During winter the smooth tops of the Bihor Vladeasa Mountains offer ski touring or snowshoeing lovers long trails with wide panoramas towards the surrounding tops.
There are three areas that stand out:
The first two areas, the Biharea and the Vladeasa tops are the highest in the Apuseni Mountains.
- For winter climbing, on every of the above mentioned tops, you will need touring skis or snowshoes. Even if at the bottom, when starting the trails, the snow can be very scarce, at the top you will be surprised by the amount of snow present.
- Winter equipment (winter boots and gaiters, wind jacket and winter pants)
- GPS track. On the tops you can be caught by fog or white-outs and there are barely any marking poles.
The trail Biharea Ridge and Bihorul Peak (the Cucurbăta Mare Peak -1849 m) – a ridge sought by both off trail skiers or snowshoeing lovers. The trail reaches the highest peak in the Apuseni.
Route access: DJ 75 – Lunca – Arieşeni – Turda, asphalted road that splits off from the DN 79 Oradea-Deva and goes up towards the Vârtop Pass.
Length: there are 10 km, from the Vârtop holiday village (1157m) up to the top, red line marking
The access to the top is facilitated by the chairlift of the ski slope Piatra Grăitoare. It goes up to 1445 m. There are still 2 km from the chairlift station to the Piatra Grăitoare Peak (1658m), situated at the northern end of the Biharea Ridge. The path is passing through the forest that becomes scarcer and scarcer as you climb towards the top.
The ridge is wide, with plain ups and downs. It offers you wide views towards the surrounding tops, situated at much lower altitudes. The final climbing, the longest one (100m cumulative gain) gets you to the antennas and the building next to them, situated near the top.
Alternative access on the Bihorul (Cucurbata) Peak. You can also reach the peak by following the blue line marking trail that arrives from Arieşeni, climbing on the Cepelor Valley. The trail shortens the winding car road that serves the wind turbines on the Cucurbata Mică Peak (1769 m situated at 3 km from the Cucurbata Mare Peak).
This trail is also sought by the tourists that want to reach the Biharea top on skis or snowshoes. Pay attention to the area situated on the south-east from the peak. Do not go near the edge of the periglacial cirque, as there are ridge formations (cornice).
The trail Vladeasa Ridge and the Vladeasa Peak (1836m)
The easy access and the presence of the Vladeasa Chalet make the Vladeasa Ridge a sought area for ski touring or snowshoeing. The most well-known trail starts in the Rogojel village and goes to the Vlădeasa Peak and further to the Pietrele Albe rocks.
The trail starts from the village store, where you can also leave your car. The trail climbs through the scattered houses of the Rogojel village and then the scarce fir-tree forest.
Length and cumulative elevation gain: on the 7 km from Rogojel and the Vladeasa Peak (1836m) there is a 900 m cumulative gain, with constant climbing.
Up to the Vladeasa Chalet (1430m) you follow the blue line marking for about 3 km.
Near the Vlădeasa Chalet you will see the mountain rescue chalet (Salvamont). From here on you follow the disused poles of the ski slope up to the top. The top trail goes up for about 2 km through the fir-trees that flank the wide path up to the weather station Vladeasa.
From the peak, the wide top continues in a smooth descent, about 2 km, until it arrives above the Pietrele Albe.
From the top you descend abruptly, up to 200 m cumulative gain, near the Pietrele Albe. You have to be very careful as there can be avalanches.
An empty and wide top, parallel with the Pietrele Albe connects with the forest road on the Stanciului Valley.
Here, during winter, you can drive up to the Rachitele Waterfall, from the Răchiţele village. There are 4 km of forest road, from the waterfall up to the tourist trail near the Pietrele Albe.
Access towards the Vladeasa Ridge: asphalted road Bologa – Săcuieu – Scrind-Frăsinet – Răchiţele from which the roads to Rogojel (5km) and the Răchiţele Waterfall (5km) split off.
The Carligate Ridge trail
It is a wild area, less crossed during winter.
Access: from Padis, through the Vărăşoaia Glade and the Cumpanăţelul Pass (7km).
Crossing this trail depends on the car access to Padiş. Most of the times, the road from Boga to Padiş is cleared during winter. If you are caught by snowfall it may take hours or days until the road is cleared.
The road towards the Vărăşoaia Chalet is not cleared.
If you come by car, you will have to find a place on the roadside, where the tourist trail splits off to the Vărăşoaia Chalet.
The Carligate Ridge is situated at altitudes of over 1600 m. As you arrive in the Cumpănăţelul Pass, after almost 300 cumulative elevation gain from the Vărăşoaia Glade, you can go west 1.5 km up to the Cornu Munților Peak (1652m).
From this peak you will be amazed by the wide panorama over the Padiş area, guarded by the Pietrele Boghii cliffs up to the Biharea Top.
From here the wide top goes north, passing by the Bohodei (1654 m) and Poieni (1627 m) Peaks heading towards the Stana de Vale resort (link). To the east, the Cârligate Ridge continues towards the Brăiesei Rock and the rounded peak of Briţei (1759m).
After 4 km of wide top, a bisection of it goes to the Buteasa Peak (1792 m).
The Natural Reserve Buteasa Peak shelters species of creeping pine, European spruce, stone pine, green alder and dwarf juniper.
In case there is little snow, the access to the top is more difficult, due to the frequent creeping pine. Your effort will be rewarded by the view towards the lake and the basin of the Drăganului Valley.
The Carligate Top continues towards the Vladeasa Peak, but the long distance up to the Vladeasa Chalet needs a stop for a night in the tent.