Once you’ve had a taste for Alpine crossings, you can’t get enough. Riding hut to hut with minimal luggage is probably the most original and adventurous way to experience the Alps by bike. The feeling of being on the road for several days with just your bike and your rucksack, feeling close to nature, and sharing the relaxed atmosphere with like-minded people, is terrific. You experience adventures during the day whilst in the evening, you can share stories, enjoy the lively hut atmosphere and tuck into delicious regional delicacies.
Longing for the Dolomites
An alpine crossing does not always have to go in the direction of north-south. If you already have some experience with transalpine Tours, you can pick out the regions that impressed you the most. The Dolomites in the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park are one of these regions in the Alps that give you a sense of longing. When I'm there, I feel torn inside – should I bike or hike? So why not combine the two?
Bike & hike
Hike-a-bike is classically understood as a mountain bike Tour where you casually fling your bike over your shoulder and haul it to the summit. You can do that to a certain extent on this Tour too, but the downhills require advanced biking skills. Harald Phillipp, a pro rider, can show you how impressive these can be.
However, this Collection should be understood as an alpine MTB multi-day hut to hut Tour which includes easy summit ascents on foot (without your bike) that are relatively easy in comparison. If you are considering taking your bike to the summit, you will find information about the respective approaches in the comments for each stage.
This Collection is aimed at experienced mountain bikers who like to put on their trail running or hiking shoes. The bike routes are designed in such a way that you have the opportunity to climb a peak either in the morning or in the evening without having to push yourself to your physical limit. My clear recommendation – get up early and use the early hours for the ascent. The feeling of watching the sunrise and set over the pale mountain peaks of the Dolomites is sublime. The impressive play of colours reflected by the craggy giants is nowhere more impressive than at the summit cross of a mountain. Upon returning to your hut, you’ll be served a leisurely breakfast. It's best to discuss your sunrise plans with the hut host the night before and ask for options for a late breakfast or a snack pack in case it takes longer.
Of course, you can also divide this multi-day Tour so you have a day to bike and a day to hike, staying at each hut for two nights. This Collection leaves you plenty of room for flexible planning.
On the last day on Kronplatz peak, you can choose between a challenging enduro descent or a seemingly endless trail that brings you back to the starting point of the Tour. There’s no suggested summit Tour this morning as you’re practically already at the summit. Just a few minutes from the hut, you can find the best spots to watch the final sunrise of your circular route – either at the Skyscraper, a huge swing on the summit plateau, or from the Peace Bell.
On the recommended Tours, you mainly follow unpaved roads and side roads with little traffic. The single tracks require you to have a solid mountain bike riding technique. Some of the climbs can be very steep. This is the rule rather than the exception in the Dolomites. On some sections, you will probably have to push your bike. The summit Tours require surefootedness and a head for heights. Experience in rocky alpine terrain is an advantage.
The best time to take on this adventure is in summer when the terrain is free of snow. Most huts are open between mid-June and mid-September.
The 25,453-hectare Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park is located in South Tyrol between the extensive Pustertal Valley in the north, the Sesto Dolomites in the east, the Badia Valley in the west and the border with Belluno and the Ampezzo Dolomites around Cortina d'Ampezzo in the south. It is part of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region is characterised by the culture and language of the Ladin population. In the nature park, you regularly find yourself in places that are settings for the myths and legends of the Ladins. Many geographical names originate from the Ladin national epic ‘Empire of Fanes’. The most famous highlights of the region are the picturesque Braies Lake, as well as the karstic plateaus and alpine pastures of Prato Piazza, Senna and Fanes, which are enclosed by rugged peaks and rock faces.
From Pustertal to Plätzwiese - the Strudelkopf summit experienceOn the first day you will get from Pustertal to Plätzwiese. The plateau, which is characterized by alpine pastures, is bordered by rock massifs. That is really big landscape cinema. Today's destination is the Dürrensteinhütte. From here you can take a short detour to the Strudelkopf, where you have a wonderful view of the Three Peaks. You can even drive to the cross on an old military road. Alternatively, I recommend you walk the hiking trail through old positions from the 1st World War, which starts directly at the Dürrensteinhütte.From the Olang train station, the route initially takes you relaxed on the Pustertal cycle path towards Toblach until the cycle route branches off towards Schmieden, the largest settlement in the municipality of Braies. To the famous Lake Braies you would have to plan a detour of about 300 meters in altitude and 11 kilometers there and back. The path is well signposted and easy to find if you have the time and motivation. The picturesque mountain lake is definitely recommended! The steep north face of the Seekofel is reflected in the crystal clear water of Lake Braies. You can climb the 2,810 meter high summit on the morning of the third day of the stage from the Seekofelhütte not far away.From Schmieden the route takes you to Brückele and then mostly off the toll road over a gravel path to the rustic Stolla Alm before you reach the wide meadows of the Plätzwiese. At the southeast end of the Hochalm you will find the Dürrensteinhütte, the stage destination, right next to the former Plätzwiese barrage, a relic from the First World War.Recommendation: The Heimkehrerkreuz on the Strudelkopf is only 2.5 kilometers and an altitude difference of 250 meters. You can cover the route by mountain bike on the old military trail that starts right next to the hut. The path is partly badly eroded and steep. The consolation for the sometimes arduous uphill: The same path, on the other hand, will present itself as a very beautiful trail in the downhill. At the Strudelkopf (2,307 m) you have a fantastic view of the Three Peaks, which glow beautifully in the evening light. In the west you can see the highest peak of the Fanes Sennes Braies Nature Park, the Hohe Gaisl (3,146 m) and in the south the steep flanks of the Monte Cristallo massif (3,221 m). Of course, you can also leave your bike at the hut and go on a short circular tour on foot. You can find this as a recommendation in the collection.
The three peaks in the sunsetIf there is still time after the sumptuous dinner at Evi's, then I recommend this tour as a digestive walk in the evening.The sunset at the Strudelkopf is a dream, even if the fireball disappears quite early behind the massive walls of the Hohen Gaisl (3,146 m). The play of colors on the rock faces of the Drei Zinnen to the east and the towers of the Cristallo group, which is well over 3,000 m high in the south, is breathtaking.For the ascent you should take the exciting climb to the right of the hut terrace through the old positions from the 1st World War. This is not feasible for bikes. For the way back, I recommend the old military route to the hut. You can also ride this up and down on a mountain bike.
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Serpentine after serpentine to the best panoramic view of the Braies DolomitesOn the second day you have to get up early. After sneaking out of the hut respectfully and calmly, about two hours of ascent await you.Ascent and descent are identical. From the Dürrensteinhütte you first cross slightly uphill above the Plätzwiese alpine hut in a northerly direction. Attention! Every now and then, Kuhgangeln branch off from the actual path and lose themselves in the meadow. After about one and a half kilometers you will meet the old military trail, which leads towards the summit. From now on you can't get lost anymore. The path is rocky, but never difficult. It leads in numerous serpentines to the summit. A panorama awaits you from the main Alpine ridge and the glaciers of the Zillertal Alps over the striking Dolomite peaks of Hohen Gaisl (3,145m), Tofane (3,245m), Monte Cristallo (3,220m), and the unique Drei Zinnen (2,999m).It is best to get an overview of the route in the evening so that you can find the entrance to the path in the dark in the morning.In the summer months you should generally start as early as possible, as the path is extremely sun-exposed. Water and a small snack must be included. There are no sources or places to stop for refreshments along the way.
I generally advise you not to climb the mountain by bike. Although the Dürrenstein is climbed by bike mountaineers from time to time, the condition of the path is partly badly eroded and blocked.For hiking the Dürrenstein is not a technical challenge, surefootedness and a sense of balance are required.It is best to clarify with the hut landlady Evi in the evening whether you can still get breakfast if you return late or whether a snack package prepared in the evening can be an alternative. Bring a warm / windproof jacket. At the summit it can get cold quickly while waiting for the rising sun.
On old military trails through the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature ParkFrom the Dürrensteinhütte you first get to the old railway line between Toblach and Cortina d’Ampezzo. The descent from the Plätzwiese into the valley to Schluderbach via the old military road is clear and easy to find. As a technically fit biker, you will be amazed by the trail that crosses the road again and again.On the former railway line that once connected Cortina d'Ampezzo to Toblach, you can comfortably drive for about five kilometers to just beyond the border between South Tyrol and Belluno.
A steep ascent leads you to a picturesque lookout point at Forcella de Lerosa and finally over great alpine meadow trails into Val Scuro.You can strengthen yourself for the next long ascent at the great Ra Stua hut. The final ascent to the Seekofelhütte begins here. You will pass two more huts, but until then a steep military road to the Fodara Vedla alpine pasture awaits you, which sometimes causes teeth grinding at an altitude of around 200 meters with an incline of more than 20%. The rest of the afternoon climb is then much more moderate. Welcome to the Dolomites;)As soon as you have reached the plateau of the Sennes Alm, you can hardly get enough of the overwhelming scenery. The hut Fodara Vedla or - maybe even and - the Sennes hut are wonderful refreshment stops and places where you can admire the great panorama.Today's destination is the rustic Seekofelhütte (Rifugio Biella), a typical hut of the Italian Alpine Club (C.A.I.).You can find an alternative overnight accommodation in the Sennes Hut.
Unique view of the Braies LakeThis is vacation. Either you sleep in or you make the most of the day. As a friend of the second interpretation of a perfectly designed active holiday, the alarm clock will of course ring again well before sunrise.The summit experience on the striking Seekofel (2,810 m) is one of the great highlights of the region. Here you have the most exclusive view of Lake Braies, which is located an incredible 1,300 m below the steep wall that slopes to the north.The ascent to the summit is a little more demanding than to the Dürrenstein, but with a little over 400 meters of altitude it is significantly shorter.The path is partially exposed and definitely not feasible by bike. Surefootedness and attention are important. The ground is rocky and grippy. Although the path is well marked, it is sometimes not clearly visible. So pay close attention to the markings on the rock.
In a detour through the fabulous realm of FanesOf course, there are much faster ways to get from the Seekofelhütte to the Fanesalm, as you will see when you first look at the map. The shortest leads over the Pederü hut and should only be used in really bad weather.My suggestion first leads you back to the Sennesalm and on a direct route into Val Scuro, past the Rifugio Ra Stua, towards Cortina d‘Ampezzo. A wonderful morning, because twelve kilometers are only downhill. On the third day you will not be surprised that the upcoming climb is again characteristic of the Dolomites. The easy-to-drive gravel path climbs ten kilometers to the Limojoch, where you can already see the stage destination from above. At about 900 meters above sea level, in addition to the already spectacular sight of the surrounding craggy Dolomite walls, numerous highlights await you: the Fanes waterfalls, the Ücia de Gran Fanes, as the Großfanes hut is called in the local Ladin language and offers itself as a perfect rest after a long climb, as well as the Lago di Limo, in which you can cool off well in hot summer temperatures.The Fanesalm has entered the legends and sagas of the population because of its remoteness and the fascinating landscape. It is one of the main settings in the Ladin national epic. According to the story, the people of the marmots were once banished to the Fanesalm by magic and have been waiting for their liberation ever since. With a high probability you will hear the loud whistle of the fat rodents and if you keep your eyes open you will certainly see.The route is technically not very demanding. The descents lead over partly rough and steep gravel paths. Typically, especially after heavy rainfall, scree and gravel collect in curves and hollows and require appropriate caution.As an overnight stay, I recommend the Lavarella Hut. The refuge looks more like a hotel than a typical alpine hut. There is even a small brewery in the house since 2019. This makes it the highest brewery in Europe.If the Lavarella refuge is fully booked, you will find an equivalent alternative at the Fanes refuge.
Little-used panoramic mountain with the best view of the famous neighborsThe alpine hiking trail climbs directly from the Lavarella hut. In the weak light of the blue hour, the landscape is reflected in the clear water of the idyllic Grünsee, which lies between the huts of the Fanesalm. Above the "Parliament of the Marmots", the well-developed path leads to the Ju de St.Antone, 2,468 meters high. From this pass it is only a few minutes' walk to the summit of the 2,656 meter high Piz de St.Antone. From here you can expect a wonderful view of the Fanes mountains.The way there is identical to the way back.The hiking trail requires good surefootedness and experience in alpine terrain, but it can be done without difficulty for experienced hikers or trail runners.In the evening, please talk to the hut owner about your tour in order to organize a late breakfast or a snack package. Take enough water with you. A snack for the small appetite is also advisable. On the way there is neither drinking water nor places to stop.
Ladin culture and single trailsIf you followed my advice and climbed the Piz de Sant Antone in the morning, you will now be happy about the next good news of today. From the Lavarella hut it goes downhill for 17 kilometers. Not only that - you leave the fabulous Fanes area from the Pederü hut on an endlessly long trail that runs through the light coniferous forests in Val dai Tamersc, following the crystal clear bubbling brook Rü d'Al Plan and surrounded by craggy rock faces to St. Vigil in Enneberg. The trail is interrupted by some gravel passages. Every now and then it can happen that you whiz past the next trail entrance. The course of the easy but fun path, which is used by hikers and bikers in both directions, changes year after year. The reason for this are mudslides and scree. Especially after heavy rainfall you have to be prepared for the fact that the course actually shown on the map deviates or you have to climb over a pile of rubble.In St. Vigil, it is worth taking a detour to the nature park house and the community center. In the Nature Park House you will find out a lot of interesting facts about the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park and the formation of the Dolomites.When you arrive in St. Vigil, you will be happy about more good news. You can grab the opportunity and go up the Piz de Plaies on your own or with the Pedagà lift. From there, the really worthwhile Piz de Plaies Trail winds wonderfully playful and flowing in a dizzying number of curves back to the village. This is also recommended for slightly advanced bikers. However, keep an eye on the clock and your physical condition, because after a lot of fun, there is also a small damper in the afternoon. You can look forward to an ascent of almost 900 meters in altitude up to the stage destination at Plan de Corones. The good news is that the view is getting better and better meter by meter. It is not for nothing that the Kronplatz is considered one of the most beautiful panoramic mountains in the Dolomites. However, the summit destination is still with you today. I recommend you to spend the night at the Graziani Hut. In addition to excellent cuisine and a great rustic ambience, there is a wonderful view over the Dolomite peaks of the Puez-Geisler and Kreuzkofel groups. If you want to experience the sunset or the sunrise at the summit of the Kronplatz, you can walk from here to the summit in just 15 to 20 minutes.
The Freeride Trail Gassl as a flowy alternative to the HerrnsteigSunrise or sleep in? Or first sunrise and then go back to sleep? The paths are relatively short between Kronplatz and Graziani Hut. Why not start cycling to the summit in the morning and then take the Furcia Trail back to the hut? The trail has multiple options to choose between an easy and somewhat more demanding flow trail. In any case, you won't be so quiet at the summit at a later hour.The difference in altitude of only 210 meters up to the 360 ° panorama at Plan de Corones (2,275 m) is manageable short.The development of tourism and the associated building frenzy in the surrounding communities has ensured that the summit plateau unfortunately sticks out of the landscape a bit grotesque. Reinhold Messner has also immortalized himself on the summit with his “Corones” museum, which is dedicated to the topic of “traditional alpinism”. The spectacular building is well worth a detour. You can also identify the surrounding peaks at the peace bell using a circumferential bronze miniature relief and indulge in memories of the last few days.The “Gassl Trail” is the final highlight of the tour. This destroys 1,100 meters down to Olang in the Puster Valley. Designed for less experienced mountain bikers, it is still incredibly fun for professionals!With a big grin on your face and countless impressions of an extremely versatile and full of highlights, you reach the starting point of the round trip and the destination of your final day's stage after only 17 kilometers.