Seceda is a dream hike for mountain lovers. Our guide includes everything you need to enjoy this staggering spectacle of the Dolomites. From the best trails and cable cars to the top photo and dining spots, we show you the most dramatic way to hike Seceda.
Of all the jaw-dropping mountain scenery in South Tyrol, Italy, there is perhaps no more striking sight than the Fermeda Towers (Torri di Fermeda) of the Seceda Dolomites. The spectacular peaks, erupting from Seceda’s ridgeline, roar into the sky like a neolithic firestorm suspended in time. They appear born out of some ancient blaze. Flames once raging, now steeled to stone.
In this post, we show you how to see these flaring Dolomitic wonders. Up close. And in a heart-pounding fashion that makes for an unforgettable day exploring the Puez-Odle Nature Park in South Tyrol no matter if it’s sunny or overcast.
Our step-by-step guide to hiking Seceda brings you to the famous ridge where you’ll stand in awe at the edge of Earth and then journey across the ridge to the foot of the mountain. From there, we lead you to the teetering Twin Peaks of Pieralongia and finally down the alp through pasture and forest to another must-see sight in the Dolomites: The Church of St. Jakob. Along the way, we share lesser-known viewpoints you should not miss plus the top Seceda hüttes (mountain taverns also commonly referred to as a rifugio, baita and malga) to visit for delicious food and drink.
⇒ Get easy-to-follow instructions for your trip: Download our Seceda hiking guide
Where is Seceda
Seceda ravages the heavens from 8,200+ feet (2,500 m) above the towns of Ortisei, St. Christina and Selva in Val Gardena, a valley located in South Tyrol, Italy. The mountain is one of many peaks comprising the Odle Group (Geislergruppe or Gruppo delle Odle) — looming between the Resciesa High Alp and the Puez mountain group almost directly across from Alpe di Siusi.
The name Odle comes from the Ladin language of Val Gardena and translates to “needles” — certainly an appropriate moniker given the mountain chain’s many spires. Seceda, on the other hand, originates from the Latin word “siccus”, which means dry. Again, wholly appropriate as the mountainscape of Seceda can be bone stark depending on the season.
By the way, it is common to see the mountain referred to as “Seceda 2500”, a name obviously denoting its height in meters.
Seceda Hiking Overview
- Hiking Time: This Seceda hike will take 5 – 7 hours (including time spent at mountain huts)
- Top Sights: Seceda Ridgeline with the Fermeda Towers, Resciesa High Alp, Twin Peaks of Pieralongia, Col Raiser, Alpe di Cisles Meadow, Church of St. Jakob, Alpe di Siusi and the Sassolungo and Sella Groups
- Hiking Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. If you choose to hike down instead of taking the cable car back to Ortisei it can become challenging but is well worth it
- Elevation Gain: 552 ft (168 m) up to 846 ft (257 m) if including Monte Pic
- Distance: 7.6 miles (12 km)
- Note: Trails criss-cross Seceda so you can easily shorten or lengthen this hike as you see fit. If you are short on time, we included details on a 1 – 2 hour circuit hike at the end of this post that will allow you experience Seceda’s grandest sights.
How to Get to Seceda
Reaching the Seceda ridgeline and plateau can be as easy or hard as you like. The most direct way to ascend to the top of Seceda is from the Ortisei-Furnes Gondola Station in Ortisei, which then connects you to the Furnes-Seceda cable car partway up the mountain. We recommend this for most hikers as it allows more time to explore near the summits.
Here are the Seceda cable car directions:
Where to Park: If arriving at Ortisei by car, you can park right next to the gondola lift station or at the underground Garage Central parking lot in the heart of Ortisei. We recommend parking at Garage Central if you intend to wander about Ortisei after your hike. The walk to the gondola station is less than 10 minutes. See the map in our downloadable Seceda hiking guide. Alternatively, you can pay to park right at the Seceda cable car station.
Purchasing a Lift Ticket: At the Ortisei-Furnes Gondola station, you’ll need to purchase a ticket to use the lift. For this specific hike, you will purchase a one-way ticket that allows using both the gondola and the cable car to bring you to the Seceda summit. The cost is €27.00 for a single ticket. Note: If you are not interested in making the trek down Seceda as detailed in our hiking guide, purchase a round-trip ticket. Seceda lift tickets can also be purchased online.
Take the Second Cable Car: Both the gondola and cable car rides are smooth and peaceful. When the first ride ends, walk to the Furnes-Seceda Cable Car station which is a short distance away to hop in the Seceda cable car lift, which whisks you to the summit. During the ascent, be sure to consume the ever-expanding panorama. Towards the west, the mountains of Alpe di Siusi will gradually unfold into their full splendor. It takes roughly 15 minutes in total to reach the summit using both lifts.
⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: A Step-by-Step Guide to Visiting Val di Funes
Seceda Hike Step-by-Step
Once you arrive at the Furnes-Seceda summit station, pick your jaw off the cable car floor before stepping out. For the best views of the Fermeda Towers begin hiking Seceda by hopping on trail no. 1 as indicated by the signpost. However, if your hunger is calling you, do your gourmet soul a favor and make a short trek downslope to the picturesque Baita Sofie Hütte, which is visible from where you are standing.
Sofie has wowed hikers and skiers for decades and is the classiest restaurant on Seceda. On top of offering savory Tyrolean dishes, it boasts a grand wine cellar where you can test your inner sommelier by perusing more than 300 labels from all over the world.
Tip: Before making the journey to any of the Seceda hüttes, find out which rifugios are open by checking the board mounted on the outside of the summit lift station. Some have rest days or may be closed for the season depending on the month of your visit.
After visiting Sofie, we recommend returning to the summit lift station to begin the Seceda hike. Trail no. 1 leads you up an incline that any beginner hiker can handle. Soon you will be at the foot of the impressive Seceda summit cross. Next to it is an iron circular lookout point that helps you identify all the mountains filling the horizon.
⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Best Hikes in the Dolomites
Looking towards Alpe di Siusi, you will spot more iconic peaks of the Dolomites including the Sella Group, the mighty Sassolungo massif and the Witches’ Mountain (Mt. Schlern). From up here, you can even spot the king of South Tyrol’s mountains, Ortler, whose icy crown beams from a height of 13,000 feet more than 80 miles away in Val Venosta.
Just beyond the summit cross, to the east, is an ideal spot to capture some of the most photogenic scenes of the Fermeda Towers. From this vantage point, you can study the cleaved cliffsides. They reveal past ages in countless stratifications that run from foot to summit.
Next, you will continue on the trail toward the towers. The path will now descend slightly. If your heart does not pound faster as the peaks swell before you, that’s a good indication to check your pulse.
Eventually, you will come to a signpost for trail no. 6. Follow this trail to your left, which pulls you up the steep Forcella Pana (Furcela Pana | Pana-Scharte) where you will take in the Fermeda Towers from the edge of Earth. Well, it appears to be anyway. This ascent up the Forcella Pana is a tad grueling. Once at the top take great care to watch your step at all times as this area is rocky and steep.
After thoroughly soaking in the sight, walk back down and pick up trail no. 1 again. This will bring you to the Troier Hütte — an idyllic place to relax and eat under the guard of the Fermeda Towers.
The Troier Hütte has fed mountain enthusiasts for nearly 150 years. It has been run by the same family since the 1960s and includes an adorable petting zoo that will make the toughest mountain man melt.
We suggest finding a table on the patio facing the Sassolungo massif, which demands attention from across a chasm of pastures, stones and pines. The Troier Hütte restaurant serves a variety of delicious South Tyrolean and Italian dishes right from their farm to your table. Additionally, the hut makes a mean Hugo cocktail — a South Tyrolean original you must try. If you would like some suggestions on what to order, see our post on the must-try foods in South Tyrol.
When you are through feasting, sink into one of the sun loungers below the patio. Here, feel free to let the sweeping mountain views fully recharge your batteries before trekking onward.
When you’re rested and ready, take trail no. 2B to the boulder-riddled Pieralongia pasture to see the remarkable Twin Peaks of Pieralongia (“Long Stone”). These rare alpine oddities rise as high as a 20-story building. Beyond the spearing spires, you will take trail no. 1 again where you will begin your descent toward St. Jakob’s Church.
If you didn’t visit the Troier Hütte, consider resting at the nearby Malga Pieralongia. A tiny mountain tavern but big on flavor, Malga Pieralongia will treat you to homemade mountain fare that will have you whistling like a Tyrolean for the remainder of the hike.
Stay on trail no. 1 until coming to a fork with a signpost pointing to trail no. 2. This trail runs to the left and right. Head to the right towards Ortisei as noted on the signpost. The trail stretches all the way across the meadows of Seceda.
You’ll pass additional huts if you need to take another break or satisfy your craving for another Hugo. The trail also winds past Fermeda Chapel (Fermeda Kapelle) — a tiny stone chapel that will charm you from a hilltop on your right.
Additional Must-See Sights of Seceda
Shortly before you reach the Sella Cuca mountain saddle, you will have the opportunity to take trail no. 6 to hike up a ridgeline to the pyramid-like summit of Monte Pic (Pitschberg) where you can enjoy an eye-popping 360-degree panorama of Val Gardena.
Few make the effort to hike up Monte Pic so if you do odds are you will have the view all to yourself. Including Monte Pic on your Seceda hike adds another 30 minutes or so to the adventure. If you do not have time or energy to visit Monte Pic, continue on trail no. 2.
The trail will eventually lead you to a forest opening where you will see a post sporting a number of trail signs. Look for trail no. 6/20. This runs through the forest to the Seurasas Alp. You will then have the opportunity to satisfy your appetite or thirst again by continuing on trail no. 20 to the Baita Seurasas Hütte.
A family-owned mountain tavern, the Baita Seurasas Hütte offers a lovely terrace that is popular for watching the “Burning Dolomites” — a natural phenomenon also called “alpenglow” where the setting sun beautifies the faces of the Dolomites with a rosy glow. By the way, if you detoured to Monte Pic, you will arrive at this same point on trail no. 6.
If you do not continue on trail no. 20 to Baita Seurasas Hütte, you will then take trail no. 6 toward another remarkable viewpoint called Crujëta, which is also situated near an enthralling wayside shrine known as Christ de Seurasas.
After Crujëta, you hike down the Seurasas Alp to a small meadow called Plan da Roles. From here, you will stay on trail no. 6 towards Mt. Balest.
The trail to Mt. Balest cuts into swaths of evergreens that tower above the rock face cliff side of Val d’Anna, which is the valley the Seceda cable car follows up the mountain. Even though the trail darts through forested slopes, several points allow you to gush over the wide-open valley below as well as capture glimpses of Sassolungo through breaks in the treetops.
It is important to note that the trail becomes increasingly difficult as it descends in twists and turns. While we do not consider it an easy hike, it is not dangerous in terms of height and steepness.
⇒ LEARN MORE: Understanding South Tyrol Trail Signs & Markers
Parts are quite rocky and narrow-pathed however so it’s important to watch your step to prevent injuring a knee or ankle. For those less sure on their feet, we recommend using hiking poles during this part of the trek. That said, we have seen hikers of all ages on this trail so don’t let the increased difficulty level deter you. Just take your time, be prepared and allow enough time before sunset.
When you arrive at the Balest signpost at 1823 meters, follow trail no. 6 towards St. Jakob. From here, you are roughly 30 minutes from the church.
⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Reaching the Church of St. Jakob
Once you arrive at the Church of St. Jakob (“San Giacomo” in Italian and “Dlieja da Sacun” in Ladin), the sight of it against the backdrop of Sassolungo will stop you in your tracks. We recommend plopping down on the bench overlooking the church to let its antiquity sink in.
It’s not known exactly when the church was built, but documents first mention it in 1283. For nearly a thousand years it has greeted travelers and you can now count yourself as one of them.
Unfortunately, the church is permanently closed unless you arrive at a time when guided tours are being conducted or during the summer when it is frequently open for visitors during normal hours. However, its cemetery is open year-round allowing you to wander around the small church grounds within the circular outer wall.
A gorgeous wayside shrine greets you at the front of the cemetery. Its haunting appearance speaks to the expert craftsmanship of the woodcarvers of Val Gardena. Also worth studying are the late-Gothic frescoes on the south-facing wall of the church. They showcase remarkable color and detail depicting St. Christopher with Jesus as a child sitting on his shoulder.
Want to learn more about this 12th-century marvel of the Dolomites? We dive deep into its history in another article about the Church of St. Jakob.
⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Emerald of Italy: Your Guide to Visiting Lago di Braies (Without the Crowds)
Rambling into Ortisei
From St. Jakob Church return to trail no. 6 and follow it toward Ortisei. From this point, you are roughly a half-hour from the village. The remainder of the walk is easy and will take you through more evergreen forests where you’ll stroll past interesting works of art. One, in particular, sums up this hiking adventure quite well.
Visual artist Claudia Comte pays tribute to the natural wonder of Val Gardena with a timber sculpture that aptly spells out “WOOOW”. A word that needs no translation given the views all around. This universal expression of awe came together using 20 spruce trunks each nearly 20 feet high.
After returning to Ortisei, we highly recommend taking the time to see more works of art from the talented artisans of Val Gardena. Visit one of the many quaint woodcarving shops and studios dotted in and around the village.
To learn more about this charming centuries-old tradition born in the heart of the Dolomites, read about our behind-the-scenes visit with Deur Sculptures — a local woodcarving family with wood sculptures in some of the most celebrated cathedrals in the world.
⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Ultimate Guide to Bolzano: Gateway to the Dolomites
Where to Stay to Hike Seceda
During our most recent Seceda hiking outing, we stayed at Hotel Ansitz Jakoberhof in Ortisei located just below the Church of St. Jakob. Every square inch of this family-owned hotel radiates heavenly Alpine charm. When we came across it, we had to book a stay.
The balcony view was among the best we enjoyed while visiting South Tyrol. Each morning we woke up to a wide-open view of the immense Sassolungo massif across the valley.
The hotel offers a gorgeous pool area for unwinding after a tiresome day on the slopes. But best of all, the key lifts for hiking Seceda and other mountains of Val Gardena are just minutes away. The owner, Andrea Piccolruaz, spoke excellent English and provided us with additional hiking tips while entertaining us with her adventures abroad.
Val Gardena offers 500+ vacation properties to pick from. Whether you are looking for a budget-friendly farm stay or an award-winning wellness spa, you will definitely be able to find the perfect getaway to hike Seceda. Click below to explore options.
Hiking Seceda Safely
Recently a famous Youtube personality perished while hiking Seceda. He was apparently hiking along the edge of the Forcella Pana, which is the steep ridgeline rising before the Fermeda Towers. If you choose to hike in such places while in the Dolomites, it’s imperative you know your limits as a hiker. Stay on marked trails and please watch your step at all times.
Checking the Weather with the Seceda Webcam
The mountainscape of Seceda is such that hiking on an overcast day is equally as fascinating as when the sky is blue. On mist-filled days the peaks seem utterly alive; more monster than mountain. That said if you have a flexible schedule while in Val Gardena, it is worth checking the Seceda webcam to see if the peaks are fully shrouded by heavy cloud cover before paying to take the cable car to the top.
The Best Short Hike on Seceda
The magic Seceda has to offer deserves a full day of exploration. However, we recognize you may be limited on time. If that is the case, we recommend purchasing a round-trip lift ticket and embarking on an epic circuit hike that will allow you to experience the soul-stirring power of the Fermeda Towers. This hike can be completed in 1 – 2 hours and covers approximately 1.3 miles (1.6 km).
After exiting the final cable car, take trail no. 1, which is the gravel path leading up the mountain to the Seceda summit cross and lookout point. From here, follow the trail toward the spear-tipped peaks and then take trail no. 6 to the left, which leads you up to the Forcella Pana (Furcela Pana | Pana-Scharte) where it will seem as if you are at the abyss of Earth.
When you are ready to continue the hike, take trail no. 1/6 downslope. At the bottom of the descent, begin heading back towards the lift station by staying on trail no. 1/6. Eventually, you will take trail no. 6 and then trail no. 1A in the direction of the Baita Sofie Hütte. If you have the time and appetite, we recommend enjoying a meal or a drink at Sofie before making the short trek upslope to return to the lift station.
Additional Tips & Considerations for Hiking Seceda
- Access an easy-to-follow PDF of our Seceda hike to bring on your trip.
- The Ortisei-Furnes gondola and Furnes-Seceda cable car operate from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Both open in early June and close in mid-October. Mountain weather can impact opening and closing dates so make sure to review the lift schedule.
- If you are planning to hike in Val Gardena for more than one day, save money by purchasing the Gardena Card. This card allows unlimited use of specific lifts and cableways.
- If you plan to hike down Seceda, make sure to schedule your hike when you will still have daylight.
- Additional ways to reach Seceda include taking the Col Raiser gondola from St. Christina or the Resciesa funicular from Ortisei. Plan on extra time if using either option as they are a less direct route. If you do not like the idea of being elevated in a cable car, the Resciesa funicular runs on tracks so you never leave the ground.
- If you want to experience Seceda at sunrise or sunset or are a landscape photographer looking to shoot Seceda at night, we recommend booking an overnight stay at the Fermeda Hut, Almhotel Col Raiser, or Rifugio Firenze. The other option for a sunrise view is to start the day early with a hike up from Ortisei. It is also permitted to camp on Seceda in certain areas. If you plan to camp, be sure to pitch your tent away from private property and national parks. Also, pack up your site each morning.
- The best time to see Seceda beaming with wildflowers and greenery rivaling Ireland is in July.
- An additional breathtaking sight you may want to hike to along this route is the Crujeta summit cross near Mt. Pic off of trail no. 6.
- If you plan to hike Seceda in spring or fall, but are not sure about the conditions on the summit, visit the tourist office in Ortisei. Staff will be able to advise you on the conditions and what gear you should have for your hike.
- For stunning aerial shots of the peaks, you may want to consider using a drone. This post helps you select a quality drone that fits your budget.
- For tips on hiking gear and clothing to wear for hiking Seceda, access the guide in our South Tyrol Travel Resource Library. Be sure to pay attention to the weather forecast as mountain weather can change quickly.
⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Top Things to Know Before Visiting South Tyrol