Hike the World’s Most Beautiful Trail: The Alta Via 2 in the Dolomites

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Hike the World’s Most Beautiful Trail: The Alta Via 2 in the Dolomites

By Michael Lanza Hiking toward a mountain pass named Furcela dia Roa, on the first day of my family’s weeklong, hut-to-hut trek on the Alta Vi

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Hiking toward a mountain pass named Furcela dia Roa, on the first day of my family’s weeklong, hut-to-hut trek on the Alta Via 2 in northern Italy’s Dolomite Mountains, we stopped in an open meadow of grass and wildflowers overlooking a deep, verdant valley in Puez-Odle Natural Park. Across the valley loomed a wall of cliffs topped by jagged spires, like a castle a thousand feet tall. I looked at our map and back up at the stone wall before us, puzzled. After a moment, I realized: We have to get over that wall.

Scanning the vertiginous earth before us, I eventually picked out the trail snaking across the head of the valley and making dozens of switchbacks up a finger of scree, talus, and snow leading to the lowest notch in that wall: the Furcela dia Roa, the pass we had to cross.


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A family trekking the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Puez-Odle, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.
My family trekking to Furcela dia Roa on the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Puez-Odle, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

It was our first encounter with a lesson that would repeat itself many times over the course of our week of hiking on the Alta Via 2: These mountains are so steep and rocky that the trail often traverses ground that, from a distance, looks impassable without ropes and climbing gear.

But in reality, my family, including our young kids, were perfectly comfortable with the exposure, we never felt that any section was unsafe (although we avoided higher-elevation sections that were still snow-covered in July)—and our trek on the Alta Via 2, a footpath sometimes described as “the most beautiful trail in the world,” turned out to be a wonderful and unforgettable adventure .

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A trekker on the Alta Via 2 north of Ball Pass in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.
My wife, Penny, hiking the Alta Via 2 north of Ball Pass in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains, Italy.

My family spent a week trekking hut to hut on a 39-mile (62k) section of the Alta Via 2, or “The Way of the Legends,” a roughly 112-mile (180k) alpine footpath through one of the world’s most spectacular and storied mountain ranges, Italy’s Dolomites.

The AV 2 is famous for attributes that possess even more allure than a steaming plate of gnocchi: incredible scenery, comfortable mountain huts with excellent food—and, for the type of trekker who’s drawn to challenge, a reputation for being the most remote and difficult of the several multi-day alte vie (plural for alta via), or “high paths,” that traverse the Dolomites.

That last point also makes the AV 2 less crowded (read: easier to get hut reservations) than the more-popular and easier AV 1 and other hut treks in Europe. But it’s the scenery that makes this trek world-class, as the photos below demonstrate.

Scroll below the photo gallery for the link to my full story about this trek.

I’ve helped many readers plan an unforgettable hut trek on the Alta Via 2.
Want my help with yours? Find out more here.

 

Read my story about that trip, “‘The World’s Most Beautiful Trail:’ Trekking the Alta Via 2 Through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains,” which has many more photos, a video, and expert tips for planning it yourself. (Like many stories at The Big Outside, reading that entire story requires a paid subscription.)

See all of my stories about international adventures and family adventures at The Big Outside.

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