Hiking around the Sassolungo (Langkofel) massif is not easy. But the superb, constantly changing views and excellent rifugios made it one of our favourite walks. Here’s all you need to know.
The Dolomites, in northern Italy, may not be as high as other regions of the Alps, but they are no less spectacular. Everywhere you look near vertical rocky peaks tower over green meadows swaying in the breeze. It is this dramatic contrast between inhospitable mountains and gentle fields that makes the area so visually stunning. And nowhere is this contrast more emphatic than around the Sassolungo (Langkofel in German) massif – one of our favourite hikes in the Dolomites.
Here, towering spires of rock rise out of the gentle grasses of the highest large Alpine meadow in Europe. Beyond grazing cows, spectacular views open up across the endless mountain ranges that make the Dolomites one of our favourite destinations.
A great way to explore the area is to circumnavigate the entire Sassolungo massif on foot. It’s a challenging, 17.6km circuit but, with constantly changing views and a few perfectly placed rifugios, it’s an excellent day hike.
If you feel up to the challenge, here are all the details.
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IN THIS GUIDE
HIKING THE SASSOLUNGO (LANGKOFEL) CIRCUIT
A challenging, circular day hike with constantly changing stunning scenery
1,000 metres (+/-)
May – October
THE SASSOLUNGO CIRCUIT
Shortly after leaving the Passo Sella car park, the magnificent sight of the Sassolungo massif rises dramatically. Three sharp peaks of grey rock protrude out of the green meadows. They are in order: Sasso Piatto (Platkofel in German) on the left; Punta Grohman (Grohmansptize) in the middle; and Sassolungo (Langkofel) on the right.
Soon the trail arrives at Friedrich August Hutte – one of the most idyllic mountain rifugios – before the path slowly climbs around the contour of the Sasso Piatto peak.
Before too long, the undulating rocky path led to the highest point on the Sassolungo circuit, rifugio Sasso Piatto. Shortly after leaving the refugio, the path veers right to deliver one of the best views of the hike, Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm). The largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in Europe, backed by the rugged peaks of Catinaccio and the anvil of rock of Sciliar massif, is a breath-taking sight.
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ASCENDING TO RIFUGIO VICENZA
Hugging the Sassolungo massif on our right, the trail spends the next 45 minutes passing in and out of pine forests. To the left, the gently sloping meadows of Alpe di Siusi glows in front of the jagged spires of the Puez-Odel massif.
Next there is a steep detour to Rifugio Vicenza, 300 metres above the hiking trail. The rifugio, surrounded by cliffs on 3 sides, has a bird’s eye view over layers of vertical rock and weary walkers making their way up the path below.
After leaving the rifugio, the views change again on the approach towards Rifugio Comici with the Sella massif coming into view. From Comici there’s only 1 hour of downhill walking to go.
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TRAIL CONDITIONS OF THE SASSOLUNGO HIKE
Since the trail is a circuit you could walk either way round. However, we recommend hiking clockwise as the views are better and the hiking a little easier. The route described above begins at the Passo Sella car park (€6).
You could also take the cable car up from Selva to Campioni and complete the circuit from there. But keep in mind that this would add an additional 2 kilometres to the hike.
The path around the massif is easy to follow at all times, however, a number of different trails traverse the area. Pay attention to the signs to make sure you stay on the correct path (see below). Since the massif should always be tight on your right-hand side it will quickly become clear if you go wrong.
Although the ascent/descent is 1000 metres, there are no particularly tricky sections and no special equipment is needed. At 17.6 kilometres, the Sassolungo hike is a bit of a slog. But with many rifugios available to rest, and a nice mix of uphill and downhill sections, anyone with a reasonable level of fitness should have no problem.
The most challenging section is the steep climb up to Rifugio Vicenza which can be skipped if needed.
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ROUTE FOR HIKING SASSOLUNGO (LANGKOFEL)
Leave the Passo Sella car park on path 557 – often called the Friedrich August Weg – which passes Friedrich August Hutte on the way to Rifugio Sasso Piatto.
At Rifugio Sasso Piatto take path 527 which passes through a gate then descends before turning right. (Do not take the path that rises up over the mountain).
The path follows the contour of the massif, drops and then comes to a crossroads at the gap between Sasso Piatto and Sassolungo mountains.
You can continue straight ahead around the massif on path 526, but we suggest you make the 300-metre climb up to Rifugio Vicenza and the rocky heart of the mountain before descending back to the path.
Once you are back down after the detour to Rifugio Vicenza, follow path 526 past Rifugio Comici and back to the car park at Passo Sella.
It takes about 6 hours of walking time to complete the circuit. But allow for 8 hours, taking plenty of breaks and a leisurely lunch.
DISTANCES ON THE SASSOLUNGO HIKE
30 minutes | 1.8 kilometres (11 miles)
1 hour 20 minutes | 4.3 kilometres (2.6 miles)
1 hour 40 minutes | 4.6 kilometres (2.8 miles)
1 hour 30 minutes | 4.2 kilometres (2.6 miles)
1 hour | 2.7 kilometres (1.6 miles)
SASSOLUNGO HIKE MAP
Although the paths are well marked and clear, it’s a long walk and the cloud can come in quickly so take a map (or hit the star on our map to download to your phone) and a compass. We suggest you purchase Shorter Walks in the Dolomites. It has good maps and details of this and other great walks in the area.
HOW TO GET TO THE SASSOLUNGO HIKE
Sassolungo is in an area of the Italian Alps known as the Dolomites, an enthraling Italian bucket list destination. It can be accessed via a number of airports: Innsbruck, Verona or Venice.
The closest town to the walk is Selva di Val Gardena, from where you can join the hike using the cable car, bus or car.
Cable Car // Take the cable car from the centre of Selva di Val Gardena to Campioni and begin the walk from there. Please keep in mind, however, that this option will add another 2km to the walk.
Bus // A public bus (471) runs from Selva di Val Gardena or Ortisei to Passo Sella – a 2,183m high pass on the SS242 road between Selva and Canazei – where the trailhead starts. Buses run around every 20 to 30 minutes.
Car // From Selva di Val Gardena or Ortisei, drive to the carpark at Passo Sella which is around 20 minutes from Selva and 40 minutes from Ortisei. The car park costs €5 for the day.
WHERE TO STAY
The best places to stay to undertake the Sassolungo hike are Selva Val Gardena or Ortisei. Both are set in the attractive Val Gardena with plenty of hotels, facilities and good transport links. Here are some recommendations from us.
Rustically furnished yet still cool & modern, this chalet is excellent for cycling and hiking. It’s between Santa Cristina and Selva Val Gardena – just a (beautiful) 20-minute walk from town.
These excellent value, family-run apartments are modern, spacious and a mere 5 minutes to the centre of the beautiful town of Ortisei. Each has a private bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and comfy lounge area.
This modern hotel has a large deck with great views of the surrounding area and a bar that’s open til the wee hours. It’s packed with facilities including a gym, spa, indoor pool, free parking and best of all: home-made cakes.
WHAT TO TAKE ON THE HIKE
01 – The Sassolungo circuit is a long walk and the 300m climb up to Rifugio Vicenza is rocky. Ideally, proper hiking boots (we use something like these) are a good idea. However, there is nothing to stop you from doing the walk with any shoes – as long as they have good grip. Hiking poles can also help to bypass some of the strain from your legs to your arms.
02 – Weather conditions on the walk can change dramatically. Make sure you take a waterproof and some warm clothes. Additionally, the walk is not in shade, so bring sunblock and a hat on hot days.
03 – There are plenty of refreshments on route as all five of the rifugios serve food and drinks. Rifugio Friedrich August Hutte is a great place to stop for morning coffee. And if the weather is good, Rifugio Vicenza high in a crevasse, has spectacular great views and good food. However, always carry plenty of energy replenishing snacks and a water filter bottle. If you’re doing a longer hike we highly recommend a hydration bag like this one.
04 – The well marked, but make sure you have a good idea where you are going, and ideally take a physical map or download the maps from our more detailed posts onto your smartphone. MAPS: Cortina map
05 – If you want to up your photography game, we highly recommend investing in good quality ND Filters, they’ll really make your images pop. To use the filters, you’ll need a decent tripod, the Ultralight SIrui is the best we’ve come across.
BEST TIME TO HIKE SASSOLUNGO
The hiking season in the Dolomites roughly runs from late May to October depending on the weather conditions and the height of the walks you want to undertake. The best weather is in the summer months, but it is also the busiest time and this is a popular walk.
Another consideration is that cable cars and rifugios in the region only open in mid-June and run till end of September / early October.
We recommend hiking the Sassolungo – Langkofel circuit in late June / early July or September. The snow should have gone, the crowds will be a bit lower and the cable cars and rifugios in the region will be up and running.
The views are great at all times of the day, but make sure you leave early enough so you don’t have to rush.
MORE READING FOR YOUR DOLOMITES TRIP
The Dolomites is an area we love going back to. With exception hiking, dramatic scenery and a blend of Austrian and Italian culture it’s one of our favourite destinations in the Alps. Here’s some more reading to help plan your Dolomites road trip itinerary.
See the best of the Italian Dolomites on a one-week Road Trip Itinerary
Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo
How to hike to the turquoise waters of Lago di Sorapis
10 breath-taking reasons to visit the Italian Alps
9 Great Hikes in the Dolomites – Easy strolls to exhilarating hikes
How to visit beautiful Val di Funes (Villnöss)
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