Trans-Dolomiti, Italy

  • Distance

    163 Mi.

    (262 KM)
  • Days

    5-6

  • % Unpaved

    56%

  • % Singletrack

    9%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    7

  • % Rideable (time)

    97%

  • Total Ascent

    31,264'

    (9,529 M)
  • High Point

    7,945'

    (2,422 M)
Circling around the unique landscape of the Dolomites, in north-east Italy, the Trans-Dolomiti is one of the best ways to admire its ragged mountain peaks up close. Complete with stunning vistas, rocky roads, and some fun-riding singletrack, this route gets you up, down and around this especially beautiful mountain range.
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The mountains and valleys of the Dolomites, named after the French geologist Déodat de Dolomieu, are made of contrasts, in which craggy and rocky pillars tower over gentle slopes.

The history of this Unesco World Heritage area, however, isn’t as idyllic as it might appear today, with its old-fashioned Italian espresso bars and carefully kept holiday homes. During the First World War, the front line between the Italian and Hungarian forces ran through its mountains, and you can still find relics of this bitter and often merciless battle along the route today. The Trans-Dolomiti follows some of those history-laden old military roads and in some parts, you’ll likely wonder how they have managed to transport all their equipment up those steep serpentines back in years gone by.

  • Trans Dolomiti Bikepacking Route Dolomites
  • Trans Dolomiti Bikepacking Route Dolomites
  • Trans Dolomiti Bikepacking Route Dolomites
  • Trans Dolomiti Bikepacking Route Dolomites
  • Trans Dolomiti Bikepacking Route Dolomites

Sisters In The Wild

Neža and Franzi rode part of this route earlier in the year, which made the setting for Sisters in the Wild, a feature story in issue 01 of The Bikepacking Journal.

Although your loaded bike might feel heavy at the start, the views will soon embrace you while you cycling over mountain passes, besides alpine meadows, and through lush forest, stopping to resupply in typical Italian towns on your way.

This route is based on a semi-official, non-signposted route found online. It’s relatively popular as a hut to hut route but hasn’t been bikepacked previously, to our knowledge.

Difficulty

The Trans-Dolomiti has a difficult rating of 7 mainly because of the sheer amount of climbing and the sometimes steep roads leading up to mountain passes along the way. Depending on your skill level, the weight of your bike, and your strength, expect to push the last meters to crest some of them. Descents can feature steps, hairpins, steep to very steep sections, and stony tracks, all of which require the mastering of at least basic mountain bike skills.

  • Highlights

    camera

  • Must Know

    alert

  • Camping

    home

  • Food/H2O

    drop

  • Trail Notes

    signpost

  • Passing through the unique landscape of the Dolomites, in which you can expect stunning views around every bend
  • Drinking an Espresso in a traditional coffee bar is definitely a must-do along the route. And at a Euro each, they’re cheap too!
  • Italian food has a reputation for a reason; along the route you’ll find plenty of opportunities to sample its original flavours, like freshly-made pasta dishes and dry-cured prosciutto.
  • Experiencing this beautiful landscape from a different perspective, by following old military roads and learning about the dramatic history of the Dolomites during the First World War.
  • The route should be ridden clockwise, as the climbs are easier this way. You can jump on the track wherever you want, although Brixen might be the most convenient starting point as it not only has a train station but also all services. In Italy, bikes travel on trains for a small fee. Space is rarely an issue.
  • The best season to ride around the Dolomites is during the high season from June through to the end of August. September and October can be still relatively nice and the trails are less busy.
  • The Dolomites are very touristy and often busy with hikers and mountain bikers, especially during the summer months. You will very likely have to share the trails and vistas with others. Give way to hikers and expect oncoming traffic at all times.
  • One mountain pass along the route requires you to take the gondola up with your bike. It’s very simple and many downhill mountain bikers use this service. Just be aware that your bike might travel in a separate wagon or that it’ll get hooked onto its side, because of that its recommend to remove anything that could fall off like bottles or your GPS. The lift runs from July 1st – September 2nd, opens at 9.15 and closes at 16.40pm. A one-way ticket with your bike included costs around 10 Euros.
  • Despite the percentage of gravel and forest roads on this route, a mountain bike with front suspension (or a rigid bike with plus-sized tires) is recommended, due to the often rocky nature of the route’s long descents. The route isn’t suited to gravel bikes.
  • Despite the percentage of gravel and forest roads on this route, a mountain bike with front suspension (or a rigid bike with plus-sized tires) is recommended, due to the often rocky nature of the route’s long descents. The route isn’t suited to gravel bikes.
  • Wild camping isn’t officially allowed in the Dolomites, so pitch after sunset, leave before sunrise, and keep a low profile. Just be sure to #leavenotrace. If you camp, stay clear of protected and delicate areas.
  • A reasonable alternative to camping is the Mountain Refugios along the Trans-Dolomiti. They offer basic accommodation and traditional meals but require some planning ahead as they are often booked up in the main season. A combination of minimal bivouacking and using these refugios is likely a great way to go. There is no one website that details them all; the names and locations difficulty in the GPX file. Different accommodation options are available; dorm rooms are typically around 18 Euros, with discounts sometimes available if you’re the member of a climbing club. Bring a sleeping bag or a sleeping bag liner.
  • There is no need to carry much food, as you’ll be able to pass at least one supermarket or small store each day.
  • If you want to go really light, a stove isn’t a necessity on this trip, as there’s plenty of opportunities to find warm, affordable meals and coffee along the way, thanks to all the mountain Italian. Bread, meats, cheeses, fruit, and nuts found in supermarkets will tide you through.
  • Supermarkets are closed during the lunch hours, exact times might vary but generally, that means from 12.00pm-15.00pm. Expect all Supermarkets to be closed on Sundays, even in the bigger towns.
  • Water isn’t an issue, as you regularly come across small towns and villages where you can refill your water bottles. We recommend carrying at least 2L of drinking water on your bike.

Shortly after we have ridden the route, Cass Gilbert followed our tyre tracks and came across a road construction which made a short stretch of it impassable, as marked on the map. We have drawn out an alternative but it should be noted that we have not ridden this ourselves. So any feedback will be much appreciated.

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.