The Italian Dolomites are well known for their iconic sights from the towering pinnacles of Tre Cime di Lavarado and sharp peaks of Seceda to the shimmering expanse of Lago di Braies and twisting mountain roads of Val Gardena. It’s one of the most spectacular corners of Europe, one that entices visitors to return again and again.
And while lesser-known spots like Lago di Sorapis may not fall on everyone’s Dolomites to-do list, its milky blue hue and dramatic backdrop of rugged cliffs surely make it one of the region’s most impressive sights.
The only way to get to Lago di Sorapis is to hike. But what a hike it is. The turquoise lake nestled under imposing mountains is accessible by narrow ledges and exposed paths. Here’s what you need to know
The trail to the lake includes a forest path and a few narrow ledges. There are also some metal stairways and the beautiful Dolomites views the whole way up. But once you make it to Sorapis lake, tranquil turquoise waters shimmer in soft light reflecting the impenetrable wall of a rugged mountain rock that surrounds it.
As a bonus, the hike includes a traverse over one of the most rugged and vertiginous mountain passes in the area. It takes a bit of work but the views over Tre Cime and the eastern Dolomites are sensational.
This slightly challenging 13.5 kilometers round hike is one of our favorite walks in the Dolomites. Here is all you need to know.
Tip: Bring enough water during summer it can be hot
Start at Passo Tre Croci
From Passo Tre Croci the route to the lake is via path 215. It is marked from the road easy to follow and takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The trail begins at Passo Tre Croci about halfway along the road between Cortina and Misurina. You’ll find plenty of parking space alongside the main road and a bus stop for those arriving by public transport.
As one of the prettiest and most accessible trails in the area though, it can become incredibly busy in summer so be sure to arrive early to nab a spot and enjoy the trail without the crowds. You can just follow trail 215 to the lake, it is the easiest way to go
Along the roadside, horses graze in a dewy meadow, the sun streams across the jagged peaks it’s an impossibly picturesque scene to begin the hike to Lago di Sorapis.
At the far end of the field, the path is marked and weaves gently uphill through pine trees and across the odd river beneath the rugged cliff line. Gaps in the dense foliage offer glimpses of the spires of Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the distance and the verdant Misurina Valley.
Emerging from the forest, the path clings tightly to the cliff’s edge and it’s a long way down – if you suffer from vertigo or a fear of heights, this section may be a little unnerving.
Metal ladders and stairs replace the spongy forest floor and things begin to get a little more tricky. There’s some clambering over uneven rocky terrain and shimmying up small ladders before the trail winds back toward the shelter of the forest.
And then, at the very last moment, Lago di Sorapis is revealed all at once. A serene pool of milky blue wrapped in spiky larches. Beyond, a ragged pinnacle of rock pierces the cobalt sky amidst the imposing cliffs that shield the scene.
Like many other spectacular spots in the Dolomites, this dreamy spot besides Lago di Sorapis has become something of an obsession for many a photographer and has since gained enormous popularity on Instagram, and it’s not hard to see why.
Brushed in rich amber and brilliant blue, it is an impossibly beautiful picture to take in.
After, spending some time enjoying the area, simply return via the same route back to the main road. The hike is 11km return and takes around 2 to 3 hours each way.
How to get there:
Car : By far the easiest way to travel in the Dolomites and to reach the Lago di Sorapis trailhead is by car from Cortina d’Ampezzo which is just a 15-minute drive from the Passo Tre Croci parking area.
Bus: From June to early September, bus 30/31 runs from Cortina’s central bus station to Rifugio Auronzo via Passo Tre Croci just four times a day. Check at the very helpful information center in Cortina for the exact departure times and seasonal dates, or look on Dolomiti Bus once the summer schedule has been released.
We stayed in an Airbnb near the beginning of the trail just outside the center of Cortina with an amazing view of the mountains. The Airbnb is with breakfast included and the service you get here is really 5 star