Tre Cime Nature Park is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the Italian Dolomites and for a good reason. Its famous Three Peaks, where the park takes its name are one of the most recognizable features of these mountains.
I spent a considerable amount of time adventuring in the Tre Cime Nature Park and the Croda Fiscalina circuit hike has become one of my favorite Dolomiti day hikes.
Croda Fiscalina circuit hike: the stats
- Distance: 19.2 km / 11.9 mi
- Walking time: 7 h
- Type of hike: circuit
- Elevation gain: 1180 m / 3870 ft
- Elevation loss: 1208 m / 3963 ft
- Parking: Parkplatz Fischleinbodenhütte
9 things to know about the Croda Fiscalina circuit hike in the Dolomites
Most tourists hitting the trails in the Tre Cime Nature Park focus on the famous loop of the Three Peaks, a beginner day hike starting and ending at Rifugio Auronzo at the south entrance of the Park.
Croda Fiscalina circuit offers an alternative and a lot quieter approach to the Three Peaks and in my opinion even more scenic!
1. The map of the Croda Fiscalina Circuit
Above you can see the exact map of the trail I followed. The route goes clockwise starting at Hotel Dolomitenhof. I measured the distance, elevation gain, and pace using my Garmin Fenix watch.
2. Where is the hike?
The Croda Fiscalina Circuit is located in the north part of what’s known as the Dolomiti di Sesto (Sextener Dolomiten). The whole area is covered in the Tabacco Map No. 10 and if you plan on spending some time in the park, I highly recommend purchasing this map.
Sesto is a small town in the South Tyrol region of Northern Italy, known for its great access to summer and winter sports with countless numbers of trails and ski slopes to choose from.
3. Where to stay nearby
As mentioned previously, the closest towns are Sesto and San Candido, both of which have plenty of accommodation options and public transport connections, should you be heading that way without a car. Below you can find a few of my personal recommendations.
If you would like to support my site please use the affiliate links to the hotels (even if you don’t book the ones I recommend). It won’t cost you anything and it helps me create more awesome travel content!
Sesto also made it onto the list of my favorite Dolomiti towns. If you are planning a holiday here you should definitely check it out.
4. When to hike the Croda Fiscalina circuit?
I talk about this tirelessly on my website. If you plan on hiking the Croda Fiscalina circuit or any other trails in the Italian Dolomites, do not come here earlier than the 3rd week of June and later than October (season and area depending).
This is the official hiking window in the Dolomites when the trails are mostly clear of snow and safe to pass and the huts are open to cater to hikers.
I have done this hike 3 times and my favorite time to go is the second half of October when the larch-filled Val Fiscalina is painted with yellows and oranges. This makes the Croda Fiscalina circuit one of the best autumn day hikes in the Dolomites.
You can find more info about the weather patterns in the Dolomites in the FAQ section of my Italian Dolomites Guide.
5. What to bring with you – my hiking essentials
Black Diamond trekking poles
At only 150 grams per pole these light, yet incredibly durable and sturdy carbon hiking poles from Black Diamond are my constant companion on trails.
Osprey Kyte 36 l Backpack
Great for day hikes and big enough for overnight hut excursions. Osprey backpacks have been with me from the humble beginnings of this website and Osprey Kyte is my go-to backpack on 95% of my outings.
Hydrapack 3 liter water bladder
Staying hydrated during hikes is very important! I always hike with the Hydrapack water bladder in my backpack for easy access to water and I taught my dog Jasper to drink from it too.
Icebreaker merino wool socks
An absolute must-have on a hiking holiday. The Icebreaker Merino Wool socks are breathable and comfy, but most importantly don’t pick up the smell even after a few days of wearing
6. How to get to the Croda Fiscalina trailhead
The start of the Croda Fiscalina circuit trail is right next to Hotel Dolomitenhof built at the entrance to the valley. If you have the budget I do recommend staying here before or after the hike!
There is a paid parking lot next to the hotel where you can park your car safely for the duration of the hike. Make sure to bring cash. At the time of writing this article, the fee was 8 Euro/day.
By public bus
If you are using public transport, then bus no. 446 runs from Sesto and will drop you off at the Fischleintalboden bus stop. Fishleintal is the German name for Val Fiscalina.
During the summer months, the bus normally operates every 30 minutes and the journey takes 11 minutes. For schedule and directions check the public transport option on google maps.
7. The 5 stages of the Croda Fiscalina Circuit
The loop described in this post will take you clockwise around Croda Fiscalina. You will cross 4 different mountain huts, so no need to pack a lunch either. Unless you are hiking outside of the season, you can go ultralightweight on this trail!
Thanks to signs and path markings Croda Fiscalina circuit is super easy to follow and if you know where you are heading, getting lost is nearly impossible!
I recommend studying the map beforehand and making a mental note of the hut names along this trail. The signs along the paths and forks usually point in the direction of the huts.
They will come as follow: Talschlüßhuette, Zsigmondy Comici, Pian di Cengia, and Locatelli and I have marked them all on the map.
Below I enlisted path numbers as well as times you will be spending on the individual sections of this hike (breaks are not included).
Stage 1: Hotel Dolomitenhof to the fork at the foot of Cima Una (30 mins) – path no. 102
This is the easy part of the Croda Fiscalina circuit. The first half an hour entails walking on a wide path through the valley with the first glimpse of the dramatic Cima Una and Croda Dei Toni straight ahead.
You will also walk by the first refuge along this circuit: the Talschlüsshütte. If you didn’t have breakfast yet, consider stopping here for a quick bite or delicious Italian coffee.
Stage 2: From the fork to rifugio Zsigmondy Comici (2h) – path no. 103
Once you reach the fork the path climbs steadily all the way to Rifugio Zsigmondy Comici. It can get steep at times and there are a few stairs installed on the toughest sections, but nothing a seasoned hiker can’t face.
Make sure to stop at the hut for a coffee and cake or cold beer. Its terrace views are hard to beat!
Stage 3: Rifugio Zsigmondy Comici to rifugio Pian di Cengia (1 h) – path no. 101
After the Comici hut, the landscape becomes barren, very typical for the Dolomites. The path continues climbing steadily in zig zags.
Another 300 meters of elevation is gained between the Comici and Pian di Cengia huts. Don’t miss the extension opportunity to go up to Mitti di Mezzo from Rifugio Pian di Cengia and photograph the best vantage point of Croda Dei Toni.
Stage 4: Rifugio Pian Di Cengia to Rifugio Locatelli (1 h) – path no. 101
From Rifugio Pian di Cengia it’s a short hike up to Forcella Pian Di Ciengia before you start your descent to Alpe De Piani. It’s somewhat of a plateau with 3 lakes (Laghi Dei Piani).
Sassovecchio Valley will start to appear on your right-hand side. This is will be the last stage of the hike. You will end up dropping to around 2330 meters before climbing again to 2400, the elevation Locatelli hut was built on.
Stage 5: From rifugio Locatelli back to hotel Dolomitenhof (2 h) – path no. 102
You will probably be shocked and surprised by the number of people at the Locatelli hut. Most of them come from the other side when hiking along the Tre Cime circuit.
The last stage of the hike takes you down a path no. 102 away from the refuge and into the Sassovecchio Valley. At first, it is a gentle descent but after circa 15 minutes it becomes sharp before leveling again once you reach the Fiscalina valley again.
Once again you will pass the Talschlüsshutte. During the last 20 minutes of the hike follow the same path which you started on in the morning.
8. Croda Fiscalina circuit route extensions
There is no shortage of adventure possibilities in the Tre Cime Nature Park and apart from the short extension to Mitti di Mezzo which I have mentioned above, there are two via ferratas I highly recommend doing in addition to the hike. Both of them start near Rifugio Locatelli:
Via Ferrata Torre Di Toblin
This 2-hour loop gives you an exhilarating glimpse into the history of World War I and the battles fought in these mountains between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops.
In addition, the views of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo from the summit of Torre di Toblin are worth the climb along ladders attached to vertical walls.
Via Ferrata De Luca (Innerkofler)
The World War I tunnels and the summit of the dramatic-looking Monte Paterno. This beginner-level Via Ferrata is a great alternative option to the previous Ferrata, especially If you are scared of the vertical walls.
Bear in mind that to tackle via ferratas you will need to have special equipment. For more info check out my beginner’s guide to via ferrata climbing in the Italian Dolomites.
9. The huts along the Croda Fiscalina circuit
Even though the Croda Fiscalina circuit can be tackled in a day, there is no need to rush! If you would like to complete any of the extensions, I highly recommend booking a night in one of the huts along this trail.
For more information on the ins and outs of staying in a mountain hut in the Italian Dolomites go to my other article.
Rifugio Fondovalle (Talschlüsshütte)
Located only 30 minutes from the trailhead rifugio Fondovalle is the most luxurious hut out of the 4 rifugios located along the Croda Fiscalina circuit.
If you are looking for a great night’s stay after completing the hike, you can’t go wrong here. Prices start at 28 Euro/night or 65 if you would like to go with the half-board option.
Rifugio Zsigmondy Comici
Located right at the foot of Croda Dei Toni, rifugio Zsigmondy Comici is a great base for tackling a few via ferratas in the close vicinity of the hut.
It’s the second refuge along the Croda Fiscalina Circuit.
Rifugio Pian Di Cengia (Büllelejochhütte)
If you prefer a more homely atmosphere and fewer crowds go for the stay at the tiny rifugio Pian di Cengia. It’s the second hut along the Croda Fiscalina circuit.
It’s one of my personal favorite huts in the Dolomites, thanks to the views surrounding it. The price for a half-board is 72 Euros per person per night.
Website: Rifugio Pian Di Cengia
Rifugio Locatelli (Dreizinnehütte)
To be close to all the action rifugio Locatelli is the place to be, but because of its fame, this is the toughest rifugio to get reservations at.
The hut lies along Alta Via 4 backpacking route, which has been gaining a lot of popularity in recent years.
The price per night is 60 Euros for Alpine Club members or 72 for non-members.
Website: Rifugio Locatelli
Other hikes and activities to experience nearby
Resources to plan a trip to the Dolomites
- Photography spots in the Italian Dolomites
- Via ferratas in the Italian Dolomites
- Day hikes in the Italian Dolomites
- Hut-to-hut treks in the Italian Dolomites
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