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  • Writer's pictureTania Andreea

Hiking trail - Plaiul Foii - Zaplaz - Piatra Craiului Ridge


One of the most difficult hikes in Romania: PLAIUL FOII - ZAPLAZ - LA LANTURI - PIATRA CRAIULUI RIDGE - DIANA SHELTER - PLAIUL FOII


I had planned the hike to Vârf la Om (La Om Peak) for a very long time. Many years ago, I actually did part of the route, from Plaiul Foii, stopping at Zaplaz, with the promise made to myself that when "I grow up" I would do the whole hike and even more. About 11 years later, we decided not to delay and to do the route that would be one of the most beautiful, but also one of the most dangerous and demanding routes we have done. We generally choose hikes that are low to medium in difficulty.


The Piatra Craiului mountains are some of the most spectacular mountains and offer views and landscapes that delight your eyes. Whatever route you choose to take, whether here or elsewhere, don't forget to admire the scenery and enjoy nature. Below, you will find the details of the route we traveled, which we chose to divide into two days.



ABOUT THE HIKE FROM PLAIUL FOII TO LA ZAPLAZ AND THE RIDGE OF PIATRA CRAILUI:


  • First part - day 1: Plaiul Foii Cabin - Spirlea Shelter - La Zaplaz - La Lanțuri - Saua Grindului - red line marking, estimated time: 6 hours.

  • The second part - day 2: Saua Grindului - Vârf La Om - Vârful Tsimbalul Mic - Refugiul Ascutit (Ascutit Shelter) - Saua Padinei - red dot marking - 5 hours

  • Third part - day 2: Saua Padinei - Diana Shelter - blue triangle marking - 2 hours

  • The fourth part - day 2: Refugiul Diana - Cabana Plaiul Foii - yellow triangle marking - 2 hours


Once we passed Zărnești, we headed towards the Plaiul Foii Cabin, near which we parked the car. There is enough parking space on the left side of the road in the area. From there, we started walking on a very smooth path initially, becoming more and more steep. At a certain point, the path continues to the right, and from there to the Spirla Shelter is the most demanding part of this section. It is good to know that before this climb to the refuge, it is also the last source of water encountered on the route.


One of the most difficult hikes in Romania: PLAIUL FOII - ZAPLAZ - LA LANTURI - PIATRA CRAIULUI RIDGE - DIANA SHELTER - PLAIUL FOII

The ascent continues through the forest, at one point, meeting another path marked with red line, which goes to the right, towards the Shoulders of Pietrei Craiului. The route followed by us continues to the left.


After climbing through the gravel, we meet the rocks sculpted by water and weather from Zaplaz. These formations are some of the most interesting in Romania and many tourists choose this place as the final point of their hike. It is definitely worth reaching at least this far, the effort will be rewarded with a special landscape, offered by the arches sculpted by the "hands" of the most skilled sculptor: nature.


One of the most difficult hikes in Romania: PLAIUL FOII - ZAPLAZ - LA LANTURI - PIATRA CRAIULUI RIDGE - DIANA SHELTER - PLAIUL FOII

If up to this point we saw a lot of people on our way, after this point it becomes quiet, being much less those who venture to climb to the top. Besides, the route becomes more dangerous and requires a bit more attention, being obviously why not many people want to continue.


There are sections that require rock climbing, and in some places there are chains and cables to facilitate the ascent. It is not a part that should be underestimated, and in some places where these cables or chains should exist, they are completely missing.


It can be the more difficult if you climb with large backpacks, as we did, or if you have the misfortune of raining and the rocks being wet and slippery.


One of the most difficult hikes in Romania: PLAIUL FOII - ZAPLAZ - LA LANTURI - PIATRA CRAIULUI RIDGE - DIANA SHELTER - PLAIUL FOII

After a few hours of demanding, sustained climbing, we arrived at Saua Grindului, where we were greeted by a lot of black goats. It seems that the area is very frequented by these beautiful animals, which are quite used to people and have the courage to approach.


Starting the hike quite late, we arrived there almost at sunset, so we only had time to eat and set up our tent, while it was still light outside. Being weekend, it was quite crowded, the shelter was full, and next to it there were several tents already placed. Being July, it was warm enough outside, and the temperature did not drop much, so we were not cold overnight in sleeping bags with thermal comfort of 6 degrees.


The next day we started the hike that would be much more difficult compared to the "La Lanturi" area. It was, in fact, the most difficult route we have done.

One of the most difficult hikes in Romania: PLAIUL FOII - ZAPLAZ - LA LANTURI - PIATRA CRAIULUI RIDGE - DIANA SHELTER - PLAIUL FOII

Until the Varf Ascutit Shelter, we counted a total of about 12 ridges, which we had to climb and descend one by one. It is not a very easy path to walk, even more so in the exposed areas, where there are neither chains nor cables. Most of the ridge route requires technique, but with all that, it is much easier to walk the part towards Varf Ascutit, than vice versa, towards Verf La Om. Moreover, the estimated time on the signs is also double, although it is the same path. This happens because certain portions are easier to climb than to descend.


In the area of ​​the Vârf Ascutit Shelter we also meet the marker that goes down to Curmătura Cabin. It can be a variant of descent from the ridge, if you are not conditioned by the location of the car, as we were.


Advancing on the ridge, after about two hours from the shelter, we reached the area of ​​Saua Padinei, where we met the blue triangle marking, which we chose as the descent route to Plaiul Foii. At the same point, the descent route through Brana Caprelor begins, on the blue line marking. Although this one would have been more spectacular, we chose not to venture on it because we were already quite tired.


The route to the Diana Shelter was not the easiest, either, but I was willing to face the rough than the technical descents.


The descent started through junipers, then a pebble area, which was very ugly 😁. You have to be careful when leaving the pebble area because the path goes to the right, through the juniper area, it does not go down through the valley of stones. Basically, it is the second path among the junipers that you have to follow and there is no marking to indicate this (or, at least, I didn't see it).


One of the most difficult hikes in Romania: PLAIUL FOII - ZAPLAZ - LA LANTURI - PIATRA CRAIULUI RIDGE - DIANA SHELTER - PLAIUL FOII

After two nasty series of descents through gravel, we had only one area to climb on the rock, quite exposed and dangerous, but fortunately, there were cables and chains to help. At this point we were already quite tired and we had to find all the concentration and inner strength to pass with success.


The last part of the descent on this route is through the forest, both before and after the shelter. Diana Shelter is approximately halfway down the path through the forest. You'll know you're close to the end of the hike when you reach the clearing, from where you can't miss looking back at the mountains you've just climbed, the view is amazing.




WHERE ARE YOU STAYING NEAR THE ROUTE ENTRANCE?


The closest town to the entrance to the route is Zarnesti, where you have several accommodation options. Also, quite a few cabins have appeared in Plaiul Foii in recent years, so you have as an option this location as well. Below, I leave a few options found on Booking, which have good ratings:


- VMP Apartament Zarnesti - apartment accommodation unit, with one bedroom, living room with sofa bed, kitchen and balcony. Internet and parking are included in the reservation price;

- Sura Pietrei Craiului - accommodation unit that has both double and apartment-type rooms, which can accommodate up to four people. It has a barbecue area, a view of the mountain, and parking and internet are included in the price of the reservation;

- Pensiunea 3 Brazi Zarnesti - accommodation unit rated at 3 stars, which has double, twin or triple rooms. It offers parking, garden and terrace;

- Avalanche Plaiul Foii - accommodation unit located right in Plaiul Foii, which has three bedrooms, which can only be rented to a group of six people.



OTHER ROUTES TO LA OM PEAK:


- route village Cavera - Saua Joaca - Grind Shelter - La Om Peak;

- route Curmatura Cabin - Varf Ascutit - La Om Peak (difficult route);



CONCLUSIONS ABOUT THE HIKE IN PIATRA CRAIULUI:


The hike presented above is not an easy one, on the contrary, it is long, demanding, dangerous and requires concentration and good physical condition from the beginning to the end, even on the descent route, where there are dangerous areas, both on the gravel area , as well as climbing the rock to cross the mountain.


If I were to redo this route (which, for sure, will happen), I would change the plan a little. I would start the hike much earlier on the first day and cover a longer section, up to Varf Ascutit, then the next day I would cover the rest of the route. The route can also be completed in one day, but at a brisk pace, if you are in very good physical condition. Whether you choose to walk it in one day, or whether you choose to walk it in two days, but with big luggage on the back, in my opinion, there is no winning option, no matter what you choose, it is still difficult and demanding. The satisfaction afterwards is, however, incomparable.



Read also about the shortest route to the highest peak in Romania, Moldoveanu Peak. You can also read about other hikes: route to Malaiesti Cabin, route to Curmatura Cabin, route to Susai Cabin, or about the route to Balea Waterfall.


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