The pathStart point: Cimabanche Length: 9 km (5.7 mi) Height gain: 500 mt (1,640 ft) Round trip: About 3 hours Destination: Plätzwiese hütte GPX: Download our GPX route
In this page we'll describe the hike that starts from Cimabanche and leads to "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)", passing through the Valley of the "Chenopi", a road that crosses the border from the town of Cortina d'Ampezzo and the province of Bolzano.
At the other side of the border the official language is Austrian German, so we'll use both Italian and Austrian names for some destinations, first in Italian.
The hike trail can be found in the Tabacco Map 010 - Dolomiti di Sesto (Sextener Dolomiten) and goes up adjacent to Trail 18.
This hike is very pleasant and is suitable for almost everyone, even not too trained people and young people, although it is quite long.
We do not recommend it with young children or the elderly because of the steep elevation gain, concentrated mainly in a fairly steep climb.
How to get there
This hike starts at the cantonment house of "Cimabanche", where you can park your car on the gravel parking lot, or in a lay-by along the road.
If you are planning to take on the hike during the peak season, we strongly recommend leaving early in the morning, so that you will not have trouble finding parking space. From the center of Cortina, the parking lot is approximately a twenty-minute drive.
Another option may be the bus from Cortina to Dobbiaco (Toblach), approximately one every two hours, but we recommend that you go to the ticket office of the bus station for information on the schedule and the effective presence of the ride. Be careful, as the office may be closed during the lunch hour.
If none of the previous ideas suit you, it's also possible to take a Taxi. From Cortina the cost will be approximately 50€, but it may be a good idea to ask the price before. It is possible to find Taxis both in Piazza Roma, in the bus station or using their website.
Once you arrive at the cantonment house of "Cimabanche" reach the metal bar and continue along the path 18 in the direction of "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)", the path is also marked by a wooden sign.
During the first 30 minutes of walking you'll warm up your muscles, as the road goes smooth through the woods, without encountering strong steeps.
After walking through the woods for a bit, a slight climb awaits you, after there is a river to cross and then you can continue gently climbing. The trees will begin to thin out, leaving the place to small patches of mountain pines. These needle-shaped evergreen bushes are often found in Cortina. From the cones of these mountain pines is made the homonymous grappa, that we call "pino mugo", which you may have tasted in some restaurant or mountain lodges.
One of the characteristics of mountain pines is that they retain heat, if the day is warm, prepare yourself to sweat a little more than expected. After about 20 minutes you'll find a wood sign that indicates Prato Piazza 18 and immediately after there is a steep climb awaiting you.
This part of the hike is pretty challenging, it is a climb of gravel and rocks, surrounded by mountain pines. Be careful where you put your feet to avoid slipping. I assure you that the effort will be amply rewarded by the panorama that awaits you. There are no photographs, so as not to ruin the surprise.
Once you have passed this point you still need to make a little effort to reach the top. Consider that, once you have crossed the small wooden bridge, the worst is over. The ascent becomes much easier and your destination is getting closer and closer.
At the wooden sign keep following the direction "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)", you'll need to walk another twenty minutes, through the pastures, to reach the homonymous "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)".
At this point you need to decide if you want to stop here to eat something, or retrace your steps to eat at the "Malga Stolla (Stolla Alm)", of which you will surely have seen the sign just before entering the pastures, near the last wooden bridge which you have crossed.
We decided to eat the pressed dumplings on a bed of cabbage at the "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)", a dish that we particularly appreciate, but also at "Malga Stolla (Stolla Alm)" you can eat very well, and the place is less touristy.
After recovering you could return to the car by taking the same route, but there are also some alternatives. If you are curious to find them out, continue reading.
Given that the hike we discussed in this article is quite steep, you might consider using this route as a descend to the valley, or you might want to descend by an alternative route. In either case, in the next lines, you'll find a quick explanation, or you could read the article below, if you prefer more details:
From the "Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese hütte)" turn right, along the flat dirt road that passes in front of the Hotel "Hohe Gaisl" and proceed for about twenty minutes, when you'll reach the "Rifugio Vallandro (Dürrenstein hütte)".
From there you'll have to descend along the forest road number 37. In about an hour and a half, you'll reach "Carbonin".
This is an old military road that descends with no particular gradients. In some places it is possible to cut a few curves through a path that intersects the main road, to make the route shorter.
Once you reach the state road, you'll have to walk along the paved road in the direction of "Cimabanche". After about two kilometers, slightly uphill, you will reach your car. It takes about twenty minutes.
Before concluding we would like to share with you some curiosities about this hike. The name of the path and the homonymous valley derive from the Ampezzo word chenòpo, which means miner.
The area of "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)", is infamous because of its role during World War I. The forest road mentioned earlier, the one leading down to Carbonin, is actually an old military cartroad, along which it is possible to see the remains of a fort and abarracks, which were the first line against the Italian army.
In winter, the meadows of Prato Piazza are used to lay out a spectacular trail for cross-country skiing. If you are a lover of this sport you really should consider coming here to ski. The trail is quite easy, but the views are absolutely wonderful.
The hike from "Cimabanche" to "Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese)" should be walked only in the summer season, because of some passages that, in the presence of snow and ice, could become quite dangerous. Usually the most suitable months for the hike are between June and October. This is a slightly conservative estimate, because every season is different. It is not possible to know exactly when it will snow and when the snow will melt. For example, we once did this hike in October and, in some places, there was already some snow, despite the fact that we had not even reached two thousand meters yet.
If you decide to eat at one of the two mountain lodges it may be a good idea to call to verify the actual opening, because they may be closed in low season.
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 "Cimabanche" to "Prato Piazza (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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