Want some alone time whilst enjoying splendid scenery? Then the Munţii Maramureşului were made just for you! You will have to make a bit of an effort to get there – but if you clicked on this post I trust you got triggered by the word ‘hiking’. Although there is a lot more to be explored in the Munţii Maramureşului, let’s get started with this beautiful hike from the village of Repedea to Vinderel Lake and Farcău Peak. It’s one of the most rewarding walks I’ve ever done.
The Munţii Maramureşului is the northernmost mountain range of Romania; it marks the border with the Ukraine. The Munţii Maramureşului are a national park; thank goodness it is, because there is a lot to be protected. The area boasts some of the most beautiful and dense forests of Romania and has a sizeable bear population, just to mention two things. If you travel up the Vaşer Valley you will see a good number of tree nurseries. The Munţii Maramureşului national park is a great example of responsible and effective forest management. If you want to read more about the flora and fauna and the geology of the area, visit the park’s website. Do visit their office in Vişeu de Sus if you happen to pass by that way – the staff are very friendly and will provide you with free maps and advice.
On to the hike. Once you are on the main road in Repedea village, turn up Strada Bisericii. You will start seeing blue stripes on electricity poles on the right. Pass by the church and the school, and turn right onto a forest road after about 500 m. This path isn’t marked; the one straight ahead is; but turning right here is definitely much more interesting! The path will take you straight into the forest; waymarks will reappear after 1.5 km.
After 1 km, the path forks. Keep right (northeast). After about 6 km on the forest road, the blue tripe trail departs from the road, and goes left (northwest) to bypass a peak. Keep following this grassy (but marked) trail until you get back on a path. After about 8 km, the trail becomes a grassy trail that bends to the left again. You should be able to see Vinderel Lake after about 9 km. Unless you want to continue to Cabana Coşnea (further east), you can pitch your tent at the lake and continue to Farcău Peak and head back again.
It’s possible to hike back to Repedea on the same day; however, I can fully recommend a night at the lake. You should be able to find firewood – in July, nights are often mild enough to sleep under the sky (if you don’t feel like bringing a tent). Try having a swim in the lake in the morning – great way to wake up! If you do this in July you will find yourself surrounded by thousands of tiny lizards.
From the lake, you have three options. You can either return to Repedea the way you came, or via the other blue stripe path (the less interesting option). You can also continue east towards Poienile de Sub Munte via Mihăilecu Peak; this is a fairly short and simple hike and you will be able to get a bus back to wherever it is you want to go from there. If you have some space left in your luggage, maybe you could take some rubbish from Vinderel Lake – sadly, some people think it is too much to carry theirs home even though they managed to bring it there in the first place.
I’m quite sure you’ll have to agree with me this is a very rewarding hike – but do go and judge for yourself!
PS A special thank you to my friend Ioan, who I met on (or rather, walking besides) his mountain bike on the trail, after which we decided to hike together: Multam fain!
Two practical points:
The park staff has published an excellent although bulky map. It’s available at the park office in Vişeu de Sus; see their website. If you can’t get hold of this one the Munții Nostri map will do just fine.
How to get there: Take a bus from Sighetu Marmaţiei to Repedea. There are two buses a day (in the direction of Poienile de sub Munte); at 1.15 and 4.45 pm (this may be subject to change). They leave from Autogara Jan, near the train station. This is not the bus station opposite the station; it is about 200 m further east.
Distance: 10km | Time: 5hrs | Total ascent/descent: 1520/350m | Maximum altitude: 1957m
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