3 Day Catinaccio Rosengarten Dolomites Trek Loop [Optional Via Ferrata]

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If you want to hike the original “Alpenglow” trek and marvel at the Vajolet Towers without having to do a Via Ferrata, this Catinaccio Rosengarten Dolomites Trek Loop is for you. 

We hiked this stunning Nature and culinary haven filled with towers, spires and pinnacles in late August and absolutely loved it.

Her first time hut to hut hiking – I think we might have set the bar high.

Located near Bolzano, Italy, it’s a well-kept secret among locals, making it easy to plan, book, and enjoy a peaceful escape without fighting the crowds of people jostling for huts on the more famous Alta Via 1.

Being a bit of a worrywart, I put together an itinerary for my friend, two daughters, and myself that excluded via ferrata but included some boulder scrambling with wires.

However, my kids have now outdone me and are insisting on trying via ferrata on our next Catinaccio Rosengarten Dolomites Trek!

I hope you can use this to plan your next adventure. It’s not only one of the best things to do in the Dolomites, It certainly is one of our favorite hut to hut hiking trails in Europe.

Morgan’s Rosengarten Dolomites Hike Youtube


Catinaccio Rosengarten Dolomites Trek Loop

San Cipriano to Vigo di Fasso Traverse (No Ferratas)

  • Trailhead: Parcheggio Lavina Bianca, Tires. Free Overnight Parking.
  • Distance: 11.96 mi loop with Bus
  • Days: 3
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 5,525 ft up, 2,175 ft down
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Terrain: Mountain Trail, Dirt Roads, Scree, Boulder Canyon with Wire Rope
  • When to Hike: Mid June to Mid October
  • Arrival Day Stay: Ansitz Velseck (Midrange), Cyprianerhof (Luxury)
  • Day 1: Rifugio Bergamo
  • Day 2: Rifugio Alberto
  • Final Day Stay: Private Suites Deluxe (Midrange), Ciampedie Alpine (Luxury)

Nestled within the Sciliar Rosengarten Nature Park (known as Naturpark Schlern-Rosengarten in German), this area is an absolute gem, boasting an array of trails of varying difficulty, gondolas and cable cars, and high-elevation mountain huts (known as rifugios in Italian and hütten in German) that offer mouth-watering cuisine, most of which are family-owned.

This is a point to point hike that utilizes gondolas as much as possible for the downhill sections, free parking for your car and a bus to return to your start.

It is ideal to plan with a city break to Bolzano or Innsbruck and a spa hotel post hike treat in Carezza (Karersee in German) at the end of the trek to recover and rejuvenate.

Rosengarten Dolomites 3 Day Trek Stages


Stage 1 | 5 miles

Parking lot Lavinia Bianca Parcheggio (Parkplatz Weisslahnbad) in Tires – Rifugio Bergamo (Grasleitenhütte)

Stage 2 | 3.75 miles

Rifugio Bergamo (Grasleitenhütte) – Rifugio Passo Principe (Grasleitenpasshütte) – Rifugio Vajolet (Vajolethütte) – Rifugio Alberto (Gartlhütte)

Stage 3 | 3.21 miles

Rifugio Alberto (Gartlhütte) – Rifugio Vajolet (Vajolethütte) – Rifugio Gardeccia (Gardeciahütte) – Rifugio Ciampedie (Catinaccio Gondola to Vigo di Fassa)


Note: Everything is written in Italian first and then German – This is how the signs are in this part of the Trentino Dolomites.

Via Ferrata Note:  If you do want to do a via ferrata (klettersteig in German), it’s best to reverse the direction.  Ciampede – Rifugio Paulina – Rifguio Fronza – Rifugio Passo Santner – Rifugio Alberto.  The section between Fronza and Passo Santer is a via ferrata.

Extreme Note: There is no gondola down the canyon from Rifugio Alberto to Rifugio Vajolet. It’s good to avoid in rain or lightning unless you can wait it out. 

The gondola there is only for supplies, not people.  You WILL have to backtrack.


Prefer a Dolomites hike with a professional guide? 👎

| Tip

Not ready to self-guide? Enjoy some of Rosengarten’s most beautiful scenery during this Private Full-Day Hike through The Dolomites. Hike safely and at a speed appropriate to your level of experience. Accompanied children are allowed to join!


Pros and Cons of Hike

Who is this trek for?

1st Time Hut to Hut Hikers, Downhill Haters, Mellow Adventurers

First and foremost, this trek is NOT insta-famous and you don’t have to book your rifugios 6 months in advance like the Alta Via 1 or the Tour du Mont Blanc (and less crowded).

This is for beginner hut to hut hikers that want a taste to see if it’s for them or people with only a few days to be in the high mountains.

The trails offer out of this world and varied scenery with excellent alpenglow, or Enrosadira Dolomites.

We actually took an extra day at Rifugio Alberto due to the “storm of the year” that just happened to hit while we were at 2,700 meters which meant one more day of delicious Tyrolean food, wine and comfortable beds.  

We played a lot of cards watching the August blizzard (after the week of 100 degree F weather 2 days prior) reveal and hide the Vajolet Towers all day.

Who is this trek not for?

Expeditioners, Wild Campers, Total Beginners

This particular route is not for someone that wants to hike via ferrata.  It is exceptionally easy to create a route that includes a via ferrata though using the Alltrails or Komoot or just a paper map.  Read how to use the Komoot app here.

You could have some members of your group do a “normal hike”, some do “scrambling on boulders with wires”, or some do easy to advanced via ferratas and meet at the same huts each night.

Wild Camping is prohibited.


Where to Stay Before the Hike

Best Budget
Messner Hof in Tiers
8.4
  • Clean and comfortable
  • Directly in Tiers (trailhead)
  • Breakfast
Most Luxurious
Cyprianerhof Dolomit Resort in Tiers
9.8
  • Stay directly at the trailhead
  • Pool, sauna
  • 5 Star Hotel
Lake Views
Ansitz Velseck-Residence Hotel
8.4
  • Hidden in the forest
  • Delicious restaurant
  • Regional and gluten free breakfast


Rosengarten Dolomites Trekking Route Map: Loop with Bus

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse or fingers to zoom in and out. Click on the icons to get more information. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the written index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your google maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open google maps, click the menu button, and go to “your places”/ “maps.”

Essential Hut to Hut Hiking Gear

👎🏻 Click on the links to check current prices on my favorite hut to hut hiking gear. 💗 🥾


How to Get to the Rosengarten Trek

By Car

If you’re going by car, the tiny mountain town of Tires is about a one hour drive from Bolzano.  The micro hamlet of San Cipriano lies within Tires and the free parking lot called Lavinia Bianca Parcheggio (Parkplatz Weisslahnbad) sits just above the hamlet.  

Parking: Parkplatz Weisslahnbad

The end of the trek is in Vigo di Fassa.  Take bus 180 to “Paolina” 25 min (1.50 euros).  Change buses to 186 to “San Cipriano” 35 min (5.50 euros).  From San Cipriano you can walk 2 km or take small bus 176 (silbernagel) to your parked car at Lavinia Bianca parking lot.  

When in doubt, ask.  Most everyone is super helpful and friendly. 

No Car?  By Bus

From Bolzano you can take the 45 minute bus 185 from the main station.  Use the Suedtirol Mobil website to plan your trip.  From the end of the hike in Vigo di Fassa you can get a connection to your next destination easily.

Cable Car Options : Alternative to Bus Return

If you don’t want to take a bus back to the start, There is also a brand new cable car called “Tires” and you can use this from Rifugio Fronza (Kölnerhütte) if you take the alternate trail 541 from Rifugio Vajolet (vs Rifugio Ciampedie route).  There is no need for a via ferrata on this alternate route.

Where to Stay After the Hike

Best Overall Wellness
Hotel Alpenrose in Carezza
9.5
  • Pool, spa and wellness center
  • Perfect location
  • Outstanding restaurant
5 Star Luxury
Ciampedie Luxury Alpine Spa Hotel in Vigo di Fassa
9.1
  • Sauna and Terrace
  • Closest to the end of hike
  • Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine
Most Private
Private Suites Deluxe in Nova Levante
9.1
  • In Room Private Sauna
  • Closest to Lake Carezza
  • Modern Interior 

Gondola Station Options

There was literally no water in the lake when we arrived. Then the crazy August storm filled it and we stayed 2 nights here to avoid climbing down the boulders in the lighting, hail and ice rain. In AUGUST!

Vigo Catinaccio: Rifiugio Ciampede – Vigo di Fassa

This is the best choice for this itinerary and typically will be in operation when others are closed due to inclemement weather.

Alternative 1: Paolina Lift: Rifugio Paolina – Carezza

This option is possible if you take a more demanding trail as you have to cross over the Rosengarten ridge to get to the western facing slopes. The Karersee (Carezza) lake is on my list to see and near this lift.

Alternative 2: Rifugio Fronza – Nova Levante and Tires

You can take a series of lifts to return to the parking lot utilizing this gondola option. It is also a more rugged trail but does not require a via ferrata.

Summary of Nearby Gondolas: There are more than this. ❤️‍🔥 Dolomites accessibility.

Cable CarStartFinishPricesJuly Opening Times
Paolina liftVillage of CarezzaPaolina hütteAdult: € 16.00
Junior: € 9.00

Up&down: Adult: € 22.00
Junior: € 13.00
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tschein liftMoseralmTschein Bergstation9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Vigo Catinaccio Village of Vigo di FassaCiampedie RifugioAdult: € 13.50
Junior: € 9.50

Up&down: Adult: € 25.00
Junior: € 16.00
8:30 AM – 6:30 PM
Tiers cabrioVillage of TiersAlbergo Frommer Alm8:00 AM – 6:15 PM
Welchnofen Laurin 1Village of WelschnofenFrommeralm8:30 AM – 6:15 PM
König Laurin I and IIFrommer AlmRifugio Fronza (Kölner hütte)8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
All times subject to weather. Go to this site for most updated information on western lifts. For the ones on southeastern side check this site.

My Experience: Catinaccio Rosengarten 3 Day Trek


Gartlhutte – Rifugio Bergamo

Most people will tend to arrive the day before and explore Bolzano or stay in a quiet mountain hotel in Tiers. At the end of the three days you can find very nice luxury or camping spots in Tiers, Vigo di Fassa or Carezza. This itinerary has 2 nights in high elevation mountain huts (rifugio, hütten).

Not sure what Dolomites mountain huts are? Read until the end where I describe in details how to stay at Dolomites huts.

Day 1 | Lavinia Bianca – Rifugio Bergamo (3:45)

  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Time:  3:45
  • Elevation: 3,050 ft up, 50 ft down
  • Terrain: Easy, soft single track/dirt road

The path leading from the parking lot to Rifugio Bergamo is well-marked and takes you through the picturesque Tschamintal-Val Ciamin hiking area and canyon. The trail is mostly a gentle uphill walk through a wooded area, with the Barenfalle creek and series of waterfalls to your left and towering spires and peaks to your right.

The path varies between a narrow single track and a wide flat dirt road, and eventually becomes a bit rocky towards the end. My personal favorite part of the hike is the meadow filled with cows, framed by the Kesselspitze and Sollenspitz towers, and the numerous healing springs with carved wooden chutes, each with a charming little story on a placard.

Once you reach Rifugio Bergamo, the landscape becomes even more dramatic, and it’s possibly one of the best sunset spots in the Dolomites. We were lucky enough to spot some wild deer and even some local soccer players.

We were also entertained by a Tyrolean mountain man who put on a show with his leather whip, creating thunderous sounds that echoed through the canyon. Even when his whip got stuck to an electric fence holding in some goats, he used a lighter to electrify himself and unbind the leather from the fence. Tyrolean mountain people truly are a special and amazing breed!

There is no place to stop for food on this trail so bring a snack. 

Day 2 | Rifguio Bergamo – Rifugio Passo Principe – Rifugio Vajolet – Rifugio Alberto (3:30)

  • Distance: 3.75 miles
  • Time:  3:30
  • Elevation: 2,300 ft up, 1,025 ft down
  • Terrain: Moderate, Scree, Cable Assisted Boulders

The path from Bergamo is single track with one small cable assisted section due to the steep gorge next to the hut.  Within 20 minutes you’ll open up to a high mountain bowl that feels like you are on the surface of the moon or Mars. You’ll reach an intersection where you could to to Rifugio Alpe di Tires, but you’ll take a right toward Rifugio Passo Principe otherwise known as Grasleitenpasshütte. (Looks almost the same as Grasleitenhütte.)

To get to Passo Principe – you’ll have to go up, up and up a large scree mountain.  We made the mistake of staying to the left of the massive washout.  We reached the top and realized there was no way to get across and had to backtrack quite a bit to find a suitable place for this middle-aged lady to cross it.  

I believe that this landscape is highly changeable depending upon the washout so I would ask people around the hut next time before picking a side.  Generally speaking, the right side of the gorge is probaby a better side to pick on the grueling ascent. 

Definitely stop for coffee at Rifugio Passo Principe.  If you have adventrureres in your group, this is a good place to split and let them hit a klettersteig or longer hike toward Anteromoia. 

It’s a lovely and scenic downhill to Rifugio Vajolet.

Then it’s a grueling uphill boulder climb to Rifugio Alberto.  It’s not “exposed”, but it’s definitely not easy, and there are some places where you could slip into a ravine. 

TBH: I kind of hated this section.  But I have vertigo, so the dramatic drops, and the need to hang onto cables and slippery rocks made me fearful.

On the other hand I saw 8 year olds doing it and an older man that didn’t look so fit carrying his Maltese dog down this trail.

I think it’s probably a combination of being pretty fatigued from a lack of sleep the night prior, vertigo and fear of an upcoming storm that made me anxious.  We ended up staying in Alberto 2 nights due to this crazy, crazy August storm. 

I would do it again though. 

However, you cannot take a gondola back down if you go up. It looks like you can, but you cannot. 

Day 3 | Rifugio Alberto – Rifugio Rifugio Vajolet –  Rifugio Gardeccia (Gardeciahütte) – Rifugio Ciampedie (2:45)

  • Distance: 3.21 miles
  • Time:  2:45
  • Elevation: 175ft up, 1,110 ft down
  • Terrain: Once to Vajolet it’s easy, but descending from Alberto is a bit challenging cable assisted downhill

Our stay at the Rifugio Alberto turned out to be much longer than anticipated due to a wild storm that brought hail and lightning.

While some of the Italian hikers were anxious to get down the mountain, we were on our way up not knowing the extent of the storm.

The sweet owner of the hut showed us the doppler radar and predicted the exact moment the break in the storm would occur. 

It took two attempts, but even an 8-year-old child managed to make it down during the rain.

The following day brought even more chaos with hail and snow, and we decided to stay in the hut for one more day and night. The cozy atmosphere, delicious food, and great wine made it a fun bonding experience with my kids. 

We set out the next day after breakfast and were pleasantly surprised to find that the descent wasn’t as scary as we had anticipated.

While I did have to sit on my butt for some of the more treacherous parts and hang onto the cable with two hands, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Next time, I’ll make sure not to get fake nails before heading to the Dolomites!

It took us about an hour to get down the scary part to Rifugio Vajolet, and from there, it was a soft and rambly path past Rifugio Gardeccia with its cold springs of water.

We skipped the 1 euro toilet fee and opted to pee in a bush instead. In less than 1.5 hours, we reached the end of the trail at Rifugio Ciampedie, where we caught the Catinaccio cable car to Vigo di Fassa. 

It’s important to make sure you take the correct gondola, as there are a few chairlifts for skiing and hiking in the area. The correct cable car building has a sign that says “Italian Ski School.”

Once we arrived in Vigo di Fassa, it was just a 5-minute walk to the bus stop, where we had the option of returning to our car or taking some time to relax at a spa hotel.

Alternatively, we could take a bus to the famous Karersee, also known as Carreza in Italian. This stunning lake is well worth a visit for its peaceful location and breathtaking views.

3 Day Catinaccio Rosengarten Dolomites Trek

No Via Ferratas Required (But you can add if you want)

1
3 Day Rosengarten Catinaccio Loop
Hut to Hut Hiking

3 Day Rosengarten Catinaccio Loop

The San Cipriano to Vigo di Fassa Traverse is an easy to moderate loop (with bus) that spans the "Inner Catinacco".

  • 12 miles long
  • 3 days to complete
  • 5,525 ft up, 2,175 ft down

Loop Hut to Hut Hike with Bus

There are multiple ways you can plan route for more or less "adventure" (via ferrata).

You can also arrange higher levels of "comfort", i.e. private rooms.

➡️ Ideal to stay at a Spa Hotel to recover and enjoy some luxury post mountain adventure.

 

Click to learn more about these options:

➡️ Carezza, Vigo di Fassa, Nova Levante, or Tires.

 

All easily accessed by bus from the end of the hike.

Pros

Not Insta-Famous [Feel Like a Local]

  • Stunning Scenery
  • Family Owned Rifugios
  • Free Long Term Parking
  • Minimized Downhills for Fussy Knees
Cons

Potential Dramatic Weather

  • Must Pay for Cable Cars  
  • Complicated and Tedious Bookings
  • Not for Total Beginners
  • Must Hike Cable Assisted Section

Tips For Hut to Hut Hiking the Rosengarten Dolomites

Level of Difficulty

This hike is moderately challenging due to the boulder section on day 2.  Otherwise it’s a very pleasant hike with little exposure. 

Making Rifugio Reservations

This process is high touch and variable.  It’s not simple and usually consists of emailing or calling back and forth with the hut owners directly on their websites. 

Trail Maps

The Tabacco maps are very helpful and I would recommend the Schlern Rosengarten Map.  I also found Komoot to be helpful. 

How to Pay

Bring cash due to fluctuating levels of mobile and wifi service.  Most huts want cash payments.  Expect to pay 60-90 euros per night for half-board (breakfast, dinner and bed).  

Some huts offer a la carte options, but not all.  The food is generally excellent and hearty.

Wine, beers and fancy coffees will cost you extra.  There is a wide variety of options, but typically it’s 14-16 euros for a liter of house wine.  

Hut to Hut Hiking Gear Essentials

  • Sleeping Bag Liner: Each hut provides sheets, blankets, and pillows, but you need to bring a sleeping bag liner.
  • Trekking Poles:  The elevation gain is not a lot but it is steep and slippery in parts.
  • Hut Shoes:  You cannot wear your boots inside huts, so bring a pair of slides or flipflops
  • Sunglasses:  The days are long, bright and sunny (or blizzard in August).
  • Trekking Backpack:  The best hut hiking backpack is the Osprey Sirrus 24 liter. If you have a lot of camera gear you could size up to a 36 liter.  
  • Hiking Boots and Trail Shoes: Make sure you have traction and enough room in your toe box. 

🔥 Check out my online buying guide if you are starting from scratch.

Via Ferrata Kit – ONLY if you want to do as an extra to this route

I’m not an expert in Via Ferrata, but if you undertake the journey you should be wearing a full kit.  Don’t be like my brother and go the wrong direction with no gear!

If you plan on ascending to Gartlhütte via the Santner Klettersteig, then a via ferrata kit is a must-have. This kit comprises three essential components: a climbing helmet, a climbing harness, and a via ferrata lanyard. 


Additionally, having a pair of climbing gloves like the Black Diamond half-finger gloves can be incredibly useful. These gloves provide excellent grip and protection while allowing your fingers to breathe and stay comfortable during the climb.


Before and After Hike Accommodations

My Picks for Hotels to Stay After the Hike

Best Overall Wellness
Hotel Alpenrose in Carezza
9.5
  • Pool, spa and wellness center
  • Perfect location
  • Outstanding restaurant
5 Star Luxury
Ciampedie Luxury Alpine Spa Hotel in Vigo di Fassa
9.1
  • Sauna and Terrace
  • Closest to the end of hike
  • Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine
Most Private
Private Suites Deluxe in Nova Levante
9.1
  • In Room Private Sauna
  • Closest to Lake Carezza
  • Modern Interior 


Catinaccio Rosengarten Camping

Camping Catinaccio Rosengarten is a perfect holiday destination for families with small children, offering modern and panoramic apartments, a kids’ club, and an experienced animation team. The site is built for sporty families with children, and there are a variety of rental units available, including studios, chalets, and caravans.

The campsite is equipped with a wellness area with a sauna, steam room, relaxation area, and emotional shower.

The campsite is equipped with a wellness area with a sauna, steam room, relaxation area, and emotional shower.

My Picks for Hotels to Stay Before the Hike

Best Budget
Messner Hof in Tiers
8.4
  • Clean and comfortable
  • Directly in Tiers (trailhead)
  • Breakfast
Most Luxurious
Cyprianerhof Dolomit Resort in Tiers
9.8
  • Stay directly at the trailhead
  • Pool, sauna
  • 5 Star Hotel
Lake Views
Ansitz Velseck-Residence Hotel
8.4
  • Hidden in the forest
  • Delicious restaurant
  • Regional and gluten free breakfast

Other Dolomites Hut to Hut Treks You Can Book

If you are interested in other treks in the area I highly recommend using the Alpenventures Unguided Service. They take care of all the boring parts like booking, route planning, etc so you can hike your own hike.

These are “self-guided” treks where you can walk your own pace but they do all the logistics.

9 Days on the Best of the Dolomites Trek
9.8/10

Unique Dolomites Crossing East-West Avoiding Crowds


Most hut to hut hikers in the Dolomites follow the North-South Alta Via trails but this one traverses the Dolomites starting in the west and hiking east.  This will give a lot more freedom and space.

  • Great for people who have already done the Alta Via trails.
  • Avoids ferratas and sketchy sections.
     

This new trek starts at the famous Seceda viewpoint and ends near Tre Cime.

4 Days on the Alta Via 1
8.8/10

Highlights of Alta Via 1 Trail in 4 days


Alpenventures Unguided does the heavy logistical lifting for you to plan a self-guided adventure in the Italian Dolomites so you can hike your own hike.

  • You'll see the main highlights of the AV1 like Lago di Braies and Cinqui Torri
  • Great for families or more casual hikers.

 

The northern section of the AV1 in the Dolomites.  Goes from Lago di Braies to Cinqui Torri Region.

10 Days on the Alta Via 1
9.1/10

Classic Alta Via 1 Trail in 10 days.


Enjoy moving at your own pace by using this "self-guided" hiking planning service.  They will do all the boring work and you can just enjoy your hut to hut hiking trip.

  • You'll need to cover about 5-7 hours daily of hiking.
  • The southern half will offer more solitude.

 

The Classic full AV1 is 10 days from Lago di Braies to Belluno.



More Resources

It’s a very good idea to get insurance for this trip just in case you twist an ankle or worse on the trail.  Parts of these trails are totally inaccessible to vehicles so if you did get hurt you would have to get a helicopter rescue. 

Crave the Planet partners with Global Rescue to offer the world’s leading travel protection services.  Medical and security emergencies happen. When they do, we rely on Global Rescue to provide our clients with medical, security, travel risk and crisis response services. Without a membership, an emergency evacuation could cost over $100,000. More than one million members trust Global Rescue to get them home safely when the unexpected happens. 

👉 We highly recommend hikers enroll with Global Rescue for peace of mind.


| TL;DR From Author

Don’t let unexpected changes derail your travel plans – with travel insurance you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re covered if you need to alter your bookings. Protect your investment and travel with confidence by securing travel insurance today.


What is the Legend of Alpenglow?

Did you know Alpenglow originated in the Dolomites?

King Laurin, the Ladin ruler of a land in South Tyrol, fell in love with his daughter’s beauty and took her away from her promised man. The knights came after him, and a fight ensued. King Laurin lost, but before being captured, he cursed the rose garden that had betrayed him. It remains hidden, except for a short time at dusk when its roses bloom.

Enrosadira, also known as Dolomite glow, is a natural occurrence that happens when the rocks of the Catinaccio Group (Rosengarten in German) and other peaks in the Dolomites reflect reddish hues as they are illuminated by the rising or setting sun.

I hope this guide filled with interesting information about the Catinaccio Rosengarten Dolomites Trek has given you the proper information to plan your next adventure.

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.