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. Hey,

    we are planning this hike for May. Unfortunately the cable car it is closed till June. Is it still possible to make this hike within 1 day without using the cablecar?



    1. Post

      I would assume that you can do the hike although I do not know anything about the trail for the section that the cable car covers. I would check out the book A Shorter Walk in the Dolomites for more info. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hello Julie and Family,

    Our family would like to hike The Puez Odle Altopiano hike, starting at Selva di Val Gardena.
    We will be traveling by trains/bus. Is there a train/bus going to this location? Can we establish a home base there as well?
    We are also hoping to hike the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo Loop. The two hikes seem quite far from one another. Would you know if trains/bus connect the two areas? we have two full days and 3 nights. Where would be best for a home base if we have no car? If we do choose to rent a car, could we rent one from Selva di Val Gardena?

    Thank you
    Nathalie (I gave you the wrong email in the previous message, sorry)

    1. Post

      We had a rental car (that we picked up in Venice and dropped in Bolzano) so I am not familiar with how the bus system works. Here is a link to the public bus website. The book at the end of this post, Shorter Hikes in the Dolomites, also gives valuable information about how the buses work in the Dolomites. I know that you can get around by public bus but having rental car is much more convenient. Trains run to Bolzano but I do not think that they run to the smaller towns in the Dolomites. If you do not have a car, Cortina D’Ampezzo is a good home base and located near many of the best hiking trails. You would have better luck renting a car from this town than a smaller place like Selva di Val Gardena. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hie,

    Thank to share your experience. We go to Dolomite this summer. I would like to know if you think it’s possible to do this hiking with a baby (in babycarrier) ?

    It was really your best hiking in Dolomites ?


    Best regards,


    1. Post

      Hello Mathilde. We did 3 hikes in the Dolomites (Puez-Odle, Tre Cime, and Lagazuoi Tunnels) and Puez-Odle was definitely our favorite. It was also the most challenging. You can do this hike with a baby carrier if you have a high fitness level and are comfortable hiking downhill a long distance with weight on your back. If you don’t think you are fit enough, the other two hikes are almost as good (links at the bottom of this post). Cheers, Julie

  4. We use Airbnb for staying in the Dolomites, if you look around, you can find great places with two rooms and kitchen for under $100.

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  5. Which hotel did you stay in when you were hiking the Dolomites? We are spending four days there in June and trying to find an affordable place to stay 🙂

    1. Post

      We stayed at Hotel Garni Ongario in Selva di Cadore. This was our most expensive accommodation in Italy…the Dolomites were more expensive than we expected them to be! This was a nice place, nothing fancy, but we loved the view from our room and being situated in a smaller town in the Dolomites. Cheers, Julie

  6. Such a helpful post! Some friends and I are planning on doing some of these hikes, but are on a pretty tight budget. Can you warn us about any extra costs we may need to take into account such as chair-lift prices/rental car prices/etc or recommend ways to save?

    1. Post

      For this hike, there is the chair lift fee (here is the link to the Dantercepies Gondola). If you are renting a car, you have that fee plus the fee to park in Selva di Val Gardena. We parked in a parking garage in the center of town and walked to the cable car. I do not know how much we paid. The hike is free. At Rifugio Puez you can buy a snack or just carry your own food. We did eat a picnic lunch while on the trail. Those are the only fees for this hike that I can think of. Renting a car in Italy is expensive. You do have the option to get around the Dolomites using the public buses. We had bad luck with the buses in southern Italy (running late, not showing up…) and I don’t know if it’s any better in the Dolomites since we had a rental car. But using the bus system would save you a lot of money. Also, accommodations are expensive in the Dolomites. We found a cheap B&B in Selva di Cadore that was great but it was the most expensive spot we stayed in Italy. You could see if there are hostels in Cortina d’Ampezzo or Bolzano. The Dolomites are incredible with some of the best hiking in the world. Have a great time! Cheers, Julie

  7. Hi I hope you can help, I am interested to know more about Hiking the Puez-Odle Altopiano plus other hiking trail options at the Dolomites, where can I get more information? I would like to find out the best time to travel there (we are considering May), where is the start point for Puez-Odle Altopiano, which city do i need to travel to – nearest to the start point, what is the duration of the other hiking trailsavailable, can we hike by ourselves along the trail or need to follow a guide, where to stay before and after the hike (motels or B&B). Thank you very much.

    1. Post

      Most of your questions are answered in this post. Take a look at the map, the hike starts in Selva di Val Gardena. You can sleep here. You do not need a guide a for the hikes in the Dolomites unless you think you would have a hard time following the trail map. Summer is the best time to hike the Dolomites. If you want more information about hikes in the area, buy the guide we list at the bottom of the post. Cheers, Julie

  8. The photographs of the Dolomites are just spectacular! I’m so much enjoying my arm chair travel with your family. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  9. Fantastic photos! I never imagined that Italy could look like that. Thanks for sharing a different corner of Italy from the usual tourist hot spots! As Rick Steves would say, you definitely went off the beaten path for this trip. The hiking looks amazing. I will be putting this on my bucket list. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures in Germany!!

  10. Julie and family,
    I can’t thank you enough for the photos and the dialog. I will never be able to visit places like this and with your blog I am having such a good time. We look forward to all of your posts. The scree on the trail make me scared for you and your kids just looking at it! This is a trip John would have loved in his earlier days but he wouldn’t have been able to get away and frankly, his wife was never into that much hiking. so it’s been real easy to give up hiking with my bad back! I am amazed how your kids are hanging in there for the long and arduous treks. what a lifetime of memories and experiences you are giving them. Stay healthy. On to Germany. Our son has to travel to Germany occasionally for work..he’d love to spend some time sightseeing but never seems to be able to find the time. So sad. You had lots of pizza, wine and pasta in Italy. I guess it will be schnitzel, beer sausages and sauerkraut now!

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