The pathStart point: Carbonin parking area Length: 9.5 km (5.9 mi) Height difference: 500 mt (1,640 ft) Duration: About 3 hours Destination: Prato Piazza GPX: Download our GPX route
The hike that leads to Prato Piazza starting from Carbonin is a very pleasant walk, that is suitable for almost everyone. The path is an old military road, so there are no steep climbs for all the duration of the walk. This hike is an alternative to the one from Cimabanche to Prato Piazza along the "Chenopi" path and can be done as a variant even only for the ascent or the descent, as they have the same destination and two very close starting points.
Despite the fact that it's a relatively simple track, due to the length of almost 10 kilometers, it is not recommended for very old people or small children. When you are going walking in the mountains, we always recommend that you wear appropriate clothing, starting with your shoes, which must be robust. Also always bring a backpack with at least a little bottle of water, a snack and a jacket for the rain. If you are a beginner, we recommend you to read the page we wrote about how to tackle a mountain hike.
The walk from Carbonin to Prato Piazza starts in the large parking lot to the Vallandro mountain lodge, where you can park your car for free. In peak season there's often the risk of finding the parking lot completely full, because the path is always very popular, both by cyclists and by hikers. We suggest leaving early in the morning, to have more chances to find a free place.
On the board at the beginning of the path you can see a travel time of about two hours and a half (quite realistic if you are trained) and you can also verify the actual opening of the two mountain lodges.
The path, as mentioned above, is an old military track, so the slopes are never too steep, but the hike is almost all uphill. Try to keep a steady pace and do not get discouraged. In some points the road is crossed by the path 37, which allows you to cut a few curves, making the walk slightly shorter, also breaking the monotony.
In our case the walk from Carbonin to Prato Piazza was made at the beginning of June, but the winter had been really snowy, so you can still see traces of snow on the shady spots. The huge amount of snow had also crushed some trees, but the road has always been practicable, especially because it is regularly maintained.
The climb continues for about an hour and a half, always in the woods and always with a constant slope. During the uphill you will find a fountain, perfect for drinking some spring water and replenish the flasks. In some moments some glimpses through the trees will allow you to check how much you have climbed compared to the state road. During the whole excursion try to keep on the edge of the road and pay attention to cyclists, who very often frequent this track.
When the woods begins to thin away you'll see the large grassy pastures of Prato Piazza. From here the panorama will become more scenic. In about half an hour you'll reach the first goal of your hike, that is the Vallandro mountain lodge. If you are very tired you can stop here to drink or eat something, but in our case we have preferred to continue another thirty minutes to the Prato Piazza mountain lodge, where we stopped to eat and to drink a deserved beer.
As we wrote above, even if we went hiking in the first days of June, the snow on 2000 meters was still present. That's not so common, anyway the temperatures were high enough to allow us to eat out in short sleeves without having to use a jacket. At the Prato Piazza mountain lodge we ate a plate of pressed "canederli" on a bed of cabbage, accompanied by a good beer.
Given the presence of snow we preferred to come back by the same road from which we went up, but from Prato Piazza it would also have been possible to go down using the path of the "chenopi", that we describe on this page. This is a more panoramic alternative, but the path is quite steep, and it was not the ideal becasue of the possibility of ice. The route is also not recommended for those with knee problems. If you decide to do the variant, you'll arrive at the Cimabanche parking, so you will have to walk down the state road in the direction of Dobbiaco for about 20 minutes, in order to find the parking lot of Carbonin, where you left your car.
Since the weather was changing, we decided to go down faster descending along the path 37, the one we mentioned earlier. Surely it's a funnier and faster route than the military track we climbed before. We recommend it mainly to those who prefer to be a little more in contact with nature, but without the comfort of a gravel road. If you decide to use our GPX map, I recommend to disable the alarms on the descent, as the poor GPS reception caused some smearing of the track.
The area of Prato Piazza, in addition to being famous for its mountain lodges and hiking routes, is remembered for its leading role during the First World War. During the climb you will have the opportunity to observe the remains of some military structures, including a war fort and a barracks, from which bombs were launched at the nearby Italian army.
We hope you liked this page on the hike from Carbonin to Prato Piazza. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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