An unassuming small valley with a rather boring name – Vallunga, which literally translates to the long valley.
Yet once you step foot onto the trail that runs across it, you will quickly realize there is nothing boring about it.
The perfect U-shape of the valley and the sheer almost 90-degree walls surrounding it will certainly leave a long-lasting impression on you.
Vallunga hike: the stats
- Distance roundtrip – 9 km / 5.6 mi
- Time required – 2-3 hours
- Total Ascent – 230 m / 755 ft
- Type of hike – out and back
- When to go: year-round
- Parking – Parkplatz Langental – Wolkenstein
- Trail number – 14
- Map – Tabacco no 05 (Val Gardena – Alpe Di Siusi)
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Where is the Vallunga valley hike?
Vallunga is a small valley that branches off the famous Val Gardena. It lies in the southern part of the Puez Geisler Nature Park (Italian: Puez Odle), home to a very famous Dolomiti landmark – the Seceda Ridgeline.
The map of the hike
Above you can see the path I followed from the car park to the summit. I measured the distance, elevation gain, and route with my Garmin Fenix 6S pro watch.
For the map’s legend click on the icon in the top left corner of the map.
Disclaimer: This is just a visualization of the Vallunga route and should not be used as a topography map.
How difficult is the hike through Vallunga?
Unless you plan on doing the extensions, which I write about towards the end of this article, then it’s time to leave your heavy hiking boots at home.
Vallunga is literally a walk through the park. The ascent is so gentle, that you will hardly notice it.
Walking through Langental is a great choice for a rest day. I have included this hike on my autumn hiking road trip itinerary across the Italian Dolomites.
The best month to hike through Vallunga
It’s possible to hike through Vallunga at any time of the year, even in the Winter! The busiest period is between July and September.
My favorite month for it is hands down October. That’s when the valley comes to life with larch trees turning to all shades of yellows and oranges.
All photos in this post were taken exactly on the 29th of October, during the peak of the autumn season.
READ MORE: Best Autumn Day Hikes In The Italian Dolomites
Getting to the trailhead
Getting to the trailhead by car
The parking lot for Vallunga is a 7-minute (2.7 km) drive from Selva di Val Gardena, 10 minutes (5.2 km) from Santa Cristina, and 15 min (9.2 km) from Ortisei.
At the time of writing this article, the parking was free, however, I have noticed that parking lots which were free just a year or two ago, started charging fees, hence I always recommend bringing some cash just in case.
During the peak season, I recommend coming earlier as spaces are limited and the parking lots can fill up quickly. During October there were plenty of spaces throughout the day.
Getting to the trailhead by bus
The nearest bus stop to the trailhead is called Vallunga and it is 950 meters away. To get to the trailhead you will have to walk the extra distance, which will add a couple of kilometers to your day.
Bus no. 357 operates along this route. I recommend the Süd Tirol Mobil website for checking bus connections.
Bear in mind that buses operate seasonally (June-September) and many routes shut down during the shoulder season. Traveling by public transport in October for instance is very difficult.
The highlights of the Vallunga day hike
For the little effort that I had to put in to complete the Vallunga hike, I was rewarded tenfold with dramatic views along the way.
Immediately as you step your foot onto the trail you will notice the steep walls of Mont De Sëura straight ahead.
As you walk a little further and look to the right into the gulley that leads to Val Chedul, the sharp peaks of Pizes da Cir peak above.
The valley has the perfect U-shape, which is the outcome of glaciers doing their thing through millions of years.
Facilities along the Vallunga trail
There is a little outdoor restaurant right at the start of the trail which operates seasonally, usually between June and September.
There are no backcountry huts along the trail. Unless you decide on extending the hike into the higher alpine areas.
You also won’t find any toilets so make sure to practice the leave no trace policy and always carry out what you brought in with you, including toilet paper!
Unfortunately, toilet paper in the bushes and forests is a sight that is way too common in the Dolomites.
Vallunga trail description
There is not much to say about the trail through Vallunga. It is as straightforward as they come. From the moment you leave the parking lot until the end of the valley, you will be following a wide gravel path. That’s it! It’s impossible to get lost.
The route is approximately 4.5 kilometers (2.8) miles and gains 250 meters of elevation. The incline is very gentle though and hardly noticeable.
Be mindful of bikes and many dog owners along the trail. Around 3/4 into the trail, there is a wide field where I was able to let my dog run leash-free for some time.
Where to stay nearby
The nearest towns to Vallunga hike are Selva Di Val Gardena, Santa Cristina di Val Gardena, and Ortisei. As their names suggest they all lie in the Gardena valley. Below you can find some of my hotel recommendations for your stay in the area.
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Smart hotel Saslong in Santa Cristina
Bed & Breakfast Lavi in Ortisei
Hotel Luna Mondschein in Ortisei
How to extend the Vallunga hike?
You have two opportunities to extend the hike through Vallunga turning it into a full-day excursion. Refer to the map at the beginning of the post to see the trails marked in different colors.
Option 1: Rifugio Puez
Once you get to the end of the valley continue on trail no. 14 and follow the signs for rifugio Puez. I marked this extension with a yellow line on the map.
Once at the refuge take trail no. 16 down to the valley turning the extension into a circuit hike. Since it is a circuit you can also hike it in a clockwise direction.
This extension will add approximately 6 kilometers and additional 540 meters of elevation. It will get steep, so it won’t be a relaxed hike anymore!
Option 2: Val Chedul
This extension (marked in a blue line on the map) is a great option for those who like more off-the-beaten-path places.
From the end of the valley continue on path no. 14 first following the signs for rifugio Puez then veer off onto path no. 14A towards Forcella (saddle) Ciampei.
Once at the saddle take path no. 2 towards Forcella Crespeina then no. 12 across Val Chedul which eventually merges with Vallunga.
When choosing this extension you need to count 8 additional kilometers and approximately 600 meters of extra elevation gain.