Subscribe to receive announcements of new itineraries, tips and tricks, promotions.
Explore the Dolomites off the beaten track
Enjoy wonderful solitude on more than 2/3 of the itinerary
See rare fossilized dinosaur footprints at the foot of Monte Pelmo
Enjoy splendid views of the apart standing Dolomite massifs and take great pictures
Visit the Messner Mountain Museum in the Clouds at an altitude of 2,138 m
If you are looking to hike in the Dolomite Alps along some of the least-traveled trails that few people know about, the Zoldo Loop is one of the best choices. The Zoldo Valley is surrounded by a ring of the most beautiful mountains, and just two of them are well-known. These are the grand Pelmo and Civetta massifs. The San Sebastiano, Bosconero and Mezzodi groups attract much fewer hikers and have preserved the ambiance of wilderness without the otherwise ubiquitous chair lifts and human voices.
The Zoldo Ring is a trekking opportunity for those who prefer not to rush and take their time. The hiking schedule allows for deviations from the itinerary that are not too time-sensitive. Daytime treks take 5 to 7 hours of net time, with plenty of leisure time and opportunities to take photos of breathtaking panoramas that are plentiful along this route.
Expect daily landscape changes along the trail that will take you successively from one mountain group to another. Much of the itinerary runs at elevations of 1,900 – 2,100 m in the zone of Alpine meadows between the tree belt and the impressive vertical rock faces of the massifs. The trail also descends into the forest a number of times. Besides beautiful nature, this trek offers a chance to admire unusual landmarks that you can hardly expect to see elsewhere in the Alps. These include fossilized dinosaur footprints near Pelmo, a frontier inscription chiseled into the rock dating from the Roman times, and Reinhold Messner's Museum in the Clouds at an elevation of 2,138 m.
StyleHut to Hut Hiking
Tour Duration6 - 9 days / 5 - 8 nights
Start / FinishForno di Zoldo
This is a private tour on the dates of your choice.
Validity of prices: Summer 2020.
Self-guided tour: supplement € 70 applies to one-person bookings.
Guided tour: minimum 4 participants.
Day 1: Val di Zoldo
We have chosen the commune of Forno di Zoldo as the basecamp for this trek because it offers the most convenient and logical starting point for the itinerary. It is also a place with a fascinating history that sets it apart from the majority of Alpine resorts. For more than 600 years Forno was renowned as a center of blacksmiths that catered to the ironmongery needs of the Republic of Venice. It is the “birthplace” of many wrought-iron lamp posts and gates of Venice, luxurious palace chandeliers, and ornate handles that you can admire to this day on doors of upscale hotels. The craft died out in Forno throughout the 20th century, the local Iron and Nails Museum is its only reminder. It is housed in the historic building of the Palazzo del Capitaniato in downtown Forno, which served since 1409 as the residence of Captains – governors of the Republic of Venice in the Province of Zoldo.
Day 2: Mezzodi Group
Ascent 1190 m. Descent 450 m. Distance 10 km. Walking time 5 hours.
Each day of the trek, you will discover a new mountain group. Today you will cross a forest belt into highlands of the Mezzodi group. As the day draws to a close, you will descend to a mountain hut perched on a slope at a picture-perfect fringe of a forest. Mezzodi features seldom-traveled trails, narrow scree corridors, and, most importantly, a breathtaking panoramic view of the Dolomites opening up from the Belvedere lookout. It is an exposed cliff facing the Zoldo Valley. The grand Monte Pelmo stands tall across the valley, and to the west the skyline is punctuated by numerous mountaintops of the Sorapis and Antelao groups. This area is especially striking after 5 p.m. once the air has cleared and sun rays set the mountain slopes aglow.
Day 3: San Sebastiano Group
Ascent 1130 m. Descent 1120 m. Distance 11 km. Walking time 7 hours.
Today the itinerary takes you through the San Sebastiano group, and you are hiking on very little-travelled trails. The main trail runs beneath the south slopes above the Zoldo Valley. It offers invariably spellbinding vistas of Monte Pelmo across the valley and frequently changing landscapes: along this section of the trek, scree crossings alternate with descents into alpine meadows and the forest belt. It is a trek with a higher than average cumulative ascent, but it is comfortably distributed over 6 – 7 sections during the day.
Day 4: Moiazza
Ascent 1070 m. Descent 950 m. Distance 11 km. Walking time 7 hours
The classic Zoldo Dolomites itinerary follows the eastern slopes of the Civetta group. However, the conditions of the eastern trail have significantly worsened in the recent years due to rockfalls and lack of maintenance, thus making the classic route accessible to expert hikers only. For this reason we route our primary Zoldo itinerary via the west-side trails. Civetta is arguably one of the most beautiful mountain groups of the Dolomite Alps. The name Civetta applies to a mountain system combining two adjacent ranges: Moiazza and Civetta proper. Today you hike round the Moiazza group right below its impressive vertical walls. You will be walking along the Alta Via N.1 trails, and you will see many more hikers here compared to almost total wilderness of the first two days of your hike.
Day 5: Civetta and Lake Coldai
Ascent 910 m. Descent 490 m. Distance 10 km. Walking time 5 hours.
Today, the trail runs along the western wall of Civetta with exciting views of the adjacent Marmolada and Sella groups. You will walk just above the tree line in the contrasting landscapes with green meadows and pine forest neighboring the white scree and rocks of Civetta. In the afternoon you reach the north tip of Civetta, where the slopes form a small bowl or mountain amphitheater. Here at 2,143 m sits a must-see romantic Coldai Lake – one the highlights of this region and the Dolomites. Passed the lake, shortly you arrive in the hut where you will stay overnight. It is facing the Zoldo Valley and Monte Pelmo. Do not miss the sunset: there is an excellent point to watch it from the trail just 50 m below the hut.
Day 6: Pelmo and Dinosaur Footprints
Ascent 510 m. Descent 720 m. Distance 14 km. Walking time 6 hours.
You start the day at the northern extremity of the Civetta Group. An interesting archaeological site has been preserved in this area. It is an inscription chiseled out in a rock, dating back to the 1st century A.D. It reads “FIN BEL IUL”. Roman history scholars have interpreted this as “Fines Bellunatorum Iuliensium”, or the boundary between the municipalities of Bellumo and Julium Carnicum. Today's itinerary takes you to Monte Pelmo – one of the dominant mountains of the Zoldo Valley and the entire region, which beckoned to you throughout the trek. Pelmo is a very compact mountain group that towers 1,300 meters above the relatively plain landscape of meadows and forests around it. Hiking round Monte Pelmo, you will see fossilized dinosaur footprints just a few hundred meters off the main trail. They are preserved on a massive chunk of rock cleaved from the vertical cliff of Pelmo. Information about these footprints is scant. Scientists attribute them to creatures that populated the ocean in the Triassic age some 200-250 million years ago. It is well worth seeing since there are few similar sites across the Alps.
Day 7: Monte Rite
Ascent 870 m. Descent 660 m. Distance 13 km. Walking time 5 hours.
The relatively small mountain group of Monte Rite stands apart from the chief dominant groups of the region. As such, it offers one of the best panoramic views of the Dolomites from its flat mountaintops. A fort was built here in the early 20th century and used during World War I. Some 100 years later, in 2002, Reinhold Messner opened the first mountain museum in the renovated building of the fort. It is called the Museum in the Clouds on account of it sitting at the elevation of 2,138 m. The barracks building was also restored and is now housing a mountain hut. The trek from Pelmo to Monte Rite takes close to 5 hours and runs through sparse forests and meadows. You will have time to visit the Museum in the Clouds which is renowned for its extraordinary exhibits housed in the unusual interiors of a military fort. As the day draws to a close, you can admire the sunset from a lookout by the mountain hut.
Day 8: Bosconero Group
Ascent 510 m. Descent 1810 m. Distance 17 km. Walking time 7 hours.
The final leg of the itinerary takes you through the Bosconero group. These mountains are more popular with climbers. They are too challenging for hikers, and in fact the classic Zoldo Dolomites route in Bosconero is currently not accessible. For this reason, our route covers only the north part of Bosconero where the trails are maintained well. Here you will ascend to a mountain saddle offering a splendid panorama of Pelmo, Monte Rite, and Antelao opening up for the last time before the descent down to the valley. You will be going down a quite steep talus slope into a gigantic natural hollow before the trails runs into a forest and descends to the Zoldo Valley. This crossing is characterized a relatively long descent. In the morning, there is a descent of 600 meters on a limited-access road from Monte Rite. Later in the afternoon, you will gradually descend 900 meters to Forno di Zoldo.
Day 9: Val di Zoldo
The trek ends in Forno di Zoldo. The mountains of the Zoldo Valley that you have covered are beautiful, but only Civetta and Pelmo are known outside Italy. That's why the trail is never overcrowded and mostly runs through the wilderness.
Shorter Zoldo Loop from Mezzodi to Monte Pelmo
This route runs along the main itinerary through the groups of Mezzodi, San Sebastiano, Moiazza-Civetta and Pelmo. There are 5 hiking days: the days #2-6 of the main itinerary. The route does not reach Monte Rite and Bosconero but desends to the Zoldo valley near Monte Pelmo.
This is a private tour on the dates of your choice.
The prices are per person and include the VAT tax.
Validity of prices: Summer 2020.
The indicated tour duration includes the days of arrival and departure. Accommodation on the day of arrival and night before departure is included in the price.
Self-guided tour: supplement applies to one-person bookings
6 Day Self Guided Tour € 70
7 Day Self Guided Tour € 70
9 Day Self Guided Tour € 70
Single supplement includes single room accommodation in the basecamp hotel on the first and the final nights of the tour.
Guided tour: minimum 4 participants.
Venice is the most convenient airport for travel to the Zoldo valley. It takes around 2 hours to arrive in Zoldo from the Venezia Marco Polo airport.
Treviso is the second convenient airport with the same travel time to the Zoldo Valley of around 2 hours.
We can help you plan the logistics and provide you with train and bus schedules: please contact us before you buy the plane tickets.
Proper hiking boots are a must for the mountains. We recommend high boots because they support the ankle better than any low boots and provide better stability on a rocky terrain. Even in the middle of the summer in the Dolomites you must bring some warm clothes with you: waterproof and windproof jacket, fleece jacket, long trekking pants and a cap. A raincoat, poncho or other type of rainwear is necessary. Other necessary items are the toiletries, light clean footwear to use in the huts, sunglasses and at least 2 one-liter bottles for water. You'll receive a detailed packing list specifically for your trip at the booking. We ask all participants to read it carefully and be well prepared for the hiking trip.
For detailed information on the gear and clothing please read Hiking Gear.
In the evenings, you will stay for the overnight in the mountain huts. Mountain huts which we book for this trip provide the following services: a sleeping place in a common room or in a separate room, if ordered, hot water shower, toilets, meals, and the possibility to buy some snack like sandwiches, chocolate, drinks, etc. The common room has bunk beds with mattresses, pillows and blankets. Bed linen is substituted for a hygienic sleeping bag with which we supply each participant on the first day. All the huts have heating which may be required at the beginning and end of summer or in cool days. You’ll need slippers to use them in the hut. For more information about the Alpine huts please refer to the page Mountain huts in the Alps.
During the trip in Dolomites breakfasts and dinners in the base hotels and mountain huts are included in the price. Please not that some base hotels provide only with breakfast – the information about this is specified in the section “What is included” above.
Standard breakfast time in the mountain huts is from 7am to 9am. Breakfast time may differ from hut to hut – it is better to specify the time the day before. A typical breakfast in a mountain hut includes coffee and tea in any quantity, bread, butter, jam and chocolate paste. Some huts also serve ham, cheese, muesli and fruits for breakfast. After breakfast we recommend to fill your thermos with hot water or tea – you can ask the service staff to fill it, and in most huts it will be for free.
Dinners in the mountain huts are very rich. Dinner time is fixed for all the guests starting at 7pm or 7:30pm. Traditionally dinner includes the first dish (pasta, dumplings or risotto), the second dish (meet with garnish) and a dessert. Drinks for dinner (water, vine, spirits, beer, tea, coffee) should be ordered additionally and paid in the morning upon leaving.
Lunch. During most day crossings there will be no huts on the way where you could stop for lunch. We recommend taking a packed lunch from the hut in the morning. A typical packed lunch includes 1 or 2 sandwiches, yoghurt, chocolate bar, water, and it normally costs 7 - 8 euros. Tell the staff in the evening that you would like to take a packed lunch. Alternatively, on some days of the route, you can reach the next mountain hut in 4-5 hours and have lunch there.
Our self-guided trips are rated by the average level of difficulty (Level 3) and don’t require special equipment or experience. You can expect short, 10-30-meter, areas with support in places where the trail passes through an open slope or on steep ascents and descents. Self-guided trips exclude crossing glaciers and itineraries with unmarked trails, in such regions we organize only guided trips.
For the safe hiking, it is necessary to be properly equipped, make realistic time calculation for passing the daily itineraries (preferably according to the schedule that we provide) and follow simple safety rules.
Mountains are a natural environment with a high level of risk, so we insistently ask all participants to read the safety rules and emergency procedures: Safety considerations. If you have questions about safety rules, please contact us +39 0463 63 60 80.
Insurance. It is important to have an appropriate insurance that covers the hiking activity. You don't need to include the climbing activity in your insurance, unless you are planning to climb during the hike.
Visa. We will provide you with a booking confirmation for all days of your trip. If you need the Italian visa, you can enclose this document with your visa application.
The most stable weather conditions in the Dolomites are statistically from the second week of July till the middle of September. This period in the Dolomites is characterized by warm sunny weather and modest rainfall. Earlier in June, the weather is normally favorable, but it is less reliable, and the mountain passes may be blocked by snow remaining from the winter. In June we may have to change the route depending on the snow situation on the passes. The second half of September in Dolomites is a beautiful period, but the weather is again less predictable: the probability of incessant rain increases, and it may snow at the altitude above 2,000 meters.
It is never hot in the Dolomites at the elevation of 2,000 m (6,560 ft) and above where most of the hiking routes pass. In a sunny day in August the temperature at 2,000 m can reach 20° C (68° F) suring the warmest hours of the day. It is comfortable for hiking. In a cold cloudy day, the temperature can stay at around 10° C (34° F) during the entire the day. It is always chilly at night and early in the morning. Thunderstorms, often with hail, are typical for the warmest months (July and August). In the Dolomites valleys at the altitudes of 1,000 – 1,500 m (3,280 – 4,920 ft) the day temperature can reach 27° C (80° F). It is fresh in the valleys in the morning and evening, and it is not stuffy at night even in the hottest weeks of the summer.
Other trips in this category