Hike in Cortina: to Plätzwiese from Carbonin

A hike from Carbonin to the Plätzwiese hütte, Rifugio Prato Piazza, and the Dürrenstein hütte, Rifugio Vallandro. A long, but not too steep, walk along an old military road.


Starting point: Carbonin parking area
Destination: Plätzwiese hütte
Total length: 9.5 km (5.9 mi)
Height gain: 500 m (1,640 ft)
Round trip: About 3 hours


Map of the hike


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.

Plätzwiese hütte, the mountain lodge of Prato Piazza

This hike can be found on the Tabacco Map 010 "Dolomiti di Sesto" and goes adjacent to Path 37. Alternatively, you can see our route on Google Maps by clicking here .

Tabacco 1:25.000 Map 010

Although it is a relatively easy hike, the length of nearly ten kilometers, six miles, makes it not recommended for elderly or younglings, 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.

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Path of the hike

The walk from "Carbonin" to "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)" goes along a path that leads to both the "Rifugio Vallandro (Dürrenstein hütte)" and the "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)."

This hike starts on this large parking lot , at the side of the road. If you are unsure of how to reach it, we will describe it in depth down on the page in the chapter "How to Get There."

The parking for the Vallandro refuge in Carbonin

Once you have parked the car, walk a little back, until you reach the starting point of the hike, an easily recognizable stone fountain with an arch.

The starting point of the hike from Carbonin to the Plätzwiese hütte

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 end of your climb.

Signs and indications for the actual opening of the refuges

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 first part of the path you will enjoy the shadow of the forest, which will protect you from the sun.

The road towards Prato Piazza

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.

The small fountain with drinking water

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.

A hairpin bend along the road

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 (Dürrenstein hütte)."

The panorama opens up at Plätzwiese

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 "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)," as clearly indicated by the wooden sign "Plätzwiese - Prato Piazza."

The road towards Rifugio Plätzwiese hütte

If you decide to proceed, a walk of about thirty minutes awaits you, always flat, with amazing views of the Mount "Croda Rossa d'Ampezzo" and the grassy pastures, peculiar to this area.

Snowy panorama in June

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. You can also eat very well at the "Rifugio Vallandro (Dürrenstein hütte)," if you choose to stop there.

Lunch with canederli and a pinto of beer

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.

Wooden sign of path 37

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.

Descend along path 37

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.

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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.

A beautiful hike starts at the "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)." It climbs up to the summit cross of "Monte Specie," from which you can see an unforgettable view of the "Tre Cime di Lavaredo," the Three Peaks of Lavaredo and the Eastern Dolomites. If you decide to tackle it, this hike will take you around three hours, for a gain in altitude of around 300 metres, almost 1,000 feet. The path is well marked and never too exposed.

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's car ride from Cortina.

There is an alternative road to reach "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)," starting from Cimabanche and following the "chenòpi" path. This variant can be made for both the ascent and the descent, as they have the same arrival point and two relatively close starting points. This is a more scenic route, but you have to follow a rather steep path. Given the steep slope, we recommend it only to trained hikers. If you decide to come down this variant, you will arrive at the parking lot of Cimabanche , from which you will have to walk for about twenty minutes along the state road, towards Dobbiaco, to reach the "Carbonin" car park again, where you have left the car. If you prefer a more detailed description, we suggest you click on the page below, where we talk about it in depth:

From Cimabanche to Prato Piazza through the Chenopi trail
Cimabanche to Plätzwiese An alternative, more scenic, path to Prato Piazza, Plätzwiese, through the Chenopi trail. 3h 00' - 9 km - Difficult
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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 (Dürrenstein hütte)," our starting point, is free and quite big, but it's anyway 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.

SS 51 20 minutes

If the parking lot is full, you can try to go back and park on one of the lay-bys along the road, but be very careful not to block the roadway, otherwise you might get a ticket.

If you want to use public transport, at the bus station of Cortina d'Ampezzo , you can take Bus n°445 from Cortina to Dobbiaco and get off at the stop of "Carbonin." Generally there's a bus every couple of hours, but in the peak season there may be more. Considering the seasonality, ve recommend asking the ticket office at the bus station more precise information or alternatives. It may be closed during lunch hour.

Bus 445 30 minutes

If you don't have a car you may also consider a Taxi. From Cortina to "Carbonin" the price should be, approximately, 50€, but it is better to ask the price beforehand, as this is a very rough estimate. You can find a Taxi both in Piazza Roma , at the bus station or using their website .

Taxi 25 minutes

For any doubts you may have, you can consult the Tourist Information Office in the center of Cortina.

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Useful information

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.

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:

Walking in the mountains safely
Safety tips for hikers Tips for safely going hiking in the mountains and prepare your backpack with all you need. Reading time: 8 min

We want to emphasize that, in the Dolomites, there are rules to be followed. The main ones are:

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We hope you liked this page about the hike from "Carbonin" to "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)." Before saying goodbye, we would like to mention that you can find other amazing hikes in Cortina and its surroundings by clicking hereInternal link .

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