Trip Number: 13690A
Staff: Stu DeLaCastro
- Hike the craggy mountains of the Brenta Dolomites
- Photograph dramatic alpine scenery along the way
- Enjoy good food and a warm bed when the day is done
- All lodging in hotels and mountain huts
- Hearty meals and all gratuities
- On-trip transportation
The Dolomites of northern Italy are among the most dramatic mountains on Earth.
Though not as big as the nearby Swiss Alps, they are even more striking in their
color, and in the way they rise abruptly from the surrounding landscape. Their
geologic composition includes both dolomitic limestone and volcanic formations.
The Brentas are the largest and arguably the most rugged of the seven groups
that make up the Dolomites. On this trip, we will hike through one of the world’s
most scenic areas. Indeed, this sunny corner of the Alps is beautiful, warm,
and friendly both in its scenery and its people.
Photo: Stu DeLaCastro
Our route will take us high into the western side of the Brentas, under the
shadow of Cima Brenta (10,247’), and then we circle clockwise around the
central core of the group. This is a rare opportunity, as most routes here require
mountaineering skills whereas our route is strictly hiking. And when the day
is done we’ll stay at mountain refuges perched high in the craggy mountains.
Besides the dramatic scenery and interesting local culture, we have a chance
of encountering ibex and chamois along the trail, as well as marmots and other
wildlife. The rare European brown bear can also sometimes be seen here.
As our mountain refuges provide beds, showers, and hot meals, we have only
to carry slightly more than a regular day pack, adding to it just some extra
clothes, a sleep sack, and toiletries. The light packs will make our hiking
easier, while the dining rooms at the refuges are great places to meet hikers
from around the world. This is a hut-to-hut hike; we carry everything we need
for the week. There is no luggage support, but you can leave bags at our start/end
Day 1: We meet this evening at our hotel in the resort community
of Madonna di Campiglio. At dinner tonight -- our first included meal -- we'll
get acquainted and discuss the trip.
Day 2: After breakfast, we will hike the stunning Giro Dei
Cinque Laghi (Walk of 5 Lakes) route. The hike begins with a cable car lift
to a panoramic trail linking the glacial lakes. After lunch at a mountain refuge,
we will return to our hotel in Madonna di Campiglio for the night. Excess luggage
may be left at the hotel, as we will be returning here at the end our our trip.
Day 3: We start our trek with an ascent into the mountains
to our first mountain refuge. Starting in the forest, halfway up we break into
the open and to our first views of the rugged terrain. We should arrive in time
for lunch and an afternoon’s rest after our ascent. (Route: 3 miles, +2,500
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Day 4: Leaving our refuge, we hike north awhile before turning
east and wandering through the rugged, stony landscape of the high karst plateau
Campo Flavona. Our refuge tonight is small (only 20 beds) and rustic. (Route:
7 miles, +1,200 feet, -2,000 feet)
Day 5: Heading south, we take a winding trail between the
tors of Pizzo Gallino (8,010’) before dipping down into the forest, then
continuing on to our refuge for the night. (Route: 7 miles, +1,100 feet, - 2,300
Day 6: Today is our most challenging as we ascend the steep
and rocky trail to Rifugio Pedrotti, a large refuge with a dramatic setting
just below the east flank of the highest peaks. (Route: 5 miles, +3,100 feet,
Day 7: Today we cross the spine of the central massif, complete
with dramatic views. Some steep trails down soon lead us to a more gentle stretch,
which we continue on until reaching our final refuge for the trip. (Route: 4
miles, +400’, -2,500’)
Day 8: We take an easy walk after breakfast back down to Madonna
di Campiglio in time for lunch. The afternoon is free for shopping, relaxing,
and packing up. (Route: 4 miles, +400’, -2,500 feet)
Day 9: Our trip comes to an end after breakfast. Ciao!
The trip begins and ends in the village of Madonna di Campiglio, which is
easily reached by bus -- a 2-hour ride -- from Trento. Trento, the capital of
Trentino, has regular train service from the major airports of Milan, Venice,
and Munich. Allow about 4-5 hours for the train and bus from the major airports.
Additional details will be sent to registered participants.
You are responsible for having your own passport and obtaining any necessary
visas or other travel papers. Evacuation and trip cancelation/interruption insurance
is strongly recommended. The leader will send out newsletters with additional
travel information, and ideas of things to do in the area before and after the
trip. You are encouraged to arrive at least a day or two early to help overcome
jet lag before we begin hiking. It would also help should your luggage be delayed
in arriving -- unfortunately, not a rare occurrence.
Accommodations and Food
Photo: Stu DeLaCastro
We will be staying at a mix of lodging types. In the towns, we will be at regular
three-star hotels near the city center. We will stay in double rooms unless
you request a single room at additional cost. The leader will assign roommates
of the same gender for solo travelers. All rooms have toilets and a shower or
In the mountain refuges, we will stay in dormitories with bunk beds, sometimes
co-ed, with bathrooms and showers (sometimes at additional cost) down the hall.
The dormitories range in size from double rooms (rare) to big enough for our
entire group and maybe other hikers. We won’t know in advance which rooms
we can get, and single rooms are not possible. Otherwise, the term "mountain
hut" is somewhat misleading; the quality of the dining rooms and other
appointments in most are comparable to a two-star hotel.
We’ll eat breakfasts and dinners at our lodgings most days. On some nights,
the hotels do not serve dinner, so we’ll eat at a nearby restaurant. The
group eats together as a whole. Breakfasts vary from simple continental meals
of breads and coffee, to heartier selections featuring cheese, meat, yogurt,
and fruit. For dinners, there will sometimes only be one or two choices. This
is the norm at some refuges. Of course, when at full-service restaurants we
will have more selection. You are free to order from the standard menu. While
vegetarian meals are not the norm in this area, our hosts are willing to make
a special effort to accommodate guests. Still, that’s no guarantee. The
first round of drinks at dinner is included in the trip price; otherwise all
drinks that carry a separate price are on your own.
When possible, we will stop at huts along the way for lunch. The huts serve
soups, sandwiches, and pastas. However on most days, we will carry our lunches
and have a group picnic, ideally on the top of a mountain ridge or some other
scenic spot. Most of our picnic lunches will be ordered from the refuge we’re
at the night before. They are typically sandwiches and a piece fruit.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
This is a hut-to-hut hiking adventure, where we will be well into the mountains
and moving to a different hut every day. We will carry everything we need for
the week; there is no luggage support. It is intended for the experienced hiker
who is able to walk about seven hours each day over an average distance of eight
or so miles and about 3,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. You need to be
able to do this amount of hiking for several days in a row, without a rest day.
If you can maintain 1-1/2 miles per hour uphill you should be fine on this trip.
Our maximum daily hiking distance will be seven miles, with never more than
3,100 feet of elevation gain or loss. Expected daily distances and elevation
gains are listed in the itinerary above, but may have to be changed depending
on group abilities, weather, trail closures, etc.
Our walking will generally be on clearly marked but rocky paths, with some
steep sections that will be more challenging. There are sections where the trail
crosses scree. It is possible to encounter patches of snow even in the heart
of summer. On occasion, there may be cables to hold on to while we cross a short
section of steep terrain. They are there more for psychological comfort than
necessity. You will need to carry a large day pack for raingear, lunch, and
personal items, to also include toiletries and extra clothing for our overnight
stays at the mountain huts (sleeping bags aren’t necessary). You should
be able to get by with about 20-25 pounds.
It is best to prepare for this trip by keeping to a regular exercise schedule
and taking frequent day hikes in hilly terrain - preferably at altitudes similar
to the ones we will encounter and carrying the same pack you will have on the
trip. If you don’t live near hilly terrain, ask the leader for suggestions
on a conditioning program. You need to be doing 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercises
at least three times a week. If hill- or stair-climbing with a pack is not included
in that, you should at least be doing resistance training for your legs and
This is the sunny side of the Alps, and, with a bit of luck, we will experience
the blissfully clear, warm days that are the norm. Early September is normally
clear and slightly cool. First snow usually falls after the 15th. Remember,
though, that mountain weather is unpredictable and we may experience rain, fog,
or even snow. Daytime temperatures will usually be in the 65-75 degree range,
and nighttimes in the 40s or 50s. That said, it has gotten into the upper 80s
and down to freezing on occasion on this route. In exceptionally bad weather,
we may have to change routes -- your safety is always our highest priority.
Equipment and Clothing
Photo: Gene Goldberg
No special equipment is required. You will need the gear you normally use
on day hikes. Medium-weight, properly broken-in boots are the most important
item. Besides that, bring a day pack with your hiking essentials -- water, raingear,
and something to keep you warm should the weather turn cold. The leader will
provide a more detailed list later. Be sure you have enough extra room for your
share of the picnic lunches.
Besides hiking gear, you will have to carry whatever additional stuff you’ll
need for overnight stays at the refuges. A sleeping bag is not necessary; blankets
are provided so all you will need to bring is a sleep sack or bag liner. You
should consider bringing toiletries, extra clothing, and a change of underwear,
possibly also a flashlight and slippers. Note: you will not have access to your
luggage during the trip. Luggage can be left at our hotel in Madonna di Campiglio
for the end of the trip. You will have to carry everything else.
- http://www.omnimap.com/cgi/graphic.pl?images/hiking/kom-dolo.jpg Map #070
Dolomiti di Brenta 1:30,000, Meridiani Montagne, available in Madonna di Campiglio
- http://www.omnimap.com/catalog/hiking/kompass.htm?180,544 Kompass map 688
Gruppo di Brenta, 1:25,000
- Price, Gillian, Walking in the Dolomites.
- The Lonely Planet Guide to Walking in Italy.
Please note that our route is not listed in any book I am aware of; these
guides are only for general introductions to the area.
Photo: Gene Goldberg
Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation
and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished
by volunteers, aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots involvement.
Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally understanding
parallel, environmental concerns at home and abroad.
Europeans use an extensive hut system to enjoy the mountains. The huts, along
with associated roads and lifts, make a substantial impact, while also allowing
greater access to remote places. We will observe these impacts and discuss the
differences between Alpine and American 'wilderness.' If an English-speaking
ranger is available at the park, we will have him/her accompany us on one of
our day hikes.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Stu DeLaCastro has been leading Sierra Club trips for several years. A lifelong backpacker, Stu has hiked in the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Utah. He has also spent time trekking in the Italian Dolomites and in the jungles and mountains of Nepal. Stu enjoys introducing people to adventure and looks forward to sharing his infectious love of the wilds. He is certified in wilderness first aid. Stu lives in the Omaha area with his wife and two daughters.
Gene Goldberg has been leading Sierra Club trips since 1990. His Club trips have included backpacking in the Colorado Rockies as well as trips to Nepal, the Swiss Alps, New Zealand, and Bhutan. The Dolomites is his favorite hiking area. He now lives in Santa Fe with his wife, Gail, and dogs, Whisky and Bailey.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips