East from the Bucegi Mountains, in the Carpathian Bend, part of the Eastern Carpathians, extends a series of lower mountain ranges, none of which rises over 2,000m. Their ridgelines are rather monotonous, wavy or undulating, covered with either woods or pastures. The borders between particular ranges, some of which are known under more than one name, are far from obvious. The Ciucaş Mountains stand out from their surroundings in that they are a few hundred metres higher and boast spectacular, peculiar rock formations, thus resembling a medieval fortress. These mountains sit between the Grohotiş Mountains in the southwest and the Siriu Mountains in the east. From the north they are bounded by the Întorsurii Mountains. The Ciucaş Mountains embrace the Tesla and Dungu massifs, situated west and northwest, respectively, of Vf. Ciucaş, i.e. Ciucaş Peak.
Bratocea Ridge, Ciucaş Peak top right
The highpoint of the Ciucaş Mountains has the same name as the mountain range. At 1954m, it stands near the north end of the Bratocea Ridge, which runs from the southwest, from the pass named Bratocea (the national road Braşov-Cheia). The Bratocea Ridge forms the western part of the main ridge of the Ciucaş Mountains. At Ciucaş Peak what is thought to be the main ridge takes a sharp turn right, drops a couple of hundred metres and runs ESE to connect to the other, eastern part of the main ridge, which is called Zăganu.
Junction between Bratocea and Zăganu (background) ridges, Ciucaş Hut to its right
The Zăganu Ridge, whose highest summit is Gropşoare at 1883m, runs from NNW to SSE. From its north stretch it sends a remarkable lateral ridge to the southwest, known as Muntele Roşu (1765m), whose extension reaches the resort of Cheia.
Zăganu Ridge and Muntele Roşu (wooded shoulder in the middle)
The bizarre, unique shapes of the groups of rock formations are the hallmark of the Ciucaş Mountains. The association of towers, needles, sugar loaves, mushrooms, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic rocks, etc. is a result of differential weathering of the rock material they are formed of, namely Zăganu-Ceahlău conglomerate, which is a type of sedimentary rock that consists of plethora of boulders and pebbles embedded in sandstone or calcareous matrix. The rock formations carved in the conglomerate tend to have characteristic, rounded tops, whereas the sharper spires and cliff edges can indicate limestone rather than conglomerate. All landforms are undergoing a relatively rapid evolution due to the harsh mountain climate.
The table below lists the highest summits and the most spectacular rock formations.
Elevation in Meters
A few words about
The highest summit, in the central part of the mountains, at the western end of the part of the main ridge which is oriented NW-SE. On a trail marked with red stripes.
The highest summit of the Zăganu Ridge with a historic border post dating back to 1938. On a red cross trail.
Babele la Sfat
Matchmakers - a fascinating nature's sculpture, half a kilometre SE off Ciucaş Peak. Red stripes.
Great Ţigăile, to Hungarian people known as Sziklavár, in the central part about 1 km SE from Ciucaş Peak. An exceptionally beautiful association of conglomerate landforms, traversed by a trail marked with red stripes/red crosses.
To Hungarians known as Királytető, in the central part, next to the saddle of Ţigăile. Red stripes.
In the south part of the eastern ridge, with the spectacular Copper Tower. On a red cross trail.
An anthropomorphic rock formation, in the central part of the mountains, half a kilometre from the saddle of Ţigăile. A red cross traverse.
In the southernmost part of the western ridge with an anthropomorphic Sfinxul Bratocei, about 2 km away from Bratocea Pass. Red stripes. And yellow triangles from Babarunca hut.
The Ciucaş Mountains, covering an area of just 200 square km, present an extraordinarily rich relief. This wonder of nature is a paradise for trekkers, also for those who prefer winter adventures, day hikers, photographers, for anyone inclined to marvel at pretty wild, fairy scenery.
VIDEO by LukZem
Turnul de Aramă, i.e. Copper Tower
Muntii Nostri map to be studied online (please click Trails and zoom in)
paper map 1:25 000 (names in RO,E) by Muntii Nostri is available here
paper 1:30 000 by Bel Alpin (hiking trails described in German and English) here
paper 1:70 000 (names in RO, HU with described hiking trails in DE and E) by DIMAP available here
While in summer the loop over the main ridge Cheia-Zăganu-Gropşoarele-Ciucaş Hut-Ciucaş Peak-Bratocea-Cheia can be covered (without a heavy pack) within one long day, in winter it requires two full days. Only experienced mountaineers can walk along the main ridge. This route can be divided like this:
- Cheia-Zaganu Ridge-Ciucaş Hut or Ţigăile Mari Pass
- Ciucaş Hut-Ciucaş Peak-Bratocea ridge-national road 1A route (Pasul Bratocea to Cheia)
The most difficult part of the route is the Zăganu Ridge but all route is difficult because of the snow, navigation problems (attention on foggy days) and long distances. In some winters the wind blows at 130km/h.
Equipment required: ice axe, crampons, ski poles, solid tent, winter gear, winter boots (plastic type for example).
Skis could be very useful on the non-rocky parts of the ridge.
The most used bivouac places are:
- sheepfold called Zăganu
- just below the summit of Gropşoarele
- Şaua Chiruşca (Chiruşca Pass)
- the Ciucaş Hut
- sheepfold called Bratocea
You can also descend to the Muntele Roşu Hut at the end of the first day and ascend the ridge back in the morning of the second day. But it will take extra 2h (descent) plus 3h (ascent).
Avalanches occur just below the Zăganu Ridge (from the sheepfold to the ridge) and in all of the zone below the summit of Ciucaş and along the Bratocea ridge.
This version (2nd, first made in 2013) of the Ciucaş Mountains page was co-edited by yatsek
Winter panorama across to the Bucegi and Piatra Craiului Mts in the west
The village of Cheia at the foot of the Ciucaş Mountains can be accessed from the city of Braşov via Săcele or from the south, from Bucharest via Ploieşti and Valenii de Munte (DN, i.e. national road, 1A).
Hours of Hiking
red stripes/triangle+red cross
Turnul Goliat, Ţigăile Mari
(Podul) Valea Berii
Muntele Roşu hut
red triangle+red cross
The Muntele Roşu Hut is accessible by formerly asphalted road (this 3.3 km road is in VERY bad condition!)which forks 1 km off Cheia village (the overall distance from Cheia to Muntele Roşu Hut is 7,7 km).
Vama Buzăului offering access from the north is connected with Întorsura Buzăului, which is a town accessible from Braşov (national road 10)
There is no railroad connection with the nearby villages. The closest major railway stations are in Braşov and Ploieşti. The closest minor railway stations are in Dârste, Măneciu and Întorsura Buzăului. You can arrive by car or by bus. Unfortunately, there is no bus connection from Braşov to Cheia. Timetable in direction Sacele - Brasov. (You should add 30 min. to the departure hours given in the table, to find out the departure hours from Brașov (Poienelor). There are buses from Sacele to Bradet:
Mo - Fr at 7:30 a. m.
Sa - Su at 8:00 a. m.
Virtualy none. You may pitch the tent everywhere, although the Ciucaş Massif boasts a few nature reserves remarkable for their landscape and unique features:
Endemic plant in Zăganu Cliffs geologic reserve
Ţigăile Mari - Ciucaş (botanical/geological, protecting calciphilous species of flora and extraordinary landforms - in the central part of the mountains)
Zăganu Cliffs (geological, sheltering endemic plants and animals - on the eastern ridge)
Rhododendron meadow on Roşu summit (monument of nature, 2 ha - on a lateral ridge)
Junipers on Bratocea Peak (botanical, associations with edelweiss, 2 ha - on the western ridge)
The Salvamont national dispatcher's number is 0-725826668
DRAGOS STATE (head of the rescue team) 0722-140858 / 0734-889133
Salvamont Prahova - Cheia sector - Tel. 0244311922 Mountain rescue should be currently present at this refuge situated on the ridge of Muntele Roşu (yellow stripes) Tel: 0372799473