Hiking Seceda in the Dolomites is a must for every mountain lover. Its staggering spear-like peaks make it one of our favorite hikes. Here’s everything you need to know to enjoy this soaring spectacle.
Of all the epic mountain scenery in South Tyrol, there is perhaps no more striking sight than the Fermeda Towers of the Dolomites’ Odle mountain range.
The peaks erupting from the Seceda 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 way that makes for an unforgettable day in South Tyrol. Our step-by-step guide to hiking Seceda brings you to the famous ridge edge and across the plateau to a rustic mountainside tavern. From there we lead you to the teetering Twin Peaks of Pieralongia and finally down the mountain through pasture and forest to another must-see sight in the Dolomites: The Church of St. Jakob.
⇒ Get easy-to-follow instructions for your trip: Download our step-by-step Seceda hiking guide
Seceda Hiking Overview
Seceda looms 8,200+ feet (2,500 m) above the villages of Ortisei, St. Christina and Selva in South Tyrol’s Val Gardena. In fact, you will often see the mountain referred to as “Seceda 2500”. It is in the Puez-Odle Nature Park (Naturpark Puez-Geisler) and is one of many peaks comprising the Odle Group (Geislergruppe or Gruppo delle Odle).
By the way, 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.
- Hiking Time: The trek will take 4-6 hours
- Top Sights: Seceda Ridgeline with the Fermeda Towers, Twin Peaks of Pieralongia, Alpe di Cisles Meadow, Church of St. Jakob
- Hiking Difficulty: Relatively easy, but if you choose to hike down instead of taking the cable car it can become challenging
- Altitude: 8,200+ ft (2500 m)
- Attitude: Bad Ass
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 part way 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:
- 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.
- 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 the Seceda summit. The cost is €23.00. Note: If you are not interested in making the trek down Seceda, purchase a round-trip ticket.
- Both the gondola and cable car ride are smooth and peaceful. When the gondola ride ends, walk to the Furnes-Seceda Cable Car station which is a short distance away to hop in the 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.
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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.
This will lead 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.
Looking towards Alpe di Siusi more iconic peaks of the Dolomites including the Sella Group, the Sassolungo massif and the Witches’ Mountain (Mt. Schlern) lie on the horizon. From up here, you can even spot the king of South Tyrol mountains, Ortler, which beckons from a height of 13,000 feet more than 80 miles away.
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 towards 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 the earth. Well, it appears to be anyway. This ascent up the Furcela 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.
Once you have thoroughly soaked in the sight walk back down and pick up trail no. 1 again. This will bring you to the Troier Hut — an idyllic place to relax and eat under the guard of the Fermeda Towers.
Find a table on the patio facing the Sassolungo massif across the wide chasm of pastures, stones and pines. The Troier Hut restaurant serves a variety of delicious South Tyrolean specialties right from their farm to your table. In addition, 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 must-try foods in South Tyrol.
After you’re done eating, sit back in one of the sun loungers below the patio. Here, let the sweeping view lullaby you into a brief nap before trekking onward.
When you’re rested and ready, take trail no. 2B to see the remarkable Twin Peaks of Pieralongia. Beyond these stone spear tips, you will take trail no. 1 again where you will begin your descent toward St. Jakob’s Church.
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. This trail stretches all the way across the meadows of Seceda.
You’ll pass additional huts if you need to take another break or to 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.
⇒ LEARN MORE: Understanding South Tyrol Trail Signs & Markers
Hiking the Forest of Mt. Balest
The trail will become steeper as you approach Mt. Pic and Mt. Balest, which are the first mountains above Ortisei before Seceda. You’ll walk up to the opening of a forest where a signpost for trail no. 6A directs you to St. Jakob.
This trail cuts into swaths of evergreens that tower above the rock face cliff side of Mt. Balest. Even though the trail runs through forested slopes, several points allow you to gush over the wide-open Val d’ Anna below as well as capture glimpses of Sassolungo through breaks in the treetops.
It is important to note that trail no. 6A becomes increasingly difficult as it twists and turns over Mt. Balest towards St. Jakob. While we do not consider it an easy hike, it is not dangerous in terms of height and steepness.
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.
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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 12-century marvel of the Dolomites? We dive deep into its history in another article about the Church of St. Jakob.
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Wandering to 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.
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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 have 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.
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 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 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 see to 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.
Pack a Dolomites Hiking Guidebook
Anyone spending considerable time in the Dolomites should purchase a compact hiking guidebook. They are invaluable for pre-trip planning and for discovering other hiking options if your plans have to change due to mountain weather, unexpected lift closures, etc.
Our favorite book to bring is Shorter Walks in the Dolomites. It includes easy-to-follow maps and covers step-by-step directions to popular destinations such as Seceda as well as lesser-known hikes that are equally spectacular.
The hikes featured in the book vary from under 2 hours to full-day excursions. We find it especially useful for uncovering hidden gems that allow us to avoid crowds while hiking. The Majority of the hikes featured are day-long outings.
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