Exploring Tre Cime National Park Along The Croda Fiscalina Circuit Trail

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
Croda Fiscalina Circuit Summer 1
The first stage of the hike through Val Fiscalina between Hotel Dolomitenhof and Talschlüßhütte

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?

Croda Fiscalina Circuit Autumn 9

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.

Budget

Caravan Park Sexten

4. When to hike the Croda Fiscalina circuit?

Croda Fiscalina Circuit Autumn 18

I talk about this tirelessly on my website. If you plan on hiking 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 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

Croda Fiscalina Circuit Autumn 16

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

Croda Fiscalina Circuit Summer 4
Straight on view of Cima Una, the peak which we will be circling around.

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!

By car

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 5 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

Croda Fiscalina Circuit Summer 22
The dramatic view of Croda Dei Toni (Zwölferkoffel)

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, Locatelli and I have marked them all on the map.

Croda Fiscalina Circuit Summer 17
Mitti Di Mezzo summit at sunset

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 4: 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 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

The view of Monte Paterno, where via ferrata De Luca runs, from the summit of Torre di Toblin
The summit view from 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 view of Torre do Toblin and rifugio Locatelli from the summit of Monte Paterno
The view of Torre do Toblin and rifugio Locatelli from the summit of Monte Paterno

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.

Website: Talschlüsshütte

Rifugio Fondovalle 1

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 Zsigmondy 1

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

Croda Fiscalina Circuit Summer 1 3

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

Rifugio Locatelli 1

Other hikes and activities to experience nearby

Resources to plan a trip to the Dolomites

If you have any questions about this or any other hike, via Ferrata, a photography spot in the Italian Dolomites post them in the comments below. I tend to all comments personally and never leave any unanswered!

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.

20 Comments

    • Hi Christian. I have added the map of the trail. I hope this helps! Happy hiking and let me know if you have more questions. I don’t speak french but google translate helps 🙂

  1. Question: Five of us who are active hikers from Canada will be in the Dolomites from June 2-9, 2023. Where is the best to hike in the mountains where the trails will be open for day hikes?

    • Hi Stewart. Thanks for visiting. The start of June is a bit early and you won’t be able to take full advantage of the mountain huts as they usually open in the third week of June, however, with the current extremely mild winter we are experiencing in the Alps (still no snow to almost 2000 meters) I won’t be surprised if all trails will be completely snow-free in May (providing it stays that way). Either way, at the start of June most trails, should be ok with patches of snow here and there. I wouldn’t however recommend the North facing hikes where the snow lingers a lot longer. Some huts in the Rosengarten area open already at the start of June (for example rifugio Alpi Di Tires). As for the hike you are commenting under it might be a hit or miss. The Sassovecchio valley at the end of the hike is quite narrow and doesn’t see much sun, so in there the snow might linger for longer. Since it is a circuit, some parts will be on the South/east facing slopes, others on North and West. You might feel like you are walking through two different season landscapes. Let me know if I can help any further.

  2. Dear Marta,

    Thank you again. I’m sorry if my question was confusing. Since Locatelli doesn’t book until February and is quite popular…
    The question is: would Refugio Lavaredo make sense as an alternative/back up to Locatelli? (We would be Night 1 Pain di Ciengia, night two either Locatelli or Laveredo, Night 3 Rifugio Fonda Savio.)

    • Hi Janine. Yes Lavaredo or even Auronzo are great alternatives. You can still tackle via ferrata Torre Di Toblin once you walk down from Pian di Ciengia to Locatelli, spend the afternoon in the area exploring. You can then reach Lavaredo via the regular route or by doing via ferrata Innerkofler.

      As for Auronzo you can circle around Tre Cime to get there or follow the same route as to Lavaredo. They are only 30 minute walk from one another. If you look at the map you will be less confused by what I am saying. Let me know if I can help further!

  3. Thank you Marta. Your response time is impressive. I pivoted and booked Rifugio Fondovalle for “Night 0”, then Rifugio Pian di Cengia. Since Locatelli doesn’t book until February and is quite popular, would Refugio Lavaredo make sense as an alternative/back up to Locatelli? Then we would go on to Rifugio Fonda Savio. Grateful for your posts and photos.

    • Thanka Janine. This time around I wasn’t so quick, but I normally try to respond within 24 hours 🙂
      As for your change of plans. Do you plan on starting late in the afternoon on the first day? If your plan is to do VF Strada degli Alpini then I recommend to stay the first night in one of the huts on the top of the Croda Rossa cable car. For example rifugio Rudi. However this only makes sense if you plan to start on the first day late afternoon. If you are starting early in the morning then you can easily make it to rifugio Pian di Ciengia along VF Strada Degli Alpini on the first day. I hope that helps!

  4. Dear Marta,
    What a wonderful resource. Thank you. Planning for Alta Via 4, but after reading your posts, I don’t want to miss the Val Fiscalina area/ Via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini. I already booked the Tre Scarperi Refugio for night 0, so I am wondering (for fit/experienced hikers):
    #1 Feasible to hike from Scarperi around to the start of the trail near hotel Dolomitenhof and still make it to Rifugio Pian di Cengia or do you suggest cancelling and booking at Rifugio Fondovalle?
    #2 From Rifugio Pian di Cengia, can we resume by hiking to Locatelli the next morning and experiencing Torre di Toblin, then heading to Rifugio Fonda Savio or should we just add in a night and stay at Locatelli or Auronzo after Rifugio Pian di Cengia?
    #3 or is there another way to add in the Via ferrata Strada Degli Alpini that I’m not considering?
    Many thanks.

    • Hi Janine. Thanks for visiting and your great feedback. Strada Degli Alpini is amazing views wise and there is a great way to incorporate it into your AV4 – start in a different spot. I recommend that you check out my Tre Cime NAtional Park traverse which begins with Val Fiscalina and then gets you to rifugio Locatelli. Do the Tre Cime traverse up to rifugio Fonda Savio, then continue as normal with AV4 (basically you will be connecting the two traverses).
      That way you will get to experience Strada Degli Alpini, VF Torre Di toblin + many others.
      Yes you will have to cancel the first night in Tre Scarperi and spend it either in rifugio Zsigmundy, or Pian di Ciengia. Let me know if that helps and if you have any more questions!

  5. Hi Marta, thanks loads for putting this together, just what I was looking for. Can imagine the effort it went into chronicling all of this!

    I’m planning a trip to the Dolomites to catch the autumn colours next year, but I’m a bit confused. On this page, you indicated the official hiking window is until mid Oct, but on another page where you described the autumn road trip itinerary, you said the best window is oct 20-31. Wouldn’t this be outside the hiking window then? Can all your top recommended hikes in Dolomites still be done in late Oct?

    Otherwise, what would you recommend to be the best dates to go if I want a mix of both autumn colours (I’m ok if it’s not the most peak of the season, as long as the colours are still fairly vibrant) while having accessibility to the top hikes (both day hikes and perhaps 1 overnight hike) in Dolomites?

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi XR, thanks for your lovely comment. Now to answer your question. The official season is when the huts remain open, in some areas of the Dolomites this is until the third week of September, others mid-October and there are even some (like rifugio Palmieri for example) which stay open until the beginning of November.

      However, when you can hike is mostly determined by the weather. If it’s bad you might even find yourself stuck in your hotel room in Mid July. I am currently based in Tirol in Austria a mere 1.5-hour drive from the Dolomites and this autumn season is so incredibly warm that I won’t be surprised if there won’t be any snowfall at higher elevations even in Mid-November. This weekend it’s supposed to be 27 degrees! It’s scary actually.
      I spent 2 weeks last October hiking in the Dolomites, exactly from 16-31 of October and we had perfect conditions. In 2019 I left the Dolomites in late September because there was already snow at higher elevations. It’s a hit or miss, but generally it is still fine to hike all of October.
      I highly encourage you to check out my post about the best autumn hikes in the Dolomites as well as the 7-10 day itinerary for autumn lovers. I think they will be both perfect starting points to plan your road trip. Let me know if I can help any further!

  6. Hi there! I just wanted to say thank you for the recommendation. We are from BC, Canada and did this hike a few weeks ago. It was exactly as described and the perfect introduction for our first trip in the Dolomites. As you mentioned, the hike would have been easily doable in a day but we spent the night at Rifugio Locatelli for the experience which was great. We also took your pizza suggestion in Cortina afterwards which was 10/10. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Jaclyn! woohoo, you just made my day. I am so glad to hear you scored a reservation in the Locatelli hut, as it is notoriously difficult to book something there. Did you do any of the via ferrata extensions, or walked around Tre Cime? Ahhh I love the pizza in Cortina, I always get it when I am there and it is such a tiny and unassuming place!

  7. Hi Marta! Excellent post. Thank you. Am I correct in assuming that the Hotel Dolomitenhof is a great jumping off point for a number of varied and challenging day hikes similar to the Val Fiscalina hike described above? Would you recommend the third week of September weather-wise? Sorry if asking dumb questions, but we are planning our first trip to the region and want to get it right

    • Hi Dan. Thanks for stopping by. Hotel Dolomitenhof is definitely a great place to stay for this hike. Apart from that, you can do the Strada Degli Alpini and the Croda Rossa summit. The latter two however are via ferratas. September is still an awesome time to travel the Dolomites and yes I do highly recommend it. As for the weather, all you can do is hope for the best but come prepared for the worst. You can have a week of full sunshine (that’s my personal experience from September in the Dolomites) or a week of rain. We seem to be getting a lot of rain at the moment (currently in Tirol, Austria) and the forecast looks much better for next week.

  8. Hi Marta, a very well written post! I’ll also be staying in Moos town and will do this hiking. I thought of starting very early as I am not a regular hiker and completing this trail will take more time for me (being a photographer, I tend to stop a lot between the trails). Any idea when is the earliest public transportation available from moos to fiscalina? Are there any vertical climbing in this route?

    • Hi Abishek. Thanks for stopping by. I am not sure when you are going but during the summer season, the first bus leaves at 8:03 AM and the journey takes 6 minutes that’s from Moos, Schoenfeld to Hotel Dolomitenhof. The buses travel at 30 min intervals. You can also walk this path, it’s 2.7 km, but since it’s already a long hiking day it might be too much. I hope that helps!

  9. Hi! I love your site and all your details. We are looking for day hikes (4-6 hours per day) in the Dolomites for a few days (4 max) in September. We would prefer to stay in a smaller village. What do you recommend (hikes and accommodations) if you only had the chance to visit there once in a lifetime? Thanks!

    • Hi Karen. Thanks for stopping by. I really recommend staying in Sesto or San Candido in the North, where you have access to Val Fiscalina. It’s also a short drive to do Durrenstein summit and Seekofel summit. Seekofel is the mountain that reflects in the famous Lago di Braies. I have guides for the first two and am working on a guide for Seekofel too so stay tuned. I also recommend Croda Da Lago Circuit. You can stay in San Vito Di Cadore which is close to Cortina if you prefer smaller towns. Cortina is amazing though and I highly recommend it. Please check out my post about the best places to stay in the Italian Dolomites. You can find it in the photography section of my Italian Dolomites guide. It will help you make your choice. Let me know if I can help further!

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