The pathStart point: Valbona parking area Length: 4.5 km (2.8 mi) Height gain: 500 mt (1,640 ft) Round trip: About 1 hour and a half Destination: Malga Maraia GPX: Download our GPX route
The hike that, from Valbona, heads to Maraia mountain lodge is a wonderful trek in the area of Auronzo di Cadore, a small town near Cortina. The destination of this hike is a wonderful alpine mountain lodge, where you can eat local food and with an amazing quality-price ratio. This hike can be done only by those who have a car available, because you need to reach the parking lot of the hotel Cristallo. Unfortunately the destination is poorly served by the bus. The duration of the car journey is approximately 30 minutes, traffic permitting. This is a walk that we recommend to do during the low season, as the Malga Maraia can be reached from both Auronzo and Misurina, making it a very crowded destination in almost all periods of the year. We also recommend leaving pretty early in the morning, as you may have some problems finding a parking and a seat at the restaurant if you get there in the rush hour.
It would be ideal to try to be there to eat before noon, leaving Cortina at around 9am. We made this hike in mid-September, and we left at 10am, and we had some problems parking the car in the correct spot. Be careful to leave the vehicle on the side of the road, as the municipality of Auronzo is very happy to issue fines to the parked cars, if abandoned along the state road.
The walk from Valbona to Malga Maraia is an easy hike that should be suitable for everyone, but it's better if you are a bit trained, because there are some steep climbs. We also suggest you to use appropriate clothing, starting from the shoes, because you could find some mud and you may need to cross some small streams of water in the road. If you are not experienced on walking on mountain trails, here you can read some tips.
Once you've found a good place to leave the car, move behind the Cristallo Hotel, towards the Path 120, in the direction of Malga Maraia. Be careful, because from there it also begins the hike to Lake Sorapis and the Rifugio Vandelli, but it's on the opposite side of the road. If you see any direction towards "Lago Sorapis", you are in the wrong direction and you have to turn on the other side.
The hike starts immediately with a really steep climb, without protection from the sun, which could be quite disheartening. Remember to keep a slow and steady pace, as the climb is approximately 20 minutes long. During the climb you'll see some intersections that lead to some private huts, but the road to the Malga Maraia is always very well signposted. Sometimes the signs are a bit misleading, but there shouldn't be any particular problems if you read carefully.
After the first climb, take the intersection to the right, it's well signposted. From there you can catch your breath, the landscape changes and the path will become flatter. Continue for another 15 minutes, until you find the asphalted parking lot and the road, which you'll have to cross, heading back into the woods.
From here the path will become wider and flatter, even though there are still some climbs. You are about halfway. Continue to walk in the woods for about thirty minutes, until you see three consecutive hairpin bends, at this point you have almost arrived at your destination. One last effort and you'll see Malga Maraia on the horizon.
Now you just have to walk a few steps to reach the mountain hut, to eat or drink something. They offer a simple menu, but all dishes are made with local ingredients and are all very good, enough to justify the walk. Personally I ate pasta with deer ragu and a dessert with chocolate.
Once you have eaten, you can stop for a while to observe the view and walk in the pastures, or you can go back, using the same road you walked, until you reach the parking lot in Valbona.
On the way back, if you still have some energy, you could cross the street. Walking a few more minutes you'll reach the Valbona pasture, the location of the third episode of "Un Passo dal Cielo", a famous Italian television series.
Malga Maraia is managed by the Agricultural Cooperative Auronzo Val d'Ansiei, as well as the Malga Popena. The latter is easily reachable by car both from Cortina and Misurina. Both of these restaurants are built to give a job to the residents of the municipality of Auronzo and they also include some fields, where most of the raw materials used to create the dishes are grown. Honestly, we can only support them because they are really valuable.
We hope you liked this page on the hike from Valbona to Maraia mountain lodge. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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