In this serie of Dolomites Hiking we did the Lago di Braies Hiking Route which is a scenic walking path around one of the most beautiful lakes in Dolomites. It is a very easy 3 km walk that is suitable for everybody. It has plenty of possibilities for the photography enthusiasts depending on the light and weather you can get very different pictures. We didn’t get lucky with the weather but still could appreciate the glorious views over the lake and the mountains around.
We started our day in the campground Bersaglio close to the town Brunico where we had a several day rest and had to take the train and then the bus in order to get to the lake. But with our Vinschgau card that we managed to get at the campsite for free we could use all the public transportation during a week unlimited times. We got really lucky with that and thanks to it could visit so many different places.
The start of the day was quite gloomy and cool and all the sky was covered in thick grey clouds. We hesitated for a while whether to make this hike that day or not but in the end we decided to do it. We hoped that it is just the morning cloudy weather and it will get better in the afternoon.
So we got to the final bus stop at Lake di Braies and our plan was to make a circuit hike around the lake and then get back to the village Villabassa where we initially took the bus. That would make a 12 kms trail for the day. We have been considering doing another hikes closer to the lake but then realized that it requires getting high up in the mountains almost ascending the peak and we wanted to opt for something easier.
We began this 3.5 kms circuit hike from the Hotel Lago di Braies where there was a restaurant and some souvenir shop. We got out to the lake and started to move clockwise around it. The trail was perfectly marked and adapted all the way through.
When we saw the lake for the first time it was really beautiful even though the low clouds were covering up all the surrounding mountain peaks and it was very gloomy. The color of the water was insanely clear and turquoise, that was really hard to believe it’s true. It is probably due to the white sand and small rocks that were laying at the bottom of the lake and created this light reflections. When seeing lots of pictures of this lake previously and thinking that it is mostly the editing skills now we realized that it is actually very close to the reality.
The lake itself is situated at 1496m of elevation at the feet of Croda del Becco mountain(2810m) and has a length of 1.2 kms. The fact that quite surprised us was the depth of this lake – 17m medium depth and 36m maximum depth. It seemed to us pretty impressive for such a small mountain lake. The water surface seemed like a glass – so clear and calm it was.
At the shore of the lake there were quite a lot of wooden boats parked that were for an hourly rent. And we would certainly take one if the weather would be sunnier even though the prices were quite expensive.
But the combination of these boats, this color of the lake and huge mountain rocks were making for a wonderful scenery, that’s undeniable.
The trail went along the shore of the lake, through a small backwater and continued going along the side of the lake. The path was very well made with lots of wooden steps, bridges and handrail. We have noticed that it always adds something special to the trail when it is made out of wood.
The weather was cloudy all the way through and even got worse at one point when it started drizzling rain and we had to get out our raincoats. It felt really wet and humid and because there was no sun that day it got quite cold too. It was probably the worst conditions to visit the lake because the views would be very different without the clouds and with a different light, as well as the color of the water would be even more impressive. But we had to bear with this weather because this was our day to visit the lake and we had to try to make the best of it.
Surprisingly there were still people hiking with us on the trail so we guessed on the good sunny day here there could be crowds of people. So it was one of the only advantages hiking on a rainy day.
We carried quite heavy backpacks that day with us and with such conditions it was even more difficult. So we thought to ourselves that we wouldn’t be too unhappy if we would only make this hike around the lake.
The views from the trail were amazing from any point. Sometimes it was going through the forest getting out to the viewpoints and sometimes at the very edge of the rock up above the lake. The rocks that were surrounding the lake looked majestic with the white rock falls coming down to the very water edge and green forest growing right on the steep mountain slopes. It created a beautiful contrast with the water of the lake. We liked that they left it quite natural too without many buildings or facilities around.
Closer to the middle of this loop when it started to pour rain we realized that we won’t do the whole plan for that day and just finish this 3.5 km trail. Because we felt quite cold and wet and we didn’t want to get sick because of that.
We touched the water of the lake and it didn’t seem too cold to us but swimming might have been quite extreme there. All in all it was a high mountain lake.
We knew that Lago di Braies was a starting point for several hikes including Alta Via 1 which was one of the 8 popular high mountain long distance trails in the Dolomites. And at first we even considered doing it but then looking at how difficult was the terrain we thought it would be too challenging for us to do. As we like to camp and carry all things with us it might have been too hard. And also we wanted to explore different areas of South Tyrol doing many hikes so we didn’t regret it.
While the first part of the trail was having a bit of uphills and downhills (really gentle though), all the second part of the hike was going almost flat following the gravel wide paths. So we were able to do it even faster.
Overall it took us no more than an hour of time to complete this circuit. We felt that the temperature dropped and had to wear every warm cloth we had with us including hats. We waited for some time for the rain to calm down under the roof of the chapel and had our pizza break there. And there we learnt that during the World War 2 Lago di Braies was a transit point for transporting concentration camps to Tyrol.
The rain still didn’t stop much when we had to get out and hop on our bus back to the village Vilabassa. Then we decided to take the train back to Brunico where we stayed before because we saw the cloudy and rainy weather forecast for the next several days and we wanted to wait for it to get better being at a lower and warmer place.
We really enjoyed the hike around the Lago di Braies despite the weather and we truly think it is worth the visit. We would advice to everybody take this trail around the lake as it is very easy to do and of course check the forecast and if you have the choice come on a sunny day. Cloudy days have their own unique atmosphere but we still feel like you can’t get the full impression of this place on such days. Of course on clear day there would be more people but there is always a price to pay. So it is up to you.
So we stayed in the town Brunico for several nights and our next hike planned was the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop – another popular tourist destination.