On this page we'll describe the hike that goes from Cimabanche to Prato Piazza passing through the "Val dei Chenopi", a territory shared between Cortina d'Ampezzo and the province of Bolzano. This hike is very pleasant and it's suitable for almost everybody, even for untrained people and kids. We suggest avoiding it if you have small children, because of the big difference in height, mainly concentrated in a quite steep slope. When you go hiking we always recommend to use appropriate clothing, starting from the shoes, which must be mountain shoes. Always bring a backpack with at least some water, a snack and a jacket for the rain. If you are new to mountain walks we recommend you to first read our suggestions for walking safely in the mountains.
The starting point of the hike is at the Cimabanche red house, also known as "cantoniera" house where you can park your car on the gravel lot or on the parkings along the road. If you are in Cortina in peak season, we strongly suggest leaving early in the morning, in order to find a place for the car without hassles. Alternatively you can take the bus in the direction of Cimabanche, but we advise you to go to the ticket office at the bus station to get information on timetables and to check the actual presence of the bus.
Once you arrive at your destination, reach the metal bar and continue along the path 18 in the direction of Prato Piazza, marked by a wooden sign.
During the first 30 minutes you'll "warm up", as the road goes through the woods without encountering strong steeps.
After walking through the woods for a bit, there is a slight climb awaiting you, so there is a 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 pines is used to make the homonymous grappa, called "pino mugo" in Italian, which you may have tasted in some restaurant or mountain lodges.
Personally I did this hike in October, so the temperature was not a problem, but if you are under the summer sun I recommend you to cover your head and undress a little, as crossing the mountain pines makes the heat much more suffocating. I don't know why, but I assure you it's true. 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, take a long breath and face it without thinking too much.(1) Panorama of the forest. (2) Crossing the river. (3) Wooden signs.
This part of the hike is more 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 the waterfall you still need to make a little effort to reach the top, but once you have crossed the small wooden bridge the worst is over. From here you only have to walk for about 20 minutes on a light slope to reach Prato Piazza mountain lodge. As you can see from the picture of the tiny bridge, in the month of October there was already some snow, although we were not even at 2000 meters (6,500.00ft).(1) Climb in the mountain pines. (2) Steps in the rock. (3) Across the small bridge.
After the wooden sign, follow the direction Prato Piazza, you'll need to walk a few more minutes through the pastures to reach the homonymous Prato Piazza mountain lodge. At this point you need to decide if you want to stop to eat something (personally I love the pressed cheese knödel) or retrace your steps to eat at the Malga Stolla, of which you will surely have seen the sign just before entering the pastures, near the last wooden bridge which you have crossed.(1) Signpost in the direction of Malga Stolla. (2) Grassy pastures below Pratopiazza. (3) Pressed cheese knödel at Prato Piazza.
If you decide to go back along the Chenopi Path I suggest you eat in one of the two mountain lodges of which we wrote previously, but if you want to try an alternative way, you can go down along the forest road towards Carbonin. Once you reach the Prato Piazza mountain lodge, turn right onto the flat dirt road that passes in front of the Hotel Hohe Gaisl and continue for about 20 minutes until you reach the Vallandro mountain lodge. From here take the forest road downhill that will take you to Carbonin, in about an hour and a half. Once you get to the state road, you'll need to walk in the direction of Cimabanche for about twenty minutes, walking two kilometers (1,25 mi), to retrieve your car.
Before concluding we would like to share with you some curiosities about the hike. The name of the path and the homonymous valley derive from the Ampezzo word chenòpo, which means miner.
The Prato Piazza area, in addition to being famous for shelters and hiking, is remembered for its role during the First World War. The forest road mentioned above, the one that descends towards Carbonin, is actually an old military track, along which it is possible to see the finds of a fort and a barracks, from which bombings were launched on the nearby Italian army.
Hoping that you enjoyed the read on the hike from Cimabanche to Pratopiazza, before saying goodbye, we remind you that you can read all the other hike paths we recommend you to do in Cortina, or alternatively read all the other pages we have written about Cortina d'Ampezzo and its surroundings.
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