Hiking to Lago di Sorpais | all you need to know

Lago di Sorapis, the Dolomites

Lago di Sorapis in the Dolomites, Italy, offers the perfect combination of hiking, adventure, and relaxing by the water.

It was a beautifully clear September day when I parked at Passo Tre Croci to begin my hike to Lago do Sorpais. The hike took me under the shade of pine trees only just beginning to turn the burnt yellows, browns, and reds of early Autumn. Steadily upwards I walked, enjoying the panoramic views of the valley and the iconic Tre Cime in the distance. Eventually, I came to the lake, a pool of turquoise nestled in a ledge under the shadow of the formidable Mount Sorapis – a truly epic scene to witness.

The hike to Lake Sorapis from Passo Tre Croci is pretty simple, although it is steep, and the trail follows some exposed cliff edge in some sections. The two-hour hike also means that Lago di Sorapis is far less crowded than some of its more popular and easier to access neighbours in the Dolomites.

There are other routes you can take to reach or return from Lago di Sorapis, however, this blog post will only cover the return route from Passo Tre Croci.

The route

The trailhead for the hike to Lago di Sorapis is at the roadside carpark at Passo Tre Croci, which is about halfway between Cortina and Misurina. Here, you’ll find a map with the route marked out so you can get your bearings. From there, simply follow the signs for trail 217 along the road which takes you past some private log cabins where you’ll need to turn left. It won’t be long after that before you reach an intersection of sorts, the path you want is the one that goes up to the right. Just keep an eye out for the signs for trail 217 and Lago di Sorapis. From that intersection is where the uphill hiking trail starts. It will take you across a few rivers and up through a densely forested valley and along some fairly exposed cliff edge. As you hike higher and higher, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of where you’ve come from and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Trail signs for hiking to Lago di Sorapis
The hiking trail to Lago di Sorapis

Eventually, you’ll reach another intersection of paths with a mountain hut above and to your left, Rifugio Vandelli, where you can even stay the night. From here, keep going straight and the lake is just over the next rise. You’ll be greeted with a large, turquoise lake nestled in the shadows of the surrounding forested mountains, which are reflected off the waters glassy surface. On the far side is grassy beach-like area perfect for a picnic. It’s also from this far side where you continue hiking if you want to hike to Tonde del Sorapis.

Unfortunately, swimming or boating in the lake is prohibited because of the silt from the mountains that runs down the slopes and is suspended in the clear water. It’s this silt that gives Lago di Sorapis its distinctive turquoise colour.

Lago di Sorapis, Italy
Lago di Sorapis, the Dolomites

After you’ve enjoyed a picnic, explored the area, and generally had a grand old time, you simply need to follow the same path you took up to get back down to the carpark. 

Everything you need to know 

How to get there

Location | Lago di Sorapis, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Province of Belluno, Italy

By car | The easiest way to get around in the Dolomites and visit all the spectacular sights and hikes is by car. You can reach the Lago di Sorapis trailhead at Passo Tre Croci with a 15-minute drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo

By Bus | Bus 30/31 runs from Cortina d’Ampezzo just four times a day during the summer months, for more information, click here. 


The essentials

Cost | The hike is completely free, as is the parking.

Duration | The hike to the lake is approximately 5 kilometres with an elevation gain of 650 metres. It should take you around four hours return, plus any time you spend at the lake itself. 

Opening hours | The hike is accessible at all times, depending on weather conditions, but for safety reasons, it’s best to hike during daylight hours.

Facilities | There is a mountain hut, Rifugio Vandelli, at the lake where you can stay the night, however, this is the only man-made facilities at the lake, so make sure anything that you hike in, you hike out!

When to visit

Time of year | The peak Summer season runs from June through to the end of August, while the peak Winter season runs from December through to April. I visited in early Autumn and had a beautifully clear and warm day that was perfect for this kind of hike.

Time of day | You could easily hike up in the morning, spend the day lakeside, and then hike back in the afternoon if you have the time. Alternatively, you could also make it just a morning or afternoon adventure if you don’t have the whole day to spare.

Where to stay

Thanks to the popularity of the Dolomites as both a Summer and Winter destination, there are plenty of accommodation options.

Rifugio Vandelli | Rifugio Vandelli, located right next to Lago di Sorpais, offers accommodation for those wanting to spend the night in the area during the summer period. Check for price and availability by clicking here.

Airbnb | Click here to see what’s available on Airbnb and potentially save yourself up to $55.

Hotel | To see what hotels in Italy are available, click here.

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