Settsass Ring Tour
Summer vibes in the Northern Dolomites
Livinallongo del Col di Lana | Agordino Dolomites
And finally summer has arrived! Time to relax, to spend some good time with your family or friends and, of course, to enjoy some unforgettable dolomitic experiences in the beautiful heart of this area, the Agordino UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site!
In this small article by our Team we talk about a wonderful excursion we recently made in the area of Passo Valparola, on the border between Agordino and Val Badia. We’re talking about the Settsass Ring Tour, a splendid circular excursion that embraces this impressive and marvellous Dolomite group located in the territory of the municipality of Livinallongo del Col di Lana in the Agordino area. A wonderful excursion that will certainly let satisfied those who are looking for some good ideas to spend an unforgettable day dedicated to sports and fun in the presence of the incomparable Pale Mountains. In this article you’ll find beautiful landscapes but not only: this tour is also extraordinarily rich in finds from the Great War in the Dolomites and is therefore also very interesting from a historical and cultural point of view. Let’s see together what the Giro dei Settsass has to offer to the guests of the Dolomites!
In a very hot August day we left from the enchanting Passo Valparola, iconic alpine pass that connects Cortina d’Ampezzo and Livinallongo del Col di Lana (both resorts of the Province of Belluno) to La Villa in Val Badia (located in Südtirol, Province of Bolzano). Right from the start we enjoy a superb panorama, one of the most evocative of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site: the Valparola Pass shows itself in all its austere summer beauty, surrounded by the remarkable peaks of the Lagazuoi, Nuvolau, Sass de Stria and, of course, of the Settsass (all mountains belonging to the 5th of the 9 official Dolomites Systems according to the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation). The area offers comfortable parking solutions, free-of-charge, nearby the Great War Museum at Forte Tre Sassi, so no need to hurry about this at all.
The tour we describe in this article takes place in a counterclockwise direction: of course you can also make this tour in the opposite direction. Our choice is purely dictated by chance and not motivated by any hiking factor; this hike is interesting and wonderful in both directions, so don’t worry if you prefer to do it the other way around!!
Near the Museum of the Great War at the Tre Sassi Fort we found very easily the indications of Trail 24 that goes up the western side of the Settsass (this trail is learly displayed on most of the maps of the area). After some ritual photos of the Valparola Lake, which is always a nice sight in all seasons, we set off uphill on the ridge that goes up our mountain group.
The ascent is not particularly demanding in this first stretch, and the view up here is so beautiful it rewards the hiker for the effort made so far. In a few minutes we reached the area we could properly consider altitude, where path 24 presents us with the first barracks of the Great War and a pleasant and picturesque stretch that extends primarily on rocks (even here nothing particularly challenging). The view in this section is dominated by the Val Badia below, in front of which the path winds at this point.
In a very short time we faced the first climb to the Settsass, the only vaguely challenging section of the tour. This part of Trail 24 runs over green alpine pastures and is more demanding than the first one, although in the end it is not particularly inaccessible for hikers of medium ability.
Unfortunately, at this point it started to rain and the temperature dropped significantly: not too bad, however, since we were close to the junction that allowed us to intersect the Path 23, immediately after reaching the saddle and starting the descent to the right (then towards the Valley of Fodom and Pralongià). A little bit of rain in August in the Dolomites should be put in the budget, so we did not let ourselves be discouraged and we proceeded quickly.
We then brushed the base of the Settsass on the southern side, the most famous of the group that overlooks the Col di Lana. We walked along a spectacular alpine path at the foot of the imposing peaks of the group, enjoying the view in spite of the weather, which was certainly not at its best. In this section we recommend you to pay particular attention as the path floor is mainly made up of large rocks collapsed from the Settsass itself. The Dolomite monoliths that keep us company along the path and the splendid view of the Fodom Valley are very particular and awesome in this part of the Settsass area.
While we were getting closer to the Bivacco Sief located at the foot of the Pico Settsass the weather started to turn for the better, until the clouds were completely thinned out and the summer sun returned with all the power of its rays. This is what the technical equipment in the mountains is for: dressing in layers allows you to enjoy the UNESCO Dolomites at all times without moments of discomfort, and the preparation is therefore an essential part of any adventure in the Pale Mountains.
After crossing Bivacco Sief, we got prepared to face the last part of the trail, a nice path in the woodlands that connects Sief to Passo Valparola, right at the foot of the imposing Pale de Gerda. In this place we stopped many times to admire the vertical walls of the Settsass and the marvellous views on the Giau and Falzarego Passes and on their peaks (Sass de Stria, Lagazuoi, Nuvolau, Croda da Lago. Toward Cortina d’Ampezzo we saw also the worldwide famous 5 Torri. A real sightseeing tour among the main attractions of the Northern Dolomites.
This last part of the Trail 23 takes place mainly in a nice wood and it’s not particularly challenging, even if a bit longer than expected. It takes indeed not less than an entire hour to return to the grazing lands of Passo Valparola.
Following the indications on site, we stopped briefly to admire the Edelweiss Stellung, the Austro-Hungarian post of the Great War, recently restored by volunteers of Fodom which is located in the meadows below the Museum of Forte Tre Sassi. A splendid and lively testimony of one of the most violent and barbaric phases of the First World War in the Dolomites.
Finally, we reached the last stretch of the climb, which we faced without any particular difficulty up to the Museum of the Great War and the starting point. The Museum of the Tre Sassi fort is a real must if you are in the area: rich in unique finds and recently expanded, this valuable museum space is located within an original fortress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, heavily bombed by artillery of the Reign of Italy in the early stages of the conflict. Not to be missed!
The Settsass tour is an excursion that takes a whole day and that is well suited to average-level hikers; given its length, however, it is not an itinerary properly suitable for families and guests with reduced mobility, who however find in the Valparola Pass area many attractions which are more easily accessible, such as Lake Valparola and the aforementioned museum. This wonderful hike allows the guest to easily admire some of the most famous peaks of the Northern Dolomites, but not only: from the different points of the circulr path you can enjoy excellent views of the peaks of the Pale di San Martino, the Agordino Dolomites and the Marmolada Group. A true paradise for lovers of the Dolomites! As always, we invite those interested to inquire about the route at the appropriate offices (contact details here below). That said, if you are looking for ideas for your holiday in the heart of the Dolomites, the invitation of our team is not to miss this wonderful trip around the Settsass, you will not be disappointed! A warm greeting to all lovers of the UNESCO Dolomites from our editorial staff, we will see you very soon with new stories and new adventures from the Heart of the Dolomites – Stay tuned!
Tourist information office:
Ufficio turistico di Arabba
Tel. +39 0436 79130