Lago Di Sorapiss – A Not To Be Missed Day Hike In The Italian Dolomites

The hike to Lago di Sorapiss is a well-trodden path culminating at a crystal blue, glacially fed small alpine lake, where the towering peak of Punta Sorapiss rises above it.

It’s an iconic photo spot in the Italian Dolomites but due to its accessibility and the recent surge in Instagram fame, in the height of summer, especially on the weekends, it can become very busy.

Even though the elevation difference between the start and end of the hike isn’t big, you shouldn’t underestimate it.

If you are afraid of heights, there are a few sections where the trail runs along some very steep ledges that can make your head spin. 

So far I have done this trail 3 times and despite its popularity, it still remains one of my favourite day hikes in the Italian Dolomites. 

All You Need To Know About The Lake Sorapiss Day Hike In The Italian Dolomites

Distance:14 km / 8.7 miles roundtrip

Walking time: 4 h

Elevation gain/loss: 460 m / 1500 ft

Information about the Lago Di Sorapiss day hike in the Italian Dolomites
Lake Sorapiss

My Day Hiking Gear Essentials

Black Diamond Z – Pole

At only 150 grams per pole these light, yet incredibly durable and sturdy carbon hiking poles are my constant companion on trails. 

Osprey Kyte 36 l

Great for day hikes and big enough for overnight hut excursions. Osprey backpacks have been with me from the humble beginnings of this website. 

Hydrapack 3 litre 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! 

Icebreaker Merino Wool Socks

An absolute must-have on a hiking holiday. They are breathable, comfy, but most importantly don’t pick up the smell even after a few days of wearing

Where does the trail to Lago Di Sorapiss start?

The hike starts at Passo Tre Crociwhere roadside parking is limited and tends to fill up very quickly. Heed my warning and arrive early to avoid disappointment.

From Cortina the nearest town, Passo Tre Croci is a 20-minute drive eastward on SR48. The trailhead for this well sign-posted route is roughly 100m up the hill from the Grand Hotel Tre Croci which, at the time of writing this post, was undergoing renovations.

In the initial field, horses can be seen grazing underneath the peaks you’ll be heading toward.

The trailhead of Lago Di Sorapiss
The field at the start of the hike

Lago Di Sorapiss: Trail Description

The trail is wide and well-trodden and to be frank, could use a toilet and a few extra rubbish bins. If you see any litter, do Mother Nature a favour and pack it out with you, even if it’s not yours.

The path slightly undulates amongst a thick larch forest which turns into all kinds of yellow and orange hues in the second half of October. 

The path then reaches a photogenic stream gushing between rocks. If the stream is high then some rock hopping is required. Make sure to stop here to grab a photo of the dramatic Monte Cristallo. 

The path to Lago Di Sorapiss running into forest
Monte Cristallo at sunrise photographed from the Lake Sorapiss trail

Before you know it you’ll reach an undulating cliff face traverse where the path narrows somewhat and a cable is provided to those of you who aren’t sure-footed or are a bit nervous of heights.

The route then steepens up several staircases and rocky outcrops before re-entering the thick forest. In around 2 hours, you’ll be at the lake.

What you need to know about the Lago di sorapiss day hike in the Italian Dolomites
Autumn foliage along the trail

The refuge at the lake, rifugio Vandelli, lies on both Alta Via 3 and on the more popular Alta Via 4 so reservations can become hard to get. I advise you to book as early as you can if you want to stay overnight in the area. 

It’s also a great place to stay if you plan on tackling the 8-10 hour long via ferrata Giro Del Sorapiss. 

Bring cash if you would like to grab a bite or drink. The food is delicious, but I guess after all the hiking, anything will taste good. 

Via ferrata Giro Del Sorapiss starts at Lake Sorapiss
Via Ferrata Giro Del Sorapiss – a possible extension to the hike.

The lake and its immediate surroundings are strictly a no-camping zone but unfortunately, several man-made fire pits have left scorched Earth and used toilet paper can often be seen blowing in the wind.

Lake Sorapiss trail description

Lake Sorapiss Italian Dolomites

The water, that’s also strictly out of bounds for those of you wanting to take a refreshing dip (I am talking to you Instagrammers) is such a crystal blue colour that it’s hard to believe.

The lake is fed by the Occidentale, Centrale and the Orientale Glaciers that lie higher up amongst the peaks of the Sorapiss Range.

Walking around the lake doesn’t take long and gives you the chance to appreciate the grandeur of the surrounding peaks.

The narrow ledges along the day hike to Lake Sorapiss
The narrow ledges along the day hike to Lake Sorapiss

The route back to your vehicle is the same as the one you’ve taken, just remember to cross safely whilst passing other hikers on the stairs and on the narrower parts of the path.

Monte Cristallo and the autumn foliage, photographed 30 minutes into the hike to Lake Sorapiss
Monte Cristallo and the autumn foliage photographed 30 minutes into the hike to Lake Sorapiss

If you have hiked the trail to Lake Sorapiss and would like to add something or if you plan on hiking it and have any questions make sure to post them in the comments below. I will be happy to help! 

See my guide to the Italian Dolomites for more day hike ideas, via ferratas and must-visit photography spots. 

2 Comments

  1. Hey, love your website)
    I’m planning to visit the Dolomites very soon, do you think is it possible to hike Lago Di Sorapiss in mid-May?

    • Hi Andy. There is still lots of snow in the mountains in mid-May. However, the route to Lago Di Sorapiss might already be clear because it is below 2000 metres and has sun exposure. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a straight answer because I don’t know! I am heading to the Dolomites myself at the start of May until more or less the 8th. You are welcome to check with me then because my aim is to research what hikes are accessible in the spring.

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