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Photo: Pio Geminiani - Trentino Sviluppo SpA
Photo: Pio Geminiani - Trentino Sviluppo SpA
Explore the largest mountain group of the Dolomites
See the unbelievable out-of-this world landscape of the Pale plateau
Walk in a relative solitude with less people on the trails than many other Dolomite ranges
Enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the entire Dolomites region from the Cima Fradusta peak
Choose your walking pace: moderate distances between huts let you have plenty of time for breaks
The largest of the dolomitic massifs, Pale di San Martino is one of the most impressive landmarks of the Dolomite Alps. It stands away from the most travelled trails and hiking itineraries of the Dolomites, what offers hikers a much better solitude than on many other routes in the region.
The Pale Trek is one of our least challenging Level 3 hut-to-hut hiking routes. It is addressed in particular to hikers preferring moderate and unfatiguing 5-6 hour-long daytime treks with optional loop outings at the end of the day, if enough strength and enthusiasm is left. Photographers will have plenty of time for breaks to capture the magnificent landscapes and panoramas, sunrises and sunsets.
The itinerary begins and ends in San Martino di Castrozza – a resort township on the western side of the Pale plateau. Our basecamp hotels in San Martino will provide accommodation before and after the hike. On the route, you will be staying in serviced mountain huts with breakfast and dinner.
There are several Pale Trek itineraries of a similar difficulty level to choose from. Depending on the time you have, you may prefer a short hike that lets you explore the plateau or walk our full Pale route with the Passo Rolle pass and the opposite standing Cavalazza ridge, both being excellent “observation decks” of Pale di San Martino.
The Pale Trek is available as a guided o self-guided hiking trip. No special training is needed for this route, but good physical shape is a must to be able to walk for 5-6 hours every day at your own pace. With comfortable and warm sleeping arrangements and two meals on your daily service plan, there is no need for heavy backpacks with lots of stuff in them.
StyleHut to Hut Hiking
Tour Duration6 - 8 days / 5 - 7 nights
Start / FinishSan Martino di Castrozza
This is a private tour on the dates of your choice.
Validity of prices: Summer 2020.
Self-guided tour: supplement € 80 applies to one-person bookings.
Guided tour: minimum 4 participants.
Day 1: San Martino di Castrozza
You arrive in the Dolomites on your own. The basecamp location for this hike is San Martino di Castrozza, a charming resort town at the foot of the Pale plateau. Located deep in the Dolomites, San Martino has a rich history as one of the oldest alpine resorts thanks to its main attraction – the Pale di San Martino group.
Day 2: Ascent to Pale di San Martino
Ascent 1220 m. Descent 160 m. Distance 9 km. Walking time 5 hours.
The first hiking day is an ascent to the Pale plateau. You will be walking on a wide mule track with numerous zig-zags. This mule track dates back to the end of the XIX century when San Martino was attracting noble “tourists” from European capitals. The track was build for them to allow an easy access to the Pale plateau to the donkey supported noble escort. Thus, despite a significant elevation gain, this ascent never gets too steep. If you start walking in the morning, you should reach the hut in the middle of the day. There is a nice optional hike to make after you rest: the nearby Cima Rosetta peak (2,743 m) is now within easy reach. It is a short unfatiguing 160-meter ascent to the peak from where you will see a breathtaking panorama of the plateau.
Day 3: Cima Fradusta Peak
Ascent 460 m. Descent 780 m. Distance 9 km. Walking time 5 hours.
The trail turns towards the center of the plateau to takes you to the pass of Passo Fradusta a couple of hours later. On the other side of the pass lies a lake of the same name with a glacier sliding down into it from the mountain side. After a walk around the glacier you may try the eastern path to the summit of Cima Fradusta (2,939 m). From this vantage point in fine weather one can see as far as the Adriatic coast and Venice, but such visibility, mostly typical of the morning hours, depends on too many weather factors. On your way from the mountain top you will pass a small lake and soon reach a hut with dinner and bed ready.
Day 4: Southern Extremity of Pale
Ascent 480 m. Descent 1120 m. Distance 9 km. Walking time 5 hours.
Today you descend from the plateau into warm south-facing valleys. The scenery is completely different from the day before, the valleys all covered in forest. By way of a minor deviation from your itinerary, pay a visit to the local museum of Pale di San Martino. The museum occupies a solitary villa with a neat lawn around it, all in direct view of the plateau. Your next mountain hut is due by around noontime. After lunch you may embark on a loop trek to Bivacco Minazio – a bivouac at an altitude of 2,250 m. It is a beautiful and little-traveled trail. Not far from the bivouac, there is a wreckage of an American military airplane, which crashed into the southern wall of a nearby summit in 1957.
Day 5: Across the Pale Plateau
Ascent 1220 m. Descent 270 m. Distance 10 km. Walking time 6 hours.
Many hikers find the today’s trek one of the most exciting day crossings of all Dolomites hut-to-hut hiking routes. The day begins with a short ascent to the plateau. Once there, the trail runs east to west across it. This is the longest leg of the itinerary. After it tops a mountain pass, the trail follows the eastern edge of the plateau for some fascinating views of Civetta and several other neighboring dolomitic massifs. Gradually falling away from the edge towards the center of the plateau, the path runs through the unbelievable out-of-this world landscape of the Pale plateau, Altipiano delle Pale, until it reaches the hut.
Day 6: Passo Rolle
Ascent 450 m. Descent 950 m. Distance 9 km. Walking time 4 hours.
It is now time to leave the plateau and take a look at it from the outside. The pass of Passo Rolle is the best place for it. The trail descends from the plateau down its western bank. A short walk soon brings you to Passo Rolle (1,980 m). By around lunch time you find yourselves at a hut on the pass. This is where the most exciting part begins. Near the pass, there is a vast open meadowland with one of the best panoramas of the plateau and its famous peak of Cimon della Pala. The place promises great opportunities for photography enthusiasts: the best landscape photos of Pale di San Martino are captured from the Castellaz rock, the Val Venegia valley below it and the Baita Segantini farm. Your hiking schedule will tell you about all possibilities.
Day 7: Lagorai and Lakes Colbricon
Ascent 360 m. Descent 970 m. Distance 10 km. Walking time 5 hours.
On your last hiking day you will traverse a range outstretched to the west of Pale di San Martino. This elevated section of the route is known for beautiful views of the plateau. The most popular photographic vantage point for the plateau shots is near the small lakes at an altitude of 2,160 m. From the crest of the range you will also enjoy a sweeping panorama of mountains towering over the Colbricon Lakes. You may stop for a lunch break at a lakeside hut. Local scenery is very different from the lunar landscapes of the plateau. This is the eastern extremity of the Lagorai chain – a granite massif much better supplied with water and, therefore, richer in vegetation. A great place for a bit of rest at the Colbricon Lakes, with perhaps a dip in one of them, before the day ends with a descent to San Martino.
Day 8: San Martino di Castrozza
This completes your hike. In a little less than a week, you have traversed the largest plateau of the Dolomite Mountains. The itinerary took you through the lunar landscapes of the inmost regions of Pale di San Martino. You are sure to remember the scenic path across the plateau, its peaks at sunset the way you saw them from Passo Rolle, and the splendid views of the Pale from the eastern tip of the Lagorai range.
Short Pale di San Martino Trek covering the entire plateau but not reaching Passo Rolle
The 6 Day Tour, both guided and self-guided, follows the trails on the plateau and does not reach the Passo Rolle pass. You will descend to San Martino directly with a cablecar at the end of the hike. This itinerary lets you see the entire plateau – Altipiano delle Pale. There are 4 full hiking days with a difficulty level that is not different from the primary itinerary.
Shorter itinerary with a cablecar ascent to the plateau
The 7 Day Tour excludes the ascent to the plateau from the itinerary. This hike begins with a cable car ride from San Martino to a point 2,654 m high on the plateau of Pale di San Martino. Once there, you can ascend the summit of La Rosetta (2,743 m), see the panorama of the plateau and get going deeper in the inner regions of Pale as the primary itinerary suggests. The 7 Day Tour is available in both guided and self-guided formats. It is of the same difficulty level as the primary itinerary, you just walk one day less: 5 full hiking days.
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 € 80
7 Day Self Guided Tour € 80
8 Day Self Guided Tour € 80
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.
The basecamp for this hiking trip is San Martino di Castrozza in the province of Trentino. Venice is the most convenient airport for travel to San Martino. It takes 4 hours to arrive in San Martino from the Venice Marco Polo airport by bus with one change. A direct bus connection is available from Venice, Mestre and Treviso. In June and September, the bus connection is not daily. The alternative solution is a combination of train and bus: it is available throughout the entire season with a travel time of around 4h 30m.
We can help you to plan the route from the airport and provide you with the logistic details: please contact us before you buy 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.
The first and last nights of your trip are in one of our basecamp hotels. While hiking, you will stay overnight in the mountain huts. You can count on the following services in the mountain huts: a bed in a shared room or in a private room (must be booked in advance), shower with hot water, toilets, meals, and a possibility to buy take away water and snacks such as sandwiches and chocolate. Shared rooms are equipped with bunk beds with mattresses, pillows and blankets. Bed linen is not provided in shared bedrooms: you must have a sleeping bag liner with you. Typically, it is a light cotton bag. Warm sleeping bag is unnecessary, since there are blankets in the bedrooms. In private rooms you are often offered bed linen, thus a sleeping bag liner is not required. If you book private rooms, we inform you on whether you need to bring a sleeping bag liner. Most huts have a heating system, but it is normally not required in the summer months. You will need clean footwear for the huts: light slides are an ideal solution. For detailed information on the huts please read Mountain Huts in the Alps.
In hut-to-hut hiking tours you are served a breakfast and a dinner in the huts and mountain hotels on the route.
Normally, the breakfast is served from 7am to 9am. It usually includes an unlimited quantity of coffee and tea, bread, butter, jam, honey and chocolate spread. In addition, some huts offer ham, cheese and muesli for breakfast. After breakfast we recommend filling your thermos with hot water or tea: ask the staff, and it will be for free in most huts.
The dinner time in the mountain huts is 7pm or 7:30pm for all guests. A typical dinner in a hut is very rich and includes a starter, the first course (such as pasta, risotto, dumplings), the second course (meat with a side dish) and a dessert. Any drinks at dinner (water, wine, beer, tea, coffee) are not free and should be ordered and paid separately.
Lunch. It is possible to stop for lunch in the mountain huts on the way, but this option is not available in all days of the trip. In such days we recommend to take some light snack (sandwiches, yoghurt, chocolate, water) from the hut where you stay overnight. Mountain huts prepare for lunch the same dishes as for dinner. The cost of a typical hot dish, e.g. pasta or risotto, in a mountain hut varies from 7 to 12 euros.
Our guided hiking tours are led by professional guides, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience and with passion for mountains. They permanently work in the region of the exact hiking tour, have professional licenses, are experts in emergency situations, regularly upgrade their qualifications and work in accordance with national regulations.
For self-guided hiking, it is necessary to be properly dressed, follow the safety rules and make realistic time calculation for day crossings – preferably according to the hiking schedule that we provide. Our self-guided hiking trips are planned so that they do not require specific skills or gear, unless it is clearly specified in the tour description. You can expect well-maintained trails equipped with direction signs. Exposed sections of the trail are secured on the self-guided routes: it makes them safe provided that you follow the basic safety rules for hiking in the mountains.
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 the 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.
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