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Tre Cime Nature Park

The Three Peaks Nature Park aka the Tre Cime / Drei Zinnen Nature Park is one of the treasure troves of the Dolomites, the region which is home to one national park, eight nature parks and one geopark, a national monument and quite a number of smaller reserves. Such parks combine untouched and man-made landscapes which makes them very accessible and yet pristine at the same time.

Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

The park was officially founded on December 22, 1981, but under a different name - Dolomiti di Sesto aka the Sextner Dolomiten. Rebranding took place in 2010 to commemorate the most iconic looks of the Dolomites - the Three Peaks (aka Tre Cime, Drei Zinnen). Yet, many people still call the place of unparalleled beauty by its old name or use both names equally. The park’s names in other languages are Parco Naturale Tre Cime (in Italian), Naturpark Drei Zinnen (in German).

The park covers an area of 11,891 hectares and is located in the northeastern part of the Dolomites, almost on the border with Austria. The northern border of the park is the Pustertal/Pusteria Valley, the eastern goes along the Sesto Valley (Sextental or Val di Sesto), the southern border runs along the province of Belluno, and the western is along the Höhlensteintal Valley (Val di Landro). The southern border of the park is also the border between the regions of Veneto (province of Belluno) and TrentinoAlto-Adige / South Tyrol in Italy.

The Tre Cime Nature park is part of the European Natura 2000 network — a Europe-wide ecological network of nature conservation areas designed by all European Union member states. Totally, there are over 27.800 sites in the network so far, covering almost a fifth of Europe's land area. The aim of the network is to promote conservation for wildlife habitats and ensure the sustainable development of the unique European nature.

The Park territory, as the whole territory of the Dolomites, became a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2009.

Cima Grande, Cima Ovest, Cima Piccola, Italy

Cima Grande, Cima Ovest, Cima Piccola

Park’s Visitor Centre

The park has a Visitor Centre where you can find more information about it and about the eastern section of Fanes-Sennes-Prags / Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park, which is located right of the Tre Cime. In the Visitor Centre, there is a permanent exhibition.

Here is what you will find out about in the Visitor Centre:

  • the natural and man-made landscapes of both parks
  • the geology of the Sexten / Sesto Dolomites
  • the military conflicts that raged in the 20th century along the Dolomite front
  • the beginnings of Alpine mountain climbing
  • the history of tourism in the Hochpustertal / Alta Pusteria Valley

Memorial monument and Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Italy

Memorial monument and Tre Cime di Lavaredo

There is a library with a reading corner, an aquarium representing the water life of the local Toblach lake, and an adventure workshop for children. In July and August 2020, workshops were held every Wednesday afternoon, reservations required.

You can take a virtual tour of the Visitor Center on the official website of the Tre Cime Nature park.

You can pick up a paper map and other services on-site at the Centre:

  • Name: Drei Zinnen / Tre Cime Nature Park Visitor Centre
  • Address: Cultural Centre Grand Hotel Toblach / Centro Culturale Grand Hotel Dobbiaco, Dolomitenstraße, 37 / Via Dolomiti, 37, Toblach / Dobbiaco, 39034.
  • Tel: +39 0474 973017
  • Email: info.dz@provinz.bz.it
  • The local manager: Florian Reichegger

Punta tre scarperi - Dreischusterspitze, Italy

Punta tre scarperi - Dreischusterspitze

Geology and Landscape

The territory of the park belongs to one of the nine main and the most extensive mountain systems of the Dolomites called Dolomiti settentrionali.

The mountains of the Tre Cime Nature Park were formed in the warm shallow waters of the erstwhile Tertiary Mediterranean. It is primarily composed of Dolomites, but there is also a substantial amount of volcanic rock, sandstone and mudstone.

The landscape of the Tre Cime Nature park was formed by water and glacier ice over the past 2-3 million years. In particular, the glacier activity is clearly visible on the plateaus around the Drei Zinnen / Tre Cime di Lavaredo and in the Bacherntal Valley / Alta Val Fiscalina.

Bodenseen, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

The park is characterized by a large collection of mountains with unusual shapes:

  • Cadini di Misurina looks like a set of needles
  • Monte Paterno / Paternkofel reminds of a pyramid
  • Croda Rosa is similar to an open rosebud and not just because of the red color of the mountain, and so on.

But the main one is, of course, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Those three sharp teeth are considered the symbol of the Dolomites. For this reason, the Tre Cime Nature Park is one of the most popular parks in the Dolomites.

Another important feature of the Tre Cime Park’s landscape is that the rocks incessantly tumble off the peaks, slopes and cliffs, and accumulate in massive mounds at the base of the mountains. That is why, watch your step and head, wear a helmet. Landslides and loose rocks have also formed many picturesque moraines in the area.

The park also has many high plateaus and canyons, one of which can be seen just behind the Tre Cime di Lavaredo on the famous trail around the mountains.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Water Resources

There are many springs in the park, for example, the Drau / Drava Springs at the foot of Haunold / Rocca dei Baranci, or the sulfur and iron springs of Wildbad Innichen / Bagni di S. Candido and Bad Moos / Moso, which have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Wildbad Innichen / Bagni di S. Candido springs are also used for producing mineral water.

As for the water resources, there is the Rienz / Rienza river in the park, it flows along in the Langalm Alpine pasture. The Tre Cime park has one large lake — Dürrensee / Lago di Landro, which is located in Höhlensteintal / Val di Andro Valley, and the numerous smaller mountain lakes. Let’s give some names in Italian: lago di Malga di Mezzo, laghi dei Piani, laghetti sull'Alpe Lunga, laghi di Cime. Where lago ((laghi is plural form) means just a lake, laghetti stands for ponds or very small quaint lakes.

Major Summits

Totally, there are 72 named mountains in the Tre Cime park. The highest and the most prominent mountain is Punta Tre Scarperi / Dreischusterspitze (3,152 m), the name can be loosely translated as Peak of Three Shoemakers.

Summit, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Other major peaks include:

Croda dei Toni, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Croda dei Toni

Flora and Fauna

The Tre Cime Park is rich and varied. At lower altitudes, there are many larch and spruce forests, and in the dry soil of the dolomite rocks, there are Scots pines. We could also see occasional leafy forest here, consisting of birches, mountain ashes, alders and willows.

Above the coniferous woods, lie the treeless Alpine meadows which came into existence without human intervention. There are many plants growing here: dwarf alpenrose, auricula, Achillea oxyloba, aquilegia, and rosacea, dwarf rhododendron, yellow yarrow, gentian, and, of course, edelweiss — the most famous Alpine flower. Many of these plants are endemics found solely in this area.

The following animals inhabit the Tre Cime Nature Park: deers, chamois, marmots, but the animal life is dominated by birds. Here live the pygmy owl, rock ptarmigan, rock patridge, black grouse, capercaillie, wallcreeper, snow finch, Alpine accentor, eagle, many different kinds of woodpeckers and others. In the water, there are salamanders and newts.

Val Fiscalina, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Accommodation

Accommodation options are numerous, you can stay in mountain huts in the Tre Cime Nature Park or at hotels in the nearby towns, or pitch a tent if you are caught in the mountains and all the huts are full, which is usually the case during high season.

Mountain Huts

Three main and the most famous mountains huts aka rifugios in the park are:

  • Rifugio Auronzo, 2,333 m. The 104-bed mountain hut, the closest to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, when viewed from south-west, the side of Lake Misurina.
  • Rifugio Lavaredo, 2,344 m. The second closest refuge to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. It takes less than an hour to walk here from Rifugio Auronzo. This mountain hut is smaller and less touristy. It has just 24 beds.
  • Rifugio Locatelli, 2,405 m. It is located on the opposite side of the Tre Cime when looking from the same south-west. It is from here that you can have the most beautiful classic view of the Tre Cime. Therefore, this 140-bed hut is the most popular. There are also 8 beds in a winter bivouac available.

Rifugio Auronzo, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Rifugio Auronzo

Other mountain huts in the park include rifugio Talschlusshütte / Fondavele (1,548m), rifugio Pian di Cengia (2,528m), rifugio Dreischusterhütte / Tre Scarperi (1,626m), and rifugio Zsigmondy-Comici (2,224m) which opened in 1926.

Near the borders of the park there are more mountain huts: rifugio A. Berti Al Popera (1950m), rifugio Selvapiana I. Lunelli (1,568m), rifugio A. Bosi Monte Piana (2,205m), rifugio G. Caducci (2,297m).

Bivouacs

There are several bivouacs — free alpine shelters — in the park or close to its borders. Usually, a bivouac in the Alps is a small building made of wood or stone, or a metal cabin, where you can stay free of charge. There are from 2 to 6-8 beds inside with mattress, blankets and pillows (but no bed sheets, bring sleeping bag with you). There could be a stove or a fireplace for cooking and some other kitchen stuff:

  • Bivacco Batt. Cadore, 2,250 m
  • Bivacco Ai Mascarboni, 2,932 m
  • Bivacco De Toni, 2,567 m

Learn how to stay in the free alpine shelters in the Dolomites.

Wild Camping (tents)

There is an option for sleeping overnight in the park with a view of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and other famous mountains — to pitch a tent. Officially, it is forbidden in the Dolomites and the rest of Italy, but if you can't find any other accommodation, you can still pitch a tent for the night.

Camping, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Campings

There are no campings on the park's territory, but there a few campings near the borders of the park where you can leave a car or caravan and enjoy some hiking and other activities:

  • Camping Alla Baita Misurina has 25 places for cars and a big grass area to pitch a tent. There is a bathroom area with sinks to wash the dishes, a dump station and water filling for camping cars, electric outlets, showers with hot water, a restaurant/bar, and other services. There is also an area called Sosta Camper Misurina near the parking slot on lake Misurina. You can park your caravan there.
  • Campsite Toblacher See. The campsite features private chalets with a beautiful view of the Lago di Dobbiaco. In the two-storey wash house there are toilets, a laundry room with washing machines and driers, a dog shower.
  • Campsite Caravan Park Sexten. It is located in a wood near a small river. It offers mobile homes, rooms and apartments. The camp site has an outdoor swimming pool and a heated indoor pool, as well as sauna and solarium. There is also a snack bar, a pizzeria, and a restaurant. You can access the Internet with your laptop on the territory of the camp site.

Parking, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Hotels

There are no hotels in the park because it is a protected area, but there are many of them in the towns near the park. For example, on lake Misurina, you can stay in Misurina hotel, Miralago, Lavaredo hotel, Sorapis hotel, Sport hotel and others.

Hotels, Misurina, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Major Trails and Hiking Areas

The Tre Cime Nature Park has many hiking trails, both for summer and winter pastime. Here are a few of the most interesting ones.

Summer hiking trails

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop

The most popular route of the Tre Cime Park around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo mountain group allows you to see these mountains really close, so that they are towering over you, and to see them from afar. The route begins at the parking lot near Rifugio Auronzo. From there, it's up to you whether to go: left (counterclockwise) to Rifugio Locatelli, or right (clockwise) to Rifugio Lavaredo.

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Basic information about the route:

  • Length: 10-11 km
  • Total time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Highest point: 2,447m
  • Lowest point: 2,180m
  • Ascent: 368m
  • Descent: 374m
  • Height difference: approx. 400 m

Other trails in the park

Some other main trails run through the park, but do not cover the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Each of them can be hiked a day before or after you take the itinerary around the Tre Cime, as tourists usually do:

  • Passo di Monte Croce Comelico (1,745m) — Croda Sora i Colesei (2,329m) — Passo di Monte Croce Comelico. Height difference: 700m. Duration: 3:40. Difficulty: moderate.
  • Val Campo di Dentro (1,510m) — Cima Piata Alta (2,905m). Height difference: 1,430 m. Duration: 4:20. Difficulty: moderate.
  • Val Fiscalina (1,453m) — Val Fiscalina / Anello delle Frocelle (1,453m). Height difference: 1,200 m. Duration: 6:30. Difficulty: easy.

Val Campo di Dentro, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Val Campo di Dentro

There are also guided hikes offered during the summer at all South Tyrol nature parks, including the Tre Cime, with the goal of making visitors more aware of the importance of both understanding and protecting nature.

You can book a hike at the local tourist office at the relevant nature park. You can find tourist offices addresses and other contacts on this page. The number of participants in each hike is up to 15 persons. The price is € 7 per tour and participant; there is no charge for children under the age of 14.

Mind you that the organizer reserves the right to postpone a tour owing to weather conditions.

Trails through the park (Alta Via 4 and Alta Via 5)

Some of these trails in the Tre Cime park are part of two of the eight long hiking trails in the Dolomites called Alta Via (High Route), the most famous of which are Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2. In the Tre Cime Park you can walk parts of:

  • Alta Via 4 running from San Candido in Val Pusteria, BZ, to Pieve di Cadore, BL. Its total length is 85 km. Crossing Time: 6 days. The path is dedicated to the Austrian alpinist Paul Grohmann who first climbed Tre Scarperi, Croda dei Baranci, Cima Grande di Lavaredo, Cristallo, Sorapiss, and Antelao.
  • Alta Via 5 running from Sesto in Val Pusteria, BZ, to the same Pieve di Cadore, BL. Its total length is 90—100 km. Crossing time: 7 days. The path is dedicated to the great Venetian artist Titian (his true name is Tiziano Vecellio) who drew inspiration from the Marmarole to enrich the background of his pictures.

San Candido dolomites, Val Pusteria, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

San Candido dolomites, Val Pusteria

Check out the PeakVisor app for the park’s map to see exactly which trails to take if you want to hike these two famous Alpine long hiking trails. What is simply ingenious about the PeakVisor app is that you can see the trail in 3D with elevation gains, ascends and descends, so that you will have a better understanding of physical fitness requirements and plan your trip accordingly. Remember, what floats one man’s boat sinks another’s.

Winter hiking and snowshoeing trails

The Tre Cime Park welcomes visitors in summer and in winter. Routes are available for walking on snow-covered and snow-free paths in the Valley Fiscalina or the Valley Campo di Dentro, for other hikes, such as the foothills of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, you will need snowshoes. Here are a few options:

  • San Candido — Rifugio Tre Scarperi / Drei Schuster Hütte. Distance: 11.3 km. Duration: 3:30. Difficulty: moderate.
  • Moso — Val Fiscalina — Rifugio Fondo Valle / Moos — Fischleintal — Talschlusshütte. Distance: 4.7 km. Duration: 2:30. Difficulty: moderate.
  • Rifugio Tre Scarperi / Drei Schuster Hütte — Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Distance: 6.7 km. Duration: 6:30. Ascent: 950 m. Difficulty: difficult.
  • Sexten / Sesto — Außergsell / Monte Casella di Fuori. Distance: 5.4 km. Duration: 5:00. Difficulty: moderate.
  • Fischleintal / Val Fiscalina — Rotwand / Croda Rossa. Distance: 2.4 km. Duration: 3:00. Difficulty: moderate.

Ski slope with cable lift in San Candido, Val Pusteria, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Ski slope with cable lift in San Candido

Mountain Skiing

The Tre Cime Dolomites Ski Resort

Near the northern borders of the park, in the Alta Pusteria Valley, there is a ski resort with the same name — the Tre Cime Dolomites Ski Resort. The ski resort is part of the Dolomiti Superski system and is one of its 9 resorts. On the ski resort, you will find 4 skiing mountains, guaranteed snow, and perfectly prepared pistes for all levels of ability, children’s lifts, and a family adventure.

The basic information of the Tre Cime Ski Resort:

  • Elevation: 1,130 m — 2,200 m (difference: 1,070 m)
  • Ski slopes: easy (40.4 km, 46 %), intermediate (37.6 km, 44 %), difficult (8.4 km, 10 %)
  • Total ski slopes distance: 84.4 km
  • Ski lifts: 20 (6 gondola, 4 chair, 9 t-bar, 1 rope)
  • Ski pass prices for the main season: € 59 (adults), € 41.50 (youth)
  • Operating season: late November — early April
  • Opening time: 08:30 — 16:30
  • Distance to the ski resort from the nearest villages: Sexten / Sesto (0.7 km), Innichen / San Candido (4 km), Toblach / Dobbiaco (10 km)

Alta Pusteria Valley, Val Pusteria, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Alta Pusteria Valley

Cross-country Skiing

At the same time, the Tre Cime Ski Resort is Italy's number one cross-country skiing destination. There are 200 km of linked cross-country tracks with panoramic views of the Dolomites, including night skiing, FIS tracks, and high-altitude tracks.

Some of the tracks lie within the Tre Cime Nature Park territory. For example, the Circular Trail in the Fischleintal Valley. On the maps, you can find it under Number 18. It is a magnificent trail in a romantic valley with views of the Sesto sundial. The trail length: 4.5 km. Difficulty: easy (blue).

PeakVisor features real-time ski resorts statuses, just check the info you need in the menu. You can also take the beaten track and visit the official websites: Dolomiti Superski, Drei Zinnen Dolomites, South Tyrol, Sesto Dolomites.

Cross-country, Drei Zinnen Nature Park, Italy

Park Rules and Regulations

If you are not sure how to act in the park during hiking or skiing, what is allowed and what is not, and so on, check the rules and regulations page (in German and Italian languages) on the official website. In general, follow your common sense and don’t harm the beautiful place you are in.

Major Cities and Resorts

The park belongs to three communes of South Tyrol which are located in close proximity to the northern boundaries of its territory. From them, you can start a journey through the park. There is also one important town near the southern border.

Toblach / Dobbiaco

Toblach aka Dobbiaco is located between two beautiful valleys: Valle di San Silvestro and Valle di Landro. It is considered one of the doors to the Dolomites from the north. The Romans used it as a strategic point to connect the north and the south of the Empire via Alemagna Road.

Toblach / Dobbiaco, Italy

Like all towns and villages in the Dolomites, Toblach is surrounded by nature. It is an ideal place for summer and winter sports and outdoor activities. The main architectural and cultural attractions of the town are the parish church in Valle San Silvestro — an excellent example of baroque art, the Shrine of Santa Maria, the Herbst castle.

In the winter you can take part in the annual cross-country skiing competition called Granfondo Dobbiaco Cortina. In addition to sports competitions, the town organizes Dolomiti Ballonweek, the Krampus parade with St. Nicholas, and other events.

The distance from the center of the town to the Tre Cime park Visitor Centre is 1.6 km, to Auronzo mountain hut is 23.3 km.

There are two lakes in the area: Dobbiaco Lake and Landro lake.

Innichen / San Candido

The village of Innichen has also been well-known since very ancient times. It consists of several hamlets (meaning villages so small that they don’t even have their own churches): Versciaco, Prato Drava, and Monte San Candido. It is considered one of the favorite resorts of the Dolomites among the Italians and the Austrians because the border with the latter is very close.

Innichen / San Candido, Italy

The main architectural and cultural attractions of the modern town are the Collegiate church, the parish church of St. Michele, old thermal baths, which have been operational since the Middle Ages, the Dolomites Museum.

In summer in San Candido, you can also go hiking and cycling, play tennis and squash, or have fun in the well-equipped water park Acquafun with your children. The most important local non-sportive event is the Heugabel (farmer market) in which you can taste many typical products. Another sports-unrelated feast is the International snow sculpture festival.

There is the Drava River in the town, you can easily walk along it too.

The distance from the centre of the town to the Tre Cime park Visitor Centre is 6 km, to Auronzo mountain hut is 31.5 km.

Sexten / Sesto

There are two valleys near the town of Sesto: Val Campo and the wonderful Val Fiscalina, an ideal starting point for your hikes in the Dolomiti di Sesto Natural Park.

Sexten / Sesto, Italy

The area around the town is also like an open-air fitness center with many opportunities for outdoor recreation: bike tours, hikes, downhill runs, cross-country skiing in Monte Elmo — Croda Rossa, Waldheim, and Val Fiscalina. There are also plenty of tennis, swimming, golf, and minigolf facilities.

The main architectural and cultural attractions of the town are the Rudolf Stolz Museum, the Crib museum, and the parish church of St. Peter and Paul.

In October 2021 Sesto is planning to hold the Global Mountain Sustainability Forum 2020.

The town is located on the Setso River.

The distance from the centre of the town to the Tre Cime park Visitor Centre is 12.4 km, to Auronzo hut is 38 km.

Misurina

The nearest village to the southern boundary of the park is Musurina. Misurina can hardly be called a town in the usual sense of the word, it is a very small settlement consisting of hotels and private houses. Nevertheless, it is considered the main urban area on the southern side of the park's borders because it is the starting point for hiking. Buses from other towns arrive here before heading up to Auronzo mountain hut at the foot of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Misurina, Italy

As an alternative to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, in the summer in Misurina you can go trekking and mountain biking in the mountains of Cadini di Misurina.

Misurina is located on the lake of the same name. It is considered one of the most beautiful in the Dolomites. The lake is perfect for sunbathes and fishing. An important horse polo championship on the frozen Musurina lake is held every February.

Misurina is ideal for quiet family holidays: almost no traffic, vast spaces, and a training slope for beginner climbers in the vicinity.

The main architectural and cultural landmark of the city is the Misurina Hotel standing against the background of the surrounding mountains. This hotel is also considered one of the most recognizable images of the Dolomites.

The distance from the center of the village to the Tre Cime park Visitor Centre is 20 km, and 8.8 km to Auronzo mountain hut.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo peaks, Misurina, Italy

Other towns

Another two towns located close to the Tre Cime Nature Park are Cortina d’Ampezzo and Auronzo di Cadore. The distance from the centre of Cortina to the park's visitor centre is 30.2 km, to Auronzo hut is 21.8 km. The distance from the centre of Cadore to the visitor centre of the park: 46 km, to Auronzo hut is 31.7 km.

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