An easy snowshoe walk in the woods
Today, I would like to share details about this easy snowshoe walk, which I recommend undertaking when it snows and inclement weather deters you from exploring higher-altitude routes. When the sky is veiled by clouds, obscuring the breathtaking panoramas of the Dolomites, reduced visibility can pose a danger due to navigational challenges. In such instances, opting for one of the many routes winding through the serene coniferous forests enveloping the Cortina valley is preferable.
While these easy snowshoe walk can be enjoyed in good weather, the forest environment acquires a particular charm during heavy snowfall. That’s why I encourage all nature enthusiasts to embark on a delightful walk in the woods. Although the current season has been sparing with snow so far, the prospect of it arriving adds an extra layer of excitement…
One noteworthy point is that the starting point of this easy snowshoe walk is easily accessible by bus, eliminating the need for personal transportation. A quick 10-minute bus ride from the central bus station in Cortina will get you to the starting point. Now, let’s delve into our journey—a simple yet enchanting stroll through the woods beneath the Becco d’Aial, commencing from Pocol and leading to Lake Aial and Mortisa. With a bit of luck, you might encounter the forest’s regal residents: roe deer.
Take the bus (or taxi) from Cortina to Pocol.
From Pocol, stroll along Provincial Road 638 towards the Giau Pass, covering approximately a kilometer until you reach a parking area on the left adorned with trail signs and a forest road blocked by a barrier. Despite the seemingly mundane stretch on the asphalt road, it effectively eliminates the need for personal vehicles. Moreover, given that the route isn’t circular, there’s no concern about retrieving your car at the end of the excursion.
Venture into the woods, following the forest road (trail marker no. 434), and cross the Pezié de Parù bridge over the Rio Costeana. Shortly after, make a decisive left turn (trail marker no. 431), initially skirting the stream.
Upon reaching the next junction, continue straight along the comfortable Path 431. After a stretch immersed in the woods, you’ll arrive at a spacious clearing where a hut stands, the “Cason del Macaròn.” An old cross visible in the front lawn of the building commemorates an unfortunate shepherd, likely struck by lightning in ancient times (the local term “macaròn” translates to fool).
Although the small hut is closed, we can still sit outside, take a short break from our easy snowshoe walk, and enjoy the sounds of the woods. Often, in this final stretch, the roe deer, adorned in its grey-brown winter coat, can be spotted in the midst of the woods.
From the hut, following the downhill road, you reach an iron barrier, and immediately afterward, at a depression, you turn right. With a brief ascent, you’ll arrive at Lake Aial, where the small refuge of the same name is nestled. The lake derives its name from “aiàl,” signifying a “clearing for charcoal.”
Post the obligatory stop at the refuge, amble along the lake on its left bank, heading south until you reach the lake’s conclusion.
Here, a brief shortcut through the trees connects to the dirt road ascending from Campo to Lake Ajal (trail sign no. 430). Traverse this road for a short downhill stretch until you encounter a crossroads. At this juncture, veer left (north) and take the conspicuously marked small road (trail sign no. 428).
Soon, you’ll arrive at Ponte Outo, allowing you to cross the Rio Costeana once again. Slowly but surely, you are approaching the end of this easy snowshoe walk in the woods of Cortina.
Continue along the road, and in just over half an hour, you’ll reach the town of Mortisa and subsequently the center of Cortina.
DIFFICULTY: Easy – No objective danger
TIME: 2.30 – 3.00 hours
LENGTH OF THE WALK: Approximately 3 miles.