12-Step Guide To Lake Sorapiss Hike In The Italian Dolomites

The famous hike to Lake Sorapiss is a well-trodden path culminating at a crystal blue, small alpine lake, where the towering peak of Punta Sorapiss rises above it. Due to its accessibility and the recent surge in Instagram fame, in the height of summer, the trail can become very busy. I have hiked this trail 4 times and despite its popularity, it remains one of my favorite day hikes in the Italian Dolomites.

12 Things To Know About The Lake Sorapiss Day Hike

How to get to Lake Sorapiss Trailhead by bus, what facilities can you expect along the trail, and how difficult it is? Find the answers to the above questions and more in my Lake Sorapiss trail guide.

1. Lake Sorapiss trail: the stats

Lake Sorapiss September

2. How difficult is the hike to Lake Sorapiss?

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. 

3. The best time to hike to Lake Sorapiss

The peak season, but also the busiest is between July and September. If you are traveling to the Dolomites in August and plan on hiking to Lake Sorapiss then go very early. This is the busiest month.

I also hiked this trail in early May, but there was still lots of snow in some sections and the lake was still frozen and under a layer of snow. It starts to thaw at the end of May.

October is a great time to hike in the Dolomites, thanks to the many larches filling the valleys below, creating a stunning atmosphere.

However, once you make it to the lake you might be surprised at the very low water levels. Some years it disappears almost completely.

Read more: 11 Best Autumn Day Hikes In The Italian Dolomites

4. Where does the trail to Lago Di Sorapiss start?

Lake Sorapiss Trailhead

The hike starts at Passo Tre Croci. The pass connects the towns of Cortina D’Ampezzo with Auronzo. This is also the road that you take if you plan on hiking another famous trail in the area: Tre Cime Circuit.

Getting to the trailhead by car

Passo Tre Croci is a 20-minute drive eastward on SR48, from Cortina – the nearest town. The trailhead for this hike is well-sign-posted and lies roughly 100m up the road from the B&B Passo Tre Croci.

There are two parking possibilities for the Lake Sorapiss trail. The most convenient is to just park on the side of the road near the gate for the trailhead. I have linked to it in the trail stats.

The other one is the official parking lot for the Lake Sorapis hike. It’s an extra 10-minute walk from this car park to the trailhead. Bear in mind that there is a vehicle height limit of 2.5 meters for this parking.

Both parking lots are free of charge, but I would still recommend bringing some cash with you. With the growing popularity of the Dolomites on an international scale, new fees are introduced every year.

Lake Sorapiss Road Side Parking
Cars parked on the side of the road near the trailhead

Getting to the Lake Sorapiss trailhead by bus

Line no. 30 from the Dolomiti bus company operates along the route between Cortina and Rifugio Auronzo daily during the summer season from June until September.

Unfortunately, I find the company’s website not very user-friendly. Your best bet is to either pop into the visitor center in the center of Cortina and ask for the current schedule or look it up on the Moovit app.

Where to stay in Cortina D’Ampezzo?

5. Lake Sorapiss: map, trail numbers, and 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 favor and pack it out with you, even if it’s not yours.

For the entirety of the hike, you need to follow trail no. 215 (blue line on the map). The path slightly undulates amongst a thick larch forest.

Circa 30 minutes into the hike you will reach a beautiful viewpoint of Monte Cristallo, right near a stream. If the stream is high then some rock hopping is required.

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 about 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.

The easiest route back to your vehicle is the same as the one you’ve taken unless you decide to challenge yourself and turn this hike into a circuit. Just remember to cross safely whilst passing other hikers on the stairs and the narrower parts of the path.

6. Can the Lake Sorapiss hike be turned into a circuit?

Lake Sorapiss Trail 4 1

Yes, it can. You can choose to hike back to Passo Tre Croci, over trail no. 216. The trail climbs to the Marcuóira saddle before dropping down to a fork and then turning right onto path no. 213 back to Passo Tre Croci. It is marked in yellow on the map.

This option is significantly harder and will add ca. another 300 meters or 1000 feet of elevation gain and an extra 1 hour.

7. Facilities along the hike

Rifugio Vandelli
Rifugio Vandelli seen in the distance

The refuge at the lake, Rifugio Vandelli, lies on both Alta Via 3 and on the more popular Alta Via 4 multiday traverse across the Dolomites. Reservations for this hut can be 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 fantastic 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. 

8. Lake Sorapiss hike: the extensions

Hike around the lake (45-60 mins extra time)

Lake Sorapiss from above

A great option to escape the crowds and get a chance to photograph Sorapiss Lake from different angles is to walk around it.

There is a distinct path that leads around the lake. Once you find yourself on the other side you can see the Tre Cime in the far distance.

Via ferrata Giro del Sorapiss (10-12 hours extra time)

Giro Del Sorapiss

Giro del Sorapiss is an epic circuit around the Sorapiss range which consists of 3 via ferratas: Vandelli, Sentiero Carlo Minazzio, and Francesco Berti.

This is a full-day route that will require an overnight stay at either the Vandelli hut or one of the two alpine Bivouacs located along the route.

For more information visit my guide to via ferrata Giro Del Sorapiss.

9. Is it possible to camp near Lake Sorapiss?

Lake Sorapiss Three Peaks

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

The warden of the Vandelli hut does check for illegal campers and I have seen first-hand them kicking illegal campers out, so please do follow the rules. They are there for a reason.

10. Is it possible to swim in Sorapiss Lake?

The water is strictly out of bounds for those of you wanting to take a refreshing dip (I am talking to you Instagrammers).

There are prohibiting signs placed around the lake. Be respectful and if you see someone breaking the rules, please remind them swimming in this lake is not ok.

11. What to bring on the hike?

Lake Sorapiss May

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. Osprey Kyte’s 36-liter backpack is a great choice for day hikes in the Dolomites. 

Hydrapack 3 liter Water Bladder 

Staying hydrated during hikes is very important! The more water you drink the faster your recovery will be. I always hike with the HydraPak Shape-Shift water bladder in my backpack for easy access to water.  

Salewa Wildfire Edge Approach shoes

This pair of shoes is my favorite to hike in these days. It’s a good solution for hot summer days in the Dolomites. The Salewa wildfire edge approach shoes are lightweight, sturdy, and also great for via ferratas.

12. Other hikes and via ferratas to do nearby

Thanks to the proximity of Cortina D’Ampezzo which is the central hub for exploring the Dolomites, there are plenty of activities to choose from, and below are some of my recommendations.

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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.

4 Comments

  1. Hi- I love this and your via ferrata guide. I just tried to plan this route as an out and back and it is showing almost 4000 feet of elevation gain. is your trail stat line for only one way? It is possible to share the GPX files?

    • Hey Matt. Thanks for visiting. Unfortunately I don’t share my GPX data here but I can tell you, you don’t need GPX to hike to Lake Sorapiss. It’s one single trail all the way there and there are so many people on it it’s hard to get lost. Trail markings are excellent.
      As for your question about the elevation gain. The one given in my stats is elevation gain for the blue trail which I used to hike in and back out again. The elevation gain is for both ways. ca. 1000 feet there and 500 feet on the way back via trail 215.
      I don’t know what the exact elevation gain is for the yellow route as I haven’t done it myself. I just know it exist. This one however definitely is harden because you need to go over a pass. Maybe that’s why your plan is coming up with a total elevation gain of 4000 feet. Although I am gonna be honest that sounds like a lot, so not sure where you are outlining this.

  2. 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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