To the northeast of Ortisei in Dolomites National Park, Alpe di Cisles is a sprawling alpine meadow boasting a number of exquisite hiking trails, as well as one of the areas most celebrated and photographed group of peaks, the Geisler Group. In our efforts to plan another day hike and explore some new scenery, we started from our cozy apartment in Ortisei, and headed for the lift station to Furnes. The easiest access to Alpe di Cisles and the Geisler Group is via a long, 2-part lift (Ortisei to Furnes, Furnes to Seceda) that covers over 4,500 meters of ground and 1,150 meters of elevation.
We arrived on the Alpe di Cisles just below Seceda’s jagged 8,264-foot (2,519-meter) crest, looking down on a fresh blanket of clouds that was hovering over the surrounding valleys. As we skirted the edge of Seceda’s ridge towards the Geisler Group (9,925 feet [3,025 meters]), a large and rambunctious family of alpine marmots made their presence known, poking their heads up above the grass and scrambling playfully along the rocky outcroppings. Though the serrated peaks typically provide a dramatic view from the top of the lift, a heavy cloud bank had closed in and encased the entire formation in white, much to the chagrin of the group of budding photographers we shared the chairlift with, all lugging heavy tripods to capture the early morning light.
We set off to simply wander the plateau for a few hours, not having any real plan other than to hopefully enjoy the vast panoramas as much as we had the previous day atop Alpe di Siusi. With clouds moving in and out for most of the day, at times obscuring the views of the surrounding summits, we followed a series of well-trodden, dirt trails that brought us past a wonderful little stone church and around a pair of small lakelets (Lech da Iman & Lech da Rijeda). Continuing through the verdant valley, we passed another small lake (Lech Sant) before eventually arriving at the Pieralongia hut, a tiny cottage with a handful of affable donkeys roaming the meadows. The site offered some spectacular views of surrounding crests, and here the meadow transformed into a more rugged landscape, with mammoth boulders towering above us at the base of the looming Geisler Group. We headed a bit further, toward the via ferrata on Sass Rigais, eventually turning around at the base of the climbing route. As we headed back towards the lift station, the persistent clouds finally began to lift, and by the time we’d navigated the other side of Seceda’s ridge, we were rewarded with bit of sunshine and an impressive view of the Geisler Group’s craggy cliffs and the lush valley below.
Total distance: 8.1 miles
Elevation gain: 2,218 feet
Our track: We followed routes 6 and 2 from the lift at Seceda heading west and south toward the small chapel and lakelets, and eventually joined route 2B toward Pieralongia. We continued on 2B to the via ferrata at Sass Rigais before returning to Seceda via 2B, 1, and 6.