In my eyes, there are no mountains that beat the Dolomites for dramatic views. Neither the Rockies nor the Himalayas stand a chance. The Dolomites are the drama queen of the mountain ranges with their impressive jagged peaks that flatten into fertile green valleys with cows and small churches. Beautiful Val di Funes (Villnöss) in South Tyrol lies in the shadow of the sprawling Odle/Geisler mountains. From a distance, it almost looks like the mountain range lies like a royal crown over the valley. Truly a look fit for a drama queen. The area is not only part of the protected nature reserve Puez-Odle, but is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. Here, among all this protected nature, you will find one of the Dolomites' absolutely most beautiful (and family-friendly) hikes on the Adolf Munkel hiking trail.
Our hike on the Adolf Munkel Trail
As we were going on a family hike (with children of primary school age), it was not the time to choose a difficult hiking trail. Rather, a lovely hike with beautiful views of the Dolomites (and proximity to mountain guesthouses) that would give the younger generation a taste of the mountains. We therefore decide to hike parts of the well-known hiking trail Adolf Munkel, which counts as easy/medium difficulty. If you walk all the way, the trail is 9 kilometers and you should expect about 4 hours of hiking. We chose to walk a little more than half the trail and then turn off onto another circular hiking trail Glatschalm Berggasthof and then back to the car. A distance of 5-6 kilometers, which took 2,5 hours without a break.
Our walking tour started and ended at the paid car park in Malga Zannes/Zanser Alm (1680 m).
The hike started on a nice and easy path through meadows and a lower part of the forest. Here in the forest among the trees, cows grazed behind the fir trees and had they not had bells around their necks they could have scared us. There was no problem walking at a brisk pace down here on the plateau, so we trudged along in our hiking boots. This hike can't take as long as 2,5 hours, can it?
We followed hiking trail number 6 against Tschantschenon. It wasn't hard to find, the roads were well signposted with large wooden signs pointing you in the right direction. In the forest, several narrow small forest streams flowed through the green moss. Very fabulous.
At Tschantschenonbach (see below – a slightly wider stream/small waterfall) then we came to a bridge with a slip road and a large sign with a variety of arrows. Here it was time to connect hiking trail 35 - the goal of today's hike - Adolf Munkel. Don't worry about forgetting the number on the hiking trail, all signs also print Adolf Munkel.
Now the path began to go uphill and the trail began to narrow and become rockier and full of roots. It still wasn't hard hiking though, it just took a bit more time to parry and jump over roots. Although this is not a difficult hike, I would recommend hiking in sturdy hiking boots. It is very easy to step crookedly on a root and a good hiking shoe provides better support than a jogging shoe. I had a pair of low hiking boots, but I would have preferred shoes with higher shafts.
Now we began to approach the highlight of the day – the hike in Geisler's shadow. As expected, the mountains were in shadow and solid ice at this time of day, so it almost felt like hiking against a backdrop of blue mountain peaks. The forest now began to thin out and we approached the borderland between the forest and the mountain.
Then the landscape opened up and we stood at the foot of the mighty mountain range. Steadfast descent has created gentle slopes of gravel and thrown large boulders all the way to the edge of the forest. These views are so spectacular they almost take your breath away.
The hike at the foot of the mountain was not fast at all, we couldn't help but stop and soak up the beauty every two meters. After walking about half the length of the mountain range here in the fairytale landscape, it was time to turn off for lunch at Glatschalm. There are three exit routes from Adolf Munkel, depending on how far you want to hike before turning off. It's hard to get lost here, all the trails you'll turn off on are named either 36 or 36B and turns right from Adolf Munkel.
When a monkey strudel beckons at 1902 meters, hiking is easy! A little downhill and then rest for a while in the sunshine on the outdoor terrace mountain inn Glatschalm really did good. The apple strudel was as gigantic, gooey and fluffy as a really good apple strudel should be. Our waiter read my mind and came in with three spoons. God what a star!
I quickly realized that the most common drink among hikers here in Italy is not a sports drink. I understand them completely. As hard as a wooden bench on an outdoor terrace can be, a view like this demands a moment's enjoyment. Life is probably at its best when you get to hike to magnificent views.
We packed up and said goodbye to the mountains and hiked back to the car. Now we hiked on hiking trail 36, but this time downhill. The hiking trail was still even better than before and took us through a new part of the virgin forest. The mountains disappeared just as quickly behind our backs and the tall pines and the road to the car park strangely felt much shorter than the road up to the mountains. It might have had something to do with the downhill.
So, what was the overall family rating?
A hike in the Dolomites with an apfelstrudel break is undoubtedly a world-class hike! The whole family loved this day and fell asleep like happy little pigs in the evening.
How do I get here?
The Adolf Munkel Trail is located in South Tyrol (Südtirol) in northern Italy, about an hour's drive northeast of Bolzano (where we lived). Drive towards Saint Magdalena and key in Zans Alm (Malga Zannes) on the GPS and you will find the car park. At the parking lot there is a large map with information about all the trails, so you don't need to be too prepared before you get here.
Is there anything else I shouldn't miss while I'm still here in the hooks?
Yes, do not miss to stop and admire the small church of Sankt Johann in Ranui (see picture below).
I want to read more about Val di Funes!
Check out these tourism pages from the region for more information on hiking trails, accommodation and places to eat.
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