The Schlern or Sciliar in Italian (Altitude 2,563 m) marks the western extension of the Dolomites. It owes its distinct profile to its flat, rounded summit plateau and two steep rocky peaks at the north west end of the mountain. The massive mountain borders the vast pastures of Alpe di Siusi on one side and the famous mountain range of the Catinaccio or Rosengarten on the other. There are countless legends of dwarf kings and witches evolving around that area… The Schlern‘s pristine valleys and gorges and the rich meadows on its plateau were already used as grazing grounds in prehistoric times. In 2003, the entire area was protected and turned into a nature reserve.
Trails and hiking suggestions
There are countless possibilities for exploring the area around Mount Sciliar, Alpe di Siusi and the Catinaccio. Sesselschwaige is most commonly accessed through the little canyon via a trail called Knüppelweg: The name derives from the coarse wooden billets the trail is made of, in German, these are called Knüppel. This method of construction, partly bridge, partly trail, stretches over a total of 1.5 km. The trail was partially constructed in medieval times, enabling access to the alpine pasture despite the extremely steep terrain. It makes the trail a particularly unique experience even today. Another equally attractive option is to start from Tires and cross a little pass called the Bear's trap that boasts amazing views of the Catinaccio. Many hikers stop by Sesselschwaige after having been to the Sciliar's summit plateau, starting from Alpe di Siusi. There are many trails that take you here, but, and that's part of the magic: no access road and no cable car. Let's go....
Hiking around Mount Sciliar
The entire mountain range of the Sciliar is part of the Dolomites which in 2009 have been made of UNESCO's World Heritage that lists some of the world's most beautiful landscapes.
The area is vast and it is impossible to come up with a conclusive list of all trails and hikes. The tourist information offices in the various villages will be of great help, just as one of the many hiking maps or the very helpful web resource at www.trekking.suedtirol.info. While covering all possible hikes and routes in the area clearly is not our aim, we would like to list some of the trails that will eventually take you past Sesselschwaige! Let's go....
Getting to Sesselschwaige from Fie allo Sciliar
Starting in Fiè allo Sciliar (Völs am Schlern in German), take Trail Nr 1 up to Tuffalm mountain pasture. You will pass two little lakes, Völser and Huber Weiher. The trail takes you up through the forest until you reach Tuffalm at around 1,275 m above sea level. Once you get to the lovely pasture of Tuff, keep right and follow the trail back into the forest. Keep following the signposts to Sesselschwaige following the impressive Knüppelweg, a name derived from the coarse wooden billets (“Knüppel”) that were used to built the trail through the narrow little canyon of the Sciliar creek.
At the parking lot in Lavina Bianca or Weißlahnbad, take trail no. 6 and immediately turn left on trail no. 2. The steep ascent between rock walls up to Bärenfalle and Tschafatschsattel (2069 m) takes about 2 hours. Once you get out of the gorge you enjoy a wonderful view of the high alpine plateau of Sciliar and of the Rosengarten or Catinaccio Mountain Group. Hike down over mountain pines to Sesselschwaige (1940 m).
Getting to Sesselschwaige from Restaurant at Schönblick
Starting at the Restaurant at Schönblick, take trail no. 7 through the forest. The impressive, steep wall of Hammerwand will be right above you on the right. Continue your hike until you reach Knüppelweg at the little wayside cross at Peter Frag. From here, continue on Knüppelweg, the name is derived from the coarse wooden billets (“Knüppel”) that were used to built the trail through the narrow little canyon of the Sciliar creek. Once you leave the canyon, you will reach Sesselalm after another 15-20 minutes.
To Sesselschwaige starting at Tschafon mountain hut via Hammerwand peak
You can also get to Sesselschwaige vom nearby Tschafonhütte, which can be accessed both from Tiers, Ums and Schönblick Mountain Inn. At Tschafon hut, take marked trail no 9 to Hammerwand. This scenic, challenging trail that hardly overrun even in high season takes you to the highest point of elevation of the ridge between Tschafon and Sciliar. The widely visible cross is set a little to the front and it takes a short detour to get there which is very much worth the effort since the view is breathtaking. Go back to trail No 9 and continue left to Bärenfalle intersection as signposted. From here, it is a short descent to Sesselschwaige.
You can also get to Sesselschwaige from Alpe di Siusi – take the cable car to Kompatsch and follow trail no. 10 through the green pastures until you reach a junction. From here, it's trail no. 5 to Saltner Hütte, once you cross the creek take trail no. 1 all the way up to the Schlernhaus Chalet on top of the mountain. Keep following the trail to Moarboden and Völs down to Sesselschwaige.