MTB Tours Padiș – Day 1: 1000 meters climb up to Padiș

We’re back with a new post of an awesome mountain bike tour in the Apuseni Mountains, around the Padiș Plateau that we did in the autumn of 2014. Padiș is one of our favourite places due to its diverse landforms: dense forests, meadows, a lot of limestone, thousands of caves and underground glaciers. It’s unique in Romania!

Brief useful information:
Date: 13th of September 2014
Route: Pietroasa – Boga – Padiș – Brădeț Guest House (DJ 763) – you have the map at the end of the post, as usual 🙂
Distance: 23 km
Level difference: +1000 meters
Duration: 3,5 h (breaks included)

Perfect morning to start a 23 km climb 🙂

I want to start by saying that we had a lot of luck weather – wise. We were on the verge of postponing the trip due to the threat of rainfall in almost all Western Romania. It was actually a last minute decision to finally go 🙂 The crew: me and two friends: Călin and Mihai.

We gathered all our gear, we put our bikes on top of the car and off we were on a 250 km journey to the village of Pietroasa in Bihor county. We arranged accommodation here. Speaking of our accommodation in Pietroasa I can’t help it and I have to tell how inefficient it was. The owner was a Romanian who worked in Spain for several years and decided to come back to Romania and invest in tourism. He built this guest house but it was utterly inefficient in our opinion. It had huge rooms and huge bathrooms and the decor was kitsch. The pictures on the Internet were pretty OK but we were a bit surprised when we got there. It was very clean and the owner was very friendly but he built huge rooms. Mine was over 30 square meters and my bathroom was the same size. We were joking that it might take a full minute to cross the bathroom :)) Anyway, we slept well there and only for a night 🙂

bikes ready to go, us? us too! 🙂

Especially for this trip I bought a bike rack and bike luggage. We were going to spend 3 days on this trip and carrying all your 3 days stuff on your back is not ideal. It weighed over 10 kg and when we were on our way to leave the guest house I tried to lift my bike and it was VERY heavy. Then I thought I made a mistake putting my luggage on the rack. My worries were in vein. The bike handled extremely well and I barely notice any weight on the back. It was perfect and I keep using this configuration ever since 🙂 It is much more comfortable especially for longer journeys. I recommend it! My bike is the white one.

break near the village of Boga

We started the 23 km climb to Padiș. The road to Padiș has been recently modernised and is very, very good. This helped us a lot since it’s much easier to pedal on a smooth surface than on gravel road for example. It allows you to maintain a constant speed and you can dispense effort more efficiently. We made a couple of breaks and we got off our bikes in a few portions where the slope was too steep. I initially thought it would take about 6 hours to reach Brădeț guest house. Climbing is not my favourite activity, I must admit. I like going downhill, on off road which implies technical skills.

road to Glăvoi camp site (to the right), we continue straight ahead

To my surprise we actually did very well. I was motivated by Mihai and Călin and I kept pace very well. It was really cool. After less than 2.5 hours we were at the crossroad between Glăvoi camp site and Brădeț guest house (picture above). Glăvoi is a big meadow where people come and camp. Padiș has tens of touristic trails which are well signposted. Tens of thousands of tourists come here each year to explore this amazing area! We’ll get to Glăvoi a bit later by foot, but a little patience 🙂 From this point you have about 30 – 40 minutes left until you reach the guest house.

the few last climbs to the guest house

I was the first to get to Brădeț guest house! 😀 So I thought I’d buy my friends a cold beer. Took a place on the terrace and waited for them. After 5 minutes we were all at the guest house enjoying our beer 🙂 While enjoying our bear we realised that drinking cold beer was not the best idea since outside there were about 9 degrees Celsius…but anyway, we needed a way to celebrate 🙂

The weather forecast showed that rainfall would cover all Western Romania, except Padiș. How lucky! Not quite so, we will soon discover. By the way, I want to recommend a weather service that we use and hasn’t let us down until now:

Ponor burst place

Once we reached the guest house we checked in, left our luggage and I thought we were going to relax there until the next day’s track. But Călin had other ideas. He said that due to the fact that we got here much earlier than estimated we should go to Ponor burst place. I wasn’t really in the mood to be honest but then Mihai said some magic words, like Bihor Pies :)) Bihor pies are traditional cheese pies that are specific to this region. I couldn’t refuse them and we started off towards Glăvoi camp site, this time by foot. We chose the longer route in order to also visit Ponor burst place that Călin suggested visiting earlier. We reached Ponor burst place in about an hour. The trail is obvious and pretty easy. There is just one short portion of steep descending, but nothing to really worry about.

The Ponor burst place (picture above)  is the place where the Ponor river bursts out to the surface. It forms an inundated cave. You can get right at the cave entrance and take a look at the inside but you can’t go inside without proper equipment. There are many underground rivers in Padiș which come to the surface in different places. The scenery is spectacular, filled with boulders and huge limestone walls.

Călin climbing walls and Ponor burst place
Ponor burst place

We come back from Ponor burst place on the main trail to Glăvoi camp site. We cross the Ponor river on a nice wooden bridge and immediately after this crossing we reach Ponor Meadow. This meadow is extremely special. Everything in the Apuseni Mountains is linked to water, underground water especially. This meadow is surrounded by big grey limestone mountain sides and dense forests. The special part about this meadow is….

crossing the Ponor river

….is the water flowing underneath it. Small holes in the ground allow the water flowing from the mountain sides to go underground. These holes in the ground are called strainers. When the quantity of water is too large to be passed through the strainers the Ponor meadow floods and becomes a temporary lake. Honestly I don’t know a similar place in Romania and I find it extremely spectacular. This phenomenon is showed in the Ponor meadow on some wooden information panels on which you can see pictures of the meadow becoming a temporary lake. This is just one of the unique phenomenons and places in the Apuseni Mountains and specifically on the Padiș Plateau.

Ponor Meadow

Continuing from the Ponor meadow we climb a bit and then we reach a place where you can already see Glăvoi camp site. This camp site is legendary in Romania. Many friendships were formed here and you can meet many cool people. Not to mention that this is one of the places where you can buy the famous pies! 🙂 You can buy them from a funny, small place called Cornelu’s Mall :)) You can guess they have a sense of humour here 🙂 We bought several Bihor Pies and laid down on the grass for about an hour. There was some guy there with his car and he was listening to Romanian mountain songs. The combination between this magic place, the music and the sunny weather led to one of those ZEN moments 🙂

Glăvoi, the place to be
Glăvoi,  the place to be

After this perfect moment we had to go back to Brădeț. This time we chose the shorter trail. We were in a bit of a hurry because dark clouds were starting to gather and we heard thunder at a distance. This shorter trail is very nice, through the forest, very picturesque. When we were close to the guest house Călin decided he wanted to go on a nearby peak called Bisericuța Moțului. It was quite a climb, pretty steep. We advised him against it because rain was clearly coming soon. He’s very stubborn so he ignored us and he was on his way 🙂

5 minutes later me and Mihai were in the restaurant of our guest house ordering food, enjoying the view and enjoying the warmth. A huge rainfall started, topped with lighting and thunders. The rain was so heavy that it made a lot of noise on the roof of the restaurant. Călin was still out there and it was clear he’d came back pretty wet. Me and Mihai calculated how much it would take Călin to climb on the peak and come back to the cabin. If that time expired we would go out to search for him. Fortunately it wasn’t the case and out stuntman, Călin, came back…wet of course :)) But he managed to climb to the top and take a couple of photos. One of the photos taken by him can bee seen below. Now maybe he should listen to other people :))

Bisericuța Moțului peak

This was the first day of the three we spent on this brilliant trip. We have more adventures to come so stay tuned for the next two posts about our 3 day trip in Padiș! 🙂 Maps below so you don’t get lost 🙂


Climb to Padiș: Pietroasa – Boga – Brădeț guest house 

Trail from Brădeț guest house to Glăvoi (on foot): Brădeț guest house – Ponor burst place – Ponor Meadow – Glăvoi camp site

Shorter trail back from Glăvoi towards Brădeț guest house:  Glăvoi camp site  – Brădeț guest house


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