Sassolungo Circuit – a great day hike between two famous Dolomiti valleys

Are you looking for a great circuit hike in the Dolomites, which takes a full day, but won’t leave you too exhausted to keep you from exploring the next days? I think you just hit the jackpot!

The great thing about the Sassolungo circuit is that even though there is quite a bit of elevation gain on this hike, thanks to the undulating nature of the trail, it never feels too strenuous.

Couple that with the great trailhead accessibility and lots of rest possibilities in the many huts along the trail and you got yourself a fantastic full-day excursion!

Sassolungo circuit hike: the stats

A hiker taking a picture of the views on the third stage of the Sassolungo Circuit hike in the Italian Dolomites
  • Distance – 16.7 km / 10.4 miles
  • Time required –  5-6 h
  • Total Ascent – 787 m / 2720 ft
  • Type of hike – circuit
  • When to go: June to October
  • Parking: Passo Sella
  • Trail numbers: 557, 527, 526
  • Map required: Tabacco no 15

Where is Sassolungo?

Passo Gardena 0010 Edit
Sassolungo at sunset photographer from Passo Gardena

Sassolungo is a peak surrounded by Gardena Valley to the North, Sella Group to the East, Fassa Valley to the South and the Rosengarten Group to the West.

Thanks to its unique shape Sassolungo is one of the most distinguishable and photographed peaks in the Dolomites. It measures 3181 meters (10436 feet) making it the 9th tallest peak in the Dolomites.

In reality, you will be circling around 3 peaks of this mountain group: Punta Grohmann, Sassopiatto and Sassolungo. Sassolungo, being the highest of the three, gave the name to this hike.

The map of the hike

Below you can see the path I followed from the car park when hiking the Sassolungo circuit. I measured the distance, elevation gain and route with my Garmin Fenix 6S pro watch.

SASSOLUNGO CIRCUIT MAP

How difficult is the Sassolungo circuit hike?

Sassolungo Circuit 24

Thanks to good boot beaten paths and clear signs the Sassolungo Circuit is a moderate hike.

Although there is quite a bit of elevation gain on this trail, it happens throughout almost 17 kilometres so the incline and decline of the paths are never too big.

A good level of stamina and hiking experience is still required to tackle this trip.

The best months to hike the Sassolungo circuit?

Sassolungo Circuit 18

To ensure a snow-free hike,  plan your Sassolungo circuit hike between the beginning of June and the end of October.

I hiked this trail at the end of October. The days during my visit were still pleasantly warm, but the evenings and nights were already turning bitterly cold, with temperatures often falling below zero Celsius. 

The great thing about hiking it in October is very little human traffic, giving me the place all to myself. The stunning view of the golden larches in the valleys surrounding Sassolungo and Sasso Piatto isn’t too bad either.

How to get to the trailhead

Sassolungo Circuit 1

Getting to the trailhead by car

From Gardena Valley

If you are staying in one of the villages in Val Gardena (Ortisei, Santa Cristina or Selva) you have to drive along the SS242 to Passo Sella.

The drive takes around 20-30 minutes depending on where you start. The roads are quite windy so take your time. You will be driving towards the impressive Sella group with 90-degree walls stretching ahead of you

From Fassa Valley

The nearest village to Passo Sella in the Fassa Valley is Canazei. The distance from Canazei by car is 13 km and it takes approximately 20 minutes along the SS242, a route that connects the two valleys.

As you get near the Sella mountain pass there are a few roadside pull-outs from where you can admire Marmolada – Dolomite’s highest peak!

Where to park your car

There are two parking lots near the Sassolungo circuit trailhead.

The first one is on the opposite side of the road from the Hotel Passo Sella. Be careful when crossing the road! The second one is near the bottom station of the Sassolungo gondola.

Bring cash to pay for your parking tickets! It usually costs a few euros to park for a full day.

Getting to the trailhead by bus

During the summer season bus no. 471 operates between Canazei in Val di Fassa and villages in Val Gardena at 15-minute intervals. 

Check Sued Tirol Mobil website for connections and prices. The end bus stop for this hike is Schutzhaus Sellajoch. 

Depending on which village you stay in, the bus journey takes anywhere between 35 minutes to an hour.

Alternative approach via cable car from Campitello di Fassa

One of the quickest ways to reach the Sassolungo circuit hike is by taking the Col Rodella cable car from Campitello village in Val Di Fassa. 

During the summer season, the cable car operates from the first week of June until the first or second week of October, between 8:30 AM and 5:30 PM. The road trip costs 22 Euros.  For exact dates and prices check out this website

Once you reach the top of the station then head towards the Friedrich August mountain refuge and follow the path numbers for the Sassolungo circuit. 

The highlights of the hike

When hiking along the Sassolungo circuit you will get great views of Marmolada at the start of the hike. As you progress, the peaks of the Rosengarten group with the highest one – Catinaccio D’Antermoia will stretch ahead. 

As you reach the halfway point of the hike, the plane of the famous Alpi Di Siusi, known as Europe’s highest pasture and one of the most photogenic spots in the Dolomites will be right ahead of you. 

On the northern side of the hike, you can see the famous Seceda ridgeline from the distance.

Towards the end of the hike, the sheer 90-degree walls of the Sella group will accompany you until the finish line.

Facilities along the Sassolungo circuit

Sassolungo Circuit 38
Rifugio Sasso Piatto

There are 5 mountain refuges directly on the Sassolungo circuit hike when hiking clockwise:

Name of the refugeDistance from the trailhead
Rifugio Salei0.92 km
Rifugio Friedrich August1.75 km
Rifugio Sandro Pertini3.85 km
Rifugio Sasso Piatto6.2 km
Rifugio E.Comici15 km
Hut along the Sassolungo Circuit hike

They offer food, drinks and toilet facilities to the hikers, as well as overnight accommodation, which can be booked in advance. Head to my other posts to learn the ins and out about staying in mountain huts in the Italian Dolomites

My favourite of the 5 is rifugio Sasso Piatto. It’s been renovated recently and boasts a fantastic atmosphere as well as quite luxurious dining options!

The refuge usually opens its doors to hikers at the end of May and remains open throughout the season before it closes in mid-October. 

Sassolungo circuit trail description

Stage 1: Passo Sella to rifugio Sasso Piatto – path 557

The first stage of the hike follows path no. 557 known as the Friedrich August Weg. There is a clear sign placed behind the Hotel Passo Sella, where the trailhead is.

For the first kilometre, the path goes uphill until you reach rifugio Fredrich August. From here all the way to rifugio Sasso Piatto you will be following an undulating path, which never gets too strenuous.

Admire the views into Fassa valley and don’t forget to look back every now and again. Marmolada, dolomite’s highest peak and its glaciers will be within your sight.

Grab lunch or a drink and a cake at rifugio Sasso Piatto before continuing!

Stage 2: Rifugio Sasso Piato to a fork – path 527

From rifugio Sasso Piatto you need to start following path no. 527. I now recommend paying attention to the Tabacco Map which you hopefully brought with you.

The nearest sign for path no. 527 from rifugio Sassopiatto points uphill. Unfortunately, this is the path I started following before realizing after a couple of hundred meters that we are on the wrong route.

This is the descent route for via Ferrata Oskar Schuster which I have done only a couple of years prior. Refer to my map to see my mistake.

Route 527 is a loop and it splits at rifugio Sassopiatto so it’s important you follow it in the right direction.

From rifugio Sassopiatto you first need to drop down a few meters on a wide gravel road until you see a painted mark on a rock for the correct direction of travel in order to complete the circuit.

This is the easiest stage which follows the western and northern slopes of the Sasso Piatto mountain.

Stage 3: Fork to Passo Sella – path 526

Thanks to the soft afternoon light and bright yellow larch trees, it was the most scenic part of the route for me.

Once you reach the fork with a bench there is a sign pointing towards Rifugio Vicenza as well as path no. 526. There is quite a bit of uphill hiking along this stage, but it never gets too steep. That’s the beauty of the Sassolungo circuit hike.

At some point path no. 526 splits into two: 526 and 526A. They run parallel to one another. If you want to do slightly less elevation gain and loss, follow path no. 526A. They both meet again at rifugio E.Comici.

Once you pass rifugio E.Comici beautiful views of the Sella group will stay with you until the end of the hike.

It took me 5 hours to hike this route, excluding the breaks. I am just talking about the total moving time.

What to bring and wear on a hike

Sassolungo Circuit 93

Trekking Poles

I never leave the parking lot without my trusted pair of Black Diamond Carbon trekking poles. They are extremely lightweight (only 300 grams a pair) yet easily handle any type of environment I find myself in.

Hiking Boots

There is a lot of varied terrain on this hike. You definitely need a good and sturdy pair of hiking boots. I highly recommend the Hanwag Alverstone boots which I have been testing for the past year and am really happy with.

Down vest or a down jacket

Particularly if you go on this hike in October like me. In the pictures, you can see me wearing my favourite Falketind down vest from a Norwegian brand called Norrona.

A pair of comfortable leggings or trousers

My go-to brand for hiking trousers is called Revolution Race. It’s a Swedish brand and it offers an excellent price to quality ratio and its designs are innovative without compromising comfort or durability. 

Hydrapak water bladder

Make sure to bring lots of water on this hike. I always carry a minimum of 3 litres with me and another 0.5-litre pouch for my dog – Jasper. There is no possibility to fill up water along the trail unless you buy expensive plastic bottles in the huts

Where to stay nearby 

Whether you are coming from Val Gardena or Val di Fassa to do this hike, you will be faced will plenty of accommodation options to choose from. Below are a few I recommend.

Did you know that by using my affiliate links you help me with maintaining this site? Even if you don’t stick with my recommendations I still receive a small commission, each time a booking is made through my site. Thanks for your support!

Alpenhotel Panorama in Campitello Di Fassa

B&B Cèsa Planber Mountain View in Canazei

Smarthotel Saslong in Santa Cristina in Val Gardena (best value for money)

How to shorten the Sassolungo circuit hike

Rifugio Vicenza
Rifugio Vicenza

If all day of hiking is too long for you or if the weather turns for the worse you can shorten this hike by cutting through the middle of the Sassolungo group.

If you go back to the map you can spot the shortcut marked in a blue line.

To take the shorter version of the route, after completing stage 2 of the Sassolungo circuit, follow the signs for rifugio Vicenza (path no. 525), instead of going on path 526.

From rifugio Vicenza head uphill on a steep slope to rifugio Toni Demetz. Here you can catch the Sassolung gondola back to Passo Sella.

Bear in mind this shortcut only makes sense and is possible between mid-June and the first week of October when the gondola is running.

Check the exact dates of the Sassolung gondola schedule on the official Val Gardena tourism site.

Other hikes and via ferratas to experience nearby

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Via ferrata Mesules

More travel and hiking resources in the Dolomites

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Marta Kulesza

I am Marta Kulesza - 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.

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