Family Hiking in the Dolomites

Ideally located along the south corner of the Alps, the Italian Dolomites offer the perfect combination of breathtaking nature, exhilarating outdoor activities and rich cultural discovery.  And while many of the open air activities available there are geared toward expert athletes, the Dolomites also offer a variety of family recreation options.  For instance, there are plenty of basic hiking trails that provide great way to get active and bond as a family while forging unforgettable memories together.  And with the area’s rich history, you may even learn something while you’re at it!

Here are five recommended hikes that are perfect for families.

 

Mount Lagazuoi
During the First World War, this area was alive with activity.  The Italian troops were embattled with the Austrian army, and used the ledges under the peak as shelter and protection from the enemy.  The Italian troops eventually dug out a gallery tunnel, starting at the “Martini Ledges”, so named for the sector commander Captain Martini.  Hiking this tunnel, and standing along these infamous ledges, one can almost hear the battle cries of the soldiers who once fought there.

An excursion to the Lagazuoi-Valparola-5 Torri area should also include a visit to the many local museums.  Or, for the more adventurous family, a hike along the Kaiserjäger trail, a 2,250m winding path that leads past more historical army trenches and tunnels, across a gravity-defying rope bridge and to the top of the Piccolo Lagazuoi, where fallen soldiers are memorialized with a crucifix.

 

The Path of the Ladin Legends
Part of the culture that is so deep-rooted in the Dolomite people is the many legends and tales that have been passed down through generations.  These Ladin stories are an integral part of the history of the Dolomite region, and remain a fascinating testament to the unique heritage still embraced there today. 

Families can learn about the magical Ladin legends by participating in an excursion made up of eight enchanting routes, including the Excursion to the Santa Croce which covers the tale of The Dragon of Sas dla Crusc, the Excursion to Lalunch Lake, which highlights The Salvan with the Red Coat, and more.  Explore the Ladin culture and journey to the edge of your imagination along this family-friendly path.

 

The Geological Itineraries
These hiking itineraries include three separate routes within the Alta Badia valley, each providing a fascinating glimpse into the geological and geo-morphological history of the area.

The Gardena Pass/Crespeina Plateau/Colfosco itinerary covers about 7 km and is an easy trek for hikers of any skill level.  Hikers will learn about various rock and clay formations, observe periglacial activity, and experience a variety of natural and historical wonders.  There are also some magnificent views to be had during this journey.

The Corvara/Vallon itinerary is slightly shorter, lasting about 4 km, and is suitable for families who are all at a good fitness level.  This journey leads across the Sella Group and exhibits the interesting effects of glacial modeling and other natural factors like gravity and erosion.  View the characteristic landforms of the talus cones and talus fans, which were formed by the intense shattering of frost on the Dolomite faces.  It’s like attending a live science class, surrounded by spectacular views of nature.

The final itinerary, La Villa/Gardenaccia Plateau/Juel Valley/La Villa, is an 8 km stretch that takes place in the Puez-Odle Natural Park.  It highlights the indigenous limestone of the area as well as the youngest rock formations in the Dolomites.  Another interesting find along this route are the “Marne del Puez”, soft Cretaceous rocks that were deposited in the area some 120-130 million years ago when it was still below sea level.  It’s an eye-opening geological journey that will fascinate the whole family and provide a unique educational view of the Dolomite region.

 

Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks)
This popular landmark is part of the Sesto Dolomite nature park and offers an unforgettable view of three majestic mountain obelisks in all their colorful glory.  To get there, you must hike through the Landro Valley to reach Landro.  From there you can behold the “highest sky of the Dolomites”: the Small Peak, at 2,857m, the Western Peak, at 2,973m and the Grand Peak, rising up at 2,999m. So incredible are the views that the landmark has been named a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. 

The colors that are seen on the rock faces are nothing short of amazing – from pale greys to fiery reds.  It must be experienced to truly understand.  There is a telescope available at the Dobbiaco, which can be used free of charge.  For those more adventurous visitors, there are plenty of hiking trails suitable for beginners and families that lead to the foot of the peak formations, where you can see these majestic beauties up close.  They are a reminder of just how awesome nature truly is.

 

Naturonda
This lovely “walk through nature” brings you through the Stone City in Val Gardena for a chance to truly experience the natural beauty of this region.  Explore a variety of alpine flowers, plants, local wildlife and panoramic views sure to take your breath away.  The path is well marked with detailed signs so your family can learn about each area as you pass through.   Discover what is unique to the Dolomite region and learn how these natural wonders survive here within the towering mountain peaks.  There is no better way to bond as a family than to commune with nature together.

 

If it’s family adventure you seek, the Dolomites offers the best of everything – from outdoor recreation, to educational experiences to natural beauty at its most magnificent.  These hiking itineraries are sure to get your family working together as a team, exercising and having fun.  One thing’s for certain, you’ll all leave with memories to last a lifetime.