Hiking the Dolomites was our favorite activity while in Italy. The Puez-Odle Altopiano was our favorite of three hikes we did while in the Dolomites.
The Puez-Odle Altopiano Hike
Facts About the Hike
Distance: 9 miles/14.5 km
Elevation Gain: 500 meters ascent/1100 meters descent
Time: 6 – 7 hours
Map: You can purchase a map of this hike at the tourist offices, souvenir shops, and outdoor suppliers in the Dolomites. For this hike, you need the Tabacco #7 or #5. Purchasing the map is not necessary. The hiking trails are well marked and easy to follow. You can also reference the book Shorter Walks in the Dolomites, which we reference below.
When to go: This hike is best during the summer months, when the wildflowers are in bloom.
Bring: Hiking shoes, water, snacks or lunch, a jacket (it is chilly at the higher elevations), and of course, your camera.
The Puez-Odle hike is a 9 mile hike along some of the highest mountain peaks in the Dolomites. The hike involves 500 meters of climbing (a chairlift shaves 700m off the first ascent) and 1150 meters of descent. The length of the hike and the amount of climbing were just enough to make it challenging, and the views are what really kept it interesting.
We were lucky enough to have blue skies for most of the hike, allowing us to have views out to the other mountains in the surrounding area.
Getting to the start of the hike
The hike starts in the town of Selva di Val Gardena, in the Upper Val Gardena area of the Dolomites. For us, this was an hour and a half drive from our hotel. Winding roads and numerous passes through the mountains made the drive incredibly scenic.
Here is a map of the Dolomites, with the location of Selva di Val Gardena, the chairlift that takes you to the start of the hike, and the location of Rifugio Puez, a restaurant/hotel located along the hike.
Selva di Val Gardena
To get to the start of the hike, park in Selva di Val Gardena and walk to the Dantercepies chairlift. This chairlift takes you up into the mountains, shaving off a portion of your climb. This saves a lot of time and energy and provides awesome views on your way to the top.
From the chairlift, follow the wide trail east towards Rifugio Jimmy. Enjoy those views along the way!
On the Trail
Once at Rifugio Jimmy, the real hiking begins. From here, take the no. 2 trail up and into the rocky mountains. As we climbed higher and higher, we had the best view of the Dolomites so far.
It did not take long until we summited the mountain. The views on the other side were totally different! Good-bye lush green landscape…hello rocky formations.
We ate a picnic lunch, enjoying our new view over Lago di Crespeina, before setting off again. Tyler and Kara did great hiking on these trails. The trails are very difficult in some sections, with lots of scree that made the descents very slippery.
Finally, we made it to the second peak. It is so beautiful here!! Once on the second peak, you can look out across the Vallunga, the gorgeous U-shaped valley shown in the photo above. Just look at this place…it’s amazing!
The hike took us to Rifugio Puez, a restaurant/hotel offering tired hikers a place to eat or even stay the night. There are Rifugios located all through the Dolomites and a lot of them can only be accessed by hiking.
There are no roads that go to this Rifugio. That had me wondering how they got the food up there, and what was it like to commute to work everyday? Anyway, there is the option to hike the Dolomites by traveling from one Rifugio to another, using these as places to stay the night. I had considered this in our planning, but logistically it seemed too difficult, so we chose a hotel as our home base instead. The multi-day hut hopping option is always a trip idea for the future!
We stopped for about a half hour at Rifugio Puez. They served apfelstrudel (apple pie) here, which really wasn’t very good, even as hungry as we were. But it filled us up and gave us the energy we needed to finish the hike. We still had a long ways to go.
Making the Descent back to Selva
It is a 1150 meter descent into the valley. Going down is a lot easier on the lungs but it is hard on the legs. From Rifugio Puez we took trail #14 down into the valley.
Finally, when we entered the valley, it was nice to be walking on level ground again. It was an hour and a half walk through the valley, past herds of cattle until we reached Selva.
The Puez-Odle hike took us 6 hours total, including our stops for lunch and apfelstrudel. Tyler and Kara (ages 11 and 9) were amazing, never complaining and never even seeming to get tired. It is wonderful that we can take these long hikes with them, and that they enjoy it just as much as we do.
For More Information on Hiking the Dolomites
The book Shorter Walks in the Dolomites by Gillian Price was a huge asset to us planning our time in the Dolomites. This book covers 50 one-day hikes in the Dolomites, complete with maps, directions, photographs, and wonderful descriptions of the hikes. If you are considering hiking the Dolomites, we highly recommend this book.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Hotel Garni Ongaro, located in Selva di Cadore (note the slight difference in name of the two towns. The hike starts in Selva di Val Gardena). The small town of Selva di Cadore was our home base for three nights, from where we explored the Dolomites. We chose this spot simply because Hotel Garni Ongaro was one of the few accommodations in the area that fit into our budget but had good reviews. This was a great spot for us. This tiny town is gorgeous, with a few small restaurants and plenty of amazing views of the mountains. To get to the start of this hike, it was an hour and a half drive on curving roads.
More Information for Your Trip to Italy:
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