Hiking Tre Cime the Iconic Peaks of the Dolomites

tre cime hiking destinations in the Alps

Tre Cime is one of the most iconic formations in the Italian Dolomites. The three towering slabs of rock, each one evolved into a sharp peak at the top with its base splaying out at a sharp angle below. These memorable peaks are located within Tre Cime Natural Park, one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Dolomites. Mere words cannot describe the majesty of Tre Cime’s treeless landscape. In every direction, there are beautifully sculpted mountains and perfectly situated mountain huts.

This mountain range is the most spectacular in Italy partly because of the striking, palecoloured dolomitic limestone, eroded into towers and steep-sided valleys by rain, ice, sun and wind. Hiking through the Pusteria valley, there’s a combination of high mountain trails and more gentle walks through meadows and forests, making it the perfect hiking destination. There are many ways to enjoy the colossal Tre Cime pillars, you can circumnavigate the peaks in a day (as we do on our first day of Alpenwild’s Italian Dolomite trip) or you can spend several days hiking between the mountain huts.

Tre Cime
The peaks of the Cadini Group jut high in the Sesto Dolomites near Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, Europe. In the Cadini di Misurina, Cima Grande rises to 2999 meters (9839 feet), between Cima Piccola and Cima Ovest. Photo by Tom Dempsey

In Tre Cime Natural Park, there are several mountain huts (hütte,rifugio) to sleep in, or just stop by for some delicious South Tyrolean food. Because this region is both German- and Italian-speaking, it’s called Parco Naturale Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Italian) and Naturpark Drei Zinnen (German). You’ll want to brush up on your Italian and German salutations before you start your hike.

Tre Cime is not just a stunning piece of natural beauty it’s also full of fascinating history. During World War I the Dolomites saw fierce fighting. The year 1915 had AustroHungarian forces taking up strategic positions in the Dolomites to protect themselves from the advancing Italian army. Italians referred to the battles in the Dolomites as il fronte vertical. Soldiers were fighting not only the enemy, but the elements as well: 60,000 World War I soldiers are thought to have died in avalanches in this relatively small mountain range. Temperatures plunged to 40 degrees below freezing for days on end as troops huddled in the mountainside huts and tunnels. As you hike around these majestic peaks you try to imagine fighting a war in such a place, and it really changes your perspective for a moment.

Then after a nice long day of strenuous hiking you have an excuse for high-level indulgence. Most of those who live in the South Tyrol region of Italy speak German as their main language, and Austria is just over the mountainous border. The food combines the best of both the Italian flair and the Teutonic emphasis on freshness and wholesomeness. The local wine is a delight. On arrival after a long hike you can enjoy local salads and herbs, mountain honey and fruits, cheeses and locally foraged mushrooms rolled into ravioli or served with tagliatelli. Beautiful, dramatic views, some rich fascinating history and delicious cuisine.

What more could you want from a hiking holiday?

Sophie Nolan

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