The hiking trail to the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint has seen an enormous rise in popularity over the past years. A few years ago this used to be a hidden gem in the Dolomites but now it’s one of the most visited places in the Italian Alps.
And honestly, it’s not hard to see why. So far I have done this hiking trail in the Dolomites twice, both under very different circumstances. Once in the heart of Summer season and once when there was half a meter snow on the ground.
The most famous viewpoint is from a small pinnacle that sticks out over a ravine. In this post I will tell you exactly how to safely get there and what you need to take the most impressive photos.
Oh and while I am at it I’ll also show you a different angle of Cadini di Misurina! One where you don’t have to do a rather sketchy hike and way easier to reach!
- Epic Cadini Di Misurina Hike In The Dolomites
- Planning your trip to the Dolomites
- Cadini di Misurina Hike Details
- How to reach rifugio Auronzo
- My Experience on the Cadini di Misurina Hiking Trail
- Where to stay near the Cadini di Misurina Hiking trail
- Essential tips for hiking in the Dolomites
Epic Cadini Di Misurina Hike In The Dolomites
Cadini di Misurina is a mountain range in the provinces of Belluno and Veneto in the Italian Alps and its highest peak is the Cima Cadin di San Lucano at a staggering 2839m.
It overlooks Lake Misurina, one of the largest alpine lakes in the Dolomites. It is said that the air quality around this lake is that good that it’s the ideal place to stay for people with respiratory problems.
The Cadini di Misurina is located between Cortina d’Ampezzo, Auronzo di Cadore and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. and they are part of the Sesto group, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009!
What makes it one of the most beautiful places in the Dolomites is the incredible variety of towers, pinnacles and spiers which contribute to its rigid look and feel. Honestly, every time I visit this place I feel like Frodo bringing back the ring to Mordor.
Planning your trip to the Dolomites
Cadini di Misurina Hike Details
Starting Point – Rifugio Auronzo
End Point – Rifugio Auronzo
Hiking Trail – Trail nr. 117 which leads to Rifugio Col de Varda
Distance – While the hike to Rifugio Col de Varda is about 9km one way you’ll reach the viewpoint way earlier actually. After only 2km you’ve arrived which makes the total hike distance a small 4km
Duration – The entire loop, including taking tons of photos will be 1,5 to 2 hours.
Elevation – The total incline is around 112 meter
Difficulty – Moderate due to the slippery gravel road at times which requires a lot of sure footedness. If you have a fear of heights I do not recommend you to walk up to the viewpoint. There’s a sheer drop on both ends of the pinnacle and vertigo might get the best of you while walking up along the ridge line. There is however another viewpoint that you can easily reach and where you won’t face this problem!
Best time to visit – end June to early October makes for the best weather in the Dolomites. Due to the state of the hiking trail at some parts I do not advise you to attempt to reach the pinnacle on a rainy day. You never know if any of those rocks got loose due to heavy rainfall and if you slip you could fall into the ravine. Another big no is walking up to the pinnacle when the hiking trail is covered in snow… I saw some people doing this back in October and it honestly looked so sketchy! Due to the snow you can’t see the actual ridge of the trail so you don’t even know where you would be stepping. The second view point I’ll discuss with you is safe to reach under any circumstances!
How to reach rifugio Auronzo
The rifugio Auronzo is located at a height of 2320m and not just the main starting point for the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hiking Trail but also for our hike to the Cadini di Misurina!
During the Summer months the rifugio can host up to 104 people to spend the night but after the high season is over the rifugio remains closed.
TIP – If you want to spend the night at rifugio Auronzo make sure to book ahead of time cause space fills up really fast!
The easiest way to reach rifugio Auronzo is to drive up one of the most scenic roads in the Dolomites.
Simply follow the SS49 that leads you straight through the Tre Cime National Park and heads to Missurina. From here you follow the sign that says rifugio Auronzo.
The last part is a private road and to go up you have to pay €30 (for cars). The opening hours for the toll booth are from 7AM – 7PM. As far as I know they only accept cash so make sure you have enough with you for that day!
Prices for Motorbikes is €20 and for large cars and camper vans it’s €45. And yes, for an additional fee of €15, you’re allowed to spend the night with your camper van at the parking lot of rifugio Auronzo!
TIP – If you want to avoid the toll road fee you can also park you car at Lago D’Antorno and hike up to rifugio Auronzo from here! It’s a short but steep hike that has an elevation gain of 500m and will take you about 1,5 hours.
During the Summer months you can also take one of the shuttle busses from Dobbiaco, Missurina or Cortina to rifugio Auronzo to start hiking the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit.
The shuttle bus there and back costs €15 but is also included if you hold a Südtirol pass. If you’re staying in the area around the Tre Cime National Park make sure to ask the reception about this Südtirol Pass cause often it’s included in your room fee!
My Experience on the Cadini di Misurina Hiking Trail
View Point 1
I hiked to the most famous Cadini di Misurina viewpoint at the start of July on a sunny day. I tried to time it so that I would be at rifugio Auronzo 2 hours before sunset. By that time most of the people that come here to hike the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop had already left and the parking lot was nearly empty!
Instead of walking towards rifugio Auronzo I walked away towards the 117 trail. The best way to see the start of it is to stand with your back to rifugio Auronzo on the parking lot and look for a trail on the small hill in front of you.
In the photo above you can actually see everything: on the left you have rifugio Auronzo, to its right is the start of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop and in front of it you trail n°117.
TIP – You’ll see the sharp pinnacles from Cadini di Misurina as soon as you’ve parked your car. Simply follow the hiking trail in the direction of these rigid mountain peaks and you’re all set!
The trail itself is marked with red-white marks on the stones and will make you go up and down a few small hills.
After a while you’ll be able to go down to a small hiking trail along the ridge line. This is the part where it would get tricky for people with a fear of heights!
You’ll be able to see the pinnacle in the distance and all you have to do now is follow the ridge line towards it.
WARNING – Do not hike on this ridge line during/after heavy rainfall or when its covered in snow. A rockslide could easily happen or you wouldn’t even see where you’re going. It’s a really cool place to visit but please don’t risk your life for a photo!
TIP – To get the effect of the mountains rising up behind the pinnacle on your photos you’ll need to have a proper zoom lens with you and the photographer needs to be standing along the ridge line.
Photography gear I used to take my photos
Ever since I stared my photography journey I stayed loyal to the same camera namely the Canon 6D MarkII. It’s my loyal companion on every trip and allows me to also take beautiful self portraits.
My standard zoom lens the Canon 24-70mm. If you’re just starting out and you want to invest in a high quality lens that can manage a lot of diversity then this lens is perfect for you!
A professional zoom lens such as the Canon 70-200mm to create a beautiful depth of field and focus more on details in the landscape.
This one doesn’t require you to hook along the ridge line and is a much safer option if the weather conditions aren’t the best or if you’re scared of heights!
You start the hiking trail the same way and keep following the red-white marks on the rocks. But instead of climbing down to the ridgeline you keep on walking towards the middle of the Cadini di Misurina mountain range on top of the hill.
After a while you’ll be in the middle of it and you’ll be on a way bigger platform than that pinnacle :).
While we were taking photos here we could actually see the other viewpoint from where we were sitting and to tell you the truth I felt a lot safer sitting up there :p.
Where to stay near the Cadini di Misurina Hiking trail
- Residence Nordik – Residence Nordik features mountain views, free WiFi and free private parking.
- Villa Grüne Laterne – Situated 3.2 km from Orto del Toro, Villa Grüne Laterne offers a restaurant, ski-to-door access and accommodation with a balcony and free WiFi
Essential tips for hiking in the Dolomites
- Wear sturdy hiking shoes, preferably mountain trail shoes. A lot of the trails can be rocky and uneven and you don’t want to loose your balance.
- Pack for 4 seasons: even in the Summer months it can be very cold if you start hiking in the early morning. Make sure you’re wearing layers so you can easily take something on or put on an extra layer if you’re taking a break.
- If you want to sleep in one of the rifugio’s during high season you need to book well in advance.
- Make sure to arrive early at the most popular hiking trails to ensure you have the best experience.
- Bring polarised sunglasses with you if you plan on hiking in the snow. Otherwise you risk of becoming snow blind.
- Bring a small first aid kit with you. You can always hurt yourself during a hike and it’s important that you’re able to disinfect wounds as fast as possible.
- Almost all of the hiking trails are well marked but make sure to plan your route on maps.me as well.
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