Snowshoeing from Cima Sappada to Sorgenti del Piave: the hike that in summer does not exists
Snow has the power to make us travel in time. Take this snowshoe hike to the Sorgenti del Piave (Piave’s Springs) from Cima Sappada. In summer, it takes no more than 20 minutes by car to make the same route. Almost no one hikes it, but in winter there is no other alternative.
So if you are looking for a long but not technically difficult snowshoe hike in Friuli Venezia Giulia, read on.
What you will read in this post:
How to reach Sappada
Sappada (Plodn in the local language) is an enchanting town surrounded by the Friulian Dolomites.
It is located on the border between Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto and Austria.
To reach Sappada, drive towards Tolmezzo. If you are using the A23 motorway, the reference exit is Carnia-Tolmezzo.
After the town, continue towards Villa Santina and then towards Ovaro. Pass the villages of Comeglians, Rigolato, Forni Avoltri then proceed towards Sappada.
The snowshoe hike to the Sorgenti del Piave starts in Cima Sappada, the first village you will encounter when arriving from Udine.
Where to park
Once you arrive, you will immediately find a convenient parking lot useful for making this snowshoe hike from Cima Sappada to the Sorgenti del Piave.
If you find a place, park near the small church, otherwise in the open space that serves the chairlift nearby.
The snowshoe hike to the Sorgenti del Piave from Cima Sappada can be divided into two parts.
- From Cima Sappada to the Baita al Rododendro
- From the Baita al Rododendro to the Sorgenti del Piave
Although not technically difficult, the entire snowshoe hike requires some physical training (I tried without it and I don’t recommend it).
If you don’t feel at your best, stop at the Baita al Rododentro. By doing so, the total km becomes just over 6.
The data below refer to the snowshoe hike in its entirety.
* IMPORTANT: Note December 2021: The Baita al Rododendro is currently closed due to a change of management.
A Snowshoes hike in Val Sesis
From Cima Sappada to Baita al Rododendro
Our snowshoe hike to the Sorgenti del Piave from Cima Sappada starts right next to the small white church that made us a reference point for the parking, where we find the signs that point towards the Sorgenti del Piave and Monte Peralba “.
In the hushed and Christmas atmosphere created by the snow, it seems impossible that this street, in summer, is actually quite busy. As we walk among the wooden houses and barns of the township, it really feels like stepping back in time.
After passing the last houses, we officially enter Val Sesis, the valley that will lead us to the Sorgenti del Piave.
Piani del Cristo Hut
The snowshoe hike starts quietly as the difference in altitude is spread over several kilometers. In fact, in the first section, we face only a couple of bends with a more marked slope.
After about 2.5 km we cross the first refuge on our way, the Piani del Cristo Hut. The structure is open only in summer and now, with the snow as a blanket, it looks like a hibernating teddy bear, waiting for the return of spring.
Given the shady position, if you want to stop, I suggest you continue to the Baita al Rododendro.
500 plain meters later the Piani del Cristo Hut, we arrive at the second mountain hut along our snowshoe hike, the Rododendro Hut (Baita Al Rododendro).
The Baita al Rododendro is the only refuge open in winter so if you want to lean on the refuge for meals, plan the timing of your excursion well.
It is likely that you will not need snowshoes to travel the 3 km that separate the Baita al Rododendro from Cima Sappada, as the refuge cleans the road.
If you go further, it is better to have them within reach instead.
IMPORTANT: Note December 2021: The Baita al Rododendro is currently closed due to a change of management.
To the Sorgenti del Piave
From the Baita Al Rododendro onwards, nature becomes even wilder and even the traces of those who arrived before us are gradually becoming less evident.
What we face now is the longest and most tiring stretch. Notwithstanding the fact that you can go back at any time, it is also true that those who have the strength and the desire to resist will find a unique spectacle in front of them.
After a further 3km, we cross the Hochsen Hütte. The house is private and cannot be used as a shelter, however, it is a pleasant sight to the eyes as it is a sign that the sources of the Piave are now close.
After passing this pretty hut, it is clear that many use it as a destination for walking because after it the tracks become even more sparse.
If this involves fewer points of reference on the one hand, on the other it means that the time has finally come to wear snowshoes.
Snowshoeing to the Sorgenti del Piave
A few more breathtaking bends and then we arrive at our destination.
The view opens to the right on my beloved Monte Peralba and Chiadenis, to the left on Monte Lastroni and beyond towards Val Visdende. Looking up you can even see the Calvi Refuge, camouflaged between the rock and the snow.
We approach the Sorgenti del Piave Refuge, which is also closed, and we meet the few brave who have gone this far.
We eat the sandwich in silence and so do the other people. Only a few rare whisperings are heard, then the soundtrack is entrusted internally to Mother Nature.
After the sandwich, we return to the car following the same path as the outward journey.
Why you should do this snowshoe hike to the Sorgenti del Piave
Because it is a very varied hike on the snow that never gets boring. Stefano and I know these places like the back of our hands but with each hike, we manage to grasp a different detail that makes the landscape appear completely different.
As long and tiring as it is, I would also like to say that it is a snowshoe hike that everyone can do with a minimum of willpower. It was the second walk on the snow I did with Stefano, and I assure you that I didn’t have the stamina (and experience) that I have now. All this is to tell you that you can do it and that you can try to do it even if you don’t feel in top physical shape.
Furthermore, although the Val Sesis is very popular with hikers from Friuli Venezia Giulia and Veneto, nature is still not quite unchanged.
Why you should visit Sappada
Yes, Sappada has not always been in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The transition from Veneto to Friuli took place in 2017 after years of popular referendums.
Personally, I could not be happier and more proud because I love Sappada and I think my region has gained an enchanting place full of potential.
Sappada is a bit like the Cinderella of the Dolomites. It is a delightful and strategic village to spend incredible winter and summer holidays. It’s the kind of place where you can relax, hike, bike, ski, eat very well but most of all, enjoy nature.
Did you get hungry after the hike?
For being so small, Sappada has many quality restaurants. The apex of prestige is reached by the starred Laite restaurant, but the others are no less.
- Mondschein: I confess the Mondschein is my favorite restaurant. The dishes mix innovation and tradition, the service is refined but familiar and the location is beautiful. Traditional dishes are eaten with a modern twist. I love tagliolini with truffles, Stefano is crazy about the venison fillet on a mountain pine sauce with saffron pear. The most amazing dish you have ever tasted here? Swiss pine shavings on chamois extract and dried raspberries.
- Kluit: it is the Sappada steakhouse. If you are a lover of grilled meat. The view of the cross-country ski run is beautiful.
Do you want to wake up (or fall asleep) in Sappada?
Here are a couple of tips on where to sleep in Sappada.
- B&B Le Coccole: Coccole means cuddles. Never a name was more appropriate, this b & b is truly a cuddle. In every area of the hotel, the warmth, and scent of wood reign supreme. There is the possibility of renting the spa for exclusive use. Ideal for couples.
- Residence Cavanis: Modern, practical, and with large spaces. The Cavanis Residence is ideal for families. Here too it is possible to rent the spa for exclusive use.