Guide to hiking to Lago Limedes and Cinque Torri in the Italian Dolomites

This great half-day circuit hike near Cortina D’Ampezzo kills two birds with one stone. It visits a beautiful alpine lake and explores the trenches around the famous Cinque Torri rock formation.

9 things to know about the Lago Limedes – Cinque Torri circuit hike

I know the area around Passo Falzarego like the back of my hand. I have hiked here plenty of times and ticked off almost every single trail you can find on the map. Some of them, like the Lago Limedes – Cinque Torri circuit, I hiked multiple times.

1. About Cinque Torri

Cinque Torri in direct translation from Italian means Five Towers. It’s a unique rock formation in the Dolomiti Ampezzane group. The towers lie southwest of Cortina D’Ampezzo and close to the Falzarego mountain pass.

This is a great hike if you would like to learn about the history of the battles that were fought here between Austro-Hungarian and Italian troops during World War I.

The whole area around Passo Falzarego was a battleground. Many trenches, tunnels, and dugouts remain, including the famous Lagazuoi Tunnels.

2. Lago Limedes and Cinque Torri hike: The stats

Lago Limedes Cinque Torri Circuit Hike 5
  • Distance: 9.7 km / 6 mi
  • Elevation gain: 600 m / 1950 ft
  • Walking time: 4-5 h
  • Type of hike: circuit
  • Hiking difficulty: moderate
  • When to go: June – October
  • Map: Tabacco 03 (Dolomiti Ampezzane)
  • Nearest town: Cortina D’Ampezzo

3. The map of the Lago Limedes – Cinque Torri Circuit Hike

Above you can view the map of the hike with marked trails, parking, and mountain huts. Click on the arrow in the top left corner to see the map’s legend. Bear in mind this map is for reference only and should not be used for navigation.

4. The best time of year to hike the Lago Limedes – Cinque Torri Circuit trail

Lago Limedes 1 2

The trail is accessible between June and October. If you want to photograph the reflections in Lake Limedes you should go no later than August/beginning of September. Any time after that the lake dries out.

If you love autumn colors consider going in the second half of October, that’s the peak foliage time. The whole valley below is filled with larch trees, which turn bright orange during Fall.

5. Where to have lunch along the Lago Limedes – Cinque Torri Circuit trail

Lago Limedes Cinque Torri Circuit Hike 14

The great thing about hiking in the Dolomites is that you never have to worry about bringing food with you. There are always huts along the way where you can have your lunch. The Cinque Torri – Lago Limedes hike is no exception.

There are two mountain huts directly en route where you can stop for a meal: Rifugio Averau and Rifugio Scoiatolli. Both huts also offer overnight stays. I had the pleasure of staying at Rifugio Averau before, as it lies directly on the Alta Via 1 traverse, which I backpacked a few years back.

Read more: Everything you need to know before staying in a mountain hut in the Italian Dolomites

6. Getting to the trailhead

By car

It takes approximately 20 minutes to drive to the trailhead from Cortina D’Ampezzo – the nearest town. You can park your car free of charge in the parking lot directly opposite the restaurant ‘Da Strobel’.

By bus

Dolomiti Bus line no. 30 operates between Cortina D’Ampezzo and Passo Falzarego at regular intervals. You can check the schedule on Google Maps or the Mooveit app.

7. Lago Limedes – Cinque Torri Circuit trail description

Stage 1: Rifugio Col Gallina to Lago Limedes (30 mins)

The trailhead lies close to Rifugio Col Gallina. There’s ample parking close to the refuge right along the road. On the opposite side, you can find a small restaurant called “Da Strobel”.

For the first part of the hike follow signs for Lago Limedes and Rifugio Averau along path no. 419 then 441. The trail climbs steadily through the larch forest. You should reach the lake in approximately 20-30 minutes.

Stage 2: Lago Limedes to Rifugio Averau (90 mins)

After spending some time at the lake continue on trail no. 441 on the other side, follow signs for Rifugio Averau. The trail now leads above the treeline and climbs up to Forcella Averau (Forcella means saddle) then flattens and circles around Monte Averau to the Averau hut.

Make sure to glimpse back now and again. You will have expansive views behind you with the distinct triangular Sass Di Stria, the dome-shaped Monte Lagazuoi, and the rose-shaped Tofane Di Rozes.

TIP: Download the Peak Finder app to be able to check the names of the peaks surrounding you.

Once you reach Rifugio Averau you will be able to get the first glimpse of Cinque Torri.

Stage 3: Rifugio Averau to Cinque Torri (30 mins)

From Averau hut the trail drops towards the second refuge – rifugio Scoiatolli. Once you’re at the hut you’ll see numerous paths leaving in all directions toward Cinque Torri. Pick one and start exploring.

There’s a multitude of main pathways and scattered desire lines that lead all around Cinque Torri, right up to their faces, and around the eastern side of these 5 great monoliths. Climbers can often be seen at their summits or clinging precariously to their walls.

You can easily spend an hour exploring and then another hour taking in the views whilst lounging on one of the many deck chairs that belong to Rifugio Scoiatolli.

Stage 4: Cinque Torri to Rifugio Col Gallina (90 mins)

It’s time to get back to the trailhead. From rifugio Scoiatalli take path no. 440 back to where you started. The trail leads mostly through a thick larch forest. Thankfully, the views of the mountains on the other side of the valley will stay with you until the end.

Once you drop down to the road follow trail no. 424 for another 500 meters back to the car park. The trail runs parallel to a small stream.

8. Possible hike extensions

1. Via Ferrata Averau (+ 2 hours)

Via ferrata Averau 1

If like me, you’re a keen adventurer looking for a challenge you can combine this hike with a scramble to the summit of Mount Averau. The trail to the summit starts near the Averau hut.

TIP: To be able to do this extension, you will need to bring via ferrata equipment along and plan accordingly. 

2. Rifugio Nuvolau (+ 90 mins)

Rifugio Nuvolau 1

Once you reach Averau hut, you can do a short detour and keep going up along path no 438. to Rifugio Nuvolau. In my opinion, this is one of the most photogenic mountain huts in the Dolomites, and the views from its deck are unreal! This will add another 170m of elevation gain from Rifugio Averau.

9. Alternative ways to get to Cinque Torri

1. The quickest way: Cinque Torri chairlift

If you are feeling under the weather, but still want to explore the area around Cinque Torri, you can simply take the chairlift that runs directly to Rifugio Scoiatolli. Park your car at the bottom of the chairlift and get a roundtrip ticket.

2. The shortest way: Hike from Rifugio Cinque Torri

The Cinque Torri hut was built right at the foot of the Five Towers and only 100 vertical meters below them. You can reach the towers within 30 minutes of leaving the hut.

Whilst it’s possible to drive to Cinque Torri hut, there are restrictions placed on the access road. During the summer and autumn season when the hut is open, you will need a reservation for an overnight stay to be able to drive on this road.

Where to stay in Cortina D’Ampezzo?

Other hikes and via ferratas around Cortina D’Ampezzo

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Marta
Marta

Hi! I am the photographer and creator of www.inafarawayland.com. I come from Poland, but I've been living, travelling and working around the globe since I turned 18. A few years ago, during one of my trips to Scotland, I bought my first DSLR and my adventure with photography began. When I am not stuck to my computer editing photos, you can find me hiking somewhere in the mountains.

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