The Dolomites offer an extremely diverse range of hikes. From simple walks in the valleys or by the lakes and all the way to long and more demanding hikes in the high mountains. One of the easier and more accessible points is a hike to the Croda da Lago hut and Lake Federa.
Croda da Lago
Croda da Lago is a small mountain range in the central Dolomites, east of the Giau Pass. The highest peak of the Cima d’Ambrizzola group, has an altitude of 2,715 meters and is one of the most distinctive mountains in the Dolomites.
Starting point for the hike
The starting point for the hike to the Croda da Lago hut is about 13 kilometers from Cortina d’Ampezzo. You will find the starting point halfway towards the Giau pass, where there is some space for cars along the road. In high season, it is recommended that you arrive early in the morning, this will avoid crowds and also make it easier to get a parking space.
Hike to Croda da Lago hut and Lake Federa
When you reach the parking lot, you will notice a small signpost along the way. Take route no. 437 Rif. Croda da Lago. Follow the path down and cross the wooden bridge. From here follows some gentle ascent over the forest. The path then turns left and after some ascent, crosses the slope to the east. Along the way, you will occasionally see beautiful views towards Tofana. Soon you will see a slightly steeper ascent through the forest, which will lead you to a marked path intersection at the top. On this route, all the way to the end point, always keep the mark no. 437 Rifugio Croda da Lago.
After a long steep climb, the hardest part of the route is behind you. The last part of the path becomes flatter and crosses the animal electric fence. You are walking through the valley called Val Negra. Be sure to stop at the lookout point of the same name, at an altitude of 2048 meters. We promise you a spectacular view at the top of the cliff, from where there is a beautiful view of Cortina and the whole valley.
After a twenty minute walk, you will arrive at Lake Federa. At the end of the lake is the charming hut Croda da Lago, located at an altitude of 2046 meters. We recommend that you go to the hut on the right side of the lake, and in the distance admire the reflection of the Beco de Mezodi mountain on the surface of the lake. This way you will avoid most tourists who choose the main route to the hut. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across cute donkeys around the lake. They are not afraid of the proximity of people and you can make a quick selfie.
The climb sounds relatively demanding, but it’s really not that hard. We recommend that you walk the path slowly and enjoy all the sights and views.
Rifugio Croda da Lago
The Croda da Lago mountain hut was built by a mountain guide in 1901. Due to the many larch trees in the area, the hut is one of the most photogenic huts in the Dolomites and also one of the newest refuges. From the hut there is a very nice view of the nearby Croda da Lago and Becco di Mezzedi, and there is also a beautiful view of the mountain group Sorapiss and Antelao.
The hut is open from mid-June until the end of September. In the cottage you can also refresh yourself with delicious local dishes or just drink some beer or tea. As a curiosity, next to the hut there is a real Finnish sauna, designed to relax the muscles.
You can take the same route back (route no. 437) or cross the extremely popular circular route (route no. 435 Val de Formin). Due to lack of time, we didn’t decide for a circular route, so we can’t write much about it.
- Trail length: 4 km (total 8 km)
- Walk time: 1.40 h (total 3.5 h)
- Overall height difference: 453 m
- Difficulty: undemanding marked route
- Equipment: hiking boots, hiking poles