The hike from "Pian dei Menis" to the "Rifugio Scoiattoli" is an amazing walk in Cortina d'Ampezzo. This hike will bring you to the famous mount known as "Cinque Torri", translated as the "Five Towers". It goes through a less touristy itinerary than to the route under the chairlift or the climb from "Cianzopè". This walk also offers some amazing views on Falzarego Pass and Mount Tofane.
The "Cinque Torri" are one of the most iconic places in Cortina, from where it's possible to reach not only the already cited "Rifugio Scoiattoli", but also the "Rifugio Cinque Torri" and the "Rifugio Averau".
In the immediate vicinity of "Rifugio Scoiattoli" it's also possible to visit the Open-air Museum of the Great War, which has been set up inside the original trenches, dug by the soldiers during the First World War.
This hike can be found on the Tabacco Map 003 "Cortina d'Ampezzo e Dolomiti Ampezzane" and goes through Path 440.
This is a rather simple hike, but it requires a minimum of training. The area of the trenches is not suitable for those with reduced mobility.
Path of the hike
The starting point of our hike is exactly in this small parking lot on the side of the road, along the Falzarego Pass, in a locality known as "Magistrato delle Acque".
If you can't park there, you should continue along the Pass, until you reach the parking lot of the roadmen's house some meters above. It's easily recognizable because it's a red building. We'll describe how to reach these locations also below in this page, in the chapter "how to get there"
If you've parked the car at the roadmen's house, go down the road until you reach the car park, and head towards the two wooden bridges, which can be clearly seen from the road.
From here you have to take Path 440, in the direction of "Rifugio Scoiattoli". Be careful not to take the wrong path, as path 424 also passes through here and you could get confused.
The path starts with a climb into the woods that should be avoided in case of rain, as it could present some rather slippery points.
Walk uphill for about half an hour, enjoying the spectacular views of the Falzarego Pass and Mount Tofane which will appear on your left.
Once you reach the top of the climb, the road turns into a nice descent, where you can catch your breath. But don't claim victory too soon, you will have to regain all the quota you have lost.
After the descent and the walk uphill it will be possible to see, in the distance, the amazing Mount "Cinque Torri" and the "Rifugio Scoiattoli".
Once the climb ends the road turns left and heads to the mountain lodge in a constantly flat road, allowing you to enjoy a splendid panorama, both of Mount Five towers and the surrounding mountains.
In our case the day was cool, and we walked fast, so we finished the hike in about forty-five minutes. People who are less used to walking in the mountains should consider about an hour to reach the "Cinque Torri" from "Pian dei Menis".
As mentioned above, once you reach the "Rifugio Scoiattoli", you can decide to stop here for a break, or head towards one of the other two mountain lodges in the area. If you prefer to drink or eat something in a fancy high-altitude restaurant, in a relaxed environment, sitting on the large outdoor terrace, the "Rifugio Scoiattoli" is certainly a winning choice.
If you want to try a simpler and more rustic location, the "Rifugio Cinque Torri" offers simple but excellent cuisine, with many ingredients grown directly in their garden. To reach it, simply walk towards the "Cinque Torri" and follow the signs. The trail is very well marked and will take you about fifteen minutes downhill. Attention: it is only open in summer.
If you feel like walking a little more uphill you should head towards the "Rifugio Averau" that is about thirty minutes away. This detour is really recommended, as the breathtaking views will amply reward you for your effort. The trail is well-marked, you just have to follow the only road uphill. If you want to stop here to eat, you will be welcomed by a wonderful high-altitude restaurant, with a level of cuisine that is certainly high, and prices aligned with the quality.
As briefly mentioned above, near the "Rifugio Scoiattoli" you can also visit the Outdoor Museum of the Great War at the Five Towers, a free area where you can walk through the trenches of World War I, reading interesting information boards. The visit should take you about an hour, and is almost a must-see for anyone who decides to visit the Five Towers. You should avoid it if you have limited mobility or wrong shoes; there are some fairly steep and narrow gravel descents.
The creation of a common project such as that of the museums of the great war has created a strong cohesion between all the figures involved, to the point of creating a consortium, in the year 2004, for the valorisation of the "Lagazuoi", "5 Torri", "Giau", "Falzarego", "Croda da Lago", "Pocol" and "Tofana de Rozes" areas. This consortium has given rise to many highly successful projects, including the Delicious Trail Dolomiti, a trail race with the possibility to stop to drink or eat at the different mountain lodges of the area. For more information, we invite you to visit the official website of the Delicious trail.
There is a fourth destination that can be visited with this hike. It is the "Rifugio Nuvolau" which is located even higher than the "Rifugio Averau". If you're up for it, it can be reached in about forty-five minutes more, all uphill. It is the most simple and rustic mountain lodge, where you can experience true mountain life, with a traditional menu and an incredible view. This refuge was inaugurated in 1883 and is the oldest in Cortina.
If you are using our GPX track, you will see that, just before the "Rifugio Scoiattoli", we made a small deviation from the main path. The reason was simply to take a photo of the shack where an episode of the Italian television drama "Un Passo dal Cielo" has been filmed. The shack was demolished soon after.
How to get there
In order to reach "Pian dei Menis" you can take the car and drive along Falzarego Pass. Once you have passed the "Cinque Torri" chairlift, continue until you reach the roadman's house. It is a red building. This locality is also known as "Magistrato delle Acque", here you will find a pretty big car park. From the center of Cortina you need more or less twenty minutes.
During peak season there's a high risk of finding the car park full. To avoid this inconvenience, we recommend arriving early in the morning. If you visit Cortina in low season, or you are lucky, you might also find a place in this small parking lot, a little before on the road, that is our "official" starting point of this hike.
Alternatively, you can also consider to take the bus to Falzarego Pass, and get off at the bus stop called "Ra Nona". The name of this bus stop is dialectal and lesser known, for this reason, if you want to ask the driver to stop, maybe it is better to talk about the roadman's house, that is called "casa cantoniera" in Italian. This is a reference point that is certainly easier to identify if the driver is seasonal and not local, also because the roadman's houses in Italy are colored in red. For further information we recommend you to contact the Seam ticket office at the bus station. Attention, as the bus is active only in some summer months and the ticket office may be closed during lunch hours.
Finally you could take a taxi. From Cortina to the roadman's houses the cost should be approximately €50. Considering that prices could vary by a lot, both for the type of vehicle and the number of people, you should always ask for a quote. Taxis can be found both in Roma Square and at the Bus Station, or you can visit the Taxi official website.
If you need any information there is a Tourist information Office. It is located in the town center, near the church.
The hike from "Pian dei Menis" to the "Rifugio Scoiattoli" can be done only with the absence of snow. In winter the downhill ski tracks cross part of the trail and it's strictly forbidden to cross them without skis.
Usually, the most suitable months for this hike are those between May and November. This is a slightly conservative estimate, but unfortunately it is not possible to know in advance how much it will snow nor when the snow will melt.
If you decide to eat at one of the mountain lodges described above, the facilities are usually open for most of the year. If you don't want to have bad surprises, in low season, it's always better to call to check the actual opening.
If you are not used to mountain excursions, before venturing, we recommend you read the page below:
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 "Pian dei Menis" to the "Rifugio Scoiattoli". Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read our home page, with all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo.
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