July 12, 2015
Hike #19 – Round the Croda da Lago
Cicerone Guide, Shorter Walks in the Dolomites
Starting Point: Ponte di Rocurto
Distance: 12.5km/7.7 miles
Another lake hike on a weekend produced lots of hikers on the direct trail to the lake. The guide book suggests doing the loop hike, 237 to 234 and back via trail 235. Wanting to get to the rifugio at the lake closer to lunch time rather than mid-morning, we decided to do the route in the reverse direction, arriving at the rifugio around lunchtime.
Trail 237 is a well graded path through a pretty, grassy forest with the occasional stream crossing – a rarity in the Dolomites. Some fairly steep uphill sections offer views through the trees to the lit Tofana di Rozes behind you.
Trail 435 is a more rugged less used track but is still easy to follow as it continues the climb, first through the same pretty woods and then opening up to a field of boulders where the climb steepens. Watch for the painted blazes, there is always one in sight. In the morning the Croda da Lago formation is in shadow, but there aren’t really any good viewpoints anyway.
A few groups of rock climbers passed us and we watched them start their climb up one of the cliff faces.
As you climb up along the boulders to the pass the views begin to open up to a stark moon-like landscape – quite the contrast from the lush forest just below.
The view up and over the pass where trail 235 turns leftish are even more spectacular. You can see the trail cross the green valley below you. We made the mistake of not believing that was the trail headed down here and continued on a trace trail that descended somewhat but kept the high ground, crossing a pass much sooner than the main trail.
The views from this view point out over Cortina are amazing on a clear day, but the descent, while passable, is a slog on loose scree. This rogue trail hits the main trail, now 234, again a short distance before the lake and Rifugio Croda da Lago.
The rifugio was hopping with Italians and other tourists, many picnicking by the lake, but you can also get food at the rifugio. Typical rifugio pricing but good quality . I tried the venison goulash with polenta and was quite pleased – but then again I was really hungry.
Trail 434 continues past the lake through forest and down a steep hill. A few views to the south through the tree and at an overlook point. At a small cabin, trail 437 heads back to the parking area at Ponte di Rocurto.