Julie Italy 38 Comments

The Puez-Odle Altopiano is a spectacular hike from start to finish. With jaw-dropping views of the Dolomites, fields of wildflowers, and endless alpine views, this is our favorite hike in the Dolomites.

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.

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
Difficulty: Moderate
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.

Our Experience

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

Selva Dolomites

To get to the start of the Puez-Odle 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.

Danterceppies Dolomites

Tyler Rivenbark Italy

From the chairlift, follow the wide trail east towards Rifugio Jimmy. Enjoy those views along the way!

Tyler and Kara Dolomites

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.


Dolomites Hiking Trail

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.

Dolomites Italy

Hiking Dolomites with Kids

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.

Puez Odle Trail

Hiking Dolomites

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!

Puez-Odle Italy

Tim Rivenbark

Hiking Italy

Puez Odle Trail

Rifugio Puez

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.

Hiking in the Dolomites

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.

Puez Odle Hike

On the Way Down

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.

Hiking Dolomites

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.

If you have any questions about hiking the Puez-Odle Altopiano, let us know in the comment section below. 

More Information for Your Trip to Italy:

Planning a trip to Italy? Read all of our articles in our Italy Travel Guide.

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Hiking the Puez Odle Altopiano

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Comments 38

  1. Hi, great post and blog! We are planning a trip to the Dolomites. Wondering how you decided on the hikes that you did and if there were others you considered? I realize the kids’ ages were probably a factor. Also that you were there more than 5 yrs ago. Thanks for whatever you can recall!

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      Hello Phil. I did a lot of online research, looking at photos for what looked good. We wanted to do one semi-long hike with high mountain views and this one seemed perfect, and it was spectacular. In this article, I give a link for the book Shorter Walks in the Dolomites. I also read through this to help us pick out our hikes. One of the things that we really wanted to do was to hike one of the via ferrata trails with a guide, but since it was so expensive, and we were traveling on a very tight budget, we had to skip it. But it’s something for you to look into, if you like the idea of adding a via ferrata to your trip. Happy hiking! Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi!
    Planning a trip around the world and using a lot of your posts to help choose destinations and plan =) I followed a lot of your tips for my Norway trip last year and it was amazing. Planning on hiking in the Dolomites and was wondering how long did you stay there? Thanks!

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      Hello Sofia. Thanks for writing in to us. We spent 4 days/3 nights in the Dolomites. We used 3 of these days to do 3 different hikes (Puez-Odle, Tre Cime, and Lagazuoi Tunnels). You could easily spend a week here and hike a different trail every day. 🙂 Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi. We are heading to the Dolomites in January and would love to attempt a this hike (The Puez-Odle Hike). We are active hikers and understand this will be middle of winter, but don’t have much choice on our timing. We have done quite a few winter hikes before. I know it depends on the amount of snowfall, but do you think this hike will be possible to do at this time of year? Would appreciate any information, Thank you.

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      The hiking season typically ends in autumn, when the snow begins to fall. In the winter, this cable car is operating, but it is ski season. I would expect lots of snow, enough that most likely you won’t be able to see trail markers. I don’t know much about hiking in the Dolomites in winter, but from the little that I do know, it can be dangerous, without trail markers and the possibility of avalanches. You could contact your hotel for more info or look into hiring a guide, if that is even possible. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi…we are at the Dolomites in Selva Si Val Gardena now. We are trying to follow your path. There are 2 Dantercepies Lift in town. Which lift did you use? One or two? Thanks for the great info and pictures. Your family’s journey to all these locations are inspiring.


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      It is exciting to hear that you are in the Dolomites! If you are looking on Google Maps then you can try searching for “Dantercepies Seilbahnen AG”, this is where we got on the cable car. Google list the address as “Streda Dantercëpies, 42, 39048 Selva di Val Gardena BZ, Italy”. It is located right next to Hotel Continental. Happy Travels! Tim

  5. Hi Julie! My family is heading to the Dolomites next month and I loved reading your post! This hike looks truly amazing. Our sons are 9 and 12, and are great hikers. However, I’m wondering about the difficulty… You mentioned that there were some “difficult sections with scree”. We did a difficult hike while in Scotland a few years ago and it was quite a narrow ledge that we were hiking on… and I’ve never been so scared with my kids hiking. I don’t want to end up in such a situation again. And so my question is: when you say difficult, is it dangerous at all? Is it a narrow ledge with high evelation whereby they could fall? That Scotland experience unfortunately has made me so nervous, where I really wasn’t before. I’d love your honest opinion about the danger factor.. Thanks so much for all of this invaluable information

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      Hello Jenn. I don’t recall any narrow sections or sections of trail along drop-offs. There’s a picture of Tyler and Kara in this post, where Tyler is “crouching” a little bit…this was one of the more slippery sections, but there’s nothing dangerous about it, just the chance to slip and fall on your butt. Kara was also 9 at the time and we never worried for her safety, we were just more concerned she could hike the entire distance. Cheers, Julie

      1. Hi Julie! Thanks SO much for your thoughtful response – it really helps to put my mind at ease! We are very much enjoying reading about your trip and thank you for all of the effort you put in! What a trip you had – we’re jealous : )


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      The main hiking season starts in June. You might be good to go in May, it just depends on how much snow they got this year. If you know which hikes you want to do, you can look up the lifts online and get their hours of operation and pricing. But some of these lifts can also be used for skiing, so most likely they are open year round. Cheers, Julie

  6. Hey there, the rifugi without road access are usually serviced by helicopter or a private cable car. The people working there usually stay there all season and only go down to the valley every now and then. 🙂

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  7. Once you reached the Rifugio Puez, what is the route you then took descending back into the valley to Selva? Did you just turn around or did you take a different route back? Did you by chance make a gpx/kml file of the route?

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      Yes, we took a different route back. There is a more direct route back to town. From the Rifugio, there is a trail that heads downhill into the valley and back into to town. I do not have a GPS file, but the trail is well-marked with signs pointing you in the right direction. Cheers, Julie

  8. Hi Julie & family!

    My husband and I are hiking this path in a couple months…. do you have to buy a pass to use the chairlift? If so, can you purchase right there, or do you need to purchase beforehand/somewhere else?

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