An Off The Beaten Path 2-4 Day Backpacking Trip Across The Pale Di San Martino Range In The Italian Dolomites

Follow me on a 4-day / 3-night traverse across the Pale Di San Martino Group in the Southern Dolomites, filled with dramatic views of spires and monoliths, lunar-like high alpine plateaus, and cozy evenings spent in some of the best Italian mountain huts.

About Pale di San Martino Group

Alta Via 2 Day 9 1

The Pale di San Martino Range is often overlooked by international tourists coming to visit the region and whilst it certainly isn’t deathly quiet, it sees a fraction of the traffic compared to places like Tre Cime National Park or Lago di Braies.

The Pala group is the largest massif in the Dolomites and it lies in the eastern Trentino region. The highest peak of the group is Cima Vezzana with an altitude of 3192 meters (ca 10500 feet) above sea level.

The two nearest Dolomiti towns built at the foot of the Pala group are San Martino Di Castrozza and Fiera di Pimero.

Where to stay nearby

Depending on where you are coming from, you have three locations to choose from for your overnight stay before and after completing the Pale Di San Martino Traverse: Passo Rolle (a mountain pass), San Martino Di Castrozza, or Fiera Di Primero.

About Pale Di San Martino Traverse

  • Total Distance (not including extensions): 37 km (23 mi)
  • Time required: 2-4 days
  • When to go: the 3rd week of June until the 3rd week of September
  • Total elevation gain (not including extensions): 2700 m / 8860 ft
  • Total elevation loss (not including extensions): 2780 m / 9120 ft
  • Starting point: 46.297999, 11.789191
  • Ending point: 46.217590, 11.877617
Alta Via 2 Day 8 9

The traverse will take you from the Northern end of the Pale Di San Martino Nature Park all the way South. The total distance (not including extensions) is 37 kilometers (23 miles).

Whilst the distance might not sound like a lot, it will be challenging enough to keep you on your feet for a few hours each day. Especially, if you undertake the extensions to the nearby summits, which by the way I really think you should.

This traverse is my favorite part of the much longer Alta Via 2 –  A 200-kilometer, 14-day-long trek across the Dolomites.

I modified it to fit the needs of adventurers who don’t have two weeks to complete the whole route but still want to experience a multiday backpacking trip in the Dolomites. 

An interactive map of the Pale Di San Martino traverse

Whilst this map is pretty accurate and will be a useful tool whilst planning this excursion, it should not be used to navigate whilst in the mountains. The correct map for this hike is Tabacco No. 022. You can either purchase it online or pick it up in any sports or souvenir shop in the Dolomites.

Getting to the trailhead

Pale Di San Martino Traverse Day 1 4

The Pale Di San Martino traverse starts at Passo Rolle (zoom on the map) – a mountain pass ca 20 minutes drive away from San Martino di Castrozza or 35 minutes from Fiera di Primiero. Both towns are located in the Trentino region of Italy.

You can reach the pass either by car or public bus no. B122 going in the direction of Predazzo. The bus stop, right near the trailhead is called Passo Rolle-Segg. Segantini. To check bus connections, use either Google Maps or download the official transport app of the Trentino region called Muoversi.

There is a parking lot right near the trailhead (Parcheggio per Malga Juribello) where you can leave your car free of charge for a few days. 

Pale Di San Martino Traverse: day-by-day breakdown

Day 1: Passo Rolle to Rifugio Volpi al Mulaz

  • Distance: 9km / 5.6 mi
  • Walking time: 3-4 h
  • Elevation gain: 900 m / 2950 ft
  • Elevation loss: 250 m / 820 ft
  • Path numbers: 710A, 710

It’s a tough first day but it isn’t actually that long, so take your time to admire the views. I’ve written about the route up to Passo Mulaz (and Rifugio Mulaz) in a separate article so I won’t go into too much detail here.

From Passo Rolle, the access road, and the path that runs near it, lead you first up to Baita G Segantini – an iconic photo spot in the Dolomites. A great place to admire the saw back range you’re about to hike through.

The route then passes the Baita (small restaurant) and begins to head down into the Val Venegia before a higher elevation path (710A) takes you toward Passo Mulaz. From there it is a stone’s throw away from Rifugio Volpi Al Mulaz, visible from the pass.

Extension day 1: Summit of Monte Mulaz

Passo Mulaz 2

If you’ve set off early from Passo Rolle and are full of adrenaline and excitement on your first day, then consider the extension to the summit of Monte Mulaz.

You can either reach it from Passo Mulaz or check in at the hut first, unload your backpack, then hike back up with a much lighter load. 

It will take another 2 hours and add an extra 300m (980 feet) of elevation gain to your day but the views from the summit will be well worth it. 

Night 1: Rifugio Volpi al Mulaz

rifugio Mulaz

Rifugio Volpi Al Mulaz usually opens in mid-June and closes in the 3rd week of September. It’s a well-situated hut offering views northeastward into the Val di Focobon (see the picture above).

It’s also Club Alpino Italiano affiliated so if you have a CAI membership or an Alpine Club membership in your home country, then you’re entitled to accommodation discounts. 

The first time I stayed in Rifugio Mulaz was at the very end of September 2018. I expected the hut to be closed (following the dates on their website) so I packed enough food and a warm sleeping bag to either stay in the ‘winter room’ or just bivouac outside on the pass depending on the weather. 

When we got there the hut was still open and the staff was preparing for seasonal closure but they graciously agreed to host us. We paid for a night but didn’t want to waste the effort of prepping and carrying our food, pots, pans, cutlery, stove, and gas all the way up so we cooked and ate our dinner whilst watching the sunset from Passo Mulaz. 

When we got back to the hut, there was another group of hikers who were being served flaming creme brûlées for their dessert! I couldn’t have been more jealous, after eating my thousandth meal of pasta and pesto during that hiking season. What an incredible luxury in such a remote location! 

Day 2: Rifugio Mulaz to Rifugio Rosetta

  • Distance:  8.8 km / 5.5 mi
  • Walking time: 4 h 30 min
  • Elevation gain: 930 m / 3060 ft
  • Elevation loss: 918 m / 3010 ft
  • Path number: 703

After a comfortable night’s sleep and a decent breakfast at Rifugio Mulaz, head back toward the ridgeline to the south (path 703).

A scree traverse and an uphill push will lead you to Passo Farangole. The last section leading up to the pass is cable protected and on the other side, you will find some ladders to help you get back down. Being around the spires of this ridgeline is one of the most interesting parts of the hike. 

If you are sure-footed kitting up is optional. However, I always prefer to follow the rule ‘better to be safe than sorry’. The mountains can be really unforgiving. At the very least put your helmet on to protect your head from any loose rocks. 

The route then drops down 500 meters (1640 feet) into the Val delle Comelle, with a few more short simple cabled sections, before rising again onto a moon-like landscape where Rifugio Rosetta will become apparent. The whole day is spent on path no. 703. 

TIP: If you only have two days to hike, you can finish the traverse at Rifugio Rosetta, which lies 15-min walk away from the top of the Col Verde gondola. It will take you down to San Martino Di Castrozza.

Extension Day 2: Summit of Monte Rosetta

Monte Rosetta

This easy-to-reach summit is clearly visible from the hut and it only takes 45 minutes (160 meters or 525 feet in elevation) to get to the top. If you are looking for a great spot to watch the sunset this is it! It’s a good way to burn off those calories from the 3-course dinners you will be served at the huts.

From the summit of Monte Rosetta, you can look down into Cismon Valley home to the towns of San Martino di Castrozza and Fiera di Primiero. 

You will also be able to spot Passo di Ball – your objective for tomorrow, creating the perfect heart shape with the mountains in the background.

Night 2: Rifugio Rosetta G. Pedrotti

Rifugio Rosetta

The website of Rifugio Rosetta G. Pedrotti has all the information you need to make a reservation from contact details to the lunch menu. It’s also available in English which isn’t always the case for huts in the Dolomites. They also have a Club Alpino Italiano affiliation. 

Day 3: Rifugio Rosetta to Rifugio Pradidali

  • Distance: 6.5 km / 4 mi
  • Walking time: 2 h
  • Elevation gain: 217 m / 710 ft
  • Elevation loss: 362 m / 1190 ft
  • Path numbers: 702, 715

This part of the day is easy but that doesn’t mean you won’t get plenty of beautiful views along the way. For the majority of the hike between Rifugio Rosetta and Rifugio Pradidali, you’ll be able to keep your head high and admire the mountains.

After leaving Rifugio Rosetta the route switchbacks southward on path no. 702. If you are wondering how will you ever be able to know what path number to follow, don’t worry! Everything is well sign posted in the Dolomites and as long as you pay attention to the route you won’t get lost.

Shortly after, the route plateaus then traverses along the western slopes between the peaks of Croda di Roda and Cima Pradidali. Cable sections are prevalent here but are very easy. The route then heads slowly uphill to Passo di Ball where you’ll get your first glimpse of Rifugio Pradidali. It’s only another 20 minutes away.

Extension: Via Ferratas Porton and Sentiero Nico Gusela

  • Distance: 10 km / 6.2 mi
  • Walking time: 4 h
  • Elevation gain: 670 m / 2200 ft
  • Elevation loss: 670 m / 2200 ft
  • Via Ferrata level: Intermediate
  • Path numbers: 739A, 714, 715
Alta Via 2 Day 9 9

Via Ferratas Porton and Sentiero Nico Gusela make an excellent afternoon activity on your third day. They form a loop that runs clockwise from Rifugio Pradidali via the Cima di Val Roda and Passo di Ball where you were earlier in the day. 

Logistically you can do these two ferratas anticlockwise when you get to Passo di Ball when coming from Rifugio Rosetta, and end up at the refuge but I’d advise against this for two reasons.

Going to the hut first allows you to drop heavier items off, making the climbing more enjoyable. Moreover, via ferrata Porton is much better done clockwise. It involves a steep, ladder-assisted climb which is safer and easier to tackle in the clockwise direction. 

The first ferrata (Porton) starts around 15 minutes away from Pradidali hut on path 739A, then by a series of ladders and stemples in a narrow gully it gains over 350m of elevation and culminates at Forcella Porton.

The route then moves around Cima di Ball on path 714 where more cable-protected sections are found. 

Alta Via 2 Day 9 8

The route traverses the slopes up to Forcella di Stephen where the path becomes ambiguous but as long as you’re heading uphill toward the pass, you are going in the right direction. Now you have the chance to do the summit extension to Cima Di Val Roda.  It’s well worth it because of the view over San Martino di Castrozza to the north. 

The path then down-climbs along the via ferrata Sentiero Attrezzato Nico Gusella, the easier of the two ferratas. By means of a few more ladders and pegs, the route loses elevation quickly before a little traverse to Passo di Ball where you were earlier in the day. You can now go back to the refuge knowing that you’ve definitely earned tonight’s dinner. 

Night 3: Rifugio Pradidali

Rifugio Pradidali 2

The hut’s website is full of useful information about the history of the area and the ‘traverses’ available. The opening times of this hut are similar to Mulaz (from mid-June to the end of September). Rifugio Rosetta opens longer due to the proximity of the lift. 

Try to avoid booking a room in the attic. It’s dark, damp, and has no ventilation. The rooms on the floors on the other hand are very nice and cozy. Rifugio Pradidali, just like the previous two huts, is also Club Alpino Italiano affiliated so make sure to bring your Alpine Club membership.

Day 4: Rifugio Pradidali to Val Canali

  • Distance: 12.5 km / 7.8 mi
  • Walking time: 5 h
  • Elevation gain: 650 m / 2132 ft
  • Elevation loss: 1515 m / 4970 ft
  • Path numbers: 709, 711, 707

When I did this part of the route, I only saw 2 other hikers the entire time. It’s undoubtedly the quietest but also the hardest section of this traverse so make sure to get an early start. 

The traverse meanders northward passing Lago Pradidali following the Alta Via 2 route. It switchbacks up some decent scree slopes before branching right onto path 711, where a simple protected section leads you over a hump and up toward Passo delle Lede. The views from there are epic. 

The pass is tough to reach and if you didn’t get an early start, the midday sun could be making your life very sweaty. The route then enters a widening gulley and starts your 1500-meter elevation loss.

The descent is a real knee-buster but the views are still grand especially as you get close to the Bivouac C Minazio. It makes a great spot for lunch 

Alta Via 2 Day 10 7

Shortly after the bivouac, the route enters the tree line and although the mountain vistas are temporarily gone, the change is very much appreciated. The end of this route stays on path 711 until you reach the river then follows path no. 707 all the way to the final point of this traverse. 

TIP: If the previous day’s excursions have left you worse for wear then there’s an easier alternative route down from Rifugio Pradidali into the aptly named Val Pradidali following path no. 709. 

Onward Travel

At the finish point, you can relax and have a beer at the Cant del Gal Hotel. I’d advise checking the bus timetable at the Val Canali bus stop on the opposite side of the road first, so you can time it well with your departure.

Bus no. B503 from Val Canali to Fiera Di Primero runs at 1-hour intervals for the majority of the day. The journey takes 16 mins. In Fiera di Primiero you can change and travel onward to San Martino di Castrozza (30 mins) or to Feltre (60 mins).

Feltre is a bigger town with train and bus connections to bigger cities such as Trento, Verona, and Venice

How to shorten the Pale Di San Martino Traverse?

If you want to follow this itinerary but don’t have 4 days for it, here are some possibilities to make it shorter.

TIP: If you would like to adjust this itinerary to your personal needs then use my trip planning services. We can schedule an online meeting and talk about personalizing the trip.

2-day option: Stay the first night in Rifugio Pradidali

You can skip the first two days, take the Col Verde – Rosetta gondola from San Martino di Castrozza then start your hike from Rifugio Rosetta. This way the third day of my itinerary will become the first day.

2-day option 2: Exit to San Martino Di Castrozza

After completing day 2 hiking from Rifugio Mulaz to Rifugio Rosetta you can take the Col Verde-Rosetta gondola down to San Martino Di Castrozza.

3-day option: Alternative start with Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli

Pale Di San Martino Traverse Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli

If you want to make this traverse even more exciting and challenging, you can start it with the advanced Via Ferrata Bolver Lugli.

The Ferrata takes you along the western slopes of the Pale Di San Martino range to its highest point – Bivouac Fiamme Gialle. It then heads down the Valle Dei Cantoni, over Passo Bettega to Rifugio Rosetta, where you can spend the first night. After the alternative day 1, continue as per the itinerary.

3-day option 2: return to Passo Rolle

Follow the first and second days of this itinerary then on the third-day return to Passo Rolle following paths 716, 712A then 712 forming a loop through the Pale di San Martino group.  

Refer to the Tabacco map no 022 to better understand the paths.

9 Frequently asked questions about the Pale di San Martino Traverse

Alta Via 2 Day 8 6

1. Do I need via ferrata gear to complete this traverse?

Yes, there is a short via ferrata section on day 2 that leads across Passo Farangole and a cable-protected section that leads to Passo di Ball on day 3.

Whilst those are beginner routes and I have seen lots of people doing them without the gear, I think being well-equipped should always be a priority for those heading out into the mountains. Check out my beginner’s guide to via ferrata climbing in the Dolomites to see what gear you will need.

2. Where can I rent the via ferrata gear?

Look for sports shops and rental places (called Noleggio in Italian) in San Martino Di Castrozza and Fiera di Primero. It costs around 30 Euro to rent the via ferrata set for the day. Gloves are often not included so you should bring a pair of your own ones.

3. Is there a way to omit via ferrata sections on this traverse?

Unfortunately, there isn’t. If you are looking for a backpacking trip in the Dolomites that doesn’t include any via ferrata crossings, try the Alta Via 1. Even though it’s a 10-day traverse, you can plan on doing just a part of it.

4. Is there a way to turn this traverse into a loop?

Yes, please refer to the previous section where I talk about how to shorten this traverse. Particularly 3-day option 2.

5. How to pack for this traverse?

My advice is to always pack as lightly as possible. I created a packing list for hut-to-hut hikes which enlists all the essentials that you will need to bring along on a backpacking trip in the Dolomites.

6. Do I need to bring cash?

Whilst many huts started accepting card payments in recent years, I would still recommend bringing cash. 80-100 Euro per person per night should be enough. There are ATMs in San Martino di Castrozza and Fiera di Primero.

7. What can I expect when staying in the huts?

The Italian Alpine Huts are very well equipped and provide everything you might need for a comfortable night stay, from running water to flushable toilets through on-site restaurants, and duvets. There are however a few things you will need to bring, most notably a sleeping bag liner. Here is everything to know about staying in mountain huts in the Dolomites.

8. Is it possible to do this route in reverse?

Yes, however going North to South is more recommendable. Particularly if you are hiking between June-August. The northern slopes stay in shade much longer providing cooler temperatures during the hot Italian summer.

Doing the Pale Di San Martino Traverse from North to South will also be easier, particularly the last section between Rifugio Pradidali and Val Canali.

9. Is there a place to store my excess luggage for the duration of the trip?

Your best bet is to leave your excess luggage in the trunk of your car. If you are travelling by public transport then leave the luggage at the hotel where you stayed the night before. Make sure to contact the hotel first and ask if they provide such services.

Shop my hut-to-hut backpacking gear

Osprey 30+ Liter Backpack

30-40 liter backpack should be more than enough to pack everything you need for a hut-to-hut trip in the Dolomites with plenty of room for water and snacks. If you can’t fit in, it means you are overpacking. I am a huge fan of Osprey backpacks and they have plenty of options in this storage volume range to choose from.

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Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleeping bag liners are required for hut stays. Duvets and blankets aren’t washed after each guest who stays at the hut. Liners ensure that you don’t come in direct contact with the sheets and subsequently, it is more hygienic. Some huts rent or sell them, but it’s better to bring your own.

Shop on Amazon / Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

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Patagonia Insulated Jacket

Even in the middle of the summer season evenings can be quite cold. If you don’t plan on venturing out of the hut in the evenings, you can skip this layer. I personally always bring one with me as I like to take sunset photos outside.

Shop on Backcountry (US) / Bergfreunde (Europe)

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Merino Wool T-Shirts

Having a couple of Merino Wool T-shirts which you can alternate and then wash at the hut each day will be more than enough to keep body odors at bay. I am personally a big fan of the Icebreaker brand, however these days plenty of other brands have Merino products in their inventory.

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Merino Wool Socks

I always carry 2 pairs of socks in my backpack and one on me during multiday backpacking trails. Merino wool fibers and their unique properties are resistant to odors. Merino wool socks also prevent getting blisters as opposed to cotton socks.

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Peak Design Camera Clip

A must-have for any mountain photography enthusiast who is tired of carrying a camera around their neck. The peak design capture clip allows you to attach your camera to a backpack strap. That way you don’t have to take your backpack off and take your camera out every time you want to take a photo. You will always have it handy.

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Other backpacking trip ideas in the Italian Dolomites

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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.

56 Comments

  1. Hi Marta,

    Just wanted to send you a big Thank You for putting all this info out there. Just returned from a trip to Italy where I included your Itinerary to take my family(myself, wife, son(12) and daughter(10)) on a incredible hiking trip. Also, wanted other people to see my comments, as I know others have asked about kids in the past and wanted to add my experience. We all used full via ferrata gear, but other groups did the 4 day section without it. But as parents it gave us and our kids peace of mind. First, looks like your 2nd day stats are off(doubled), mileage and elevation gain/loss), but your time may be understated. No group who we left Mulaz made it in under 5 hours 15 minutes and it took us 7.5 hours. We were slower with kids/equipping and unequipping via ferrata gear and stopped for lots of photos, but most made it in the 6 hour range. That skree traverse is also a skree uphill. That was really tough on everyone. Otherwise we were pretty close to your other time estimates. Second, just wanted you to know how far reaching your travel guide has gotten. On the 2nd night we happened to be seated with a brother and sister from New Zealand, we’re from Georgia(US), who were also using your travel guide. Lastly, Pradidali was already having water shortage issues and Rosetta less so, but the only available shower was the first night at Mulaz. Thanks again, and I’ll be sending some coffee your way soon.

    • Hi Daks. Wow thank you, you made my day with your comment. Also thank you for pointing out the mistake in the article. You were right the distance between Mulaz and Rosetta was wrong. This post used to be a little bit different and the second day used to call for a hike from Mulaz to Pradidali. I changed it to Rosetta but forgot to change the distance.I updated it. Also thanks for sharing your own experience. Many people ask me why the distances for day hikes are so short. 8.8 km in 6-7 hours is slow going but nothing out of ordinary because of the difficult sections and plenty of pauses that slow one day a lot. As far as I remember I walked this distance in ca. 5 hours. 4.5 hours only states walking time, never breaks. This is an absolute minimum a regular hiker would need on this section without taking any breaks. As you already said though hiking time are very subjective to many things. I am so glad you had an awesome experience and thank you for being responsible and bringing the via ferrata gear with you. From what I’ve noticed most of the accidents and memorial plaques in the Dolomites are on the beginner routes, because people just think they can wing it. All it takes though is one wrong step. The cables are there for a reason.I hope you return to the Dolomites one day to complete more routes. Happy trails!

  2. Marta,

    Thanks again for outlining all of this. I was able to reserve at all the recommended refugi for mid July and we are very excited. I guess only question to you would be, do you think it’s better to book a room and park a the end of the trail and then take the bus in the morning to the start of the trailhead(since day one is fairly easy), or just park and stay at the start and then bus back around at the end? Which town is better would you say and which would be easier to rent the Via Ferrata gear? Maybe that will play a factor. 🙂 Thanks again, I’ll try to book hotels through your links, if not I will make a donation to your site.

    • Hu Bill. Thanks for visiting. Fiera di Primero has more local feeling, San Martino di Castrozza is a ski resort town. Both will have rental opportunities. Personally I prefer to get the shuttle out of the way on the first day and have my car wait for me at the end of the trail. But what you could also do is to leave the car in either Fiera di Primero or San Martino and bus to Passo Rolle from there. Then once you finish take the bus to Fiera or San Martino. I hope that helps.
      As for booking the hotels through my affiliate links, you don’t have to book exact places I recommend. As long as you book something through the link i receive a commission. Thanks for the support and let me know if you have more questions.

      • Thanks so much. Last question, we have a full day the 18th as our free day. We need to head back towards Bergamo airport(leaving the 19th afternoon) but we do not need to get all the way there. Are there any cool Mountain towns with good day hikes or recommendations of places to visit/stay for one night? Mountain Lake/River, swimming holes, hot springs, great day hikes or just a must see town? We are open to anything. Thanks again, we reserved hotels through your links and I will do the same for renting a car. Really appreciate all the information you laid out.

        • Hi Bill. I really like Trento and Rovereto. If you have a car I would recommend stopping by in Molveno right on the lake. I hope that helps!

  3. Hello Marta, as the other have said yes the best website out there that I have found so far. So thank you very much.

    A couple friends and I are interested in this route but we wanted to clarify that the via ferratas from Rifrugio Pradidali are optional ie there is no requirement to do a via ferrata on this route? ( the yellow via ferrata line overlaps the purple hiking line so I wanted to verify) One of our group has already done Alta Via 1 or we would do that.

    A second question is that once we decide on a route I will create a track from gaia gps however I noticed your info is more detailed than what the gaia topo layers offer and there is no specific layer for the Dolomites that I can see for gaia gps app. Would I be better off using Koomot?

    thanks very much

    • Hi Janet,
      Thanks for visiting on your lovely feedback. Via ferrata Porton and Nico Gusela are additions. The overlapping segment is not a via ferrata, however you still should carry at least a helmet to cross Passo Farangole on day two.
      As for the second questions I always use a paper map and for Pale di San MArtino you need Tabacco map 22. I Use my GPS watch to measure the distances and trails, but I don’t rely on its maps. The trails are very well marked and you should follow the signs for the next hut on the itinerary. I do not use Koomot so I can’t give an opinion on that.

  4. Hi Marta, thanks for this elaborate guide! we want to go in july, but nowhere on the internet can I find information about the busses there (we are dependent on public transportation), do you think that on day 4 we can make it by bus and train all the way back to trento, or is it better to stay the night first in fiera di primiero?
    thanks!
    Sanne

    • Hi Sanne. I just typed in Fiera Di Primero to Trento in google directions and chose public transport and it tells me 2h 49 minutes with a couple of bus connections and trains. If you were only hiking from rifugio Treviso down to the valley and then took the local bus from there to Fiera di primero which takes around 20 minutes then I reckon you can make it Trento on the same day. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  5. Hi Marta!

    Your website is incredibly helpful. Thanks so much for all of the work you put into this.

    My wife and I will be in Italy through mid/late June and are thinking about doing this exact trip itinerary. It looks like Rifugio Volpe al Mulaz opens on June 17th. Do you think this itinerary would work that early in the season? Will there be too much snow? We don’t mind some snow fields, but I am worried about dangerous via ferratas and areas that might require crampons. Let me know, thanks!

    • Hi Brian. Thanks for visiting. I can’t give you a straight answer because I simply don’t know. I personally did Alta Via 1 starting on June 17th a few years back after a very snowy winter and all trails were passable although there were spots where I waded in knee-deep snow. You might have probably heard though that the snow level this winter season in the Alps is laughable, which is very sad actually. This will work to your advantage though So my guess would be that it should be fine. I would still recommend calling or e-mailing the refuge a few days before to check what they say about the snow levels. The staff usually starts working on reopening the hut 1-2 weeks before.

  6. Hi Marta! This adventure looks incredible. My partner and I are traveling to Germany and Italy this upcoming May for a couple weeks. Being from Colorado, I understand that many of the mountain ranges are covered in snow through mid-June. Do you think this backpacking trip would be possible the last week of May? Or do you have other suggestions if we would like to travel to the Italian Dolomites for some outdoor adventures during this time? Please let me know what you think! Thank you for sharing your expertise!

    • Hi Paige. Thanks for visiting. I am afraid the Pale di San Martino traverse won’t be possible until the third week of June, but you should look at the Sassopiatto hut and Alpe Di Tires hut. They connect nicely and both of them open at the end of May. Rifugio Bolzano usually opens at the start of June (last year it was June 4th) and Bolzano, in turn, connects nicely with rifugio Alpe Di Tires so maybe you will be able to workout an early season traverse then. Let me know if I can help any further.

      • Hi Marta, thank you for your quick response and suggestions! It looks like Sasso Piatto and Alpe Di Tires open May 26 and May 28 this year. This may be a great option given our limited wiggle room for timing. Could you please offer some insight on how to get to these huts and how far apart they are hiking wise? Additionally, what would be the best town to access these huts from? Thinking we could do a short 3-4 days exploring and do some day hikes between these two huts. Thank you again for your help! I certainly appreciate it.

        • Hi Paige. I am glad you might be able to experience the overnight stay in the hut. Fingers crossed for securing a reservation.
          As for your question please check out my post about the Sassolungo Circuit. Rif Sassopiatto is one of the huts along the circuit and that will give you a lot of answers.
          As for the distance between Sassopiatto and Alpe di Tires it is around 3 hours of walking time. Plenty of other trails around Alpe Di Tires to fill up your day including via ferrata Sentiero Massimiliano. Although I am not sure if it will already be clear of snow. Let me know if that helps! I would be very happy if you supported my site.

  7. Hi Marta! You are the most helpful person on the internet for this subject– so THANK YOU. I was wondering if you knew of any sections of the dolomites that would be feasible to hike hut to hut in the end of May/beginning June, or none of them are fully open until middle/end of June. If not, wondering if you had any other suggestions! Thanks so much 🙂

    • Hi Maggie, Thanks for visiting. Rifugio Alpe Di Tires open on 26/05/2023 and rifugio Sassopiatto was open last year from May 28th (this year’s dates are not announced yet). They are around 2 hour’s walking distance from one another so that could be an option for you. You could do a little traverse starting at Passo Sella (which can be reached from Ortisei) and going to rifugio Sassopiatto then the next day walking from Sassopiatto to Alpe Di Tires and then on the last day you could hike out across Alpe Di Suisi to Ortisei. Though the distance would be quite short once you make it to the rifugio you could do some small extensions around the huts. I hope that helps!

  8. Marta, Thank you for this amazing resource, and your helpful responses to questions. You are so valuable to the hiking community! My family (with 2 teenage boys) is planning to do a modified version of this route this summer. We have only 3 days, and would like to minimize travel time at the end of the trip. We are thinking of doing Days 1-3 as you suggested, but instead of staying over, carry our gear on the VF Porton and Sentiero Nico Gusela portion, turning back toward Rifugio Rosetta at Passo di Ball and taking the gondola down to town from the Rifugio. Would this make sense and is the distance reasonable? If so, would it be safe to leave most of our gear at the Passo di Ball juncture to pick up after the VFs, or is that asking for trouble? We have your loop back to Passo Rolle as a back up route but I’d love the chance to do more via ferratas. Thank you!

    • Hi Rebecca. Thanks for stopping by. Going from Rosetta to Sentiero Nico Gusela and VF Porton then back is totally doable. As for leaving some of your stuff on Passo di Ball, I recommend something else. I suggest that you actually leave some of your things at rifugio Rosetta and only bring the essentials for the day, then pick them all up at the end of the day in rifugio Rosetta before taking the gondola down. I have done this plenty of times before. The staff at the huts is normally very accommodating. Let me know if you have more questions!

  9. Hey Marta! Me and my boyfriend are going to do this during the first week of September but wondering if we need experience with via ferrata before going? We’ve never done it before and my boyfriend is afraid we might fall off a cliff or something!

    Also, is this a loop? Or do we need to book a bus back to the start carpark?

    Your blog is amazing by the way!!

    • Hi Rachel. Thanks for visiting my site. I recommend that you check out my post about the beginner’s guide to via ferrata climbing in the Italian Dolomites where you will find answer to your first question in detail. You will find it in the via ferrata section of my Italian Dolomite’s guide. Or by simply using the search loop.

      As for the second question, no it’s a one way route, but there are buses at the end that will take you back to Passo Rolle. I also explain how to turn this route into a loop if preferred by shortening it by a day and from rifugio Rosetta hiking back to Passo Rolle on day 3. Let me know if that helps and if I can help any further!

  10. Hi Marta! The hike was fantastic, albeit more challenging than expected due to snowfall and ice forming (of course we had left our crampons at home…). Especially the Gusela via ferrata was rather risky, but we didn’t want to go all the way back via Porton either (Porton was amazing!) so we took our time to carefully descent, using a lot of upper body strength. Eventually, we made it back to the hut 45 minutes before dinner 😅 and treated ourselves to some well-deserved mulled wines. It has been an amazing traverse, the Pale di San Martino range is gorgeous! Once again thank you for your wonderful blog! I had taken screenshots of each separate day and it has been a great guide during our hike!!

    • Hi Ruud! Thanks for the feedback. I am so glad to hear you had lots of fun. Yes, snow and ice can make the easiest of trails a lot more challenging. I am sure the dinner tasted all the more delicious after the big outing on that day! Make sure to come back and check out other areas. I highly recommend the Rosengarten traverse and the Dolomiti Brenta Circuit as next 😉

  11. Hi Marta, what an amazing blog you have! We are leaving for Italy today and have decided to do this 4-day trek starting next week at the end of the season. Huts are booked (half board, so we can travel light), we have our Via Ferrata Gear and the weather forecast looks good next week. We are inexperienced when it comes to Via Ferrata. Do you think the extension from Rifugio Pradidali is possible for beginners? We are fit and have all the gear with us. Like other people said: your website is our Holy Book. 🙂

    • Hi Ruud! I am so happy to hear this. You will love Pale Di San Martino. You will have an occasion to practice clipping in and out of the cables when crossing Passo Farangole. There is a small via ferrata section along the saddle. The via ferratas next to rifugio Pradidali are totally manageable too and as an added bonus you will be going lightweight as you can already leave most of your stuff at the hut. Watch a video or two on youtube about how to clip in and out (it’s really not difficult) as well as some of my tips in my beginner’s guide to via ferrata climbing in the Dolomites. I hope that helps! have lots of fun and let me know how it goes!

  12. Hi Marta,

    The last question, I swear 🙂 So I’m getting ready for my hike and I bought the Tobacco map as recommended–it’s a bit overwhelming and large. I know you said the trails in the Dolomites are well marked, but I’m wondering if it’s enough to know the next hut I’m going to. For example, if I’m heading up Passo Rolle and will be spending the night at Rifugio Volpi al Mulaz, will the trail markers indicate the Rifugios, or do I need to know the specific numbered paths to get there? I plan on following the itinerary you have laid out here (4 days / 3 nights) to the T. I just want to know if knowing the next hut is enough to get me there, or if I have to know the specific numbered routes.

    • Hi there! In general, all you have to know is the refuge names so no worries. What I sometimes do is just take photos of the section of the maps which I know I will need and can refer to, then just use them on my smartphone. Most of the huts also have maps of the particular range, where the hut is located, hanging somewhere inside or outside of the hut. I hope that helps! Let me know if I can help any further.

  13. Hi Marta,
    I’d just like to say thank you so much for this blog! I have just come back from doing this 4 day hike in the dolomites with 3 of my girlfriends. We had the absolute best time, and without your amazingly helpful blog we would have been clueless!
    We have never done Via Ferrata and didn’t really know where to start with choosing a route or planning the trip, so this blog was literally our bible. The 4 day hike was a perfect intro into the dolomites and has really lit a fire in us to come back and do more!
    Whilst we were hiking we kept saying ‘we must thank Marta for all her help’ as we probably wouldn’t have been there without this blog, so thank you! 🙂
    Looking forward to doing more of your routes in the future!

    • Hi Carolyn! You have no idea how much brighter you made my day yesterday! I am currently travelling through Norway, doing research for another guide, the weather yesterday was atrocious and I was getting frustrated with not being able to get the photographs that I wanted for my site. Then I fired up my laptop to check on the comments, read yours and instantly smiled. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave some feedback. I hope you do return to the Dolomites for more treks and via ferratas. I am returning again in September and I already have some routes planned. I am really looking forward to it!

  14. Hi Marta!
    Thank you so much for your website! I am hoping to do this route alone in mid July! I’m 25 and have done some hiking in the west coast of Canada but have never hiked alone. Would you say that hikers in the dolomites are friendly and open to making friends and hiking with others?
    Thanks! Annie 🙂

    • Hi Annie. I have made friends along the way when hiking in the Dolomites. There are plenty of international people in those places. When crossing the Pale Di San Martino for the first time I met a group of Irish friends in their 60ties doing Alta Via 2 (pale di san martino traverse is a part of it). I also made great friends on AV4 and hiked with them along the way to the very last hut. If you are friendly and open-minded I am sure you will make friends. I hope you have a wonderful time! Let me know if I can help further!

  15. Hi Marta,
    Thank you for the effort in putting this info together. My girlfriend and I have two nights in the Dolomites and we would like to do part of this trek. However, Rifugio Rosetta is fully booked the day we will be there. Could we combine days 2 and 3, spend the night at Rifugio Pradidali, and the next day walk back to Rifugio Rosetta to catch the Col Verde – Rosetta gondola back to town?
    Thank you!
    Mike

  16. Hi Marta! Your website is amazing and has helped us put together our trip. We still have a few bumpy spots. Our first section ends at Rifugio Contrin, the next day goes down to San Pellegrino. We then need to find our way San Martino di Castrozza to begin our trek in the San Palo. So…ideas where to stay in San Pellegrino (is Rifugio Passo Vales actually in Paso San Pellegrino or how do we get there…the website is confusing for us), how to get to San Martino di Castrozza from San Psiblellegrino (hostel says there is “sometimes” a bus!) and ideas for where to stay in San Martino di Castrozza. We will then be taking transport from there back to Venice…ideas. I would like to offer a contribution to your website if that is possible, SO helpful! THANKS a million! Judy

    • Hi Judy.Thanks for stopping by. Please have a look at my guide to Alta Via 2. Particularly the section from Passo San Pellegrino. It will show you have to reach the Pale Di San Martino Range from PAsso San Pellegrino. Basically you hike from Passo San Pellegrino to Rifugio Mulaz (over Passo Vales) then from Rifugio Mulaz to rifugio Rosetta and from rifugio Rosetta you can reach the gondola down to San Martino Di Castrozza. This will really help you. Let me know if something is unclear.

  17. Hello! Thanks for this wonderful resource! I am wondering if you have a suggestion for making this into a 4- or 5-night trip, either by starting somewhere else, or by continuing on further. We won’t have 14 days to do the entire Alta Via 2, but we might like to add a few days to this hike. Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Colin! Thanks for stopping by. Yes you can extend it by one fay by continuing from Rifugio Treviso to Passo Cereda. And if You want to start a day earlier you can start at Passo Fedaia and Hike from there to Passo San Pellegrino then from Passo San Pellegrino to Rifugio Mulaz. Pale Di San Martino is a part of AV2 and you can check out the Passo Fedaia to Passo Cereda section in my Alta Via 2 guide, which is in the hut to hut section of my Italian Dolomites guide! I hope that helps!

  18. Hallo, Marta! Your blog is invaluable! Use it myself and have recommended to others. Please, advise: do you thing it would be doable for active 12 years old?

    • Hi Kristine. Absolutely! I have seen plenty of families with kids on more difficult routes. Just bear in mind that there are a few sections where Via Ferrata equipment will be needed to stay clipped into the cables. Let me know if you have more questions and thanks for your kind words about my site!

  19. Hi Marta,

    Thank you for your reply to my comment a while ago. Just wondering, is it at all possible to do the Ferrata del Porton backwards? (Starting from Passo Di Ball). I’m really eager to do it but not willing to go all the way down to Pradidali hut just to go back the way I came :). If it’s really that bad going the opposite way I’ll probably just skip it.

    • Hi Cal. Yes, it is, however, Rifugio Pradidali is only 150 meters in elevation below Passo Di Ball, so you wouldn’t actually be losing that much elevation, in case you wanted to leave your stuff at rifugio Pradidali first.

  20. Hi there,

    What an amazing trip! You do know how to make your reader excited! My partner Justin and I will be going to the Dolomites 21-28 April in a few weeks and would like to do this route (or at least part of it in three days). However, we were unsure about the snow/accessibility in April, and we read that most rifugio’s are closed end of April. Do you know if this route is possible this time of year? Or do you have a similar recommendation? We are experienced hikers and are training for an expedition in Norway in the summer.

    Thank you so much for your help/advice in advance!

    Best regards,
    Ilse and Justin

    • Hi Ilse! Thanks for stopping by and your amazing feedback. I am afraid this trip is an absolute no go at the end of April. It’s barely when the ski season ends. There will still be way too much snow up in the mountains and you read that right. Rifugios only open in the third week of June when most mountain passes are clear of snow. April is a good time to go ski touring so if you do that, then consider a few routes. Otherwise, stick to the valley walks, visiting towns or hikes on the southern slopes below 2000 meters as those should be clear of snow at this time of the year. Let me know if that helps! I wish you lots of fun on your trip!

  21. Hi,

    Do you have a gps map of the route you took for this? I would be interested in downloading it if you do.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  22. Hi there! First, thank you so much for this awesome blog. I’ve always wanted to visit the Dolomites, for almost 10 years now, and I just bought my tickets for September. I’m interested in the 4-day, Pale Di San Martino Traverse. I’ve done long distance hikes in the past, but I don’t have any mountaineering experience. What do you think? I see in some of the pictures that there are harnesses and some pretty gnarly passes. Just wondering what you think, if I’m in shape, and have done a lot of hiking, do you think I can do this without any mountaineering experience?

    Thank you for your time!

    Best,
    Russ

    • Hi Russell. Thanks for stopping by and your lovely comment. You don’t need any mountaineering experience to do the Pale Di San Martino Traverse, but if you plan on doing the via ferrata extensions then I would highly recommend bringing the via ferrata gear with you (helmet, harness gloves and a lanyard). If you are not doing the extensions then at the very least bring a helmet, because there are a few sections (for example when crossing Passo Delle Farangole) where there is lots of loose rock and a bit of scrambling involved. I highly recommend looking into the Dolomiti Brenta Traverse if you need any future hut to hut trek inspirations! Let me know if you have more questions!

      • So great to hear from you. Thank you for your reply. This response leads me to two more questions. The first: is it possible to do this 4-day trek of the Pale Di San Martino without doing any of the ferrata extensions? And the second: do you know if there are places near the trailhead where you can rent this type of equipment? Also, if you have a tip jar for this page, please let me know. I truly appreciate your time and would be more than happy to donate towards any future endeavors of yours 🙂

        • Hi there! You can skip the extension, but there are a few cable protected sections along the main route, which are not possible to skip. The first one is around Passo Farangole, which includes some ladders and the second is around 1 hour late after you pass Passo Farangole, a short but quite precarious section with some cables. I would recommend bringing the gear. Look for noleggio shops in San Martino di Castrozza where you should be able to rent gear. Contact them directly prior to your trip! As for the tip jar, it’s on my to-do list, but anytime you book accommodation anywhere in the World through my affiliate links I do receive a commission at no cost to you, so if you would like to show some support, you are welcome to use the links! I hope that helps!

          • Thank you, again, so much. I’ve reached out to a couple of noleggio shops about renting gear. I noticed that you mentioned an easier alternative route down from Rifugio Pradidali. Is the alternative route shorter than the one in your itinerary?

            I’ll be sure to check out those links. Really appreciate your time 🙂

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