Hiking in the Ciucaș Mountains

One of the first places I want to revisit when I am allowed to travel to Romania again will be the Ciucaș Mountains: a small massif nestled in the Carpathians’ Bend, just southeast of Brașov. Although humble in size, the Ciucaș is generously endowed with natural beauty. Not only do the bujorile de munte – mountain rhododendrons – adorn the green slopes in May and June; the Ciucaș is also known for its vast collection of oddly shaped calcareous rocks, sculpted by wind and rain over time. I visited the Ciucaș mid-May in 2018, when the rhododendrons just started to bloom. And what I’ve seen has convinced me that I need to go back.

Are you just looking for trail info? You’ll find it here.

Karst scenery

Despite the harsh weather conditions the Ciucaș Mountains are often exposed to – or perhaps thanks to them – the Ciucaș is amazingly verdant. Ciucaș Peak reaches no higher than 1954m; meaning much of the massif is under the treeline or just above it. The Ciucaș gives birth to many a river; lush valleys provide shelter to bears, wolves and lynxes. The icing on the cake is the massif’s stunning karst scenery. Many rock formations look so invocative that they have received names, such as Babele la Sfat (‘old women talking’), Turnul lui Goliat (‘Goliath’s Tower) and Mâna Dracului (‘the devil’s hand’) – but the countless unnamed ones are no less spectacular. Let’s take a look:

Hiking in the Ciucaș

On top of all this, the Ciucaș is accessible to hikers of all levels. You can traverse the massif in one long day or split it up and spend the night at Cabana Vârful Ciucaș. Start near the village of Cheia on the DN1A road and hike up to the cabana via the Gropșoarele spur in about three hours and a half. From there you can ascend to Ciucaș Peak (1954m) and descend back to the DN1A road via the Bratocea spur in another two and a half hours. Alternatively you could access the massif from Vama Buzăului village; I haven’t tried this yet so that’s on the list for my next visit. The added benefit of this approach is that you can reach Vama Buzăului by bus from Brașov, whereas there is no public transport to the trailheads on the DN1A road – so you’d have to hitchhike.

Weather conditions

The weather has a tendency to be extremely capricious in the Ciucaș Mountains. It is often exposed to strong winds and heavy rains. These harsh circumstances have contributed to its beauty, but you may not want to be caught in a storm. So do check the forecast before you leave and bring the appropriate gear! When I went there it was blue skies and all prettied up on day one, and completely overcast and rainy the next day. The Ciucaș looks goods in grey too though!

Trail info

Day One: Cheia-Cabana Vârful Ciucaș | 11.7km | Total ascent/descent: 1320/705m | 3hrs 30mins | red cross
Day Two: Cabana Vârful Ciucaș- Ciucaș Peak-Bratocea Pass | 10.3km | Total ascent/descent: 365/730m | 2hrs 30mins | red cross/red stripe

Finally, have a look at this beautiful aerial footage of the Ciucaș Mountains!

Want more? Buy the guidebook!

My guidebook, ‘The Mountains of Romania‘, is out now! It contains 27 multi-day treks, 10 day walks, free gpx files, detailed route descriptions, a useful glossary and a wealth of information. You can buy it straight from the publisher here, or ask at your local (travel) bookstore.

the mountains of romania janneke klop cicerone press

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