Apuseni Mountains are very inviting for mountain biking touring. They are mostly mild and are crossed by many forest roads that facilitate bike access.
The Biharia Massif, situated at the south of Ariesul Mare Valley is part of the Bihor Mountains. It is the highest area of the Apuseni Mountains. Its highest peak is the Cucurbata Peak-1849 m, also known as Bihorul Peak.
Găina Mountain (Hen mountain) is tied to the Biharia Massif through a long ridge of approximately 16 km. The ridge has mild areas situated at attitudes that range from 1300 to 1500 m.
The Biharia Massif, has a south-south-east orientation and goes from the Vartop Pass (1157m) up to the Piatra Graitoare Peak – Singing Rock Peak (1658m).
Here is where the alpine plains begin. The ridge is large, with easy ups and downs until the surroundings of the Cucurbata Mare Peak. From this point on, the ridge is steeper.
During the 10 km mountain biking trip you have to ride between Vartop peak and the Bihorul Peak. The tourists have to follow the red line. This marking continues up to the Hen Peak.
From the Cucurbata Mare peak towards the Cucurbata Mica (1769 m), on the 3 km road there are 5 wind turbines installed in the peak area.
For those who want to ride up to the Cucurbata Mare Peak, the easiest access is on the forest road on the Cepelor Valley (cepe means onions).
Recommend mountain biking trail: Onions Valley > Bihorul Peak (Cucurbata Mare)> Taul Mare > Hen Mountain > Avram Iancu village > Biharia > Garda village > Arieseni
- Total distance (approx.): 67 km;
- Elevation difference (approx.): 2000 m;
Marking: blue line + red line. You can leave your car near the Arieseni Touristic Inn, at 100 m up the entrance on the Cepelor (Onions) Valley.
Starting point for mountain bike tour: in Arieseni village, down the Arieseni Touristic Inn, on the Onions Valley. It is here that the blue line begins. This marking goes from the Cucurbata Mare Peak up to Tăul Mare (tău means pond) and goes along the car road in the Onions Valley.
This 13 km car road makes a detour on the superior deep part of the Onions Valley. This valley shows signs of glacial erosion. It is among the few of its kind in the Apuseni Mountains. Its features are better seen in the form of small rock walls and screes.
The Nordic position, under the shelter of the highest peak in the Apuseni, helped to preserve in this area the Pinus Mugo and the dwarf juniper. The Onions Valley is declared protected area site Nature 2000.
How to get water during the mountain biking trip
Before getting out of the alpine plains, the car road gets to a group of deserted huts. It is the last place where one can fill its water tank. The water sources is lacking completely up to the Hen Peak. Perhaps the spring opposite the huts is dry, as most of the times during summer time. There is another spring just around the huts, on your left, among the fir trees.
Before the road gets out on the ridge, there is an area where one can encounter strong blizzards, during winter time. The snow is present here up to June.
If the 1000 m elevation difference from Arieseni up to here, on the Cucurbata Mare, did not suck up your energy, you can continue up to the Hen Mountain. There is a steep descent, where on a 1.5 km road you lose 300 m elevation difference.
You arrive in a saddle where the blue line turns right, towards the Big Pond (Tăul Mare). In order to visit the pond, you must make a detour of 2 km round-trip. The Big Pond is in a process of clogging. Its modest dimensions do not find themselves in its denomination. Anyway, the place has a certain charm, being isolated and surrounded by junipers.
Back on the main road we continue the mountain biking trip on the red line marking. We pass through the clearing that soon gives place to the fir-tree forest. Before we enter the forest we pass by a crossroad.
The left road goes down to the Ariesul Mic Valley and the right one to the Crisciorul de Jos village. Both are good trails for mountain biking. It is here that you have the last chance to redraw from the ridge, up to the Avram Iancu Village, on the Ariesul Mic Valley. You have a 20 km descent.
If we continue towards the Hen Mountain, there is a 2 km bushy forest, where the light does not reach the humid road. The green moss that ices the road creates a Genesis atmosphere, where one can feel far away from civilisation.
On the next 4 km, the forest alternates with small clearings and short ups and downs.
Once you go down from the Piatra Aradului Peak the landscape opens up. The forest road goes through large clearings, making a detour of the hillocks covered by dwarf junipers. During summer time there are herds of sheep and cattle.
The Hen Peak (1466m) waits for us with a 360 degree panorama of the Motilor County. One can see the Ariesul Mic Valley and the inhabited ridges of the Metaliferi Mountains from which an isolated rock erects.
Here, next to the Avram Iancu statue, one of the most well-known fairs in the Apuseni Mountains takes place. It is the Maiden Fair on the Hen Mountain. It is a folk holiday that takes place on the nearest Sunday of St. Elijah (the 20th July).
Redraw: we go down from the Gaina Peak up to the Avram Iancu Village. The one single important thing here: your brakes! There is a descent of 10 or 11 km ahead, depending on which road you decide to take.
Arrived in the village you can choose, either you sleep over in one of the guest houses, either you continue towards Arieseni.
If you decide to stay in Avram Iancu or in Vidra you can make small visit trips. You can visit Avram Iancu Memorial House, the Pisoaia Waterfall or the Hill with Snails worth your time.
The shortest option to go back to the Onions Valley entrance is over the Biharia Pass (1150 m). The redraw means another effort of 400 m elevation difference that span along 10 km. We continue with a descent of 7 km on the forest road on the Dizditu Valley up to the asphalt on the Ariesului Valley. Once we arrived on the DN75, road that crosses the Ariesului Valley, we still have 9 km to pedal in order to close our circuit.