Trekking in Transylvania was the main reason why I wanted to visit Romania. Cute towns are interesting too, but I have seen so many of them by now, that they no longer impress me that much. When it comes to trekking, though, I still love this. I love getting physically tired and being later rewarded with amazing views. This time, we went on an off-path trekking in the Transylvanian mountains near a scenic Tarnita Lake near Cluj-Napoka.
To make this post more practical, at the end you’ll find a link to my Endomondo profile which included the exact trail and all walking times. I wanted to prepare a separate map but it turns impossible – this trail is so off-the-path that even Google maps don’t recognise it.
Off-path trekking in Transylvania near Cluj-Napoka
This trekking in Transylvanian mountains was completely spontaneous. Because of the van drivers’ strike when we got stuck in the highway for the whole day, we couldn’t carry out our initial plan for a whole day trekking and had to divide one day between visiting the unique salt mine, Salina Turda, and trekking. Michal found a route uploaded a few years ago by one guy who walked it solo. It was supposed to be off-path, but we didn’t expect to what extent.
The route was 12 kilometres long and in the vicinity of Cluj-Napoka, the city where we had our jumping base. It was also in the mountains surrounding the beautiful Tarnita Lake.
When we arrived on site, it quickly dawned on us that this would be a very off-the-path hike. The “trail” was leading through a nearly dried river bed overgrown with waist-high nettles.
Off-path trekking in Transylvania – what it’s like to walk 2 km per hour
The first part of the trekking was the least spectacular and also the most exhausting. The path was climbing up a dried river bed, but the stones we had to walk on were still very moist. The surface was very slipper, especially given the fact that the whole riverbed was overgrown with high nettles. It took us an hour to cover the distance of mere 2 kilometres.
When this part of the trekking finished, we reached a small meadow. The views from above were nothing special – everything was covered with treetops. We sat down on a cut tree trunk and took a break before heading off to the more interesting part of the trek.
After some 15-20 minutes, we finally reached a spot where the trekking became fully enjoyable. We were hiking on a slightly exposed path which was overlooking surrounding mountains. It was very peaceful out there. We were the only people hiking. Could you wish for more?
Trekking in Transylvania and buzzing electric posts
The air was dense, nearly tangible. I had an impression that the storm was coming, but there were nearly no clouds in the sky. Every now and then, we would walk under tall electric posts. They were singing. The sound they were producing was like a very loud buzzing and we would hear it long after leaving the post behind.
Golden hour in the Transylvanian mountains – the best thing you can experience while trekking in Romania
The best and most scenic part of this trekking started after some 5 kilometres. We entered a spacious plain bathed in golden light. The sun was slowly preparing to set and we were experiencing the most beautiful golden hour ever. Wherever I looked, I would see green pastures, sheep, cows, and goats munching grass.
There was a small wooden chalet in front of which there was a shepherd standing and looking at us. Most likely, he was more surprised to see us there than we were to discover we were not alone. Even though the sun was slowly setting and we still had more than a half of the trekking to reach the car, we hiked really slowly now. It was so beautiful that I really had to take some photos and luckily Michal had similar priorities.
Through the nettles – the less pleasant part of trekking in Romania
The meadow ended around 9th kilometre of the whole trek. Before we entered the thick forest, we had to go through fallen trees and thick bushes. The path was overgrown with all sorts of plants, mostly nettles, for most of the time. I didn’t mind at all because I had a pretty long hiking trousers and long trekking socks. Agnieszka, however, was wearing shorts and she got burnt with nettles a lot more than me.
Sunset by the Tarnita Lake in Transylvania
At the end of the trekking we got yet another reward. When we were driving back to Cluj, the sun was really low, it was setting just above the scenic Tarnita Lake. This was a short but nice trekking and Transylvanian views proved to be of highest quality. Not only did we see some really off-path place, but we also could enjoy all this beauty without any crowds. If you happen to be in the neighbourhood of Cluj-Napoka, I can totally recommend this trail. It’s not difficult, it’s not too long and the views at the top are really breathtaking.
Trekking around Cluj-Napoka – practical information
Here is the map with all directions.
It takes around 40 minutes driving to get from Cluj-Napoka to the Tarnita Lake.
The trekking route is 12 kilometres long and it takes around 4 hours to complete the trek.
Be prepared to walk through high bushes. Wear long trousers and take some insect repellent. Trekking in Transylvania can be off-path more often than not. It’s not the biggest tourist attraction so be also prepared to rely mostly on yourself.
Pack water and some food. Even though the trek is not too difficult, it can be tiring.