God’s Bridge, Stone Meadow and the picturesque road towards Cerna village by MTB

The second day of our mountain biking tour should have been the easiest one on a very picturesque highway, but it didn’t really turn out as expected :)) Don’t get me wrong, the highway was very picturesque but we were in poor shape as we soon discovered :D.
 
The first day, which we told you about in our previous post, lead us close to the small town of Baia de Aramă, in Brebina village. The only nice thing about the accommodation here was the Hațegana beer which we totally digged. I’m joking, it was a descent accommodation after all 🙂


Brief useful information:

Date: 31st of June 2015
Route: Brebina – Baia de Aramă – Ponoarele – God’s Bridge & the Stone Meadow – back to Brebina on the same route – Obârșia Cloșani (DN 67D) – Godeanu – Cerna Village (DN 66A)
Distance: 59 km
Duration: 7.5 h (breaks and visiting included)
Slope: +633 m/-530 m
Accommodation: Lucia Guesthouse in Cerna Village (tel: +4 0767 373 929)
 
towards God’s Bridge

God’s Bridge in Ponoarele village

Sunday morning, on the 31st of June 2015, we thought about adding 14 km to our planned 45 km 🙂 We had a backup objective that we wanted to visit but weren’t sure we could when planning the itinerary. The objective I’m talking about is God’s Bridge in the village of Ponoarele.

Four of us, out of the total five, decided to go visit this monument of nature and do some extra miles. I went along as well but it didn’t start very well since right after passing Baia de Aramă we started climbing up and I was in no mood to start with a climb first thing in the morning :)))

God’s Bridge in Ponoarele village
God’s Bridge in Ponoarele village

Fortunately the climb didn’t last long since right after we entered Ponoarele village the road was flat and soon after we started a nice descend 😀 Oh, wait, no! Descend? Yes, it was good now but what about when we came back??!! Well, I kept thinking we had to climb back again and I wasn’t very happy.

Anyway, we finally reached the famous God’s Bridge which is a unique natural monument. What is it? It’s a really large stone arch, resulted as the Bridge Cave roof collapsed. It’s size makes it the largest natural bridge in Romania and the second largest in Europe: 30 m long, 13 m wide, 22 m high and 9 m thick. We’re talking about a natural bridge because there actually is a public road on this bridge, DJ 670. Images with this natural monument can be seen above 🙂

The Stone Meadow in Ponoarele village
The Stone Meadow in Ponoarele village

5 minutes away from this massive natural bridge, just over the hill, you can visit the very interesting Stone Meadow. This place is basically a normal meadow but with large slabs of stone in the middle of it. These slabs of stone also have canals carved in them and they formed due to water being dissolved.
 
It’s really weird seeing this phenomenon and I’m not sure such a place exists anywhere else in Romania.
 
hair pins on the Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane highway (DN 67D)

Well, after we’ve seen the impressive God’s Bridge and the weird Stone Meadow we head back to our guesthouse near Baia de Aramă. What I thought would be a growling climb back turned out to be quite easy and the descend towards Baia de Aramă was awesome. I managed to reach 62.6 km/h, my top speed in this 3 – days tour 😀

After we got to the guesthouse, we packed our bags and off we were on the DN 67D road which links Baia de Aramă to Băile Herculane on the other side of the mountain. We’re travelling on the most spectacular part of this road, the one that crosses the North-Eastern part of the Mehedinți Mountains, at the base of Stan Peak (1446 m), the highest in these mountains.

Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane (DN 67D)
Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane (DN 67D)
Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane (DN 67D): got to stop to admire the view

First we pass several villages: Titerlești, Bratilovu, Mărășești, Stănești și Obârșia Cloșani. After we pass Obârșia Cloșani the biggest climb we have this day begins. We “gain” 400 m in 8 km. It doesn’t seem like much but when outside is as hot as it was for us you’re not really on the mood to cycle up a mountain with 15 kg of luggage on the back of your bike 🙂

We sometimes got off our bikes, where the road got steeper, in the hair pins and we struggled a bit until we got to the village of Godeanu where we “refuelled” with water and some sweets from a shop. It was the last shop we would see in the next two days :)) We were heading through some very isolated places, with no villages. After Godeanu, the road continued to climb a bit more until we got to a spring where we took a longer break to wait for the other team members. 300 meters away from this spring was the top of the climb and from there, the much-awaited descend begins 😀

Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane (DN 67D): Stan peak in the background
Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane (DN 67D)
Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane (DN 67D)

And what a descend!!! On a perfect tarmac, with astonishing views ahead! You descend for 10.5 km and you loose 520 m in altitude. A dream descend! However I must confess I hated it a bit because the landscapes where so beautiful that I had to stop 3 or 4 times to take some photos even if it meant stopping the adrenaline rush caused by the speed we were travelling with.

At least I have something to show you from this part even if I didn’t enjoy the descend 100% 😀 Below you can see pictures of the road and Stan Peak in the background. It’s very spectacular here. I remember I screamed with enjoyment a lot of times 😀 My top speed on this section was 57 km/h 🙂

Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane (DN 67D): Stan peak in the background
Baia de Aramă – Băile Herculane (DN 67D): Stan peak in the background

This part was very spectacular but the next part of the road is even more spectacular. I’m talking about the part when the road enters Cerna Valley. The road is tens of meters above Cerna river which is somewhere down there in the ravine. It’s surrounded by high, sharp stone walls which look very frightening.

I could barely translate the scenery in my photos and they don’t express the true magnitude of this valley. Images below 🙂

Cerna Valley beneath us
Cerna Valley beneath us

Full of adrenaline, joy and excitement we reach the intersection where you have to take a 180 degrees turn to the right and leave the tarmac road to head towards Cerna Village. Theoretically this is a national road, DN 66A, but practically it’s a dirt road, all of it :))

From the intersection you have 12.5 km left until you reach Cerna Village. This road is a bit spooky since there are no more villages and you cross some dense forests. There is also a funny side to this road because in these 12 km you cross 3 counties: Caraș-Severin, Mehedinți and Gorj :)) Brilliant!

Lucia guesthouse in Cerna Village
Lucia guesthouse in Cerna Village

We finally got to the village where we had accommodation. This guesthouse is the only one where you can find accommodation, the nearest one being in Băile Herculane resort, which is over 40 km away! To be honest it looks pretty deserted here, both the village and the guesthouse. The guesthouse is actually made up from several little houses which can accommodate 2 persons. There’s also a lake here with lilies.

Our small houses were clean and modernised so we had nothing to complain about, but I should mention it was almost impossible to obtain a telephone number from this place. I had to contact the town hall and they knew the number… :)) You have the telephone number at the beginning of the post 🙂

Monday morning, preparations for the last day

Stay tuned as the next post is the last one in this bike tours series where we present you the hardest, but also the most spectacular day in this tour!

Map:

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