The complete ridge trail of Rodnei Mountains /Munţii Rodnei, Radnai-havasok, Rodnaer Gebirge/ spans over 57 km in east-west direction, connecting Pasul Şetref (818m, west end) and Pasul Rotunda (1271m, east end). The trail is marked by red stripe, and can be split into three parts (see Route Description section below).
Backpacking along the main ridge of Rodnei Mountains is a very nice experience, especially in nice weather. If you can devote a few days for this beautiful area, perhaps this is the best journey to take. The trail is long, but has no difficult parts (walking is all you have to do). As there are no huts nearby along the route, prepare for nomadic circumstances. Nevertheless, designated camping sites are quite well partitioned over the range, and most of them are situated near springs.
Sharing your own experiences about this trail is very welcome. Also, feel free to report any typos, broken links, etc.
Pasul Şetref /Şetref pass, Szacsali-hágó/ is located on car road 17C between Dealu Ştefăniţei /Szalanca/ and Săcel /Izaszacsal/, and can directly be approached only by car. According to the map, there is a motel and a camping place here. If you plan to come by train, the closest stop is Dealu Ştefăniţei. From there, blue triangle leads up along the Fundoaia creek to La Jgheaburi, where it joins red stripe coming from Pasul Şetref.
Pasul Rotunda /Rotunda pass, Radnai-hágó/ is located on car road 17D between Valea Mare /Máriavölgy/ and Rotunda /Borsaszéplak/ villages. This section of road 17D is dirt road, asphalt cover extends only until Valea Mare! Rotunda village can also be approached on car road 18 from Borşa or Cârlibaba. At Pasul Rotunda you can find a camping place and Cabana Rotunda mountain hut. No train access, though.
Midpoints of the trail can be approached from several other starting points (these are covered in the Route Description section below). The three most popular are: 1) Borşa /Borsa/, 2) Rodna /Óradna, Alt-Rodna/ or Şanţ /Újradna, Neu-Rodna/ and 3) Staţiunea Borşa /Borsafüred/. Getting to these places is covered on the pages of Buhăescu Mare /Nagy-Bukuly/, Ineu /Ünőkő, Kuhhorn/ and Gărgalău /Gargaló/ pages, respectively.
The following description follows the route in west-to-east direction, split into three parts. Of course, it can be done the opposite way as well.
Part 1: Pasul Şetref (818m) - Tarniţa La Cruce (1985m)
From P. Şetref the trail ascends onto the Bătrâna plateau mostly in woods, following a cart road. There are two camping places along this section of the trail: La Jgheaburi (cca. 1400m) and Pasul Pietrii (1196m). The trail leaves Bătrâna plateau at Tarniţa Bătrânei, and climbs up to the Pietrosu massif, where it will not drop below 1800m (in fact, it levels around 2000+/-100m most of the time). Vegetation changes to be dominanted by alpine grass.
Between Tarniţa Bătrânei and Tarniţa La Cruce there are two "parallel" variants of the trail: one follows the cart road (moderate slope), the other climbs up Vf. Gropilor (2063m) and Vf. Rebra (2119m) before reaching Tarniţa La Cruce. This latter is joined from the north by the blue stripe (coming from Borşa - access to Buhăescu Mare /Nagy-Bukuly/ and Pietrosu /Nagy-Pietrosz/ peaks) at Vf. Rebra. The cart road ends at Tarniţa La Cruce, a pass under which you find Rebra lake, a designated campsite. From here the main ridge trail is only a simple footpath.
Part 2: Tarniţa La Cruce (1985m) - Vf. Ineuţ (2222m)
|This is where the main part of the trail begins. First comes Vf. Obârşia-Rebri (2052m) and Şaua (saddle) Obârşia-Rebri (1985m). Here you can choose again: this time between dropping directly to Şaua Între Izvoare (cca. 1850m) or climbing Vf. Cormaia (2033m) and Vf. Repede (2074m) on the way there.
Şaua Între Izvoare is a designated camping site by a spring, but with not much comfortable place (there is limited wind shelter, some of which is in a rather stony depression). So the sooner you arrive, the easier job you will have setting up the tent and surviving a windy night.
|From Şaua Între Izvoare the trail levels in the side of Vf. Negoiasa Mare (2041m). This place offers another nice view on Pietrosu and Buhăescu Mare.
After leaving Negoiasa Mare, the trail moderately ascends to Tarniţa Bârsanului (1970m) and further to Şaua Puzdrelor (Puzdra pass, cca. 2030m).
Here you can take short (but steep) side-tours to the two highpoints of the central ridge region: Vf. Puzdrelor (2189m) and Vf. Laptelui Mare (2172m).
|The trail itself continues towards Şaua Laptelui (cca. 1930m). Poorly marked blue dot leads down to the ruins of Cabana Puzdrele and further to Staţiunea Borşa (not recommended due to high chances of getting lost).
From Şaua Laptelui the trail climbs up to Vf. Galaţului (2048m), then descends to Şaua Galaţului (1882m, blue triangle to Cabana Puzdrele).
Here it joins a cart road, which passes by a small lake (L. Cailor) and little later a small spring. The area by this spring is desigated camping place.
|From the spring, the trail heads for Şaua Gărgalău (1907m), leaving the Pietrosu massif and entering the Ineu massif. Two side-trails leave the main ridge trail at this saddle:
|From Gărgalău, the trail follows the ridge southwards through Vf. Clăii (2121m) and turns back to eastern direction just below Vf. Omului (2134m - worth to take a few steps up to check out the peak).
The "roller-coaster" goes on along the asymmetric ridge: Şaua Cişa (1950m) - Vf. Cişa (2036m) - Tarniţa Lui Putredu (1960m, poorly marked blue triangle takes south to Valea Vinului /Radnaborberek/) - Vf. Coasta Neteadă (2060m) - Şaua Putredă (cca. 2000m) - Şaua Ineului (2223m).
|From here you can go up to Vf. Ineu (2279m) or get around it in level, through Şaua cu Lac (2140m) to Şaua Ineuţului (cca. 2100m).
From Şaua Ineuţului the main ridge trail climbs up Vf. Ineuţ (2222m) and continues east on red stripe towards Pasul Rotunda.
Part 3: Vf. Ineuţ (2222m) - Pasul Rotunda (1271m)
In this final section, the trail descends to Şaua Gajei (1721m) where it merges into a cart road, which leads all the way down to Pasul Rotunda. There is an almost-parallel trail, descending in the Lala Valley, situated north from the main ridge (this trail ends at Gura Lalei, north from Pasul Rotunda).
Overview image map
The image map below gives an overview about the marked trails of Rodnei Mountains. Red line indicates the main ridge route, yellow lines indicate all other routes. Bold black lines denote main asphalted roads (the one dotted section is the unpaved portion of road 17D).
Further key to symbols
- blue triangles: mountain peaks
- green pentagons: settlements
- red dots: huts
- white dots: designated campsites
- blue squares: pensions (note that there are a lot more around, i.e.: in Borşa town or in Complex Turistic Borşa)
Some featured points are clickable - these contain links to subsequent webpages (both SP and external).
My personal experience
I have been on the middle portion of the trail ("Part 2" in the description above), which I think is the most exciting. Both ends of this section can be approached more easily with train/bus than the main ridge route endpoints. Also, since Vf. Pietrosu, the highest peak of the range (and thus, a "must-visit"), is located on a side-ridge along the blue stripe (which connects Borşa with Tarniţa La Cruce), it is very straightforward to start or finish the hike in Borşa and stay overnight at the meteo station campsite (1760m), just below the northern face of Pietrosu.
The image below shows the transect of the path I have taken. Optionally, in case of bad weather or emergency, you can also leave the main ridge at Şaua Gărgalău towards (the ruins of) Cabana Puzdrele or Cascada Cailor to the nearest settlement: Staţiunea Borşa). Southern "escapes", except for the one from Vf. Ineuţ to Şanţ, are rather long (and most of them poorly marked, hence not mentioned here - for these please refer to Rodnei Mountains parent page).
The best season for a "ridge ride" is (late) summer. In wintertime, the middle section can be uncomfortable at certain points, full winter gear and good orientation is needed. Wind is frequent and can be quite strong, especially on the ridge. Annual mean temperature at about 2000m is 0C°. Most precipitation is in the summer.
Actual weather situation for Borşa (north side) and Şanţ (south side) can be seen below (idea borrowed from Nanuls). Please note that these are data for towns/villages at the feet of the mountains, they're good to get a general feeling of what's around. In the high regions the situation may be quite different.
The data of the meteo station by the Iezer Lake (on 1786 m) is available online here (on the right side of the page, under "IEZER"). This is the direct "high-altitude" situation in the north side of Pietrosu.
Tent, food, cooking set definitely. Rain and windproof stuff can be useful. Bag for trash is a must.
And don't forget to take your camera, so that you can upload here some new pics :)
- The 1:50,000 map of Rodnei Mountains by Dimap (with guiding text on the backside in English, Romanian and Hungarian) can be ordered online from Dimap here (8 €)
- An interactive online map can be found here
- An overview map of Rodnei Mountains in black&white can be found online here, however this is insufficient on the terrain
Sheep herds are frequent in Rodnei Mountains, especially around the passes. While sheep are not dangerous, care must be taken with the aggressive shepherd dogs (whose role is to keep bears away from the sheep). Direct approach of the herd is not advised, it's better to get around them in proper distance, without stopping.
In Rodnei Mountains you can still find many people living according to their ancestors' tradition. Sometimes you might have the feeling of traveling back in time, meeting your own ancestors...
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