Main ridge route of Rodnei Mountains

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Bistrita-Nasaud/Maramures, Romania, Europe
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Main ridge route of Rodnei Mountains
Created On: Jun 24, 2007
Last Edited On: Sep 30, 2009


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.

Getting There

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.
Cabana Alpina of Pasul RotundaCabana of Pasul Rotunda

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.

Route Description

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)

Pietrosu and Buhăescu peaksview of Pietrosu and Buhăescu peaks from Vf. Repede
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.
On the main ridge of Rodnei Mountainsnear Şaua Între Izvoare
Horses in Rodnei Mountainssoon after leaving Şaua Între Izvoare
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).
Vf. Negoiasa Marelooking back on Vf. Negoiasa Mare
West panorama from Laptelui Marelooking west (down to Şaua Puzdrelor pass) from Vf. Laptelui Mare
East view from Laptelui Marelooking east from Vf. Laptelui Mare towards Vf. Gărgalău
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.
Ideal campsitethe spring by the campsite near Şaua Galaţului
Smooth ridgewest view from Şaua Gărgalău pass
View to the west from Gărgalău saddleat Şaua Gărgalău
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:
  • blue stripe north to Poiana Ştiol, from where you can take red triangle to Cascada Cailor /Lóhavasi-vízesés/ (waterfall, designated camping place) and further to Staţiunea Borşa

  • blue cross (continuation of the cart road) south to Anieş /Dombhátfürdõ/ village (24km)
The main ridge trail continues southeast as a simple footpath again, and climbs up to Vf. Gărgalău (2159m).
The central part of the main ridgewest view from Vf. Gărgalău
West view from Vf. Omuluion the top of Vf. Omului
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).
On the ridge trail towards Ineuen route from Vf. Omului to Vf. Ineu
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 cu Lac blue dot south to Salvamont Curatel refuge and further to Rodna or Valea Vinului via red triangle

  • from Şaua Ineuţului blue dot north to nearby Lala Mică lake (designated camping place with spring along the trail) and further all the way down to Gura Lalei)

From Şaua Ineuţului the main ridge trail climbs up Vf. Ineuţ (2222m) and continues east on red stripe towards Pasul Rotunda.
  • from Vf. Ineuţ you can descend south on the blue cross to Şanţ via Valea Blaznei
Fluffy vegetationLala Mică lake - campsite

East panorama from Vf. IneuView towards the the final part of the main ridge from Vf. Ineu

Lala MicaLala Mică Lake - somewhat below the main ridge

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).

Lala MareLala Mare Lake (photographed from the valley-trail)

Valea LalaIn the Lala Valley (photographed from the valley-trail)

Pasul RotundaThe eastern endpoint of the main ridge: 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).

Vf. Pietrosu Mare (2303 m) Vf. Buhăescu Mare (2268 m) Vf. Gărgalău (2159 m) Vf. Ineu (2279 m) Vf. Galaţului (2048 m) Vf. Bătrâna (1710 m) Rebra (2119 m) Vf. Obârsia-Rebrii (2052 m) Vf. Cormaia (2033 m) Vf. Repede (2074 m) Vf. Negoiasa Mare (2041 m) Vf. Puzdrelor (2189 m) Vf. Laptelui Mare (2172 m) Vf. Mihăiasa (1805 m) Muntele Cailor (1922 m) Vf. Omului (2134 m) Vf. Cişa (2036 m) Vf. Coasta Netedă (2060 m) Vf. Ineuţ (2222 m) Vf. Roşu (2113 m) Vf. Coronghiş (1987 m) Vf. Saca (1705 m) Ursu (Bear) pension Suzy pension Cabana Diana (1250 m) Cabana Pasul Rotunda (1275 m) Curăţel refuge (1510 m) Cabana Alpin (1416 m) Cabana Valea Secii (630 m) Valea Secii forester hut (750 m) Farmecul Pădurii tourist hut (610 m) Valea Vinului tourist hut (700 m) Pasul Şetref (818 m) La Jgheaburi (1450 m) Pasul Pietrii (1196 m) Zăvoaiele Borcutului (930 m) Lake Iezer (1760 m) Lake Rebra (1950 m) north side of Vf. Repede (1850 m) former Puzdrele hut (1540 m) south slope of Muntele Cailor (1882 m) Lake Lala Mică (1920 m) Romuli Dealu Ştefăniţei Săcel Moisei Borşa Complex Turistic Borşa Valea Mare Şanţ Rodna Anieş Maieru Cormaia Sângeorz-băi Parva

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).

Borsa > Rodna trail transectBorşa > Rodna trail transect (enlarge for better resolution)

Weather Conditions

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.

Essential Gear

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


Shepherd dogs

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.

Traditional lifestyle

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...

Call It BackpackingThe meeting of two worlds - photo from 1981

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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yatsek - Jan 8, 2009 7:02 am - Voted 10/10

Shepherds' Dogs

Talking of the dogs, have you/any of your friends tried out the ultrasonic dog deterrent/repeller? I wonder how this kind of modern technology would work on them (I was bitten once: see Comments on that pic).


peterbud - Jan 8, 2009 11:19 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Shepherds' Dogs

No, we haven't tried any of those stuff, only used common sense and were fortunate enough to have sheperds along with the dogs :)


yatsek - Jan 9, 2009 4:47 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Shepherds' Dogs

When I was attacked I didn't have any chance - I tried pretending to throw invisible stones at them, a technique which saved my butt in similar circumstances in the Pirin the previous year - in vain: the one in front of me hesitated just a little bit, perhaps because it was sure the one behind me would do the job, and it did, in an instant. I wonder if I would've stayed alive if the shepherds hadn't rushed to help.

Viewing: 1-3 of 3

Main ridge route of Rodnei Mountains

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