Gran Cir & Small Cir Via Ferrata Guide
Gran Cir and Small Cir Via Feratta are a pair of mountains located in the Dolomites of Northern Italy. These two mountains make for a perfect intro to via ferrata with stunning views of Val Badia and Val Gardena. The Gran Cir is a higher mountain but much easier Via Ferrata and in some cases gear is not even needed for this hike. However, Small Cir or Piccola Cir is a great intro to easy via ferrata which does require full gear to tackle. Combining these two peaks together is extremely common since they are located right next to each other.
Gran Cir & Small Cir Via Ferrata Quick Facts
Virtual Trail Guide: Gran Cir & Small Cir Via Ferrata
Gran Cir & Small Cir Via Ferrata Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 Stars)
Distance: 3.5miles / 5.6km RT – Assuming a start from Passo Gardena
Elevation Start: 6,972ft / 2124m
High Point: 8,376ft / 2553m
Total Elevation Gain: 2,000ft / 609m
Estimated Time to Complete: 4-6 Hours RT – completely depends on if you use VF gear on Gran Cir and the crowds which cause significant bottlenecks.
Difficulty: Moderate What does this mean?
Via Ferrata Rating: Easy
Class: Class 4 – What does this mean?
Season: May – October – Expect snow outside of these months
Directions to Gran Cir & Small Cir Via Ferrata
Trailhead: Passo Gardena
Getting Here: There are so many ways to start this hike and your starting point will depend on how you arrive. If by car, park at the large lot at the top of Passo Gardena which charges 6 euro per day. If arriving by gondola (if you are staying in Selva) the hike will vary slightly in distance and starting point but you want to start on trail 12A and navigate the trail until you reach signs for the Gran Cir. I highly recommend watching my hike guide to give you a general lay of the land and it should be quite easy to find the hike starting point.
Parking: You can park at Passo Gardena which has a large lot that can fit about 200 cars. There is no dedicated bathroom here, but it’s easy enough to find one in the nearby Rifugio Frara.
Fee: 6 euro per day if driving and parking – free if you are taking the gondola.
Dogs: I would not recommend bring a dog up the Gran Cir and dogs are not able to climb the Small Cir.
Lodging: Your best bet for lodging in the area would be to stay at Rifugio Frara or the Cir Hotel.
Trail X Factors: Crowds
Usually a crowded hike just means less opportunity for seclusion but in the case of the Gran Cir and Small Cir via ferrata more crowds can significantly slow you down and make the hike more dangerous due to rockfall. Your best bet to move quickly would be to start on the Small Cir via ferrata and then move on to the Gran Cir where gear is not necessarily needed.
Hike Tip(s): If you are an experienced hiker or scrambler (mountaineer) you will have no need to wear a harness and safety lines on the Gran Cir via ferrata. However, I still recommend wearing a helmet due to the rockfall danger.
After you have finished your day in the mountains, be sure to stop at Jimmi Hut for a drink and some awesome food!
Best Views: The entire thing. A+ views from start to finish, really. If I had to compare the two mountains, the Gran Cir via ferrata has slightly better views than the Small Cir especially since there is more time to hangout on the summit.
Gran Cir & Small Cir Via Ferrata Hike Route
- Men’s Trail Runners
- Women’s Trail Runners
- Backpack (Summer)
- Food & Water
- Via Ferrata Lanyard
- Climbing Harness
- Climbing Gloves
- Optional: Garmin inReach
- Optional: Hiking Poles – 125CM
- Optional: Headlamp
- Optional: Garmin Fenix Watch
- Optional: GoPro, Joby Tripod, GoPro 360
- Optional: Drone
- *Links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links that I provide I may receive a small commission. There is no additional charge to you.
Our Trip to Gran Cir & Small Cir Via Ferrata: July 2022
After a day in Venice, we had finally arrived in the Dolomites in Northern Italy and chomping at the bit to get into the mountains. For our first hike, Jackie and I decided to get an idea of what the rating system was from what we had researched online and thought that Gran Cir & Small Cir via ferrata was a perfect place to start.
We parked at Passo Gardena and hiked up the steep ski slopes to begin the hike up the Gran first. Luckily, we were the only two hikers on this mountain all the way up to the summit which was perfect. We did not end up using the wire system and instead just scrambled up the beautiful mountain. Near the top, I took out my camera for some photography and when I put it back in my bag – did not zip it all the way. A few minutes later as I was scrambling up another section, it came tumbling out and down the rocky slopes. Luckily, I was able to recover it but the camera was shattered. RIP.
On the way down from the Gran, we encountered many hikers and the crowds were starting to pick-up. By the time we made it over to the start of the Small Cir via ferrata it was slammed with people. An ant line of climbers from the bottom all the way up to the top! This made for very slow going climbing but we just tried to give everyone around us space and had a blast. This via ferrata was much more technical than the first one of the day and required our full attention and gear.
When we finally reached the summit, Jackie and I shared the tiny mountain top for a quick picture before moving on. In my opinion, the hardest moves of the day were on that summit block both going up and descending. Since this via ferrata was a one way system, the crowds dissipated a bit and we were able to move much faster on the way down.
Before calling it a day – we headed over to Jimmi Hut for some German beer, Italian wine and amazing food. For our first trip into the Dolomites and first via ferrata in Italy, this was an A+ day.
One thought on “Gran Cir & Small Cir Via Ferrata Guide”
Now I’m going for sure!