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December 30, 2010

Italy: Cortina, Route 14 “Mietres Freeride” and Route 6

Filed under: 2010, Europe 2010, Italy, MTB Travel, The List, Travel — anotherheader @ 7:28 am

Becky hits the trails outside of Cortina d'Ampezzp

Somewhere amongst all the biking gear jammed in the back of our Kangoo was a set of knobby mountain bike tires.  When we planned the trip, we

If only I had seen the sign earlier

figured we’d be riding on dirt as much as we would be riding on pavement.  But at this point, 50 days into a 66-day trip, the bikes had not yet seen enough dirt to force a tire swap.  In Cortina d’Ampezzo, that changed.  A black diamond advanced trail named Mietres Freeride seemed to insist on tire swap.  It was time to dig through the back of the Kangoo, find the knobbies, and swap out the slicks.

A “freeride” trail typically suggests challenging and technical terrain.  Often it is an experience worthy of a full-faced helmet and body armor.  Somehow that particular definition has not penetrated to Cortina d’Ampezzo.  Freeride in Cortina translates as lift-assisted.  In practice it meant that a ski lift carries the bikes and riders to the top and you roll back down the hill with minimal effort.  Mietres Freeride, like most of the trails around Cortina d’Ampezzo, is largely a forest road descent.  (We were told that the single-track trails in the area are off limits for bikes as it is a “Natural” Park.)  Cortina’s mountain biking trails are scenic, but, as far as we can tell, generally not technically challenging.

I will not make bad use of my ability, whichever it may be, and now if I can just locate my ability so I can be careful to not 't use it badly

We did two longer loop rides in Cortina.  Both of our loops started with a gondola ride from the edge of Cortina to Rifugio Faloria.  From the Rifugio, we descended to Rio Gere largely on a ski resort service road.  Our first loop was labeled Route 14 on the trail signs and “Mietres Freeride” on the map.  This route continues downhill from Rio Gere, after a short road segment and walk through a meadow.  Mietres Freeride passes by Rifugio Mietres (hence the name) and then continues down to a railroad bed conversion trail a little north of Cortina proper.  Overall this loop covers 18 kilometers.  Difficulty-wise, this may have been the most overrated trail ever.  Somehow what is an easy green circle trail almost anywhere else is a black diamond advanced route in Cortina.

The profile of Mietres Freeride

Route 6 is a more extended variation of the Mietres Freeride.  This loop starts in the same way with a gondola ride to Rifugio Faloria and a descent to Rio Gere.  For Route 6, we took the lift up from Rio Gere to Rifugio Son Forcia and continued descending behind a ridge on Forest Road 203.  Eventually the forest roads ended in Val Felizon.  There we picked up the same rail trail we had finished with on the Mietres Freeride though this time we were further north.

Ospitale train depot along the rail trail to Cortina

Even though the railroad grade trail’s tread is completely devoid of technical challenge and the gradient is gentle, this portion of the loop is very enjoyable.  The trail sits in a beautiful valley with peek-a-boo views of the Dolomites’ peaks.  Vestiges of the old railway system still remain.  The trail passes over bridges, though tunnels, and past the abandoned caretakers’ houses.  Along the way, signs explain the history and purpose of the railway.  There were many people on the trail.  It is a popular workout route for the Cortina locals.  I’m sure if we lived in Cortina, it we’d ride it frequently also.

Though we enjoyed our mountain bike rides in Cortina, we were disappointed.  It really wasn’t what we had imagined.  To us it seemed that the road riding routes in the area offered better views and better loops.  Maybe next time we won’t swap out the slicks.  We’ll ride Cortina’s roads.

A railroad tunnel in use as a trail (HDR)

Color lift pods take hikers and climbers to Rifugio Lorenzi


  1. […] Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy, 2010) […]

    Pingback by The List « Another Header — January 24, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

  2. I like your images, and would consider licensing them for my guiding website:

    Best regards,


    Comment by Ajax Dempsey — June 14, 2011 @ 4:44 am

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