Trip Summary

What: hiking on the Cammino delle Dolomiti and associated trails.
Where: Dolomite mountain range, Italy.
When: September 1-11, 2022 (11 days)
Distance: about 174 miles
Highlights: diverse scenery, easy walking, interesting small towns, WW1 battlefield.


The primary resource we used for this route is gpx data we downloaded from Waymarked Trails.

We also used OpenStreetMap trail data which we accessed using Gaia GPS app and CalTopo website.

There is website for the route, but it is written in Italian and we did not use it.

Why we went

Please see our trip report on the GR5 for how we ended up in the Dolomites. Completing our thru hike of the Alta Via One (AV1) late in the afternoon, we arrived in Belluno to reorganize, clean up and spend the night. We intended to continue waking and had about two weeks left prior to our flight home.

We researched possible routes using the WaymarkedTrails website and found the Cammino delle Dolomiti (CDD). The CDD is a big loop that passes through Belluno on its southern end and near Villabassa on its northern end. We would be able to follow the eastern portion of CDD, and then branch off of it to walk to Villabassa, the starting point for our southbound AV1 walk, thus completing a nice loop in the Dolomites. The walking distance to Villabassa was about right for the time we had remaining. We ultimately realized that we had already walked a small segment of the CDD after completing the AV1, so continuing on it felt right.

We had limited time and could only use the small screens on our phones to plan our route. We have previously found that the quality and viability of trails on OpenStreetMap varies from excellent to completely overgrown. By choosing a named and documented route with a decent website, it was more likely the trail actually existed on the ground and was passable.

Unlike the Alta Via 1, the CDD is often routed through valleys and over low passes. Amy was interested in a walk with less daily gain and loss, so this suited her quite nicely. By staying in the valleys, the route passes through numerous small towns where finding meals and groceries would be easy. We felt we had seen fantastic scenery in the high mountains on the AV1, and we were interested in adding the diversity of walking through the lower elevations.

Click map to open an interactive CalTopo map in a new browser tab. Instructions for using CalTopo.

Amy’s Assessment

I enjoyed the scenery and diversity on this route, and I think it is an excellent complement to the Alta Via 1. This is a beautiful part of the world, and it is a fantastic region for hiking. On the downside, it was a little frustrating that recent landslides and avalanches and trail neglect meant that we had some challenging route sections.

I was proud and satisfied with our ability to plan this trip, and the Alta Via 1 hike, with limited time and limited resources. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with that spontaneity.

James’ Assessment

Walking a portion of the CDD proved to be a very satisfying way to complete our trip. While the scenery was much less spectacular than that on the AV1, it was still quite good. By using the valleys, the CDD passed through many small towns and I enjoyed the opportunity to experience these places and to eat gelato almost every day. The walking was a lot easier than on AV1 and proved to be a nice contrast and a relaxing way to wind down our trip.

For me, the time we spent on the CDD was quite worthwhile.

Notes for Potential Hikers

Route Description

The CCD is a 300 mile loop hike in the Italian Dolomites. We walked about 130 miles of that loop. The remaining 40 or so miles of this hike were on other trails in the same region. Total gain on our route was about 43,000 feet or about 250 feet per mile, much easier walking than the 370 feet per mail gain on the AV1.

While the focus of the AV1 are the high mountain trails, peaks and passes, the CDD is routed through lower elevation settled landscape. Numerous towns, from tiny to mid-sized are found along this route. There are dams and water projects, bridges, rail lines, factory complexes, and more churches than could be counted. Some towns are highly focused on tourism with fancy shops, ski lifts and lots of seasonal housing. Others are slowly dying villages with declining populations and shuttered shops. On this route, we were rarely far away from a human modified landscape. This was an enjoyable and interesting change from the AV1, which is mostly wild, stark and beautiful.

Our assumption was the CDD, by being a named and described trail, would be all easily walkable turned out to be incorrect. While most of the route had good trail, there were a couple of places with noticeable problems.

After crossing the dam on the Piave River near Pin di Vedola, the trail heads north between the main road and the river. It shortly crosses a small side stream, the Rio deo Frari; here the cleared trail vanished due to frequently shifting riverside shorelines and overgrown shrubbery. We were able to easily continue north along riverbank until it pinched out. Bush-whacking about 30 feet west toward the road allowed us to regain the trail, which was clear going forward.

There were two places on trail above the Piave River where the trail dropped steeply to the road and had been washed out; it was difficult to both follow and descend on what was left of the original trail. One short piece where the trail dropped precipitously below a railroad cut was quite hazardous and only marginally protected by a piece of old rope. This short section of trail leaves the road just north of Termine di Cadore and can be avoided by staying on the pavement instead. It is unclear when or if these problems will ever be mitigated.

Where the dirt road trail drops to the Torrente Frison about 3.5 miles south of Campolongo, the road and several bridges had been washed away completely due to recent major flooding and rockslides in the area. We were forced to wade the fast Torrente three times as we made our way downstream and had to scrabble over the loose slides. Although our transit was not technically difficult, if the water level had been higher, passage downstream would have been extremely difficult or impossible. We saw active repair work underway further downstream so this problem may be fixed in the future.

Just west of the Passo del Roccolo, the trail is obliterated by a large area of downed trees and was impassible. The next alternate trail to the north had the same problem. Fortunately, a third option, an old logging road crossing the Passo Col di Caneva just west of the Rifugio Sorgenti del Piave, was in good condition and reconnected with the CDD in the valley below. There were no signs warning of the blocked trails.

The CDD is very poorly signposted. We saw a small number of CDD waymarks, but they were both intermittent and mostly useless for staying on route. There were other waymarks scattered along the route that were occasionally useful. Carrying a good gpx file and a gps device is probably mandatory for navigation.

Most of the trail was in at least fair condition and quite easy to both walk and follow. Being lower, it was in places wetter that the AV1. A few sections of the trail were remarkably steep and sometimes covered with loose rocks; caution is advised. The route also follows sections of paved road. Most of these had little traffic outside the towns. We encountered a couple of places with signs indicating that the trail was “closed”. Like the locals were doing, we ignored these signs and had no issues.

These problems suggest that while the CDD is there and technically complete, it is not a prime time trail suitable for all walkers. Potential hikers should be prepared to deal with the issues that we had and potentially others as well. Unlike the AV1 that was well marked and maintained, the CDD needs some additional care and maintenance.

We made one significant diversion from the CDD on the first day of our hike. Instead of walking around Lago di Santa Croce, we split off near Caleipo and walked east over the forested hills to Bastia where we regained the CDD.

At Lago di Misurina, we left the CDD for the rest of the trip. Here the CDD continues west and then south to complete its loop. However, we continued to walk north to Villabassa where we had begun our trip south on the AV1. We followed a series of trails, bike paths, and roads to Villabassa and then walked west along the Rienza River valley until we ran out of time and returned to Milan on the train.

This conclusion to our walk was quite satisfying and well worth doing. Along the way, we had an entirely serendipitous and unplanned experience that was one of the highlights of the entire trip. Late in the day we were climbing into the hills north from the Lago di Misurina and intended to drop back to the valley on a trail shown in OpenStreetMap. When we got to the junction, it was clear that the trail was mostly a steep use path, and that we were not sure it would actually connect. The old road we were on continued north and climbed a series of dramatic switchbacks that had been carved in the vertical cliffs ahead of us. From there, the map showed the road and then trails continued north over Monte Piano and reconnected to where we wanted to be.

We decided to follow this route the next morning and learned that Monte Piano had been the site of a two year battle between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies during World War 1.

The top of the mountain, which is a large flattish plateau, was covered with old trenches and other military artifacts and signs and monuments about the conflict. The trails we had been following up had been constructed by the Italian Army to supply their troops on the south side of the mountain. The trail that descended the north side of Mt. Piano had been constructed by the Austro-Hungarians to supply their troops on the north side of the mountain. This trail was an amazing piece of engineering and construction that had been built while the workers were under Italian artillery fire. The convoluted route worked its way 900 meters up an almost vertical series of cliffs to the top. It was a fabulous walk down and a strange testament to human fortitude and folly.


The CDD passes through many towns where grocery stores, restaurants, patisseries, and most importantly, gelato shops, can be found. As is common in Italy, many of these have limited hours, so some advance planning is helpful. Where cellphone service was available, shop hours could often be found using Google Maps.


We had no problem finding water on this route.


We camped every night while on this route. Finding good to excellent campsites was not difficult. We even lucked out on a rainy night with a covered deck equipped with picnic tables and chairs at a public park visitor center.

Other Hikers

We met only one other backpacker while on this route, a seventy-four year old gentleman on a four month walk all through the Alps. We met a few day hikers near public trailheads and a lot of bicyclists on the bike paths between Auronzo and Brunico.