The base of Piatra Craiului, Măgura village and the Zărnești Ravines via The Cat’s Corges

Sorry for the long and complicated title but we got a lot to tell you about 😀 This trip is part of our tour through the Romanian mountains in the summer of 2015. One of the last trips we did in this tour was here at the base of Piatra Craiului mountain in the village of Măgura. A beautiful, spectacular and picturesque place 🙂

Brief useful information:

 Date: 23rd of July 2015
Route: Măgura vilage – “La Table” – Cat’s Gorges – Zărnești Ravines – Măgura village
Distance: 13 km
Altitude difference: +410 m/ -410 m
Duration: 5.5 h
Difficulty: easy
Water sources: Măgura village
Accommodation: Măgura village
As usual, we start off pretty late and lazy in the morning. We spent some time watching the picturesque landscapes of Măgura from our guesthouse’s balcony and also watching tourists hitting the trails leading to Piatra Craiului.

Most of them were foreigners and it’s not surprising because this place is not so far away from Bucharest but they may have also heard about the beauty of this entire area 🙂
The area delimited by the villages of Cheia, Măgura, Peștera and Moieciu is sought after by many tourists because here they have access to easy hikes as well as very technical and steeps one if they climb Piatra Craiului, but also picturesque landscapes and true relaxation in nature. There are many guesthouses here which offer excellent conditions for any budget.

The route we decided to hike on is pretty easy and it has it all: traditional dirt roads through the hills and valleys surrounding Măgura with beautiful panoramas, stunning panoramas to the steep and treacherous Piatra Craiului ridge, gorges crossing and the bottom-crossing  of the amazing Zărnești Ravines.

After a mild climb on dirt roads which link the villages here we reach Joaca Saddle (The Play Saddle) – image below. Here we see the Piatra Craiului ridge for the first time. We haven’t managed to go on Piatra Craiului ridge itself, but it’s on our list 😀

From this saddle we continue ahead to reach a place called “La Table“. Until there we can’t stop admiring the steep ridge of Piatra Craiului. Looking at it from below, I think it’s one of the most impressive mountain massif in Romania 🙂

2.5 hours after we left Moșorel Guesthouse we reach “La Table“. Here we took a longer break since it’s the best place to relax a bit and to eat with Piatra Craiului as a background. We were accompanied by some curious donkeys as well 🙂

La Table is the place where multiple trails start. Some of them go on the base of Piatra Craiului while others climb up to Piatra Craiului. We continue on the same trail, signposted with, leading towards the Zărnești Ravines. The trail first crosses a meadow then it takes a right turn  and intersects with a valley (which was dry when we were there) which we cross and enter the woods.

After a short distance through the woods the trail meets with the forest road following the Ravines Valley which leads to the Zărnești Ravines. This road is quite long but it’s very easy: like a walk in the park.

For those who don’t want to walk on this road there is a more adventurous alternative to get the Zărnești Ravines through a shortcut, by crossing the Cat’s Gorges. When you exit these gorges you’ll be exactly at the entrance of the spectacular Zărnești Ravines.

You guessed it, we chose the adventurous route. For this be careful to take a steep right turn into the woods and down hill by exiting the wide forest road. Make sure to continue following the same signposting,. We almost missed the right turn 😀 From here you go downhill through the forest until you reach the rock bottom of the Cat’s Gorges. Images below.

Once you’re in rock territory everything becomes much more interesting. Huge boulders fallen in the valley and tree chunks are obstacles that you must pass in order to advance. Don’t worry, there are no dangerous or impossible parts in these gorges 🙂 It took us 45 minutes to cross the entire length of the gorges.

I don’t know how much time we saved by taking the shortcut through the Cat’s Gorges but it was a worth it because it was so damn spectacular 🙂

We exit the gorges in a small meadow from where you can see the forest road that we left somewhere uphill. We now continue on this forest road once again in order to get to the Zărnești Ravines.

The place we are about to enter is surreal and may I add it’s not so well known in Romania as it should be! It’s an amazing and overwhelming place. The road winds on the bottom of these deep ravines where the walls are close to each other.

From place to place you’ll see information panels which describe how these ravines were formed and also offer information about the wildlife present in the area. It’s very clean and well maintained and cars are not allowed here.

You feel small here. You’re surrounded by all these gigantic stone walls and beside the gigantic structures there are also the colours: the forest’s green combined with the white of the stone walls and the brown of the dead leaves. It’s quite an experience which amazes and fascinates the human eye.

The ravines are easy to visit since the access here is possible via car on a decent road. You’ll have to leave your car at some point in a parking lot. So you don’t need to make the entire circuit that we did in order to see these spectacular structures 🙂

Our route on the map:

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