The pathStart point: Carbonin parking area Length: 9.5 km (5.9 mi) Height gain: 500 mt (1,640 ft) Round trip: About 3 hours Destination: Plätzwiese GPX: Download our GPX route
The hike that leads to "Plätzwiese", in Italian "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.
The hike trail can be found in the Tabacco Map 010 - Dolomiti di Sesto (Sextener Dolomiten) and goes up adjacent to Trail 37.
Although it is a relatively easy hike, the length of nearly ten kilometers, or six miles, makes it not recommended for elderly people or young children, who might get tired.
Some clarifications about language. The words "Rifugio" and "hütte" are the Italian and Austrian German words for "mountain lodge". The vicinity of the South Tyrol makes it correct to name the locations both in Italian and German Austrian language. That's why we'll use both for some destinations, Italian first.
How to get there
In order to reach Carbonin it would be better to have a car, so as to have the best flexibility in the time you want to arrive and leave. The Parking lot to the "Rifugio Vallandro (Dürrensteinhütte)", our starting point, is free and quite big, but it's also advisable to get there early in the morning, to have more chances to find a free space. The parking lot is approximately a twenty minute drive from the center of Cortina.
If the parking lot is full, you can try to go back and park on the pads along the road, but be very careful not to block the roadway, otherwise you might get a ticket.
If you don't have a car you may consider a Taxi. From Cortina the price should be, approximately, 50€, but is better to ask the price before. You can find a Taxi both in Piazza Roma, at the bus station or using their website.
At the bus station it's also possible to request more information about the buses that run the Cortina -Dobbiaco (Toblach) route. They leave about every two hours, but during the peak season the number may increase. To find out the exact schedules, you should ask the ticket office of the bus station. Consider that it may be closed during lunch break.
The walk from Carbonin to "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)" goes along a path that leads to both the "Rifugio Vallandro (Dürrensteinhütte)" and the "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)".
This hike starts on the large parking lot at the side of the road. As mentioned above, during peak season, there is a risk of finding the parking lot full, as the trail is generally very crowded, both by cyclists and hikers.
On the board at the beginning of the path you can see a travel time of about two hours and a half. It is quite realistic if you are decently trained. On the board you can also verify the actual opening of the two mountain lodges, where you can stop to eat something at the top of your hike.
The road is fairly wide, not too hard to walk and without particularly steep climbs. There are some intersections by a steeper variant, an option which allows you to cut a few curves, slightly shortening the hike. Throughout this part of the path you will enjoy the shadow of the forest, which will protect you from the sun and will be with you for a good part of the hike.
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.
Up to this point the hike has not been particularly scenic. Apart from a few small glimpses of the state road, from which you can understand how much elevation you have gained, there have not been particularly exciting moments. Don't worry, they will appear shortly.
When the woods begin to thin away you'll see the large grassy pastures of "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)". 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 "Rifugio Vallandro (Dürrensteinhütte)".
If you are very tired you can stop at this mountain lodge to drink or eat something. Once rested, you will have to decide whether you prefer to return toward the car, shortening the hike by an hour, or continue toward "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)".
In our case we preferred to continue walking without stopping, heading for the "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)", the farthest mountain lodge. It is a walk of about thirty minutes, rather flat and very scenic. We strongly recommend making this last effort.
At the "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)" we ate a plate of pressed "canederli" on a bed of cabbage, accompanied by a good beer. This is a typical South Tyrolean dish, which they do very well here. This is an incentive to face the hike more willingly. You can also eat very well at the "Rifugio Vallandro (Dürrensteinhütte)", if you preferred to stop there.
Since the weather was changing, we decided to go down as fast as we could, so we took the path 37. This is a path that, for most of the time, overlaps with the road taken to ascend, but it cuts many curves.
Surely it's a funnier and faster route than the military track we climbed before. In the ascent it would be too steep and tiring, but for descent it's a good alternative.
We recommend it both for those who want to shorten the route and for 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, we recommend disabling the alarms on the descent, as the poor GPS reception caused some smearing of the track.
The area of "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)", 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.
In winter, thanks to the abundant high-altitude snowfall, the pastures of "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)" become a beautiful cross-country skiing trail. If you are a lover of this sport we recommend a visit, the track is quite easy, but the panorama is spectacular.
If you would like to see this destination, but do not feel like committing to the hike, the "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)" can also be reached by car. It's about an hour from Cortina.
The hike from "Carbonin" to "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)" can be taken at any time of the year, even in winter, as the road is regularly groomed. In case of snow it is advisable to take crampons to put on your shoes, to avoid slipping on ice. Consider that, at certain times of the year, the snow melting makes the ground a bit muddy and in some places it is possible to find snow.
Unfortunately, every season is different and it is not possible to know in advance how much it will snow when the snow will melt.
There is also an alternative route to reach "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)", starting from "Cimabanche" through the "Chenopi" path. This variation can be done for both the ascent and descent, as they have the same end point and two relatively close starting points.
This is a more scenic option, but you have to walk up a rather steep path. Because of the steepness, we recommend it only for the descent.
If you decide to go down through this variant, you'll arrive at the Parking of "Cimabanche". You'll need to walk approximately twenty minutes along the state road, in the direction of "Dobbiaco (Toblach)", to reach the parking lot where you left your car.
If you prefer a more detailed description, we suggest you click the page below, where we discuss it in detail:
If you decide to eat at one of the two mountain lodges, consider that, during low season, it is always best to call to verify the actual opening. Even though the facilities are open most of the year, it's better to check, to avoid bad surprises.
When facing a hike, we always recommend that you use appropriate clothing, starting with your shoes, which should be sturdy. Always carry a backpack with, at least, some water, a snack and a rain jacket. If you are new to hiking, we recommend you read the page we wrote on how to tackle a mountain outing:
We want to emphasize that, in the Dolomites, there are rules to be followed. The main ones are:
- It is strictly forbidden to light fires.
- It is strictly forbidden to pick plants and flowers.
- Free camping is prohibited.
- It is prohibited to abandon garbage.
- It is mandatory to keep pets on a leash.
We hope you liked this page on the hike from Carbonin to Plätzwiese. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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