Wake up early, have a hearty breakfast at the Dolomiti Des Alpes hotel and at 8 we are in the car for the excursion par excellence of the Dolomites; the adventure that has made anyone fall in love with these splendid peaks, the trek that more than others manages to bring many people closer to the mountain: the classic tour of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo!
First of all, it is important to know that in the high season it is mandatory to take the Misurina road towards the Tre Cime at 7-7:30 at the latest. This is to avoid standing in line for more than half an hour at the toll booth or, worse, being rejected because the maximum number of accesses has been reached. Today we queued for about 30 minutes and it's June 20th, and the Auronzo refuge has only been open since that day! The toll costs €30 per car, but there are numerous buses that organize relay races for tourists at a discounted price. However, waiting in the car is not monotonous since you can enjoy the pretty lake of Antorno in which the Three Peaks are reflected and the wood in which it is possible to glimpse the cows grazing in the nearby Malga Rinbianco.
After the toll booth, the road winds its way through steep hairpin bends which soon allow you to reach the large car park at the base of the peaks. The arrival is a bit disorienting because it seems to be at the shopping center (sigh!)… we leave the car, lace up our boots, backpack on our shoulders and head towards the Auronzo refuge. Useful for a break and to recover some snacks if you don't have one, I don't recommend dwelling too much here. Next to the refuge you have the first spectacular view of the Cristallo and the fantastic Cadini di Misurina. The main street is clearly distinguishable from the procession which forms a snake style from the early morning. It is the CAI 101 path and it is practically flat, very pleasant to walk even if you have a stroller.
Just 15 minutes from the start you reach the pretty Cappella degli Alpini and from here you can see the next objective: the Lavaredo refuge. Another 15 minutes and you can take a refreshing break at the refuge: Lavaredo is recommended for excellent sandwiches or fantastic slices of cake! Even just this short stretch of excursion pays off the ticket price: the Tre Cime looming on the edge of the path, on the other side the infinite space towards the Croda dei Toni, the Cadini, Auronzo and the Marmarole.
Now continue with the road that increases the slope without ever being excessive. Going up you find yourself at a crossroads with the CAI 104 track which allows you to make the "extended" tour reaching the Pian di Ledge. Instead we continue on the 101 reaching the Lavaredo fork in less than 20 minutes. We are next to the legendary Tre Cime from a perspective that makes them look like a single spire. In front of us also an accumulation of abnormal snow for the season that exceeds 2 meters in height! The icy wind blows on this saddle but it is mandatory to stop and admire the panorama to the north: the Rautkofel (mount Rudo), the Croda dei Rondoi, the Torre dei Scarperi, the Torre di Toblin, the Punta dei Tre Scarperi up to the legendary Paterno!
Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Misurina, Veneto, Italy
Rifugio Auronzo, Rifugio Lavaredo, Rifugio Locatelli
The loop continues along the wide road that descends to the right and continues straight along the foot of Croda Passaporto and Monte Paterno. In the distance you can see the next stop: the Locatelli refuge with its characteristic red roof. The downhill route is relaxing, today there is also a curtain of snow which refreshes us to the right of the path. Innumerable traces are visible in the neighboring scree and those who have attentive eyes can see the tunnels of the Great War dug into the Paterno rocks. The road between the fork and the Locatelli is short but it will take you at least 30 minutes to cover it as you will be forced to turn around continuously to see them: the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in all their splendour. By following the ring counterclockwise, as described here, you will have the opportunity to see the Three Peaks in "postcard" mode already in the morning, with a greater probability of seeing them clear of clouds.
At the end of the descent, note a short uphill stretch with stone steps and a very pretty wooden bridge that anticipate the stony plain of the Locatelli refuge. I advise you not to linger immediately at the refuge but to climb over and admire the splendid panorama of Alpe dei Piani with the beautiful alpine lakes, the view towards Forcella Pian di Cengia on one side and the Tre Scarperi group on the other.
A quick break with half a sandwich and a rapid ascent on the first meters of the Toblin Tower to have a splendid view of the legendary Tre Cime with the Locatelli refuge and the characteristic little church around it. We go down in a south-westerly direction and at the first crossroads, which rejoins the road we came from, we choose the CAI 105 path. We thus pass flowery meadows of fuchsia heather and rocky crags. Protagonists, always central to our view, are the splendid Three Sisters. After an initial flat stretch, the path descends decisively with large zig-zag steps formed by large woods. In half an hour you arrive at Pian da Rin where the Three Peaks hide and the most demanding climb of the entire excursion begins. A stretch of a hundred meters in altitude, in the sun, and on a stony stretch with a firm and regular slope. The climb can be clearly seen from Pian da Rin and a break is recommended before embarking on this passage.
The sight of mountain pines heralds the end of the hard work. Even the true panorama of the Rautkofel offers a double satisfaction at the end of this little effort. We proceed like this now in the midst of rocks alternating with pines. A few lonely trees peep out, while the protagonists of the adventure are visible again. This stretch turns out to be the longest and "monotonous", if we want to call it that, due to a continuous up and down.
After about an hour from Pian da Rin, you reach the Capanna dei Pastori. Here there are also some streams of fresh water. Not far away, in fact, there is a source of water that generates small turquoise lakes where the Three Peaks are reflected. Leaving the hut you will soon reach Col Forcellina and arrive at the gravelly ridge which heralds the halfway point of the peaks, which in fact are beginning to have a lesser-known perspective. The last stretch towards the Col de Medo fork is a narrower path than those previously described, totally stony and slightly uphill. In the distance you can see the fences that identify the place of the fork. The view from this part of the road is the particular gorge that descends vertically towards the junction of the Val della Rienza with the Val Rinbon.
From the fork we return to see a familiar panorama: the Cristallo, with the adjoining Val Popéna, the lake of Misurina, the Sorapiss and the splendid Cadini. They welcome us again in the last stretch of slight slope that leads to the parking lot. Worthy of note, in this section of the path, is a lawn decorated with splendid stone "little men"!
In short we return to the car and in about 4 and a half hours we complete the circular tour, including breaks. Thus concludes the classic tour of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo: an excursion full of nature, breathtaking views with the best that the Dolomites can offer. For enthusiasts, the ring can be well seasoned with history and anecdotes about the First World War from Monte Paterno, to the Cima Grande delle Tre Cime, passing through the Forcella Lavaredo up to the opposite Monte Rudo. An adventure to be shared certainly with the children who will not be bored in front of such beauty.
Tourist - Itinerary on narrow streets, mule tracks or wide paths. The routes are generally not long, do not present any orientation problems and do not require specific training if not the typical one of the walk.