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

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 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 (lead photo, above).

It was our first encounter with a lesson that would repeat itself many times over the course of our hike 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. Indeed, some stretches of the Alta Via 2 have lengths of cable bolted into the rock face to hold onto, to help hikers avoid pitching off the trail into an abyss.


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Trekking the Alta Via 2 in Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains.

Trekking the Alta Via 2 in the Pale di San Martino, Dolomite Mountains.

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: scenery that puts it in legitimate contention for the title of “the most beautiful trail in the world,” 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.


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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.


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About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.

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Hi, I'm Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Sign up for my free email newsletter in the blue box above. Click on Subscribe Now! in the main menu (top right) to get full access to all of my stories on America's best backpacking, hiking, and outdoor adventures. And click on Ask Me in the main menu to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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