, to spend the nights in mountain hoots, especially for those locations where it takes a lot to walk to get there. This is because we want to have the chance to be on location during both sunrise and sunsets, to make sure our pictures are taken in the best illumination possible.

For our Dolomites trip THIS IS IT! Thank you for reading these posts (if you really did)

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. I’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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