Italy's Dolomite Mountains offer the very best of nature, adventure and culture, with more than 90,000 acres of mountainous terrain to explore and conquer. Outdoor enthusiasts revel in the wide variety of available activities, while history buffs take pleasure in learning about the fascinating culture of the Dolomite people. Not to mention the fine dining, luxurious spas and incredible sight-seeing.
Many people don't realize, however, that the Dolomites are also a fantastic place to visit as a family. Here are five great hikes that are perfect for kids to take on.
Badia (Pedraces) - Sompunt Lake
This pleasant 30-minute trek begins at the Badia municipal offices, on to the Pedraces road and up a small ascent to Runcac road. This leads you to the Paracia and Ciaminades farms and on to the basin of beautiful Sompunt Lake. Enjoy a lovely picnic by the lakeside while the kids play on the playground.
On the way back visit the Paraciora-Sompunt deer park, an impressive seven hectares of land that is home to countless free-roaming doe and stag. Take a leisurely stroll down the winding path and watch these peaceful animals running and leaping in their natural habitat. Don't forget your camera!
Colfosco - Pisciadù Waterfalls
Begin your adventure at the Hotel Lujanta and head toward the Sella Group by way of peaceful pastures and scenic hills. In just 30 minutes you should reach your final destination, the magnificent Pisciadù waterfalls. On your trek back, stop at the animal park in Colfosco or, if you're up for an adrenaline rush, pay a visit to the Colfosco Adventure Park where there are exciting "all natural" activities for the whole family. Tackle challenging high rope courses of varying difficulties covering 600 meters of rope and 71 platforms reaching up to 19 meters high. It's an exhilarating way to experience this beautiful region and bond as a family.
This easy hike is perfect for families of any skill level. It begins on trail 20, gradually descends Vallon Lagazuoi down to scenic Lake Lagazuoi. Continue on to Rifugio Armenarola and Scotoni. This particular route is quite popular because it is not too difficult, is absent of uphill climbs and offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
The Lagazuoi Gallery
This family-friendly itinerary features fascinating tours of Italian mine tunnels where actual First World War battles took place. The completely restored passageway can be reached via cable-car, from which you travel a short trail to the gallery, located on the Presummit of Piccolo Lagazuoi. The trail itself is just as historic as the gallery, as it leads through a number of old army trenches that once served as lookout posts. Explore these elaborate, winding tunnels where brave soldiers once took shelter from the Austrian army and follow the ledge to the right which leads to additional wooden huts and communication trenches. It's a real-life history lesson for the whole family.
Ntëur Selva - Belvedere
This path is a bit more challenging because of its steepness at the start, but the incredible panoramic views seen from the top make it worth the extra effort. It starts behind the Ski School "Ski Factory" and brings you to Belvedere, or "Sai Uedli" in Ladin. Within about 15 minutes you'll find yourself gazing at the awesome sights of Selva Gardena. The trail leads you past Costabella and Risaccia to the Refuge Ciampac in Vallunga. Your children will experience the breathtaking beauty of nature at its best.
Hiking in the Dolomites isn't just for expert climbers. Families too can enjoy the extraordinary beauty and outdoor adventure of the area and create lasting memories while they're at it. In Val Gardena, children are encouraged to explore the mountains and are rewarded with the "Big 'G,'" a badge of honor provided to little excursionists who take on the terrain with their families. A hike in the Dolomites is a fantastic way to experience nature, get active and spend quality time together as a family. You're guaranteed to leave with memories to last a lifetime.
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