Above Băile Herculane: The White Cross – Domogledul Mare Peak (1105m) – Feregari Gorges

On the 1st of May 2015 we organised a series of hikes on top of the mountains surrounding Băile Herculane. Once one of the most exclusive spa resorts in Europe, today this resort is almost a ruin 🙁 The surroundings and the architecture of this resort are stunning. It’s situated on the Cerna Valley, between the Mehedinți and Cerna Mountains. We are really sad about what this resort has become and we are preparing a future protest post on this topic.

Brief useful information:

Date: 1st of May 2015
Water sources: a spring after exiting Feregari Gorge
Track type: circuit

Băile Herculane – White Cross
Slope: +316 m
Duration: 45 min
Distance: 1.3 km
Difficulty: easy

White Cross – Șerban’s Grot – Domogledul Mic Peak – Domogledul Mare Peak (1105m)
Slope: +565 m
Duration: 2.5 h
Distance: 2.4 km
Difficulty: medium (steep climb on Cat’s Path just before reaching Domogledul Mic Peak)

+Domogledul Mare Peak(1105m) – Feregari Gorges – Băile Herculane
Slope: -930 m
Duration: 2.5 h
Distance: 4.3 km
Difficulty: medium (scree in Feregari Gorge, watch you step here)

Even though we are upset by the poor state of this beautiful resort we had other plans. Namely to explore the mountains surrounding Băile Herculane. Believe us, there’s no lack of trails here. More than this, they all guarantee stunning views! You can’t go wrong 😀

We already wrote a couple of posts about the trails that we did in this weekend. We told you about the Țășnei Gorges and about the incredible Vânturătoare Waterfall. So let’s tell you what trip we did in the first day of the weekend: a circuit starting from Băile Herculane – White Cross (Crucea Albă) – Domogledul Mic Peak – Domogledul Mare Peak – Feregari Gorges – Băile Herculane in the Mehedinți Mountains.
Băile Herculane – The White Cross
It’s very easy to reach the White Cross and we highly recommend this trail for anyone. To reach it start on DN 67D road bypassing Herculane and watch for the indicator you see in the picture above. You can park your car on the side of the road where there’s a small parking lot. It’s the easiest way for the “casual tourist” to get a glimpse of Cerna Valley and Băile Herculane from high up. It takes only 45 minutes 🙂
The trail starts with a steep climb through the forest, then continues on serpentine until you reach the White Cross, a must see panorama point! You won’t encounter any technical difficulties and even those with a poor physical condition can get here. But since it’s so close it shouldn’t be a problem. You can also take advantage of the resting areas that you can see in the picture above.

Once you’re here, you’ll conclude that the effort was totally worth it! The view is incredible and you can see the very beautiful Cerna Valley, Băile Herculane, Hercules Square and Roman Hotel on the banks of the Cerna river. Hope that the pictures below from this place are enough to make you go there for yourself! 🙂

the White Cross
Cerna Valley seen from the White Cross
Hercules Square seen from the White Cross
GPS Video Recording:


Map:

The White Cross – Șerban’s Grot – Domogledul Mic Peak – Domogledul Mare Peak (1105m)

From the White Cross until Domogledul Mare Peak you have 2.5 hours left. We recommend that those who are not fit or it’s too late in the day turn back to Herculane at this point. However you should know that from now on the views get better and better and you’ll get a bonus: walk through a forest of black pine trees which only grow in this place in Romania 🙂 So, your call 😀


Șerban’s Grot

In the beginning the slope is pretty steep. After about 20 minutes you’ll reach a crossroad. The        signpost continues ahead. If you have enough time left, you can make a detour to the left and head towards Șerban’s Grot (image above). The grot is not modernised, there are no lights so you should carry a flashlight with you in order to see something inside 🙂

This detour won’t take more than 15 minutes and you’ll be back on the main trail. Don’t worry however if you don’t have time because this grot isn’t so special. It won’t be a huge loss if you can’t make it 🙂

black pine trees
We continue our ascent to the top through the hardwood. Slowly but surely, its place is taken by the beautiful black pine trees. It’s very interesting to see them up close since this is the only place they grow in Romania due to the Mediterranean influence here.

Slowly, the landscape is changing again and we’re getting surrounded by rocks. The view gets better and better. We can see some astonishing panoramas toward the Mehedinți Mountains and toward the Cernei Mountains. We take quite a few breaks in order to absorb everything that surrounds us 🙂 We’re happy to share what we saw with you in the images below 🙂
When we documented about this trail we kept seeing a part of it called Cat’s Path. What’s with the name, we wondered. Is it supposed to mean that only a cat could walk on it? Is it so steep, so narrow, surrounded by abyss? :)) Well we were soon to find out since this part is the last bit before reaching Domogledul Mic Peak.

I was personally kind of nervous since we also had not so experimented people in our group. Well, it turned out to be….fun! :)) It’s true it’s steep, you have to climb on rocks a bit but it’s totally safe in my opinion. Rock climbing was really fun and there’s nothing to worry about really since there are plenty of anchor points. However I would skip this part if it were raining :))
Cat’s Path
Cerna Valley
Abyss under the Domogledul Mic Peak
Domogledul Mare Peak (1105m) seen from Domogledul Mic Peak

After we finish with the infamous Cat’s Path we reach our first peak for today: Domogledul Mic. It’s not really marked as a peak or something, but you’ll know you’re on it because you can see the slightly bigger Domogledul Mare Peak from it.

It takes about 20 minutes from here to reach the highest peak for today (Domogledul Mare) and it’s like a walk in the park compared to the effort we put in until this point 😀 We take a half an hour break on Domogledul Mare Peak for eating, drinking and relaxing. And taking pictures of course, which you can see below 🙂 Then we head back to Herculane on a different trail. Read on 🙂

Domogledul Mare Peak (1105m)
Mehedinți Mountains
break on Domogledul Mare Peak (1105m)
our backpacks also deserve a break (view towards Cerna Mountains)

GPS Video Recording:



Map:

+Domogledul Mare Peak (1105m) – Feregari Gorges – Băile Herculane

What goes up must come down” and this is also true for mountain trails :)) Thus, after a well worth break on top we head down towards Herculane. We follow the       signposting which again takes us through the black pine trees. It’s fascinating for us. We noticed something while being on the top part of the mountain: many trees suffer from severe “burns”. Actually many of  them are carbonized due to lightnings. So, note to self: don’t come up here during a storm! :))

 
If when you climb up you exercise by doing cardio, when you go down you really exercise your legs 🙂 The climb down was very stressful on our legs. It’s not so steep but it’s quite long and continuous. There is only one short steep part that you can see in the second image below.


short part of steep climbing down
After the short steep descent we enter the thick woods and the slope softens a bit. We continue on a pretty flat terrain and we get to admire the beautiful forest which is reviving its vibrant green colour in the spring. We get to a crossroad where we  see an indicator. The place is quite beautiful and the ground is covered by green vegetation and only the path is visible. Really nice 🙂 Here we turn right and follow the       signposting which takes to Herculane through the Feregari Gorges.
The landscape changes again. We’re being surrounded by rocks once more but this time it’s tall rock walls. We’re entering the gorge. It’s fascinating how fast the landscape changes in these mountains: from hardwood, to black pine trees, to rocks you have to climb, to high stone walls. Really cool! 🙂

Slowly but surely we’re getting inside the Feregari Gorges and they are awesome. Stone walls tens of meters high. We saw a few groups of climbers attempting to conquer them and I got dizzy just by looking at them from the bottom of the gorge. I don’t wanna’ know what they see from up there. I’m afraid it would be a “fainting” experience for me :)) Soon we exit the gorge and the trail becomes a see of scree so be very careful how you put your foot down in order not to fall!

Feregari Gorges
the spring you can find after exiting the Feregari Gorges


GPS Video Recording:



Map:





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