The Retezat Mountains are located in Transylvania. The closest town is Hațeg, in Hunedoara. The mountains are truly beautiful - great landscape, fresh air, wild enough to feel close to nature, but not wild enough to be dangerous to hike without a trained guide. The area is not very wide compared to other mountains and the trails are very well marked. Walking in Retezat Mountains always makes me realize the greatness of nature.
General information about Retezat National Park
There are two main access points for getting to Retezat National Park: Cârnic Hut (Hațeg - Nucșoara - Ohaba de Sub Piatră) or Rîu de Mori (Râușorului Valley, Gura Apei). The most popular accommodations inside Retezat National Park are Pietrele hut and Gențiana hut. Pietrele hut also provides a camping site. You can find a second camping site at Bucura Lake. Most people choose either Pietrele or Gențiana as a base for day trails around, but there are many different ways of discovering Retezat Mountains. You will be required to pay a small fee (around 3 USD) for entering Retezat National Park. You can find below a list of the most popular trails people choose.
Retezat National Park
Address: Hunedoara county
Website: Map of Retezat National Park
1. Bucura Lake
Bucura Lake is among the most popular destinations in Retezat Mountains. If you start ascending from the Gura Apei side, it is also the easiest destination to reach - you would only need about 3 hours. There’s also a camping site available close to the lake, although most people prefer to overnight either at Gentiana hut or at Pietrele hut. Bucura is the biggest glacier lake in Romania.
Address: 3 hours hike from Gura Apei
2. Peleaga Peak
Peleaga is the highest peak in this mountain range (2,509 m/8,232 ft). Getting to the top on a sunny summer day is not easy, but doesn’t require special equipment or training. During winter days and bad weather though, it can be dangerous. The top offers wonderful views over Retezat National Park, the lakes and the other peaks close by. Most people choose to start the ascent from Bucura Lake. The trail is marked with a yellow stripe and would take around 5-6 hours. It’s considered to be medium level.
Address: 5-6 hours hike from Bucura Lake
3. Păpușa Peak
Păpușa and Peleaga are competing peaks - very close to each other, both in terms of distance from one another and in terms of height. Păpușa is just one meter (3 ft) shorter than Peleaga and is located right next to it. If starting from Bucura Lake, the only way to get to Păpușa is by passing Peleaga first. That’s why many people choose to do both peaks in one day, although doing that might be a bit tiring.
Address: 6-7 hours hike from Bucura Lake
4. Galeșu Lake
Similar to Bucura Lake, Galeșu Lake is also a glacier lake. It is located at an altitude of 1,990 m (6,529 ft) and it’s the third deepest lake in the mountain range. Getting to Galeșu Lake from Pietrele hut takes around 3 hours, 3 hours and a half following the red triangle sign.
Address: 3-3.5 hours from Pietrele hut
5. Retezat Peak
In Romanian, the word ”retezat” means ”chopped”. This peak is the easiest one to recognize from a distance because it looks as if its top has been chopped off. Most people ascend Retezat Peak via Lolaia saddle. The trail follows the yellow stripe and takes around 4 hours. Be prepared to walk on many large rocks.
Address: 4 hours hike from Pietrele hut (via Lolaia saddle)
6. The Glacier Lakes Tour
There are over 50 glaciar lakes in Retezat National Park, with Bucura Lake being the widest in the country. Many of them have Romanian female names: Lia, Ana, Florica, Viorica are all popular names for girls. Because of the many lakes in this area, locals sometimes refer to Retezat Mountains as “the magical land with blue eyes”. A circular trail of the lakes; Lia, Ana, Florica and Viorica, starting and ending at Bucura Lake, takes around 7-8 hours. It is a medium level hike with an approximate length of 5 km (3 mi).
Glacier Lakes Tour
Address: 7-8 hour circuit starting at Bucura Lake
Tips and safety
When planning for a hiking trip, safety should always be the first thing to consider. First and foremost: take a map along. Weather can be moody up in the mountains, you never know exactly what to expect, so you should be prepared for anything. Don’t forget your raincoat and make sure you have good hiking boots. It’s also important to have a torch or head-lamp. Even if it’s summer, pack a warm hoodie and a hat - it can get cold at night. It’s also good if you have a warm sleeping bag. During the day, the sun can be strong, so sun block is a good idea.
In terms of eating, considering that the only hut that serves food inside the national park is Pietrele hut, you should make sure to pack enough food. It’s good to have food high in energy that you can also snack on. I would recommend nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. Carbohydrates are also important, so you can also take some pasta, bread and biscuits. If you’re not vegetarian, you can also take some smoked and/or canned meat. There are many rivers on the way, you won’t have to carry water. Just make sure you have a bottle that you can refill. Although Retezat National Park is also open during winter time, it’s not advisable to hike on snow if you don’t have special training. There’s a risk of avalanches on most trails. Many people have died during the years trying to climb one of the peaks in Retezat mountains during winter time. The best time to hike is between June and September.
Get close to nature and appreciate the quietness
Mountains are the perfect place to reflect, relax, meditate, and have some introspective moments. It’s also the best place to get closer to nature and appreciate its beauty. No matter how many pictures you see of a certain view, the feeling you have when you reach the top of the mountain and look around is simply indescribable. You just have to experience it for yourself to be able to understand what I’m talking about. Take you hiking boots, your backpack, and go hiking!
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