The hike that heads to Lake Ajal starting from Lake Pianozes is relatively short, but there are some steep climbs that distinguish it. Because of this, it is not recommended for very young children and people of a certain age. However, it is an amazing walk, surrounded by nature. It allows, in less than an hour, to see the two more touristic lakes of Cortina, both with a restaurant and bar service.
Hiking clothing is not required, but considering that the roads are gravel, sportswear and suitable shoes are recommended.
Lake Pianozes, starting point of our walk, can be reached in different ways:
- Using your car, in this case you can park at "Parù de Col" parking area. This parking lot is a bit after the Pianozes Lake, so you could head directly to Lake Ajal from there and visit Lake Pianozes after, in the return trip.
- You can use line n°2 of the bus and take the stop Campo di Sotto and walk uphill to the Lake Pianozes. You can find more information about the buses at the ticket office at the bus station of Cortina.
- Reach Lake Pianozes walking. We have written two pages on this subject: this to reach the lake from te town center and this to reach the lake walking from Zuel.
From Lake Pianozes we have to go towards "Campo di Sotto", leaving the "back" of the restaurant behind us. A few meters ahead we will find a small road that cuts to the left, you can see it highlighted by a white arrow in the second picture below.(1) The lake of Pianozes. (2) The first deviation to the left. (3) The "Paru de Col" parking area.
Once you reach the end of the climb, continue until you pass the Parù de Col parking lot, you'll find a fork in front of you. The road to the left would lead to Malga Federa and to the wonderful hike of the Gores de Federa, which we describe here, while the road to the right, the steeper one, leads to our destination: Lake Ajal. Take the road to the right, you should notice that there is a sign, for those who want to climb using a car, that the road is rather bumpy. This means that the road is open to cars. It is also quite narrow, with some hairpin turns, be careful. In periods of maximum tourist turnout, the road is closed to traffic, offering a jeep service to reach the lake. Once you have faced the first "deadly" climb, the walk continues along the woods. It becomes less steep, but always sloping, without particular deviations.
After about thirty minutes you'll find an information board and a crossroads. You are shortly after the middle of the walk, if you want to rest a little, you could take some time to discover something new about the forest you are crossing by reading the interesting information in the table. Once you have recovered your strength, go straight towards the wooden bridge, along the only road not barred by poles. For those wh are curious to know where the other two roads goes, taking the intersection on the left you would reach a private cabin in the woods, the log cabin of Cesura Granda, while taking the right road you would arrive at a district of Cortina called Mortisa, from which it is possible to return to the center of the town.(1) Crossing towards Federa or the Ajal lake. (2) The "deadly" first climb. (3) The Crossing in the woods.
Once you've crossed the wooden bridge, the road continues without large slopes for about 15 minutes, when a curve to the right anticipates the last short and intense climb that lasts only a couple of curves. Now you only have to continue for 10 minutes along the final flat section. When you find the last intersection, turn left towards Lago d'Ajal restaurant. Don't worry about making a mistake, the intersection is well marked and the roof of the mountain lodge can be clearly seen, because the walls remain hidden behind a rise in the terrain.(1) Wooden bridge on the way. (2) The crossing to the restaurant. (3) The "Rifugio Lago d'Ajal".
The restaurant is under new management and has recently been renovated. Once you reach it, you can stop to eat or drink something, the manager is very friendly, the place is very cozy and the dishes are simple, but good. If it is too early to eat, maybe you can have a look around the area.
For example, you could return back to the intersection you have just crossed. Continuing slightly to the left (as in our GPX track, or in the map you can see at the beginning of the page) you'll reach the Ciou del Conte dam, a structure owned by Enel (the italian electric company) that powers the power plant of Campo di Sopra, which you have probably seen at the beginning of the climb towards Pianozes. The dam creates an artificial lake where you can see some trout swimming. They can be caught if you are in possession of a fishing license. If you are lucky enough to visit it in a very rainy period, the Ciou del Conte dam becomes very impressive because of the big amount of water.
Another option at the intersection is to head to the left, but crossing the pole and climbing up the slope. In about 15 minutes you'll reach the Cason del Macaron, a private cabin in the woods owned by the community of Ampezzo, which is given in usufruct to eligible residents, where it's possible to see a fountain with drinking water from the source. From here you can reach Peziè de Parù or Malga Federa, but these longer hikes will not be covered on this page.(1) The "Ciou del Conte" dam. (2) Another view of the dam. (3) PHOTO NOT YET TAKEN.
Once you are back to Lake Ajal you can decide whether to stop here or retrace your steps, descending again towards Lake Pianozes. In this suggestive lake there is also a restaurant, but the price target is definitely less touristy, but the quality of the dishes is absolutely proportionate. If you still want to go back down, but without eating at the restaurant, in the summer months it is also possible to have a sandwich or a drink in the small wooden bar on the opposite side of the Lake Pianozes.
Hoping that you liked this page on the walk from Lake Pianozes to Lake Ajal, 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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