The Gilau Mountains
The Gilau (Snowy)Mountains. The Testes (1240 m) in fall
The Gilau Mountains are a part of the Transilvanian Rocky
Mountains. Their limits are the Bihor Mountains, the Metaliferi
Mountains and the Trascau Mountains, and the Transilvanian
Depres-sion. Its area is about 1355 square kms.
They belong to the middle- and low mountains, with 500-1800
meter high peaks. Its highest peak is the Muntele Mare ("The Big
Mountain") (1826 meter).
Deep, narrow valleys (Somesul Cald, Somesul Rece, Racatau, Iara)
and wide, flat peaks are specific for this area.
The Gilau (snowy) Mountains are the most populated mountains of
Romania with widely scattered houses, small farms. More than 75 %
of the surroundings of Maguri, Marisel, Belis are situated at
1000-1400 meter. The mountaineers’ main road, from Marisel
to Albac, crosses the watershed of Somesul Cald.
The region had a very important role in our history. Fortresses,
ruins of the fortresses, wonderful churches, the mementos of the
bloody battles (1849-Vasvari Pal) are the reminiscences of the
The incredibly rich and quick rivers offer great possibilities
for the construction of power stations, dams, and fishponds. In
winterti-me it offers possibili-ties for skiing - a real
attraction for tourists (Baisoa-ra, Fanta-nele).
It is very easy to approach the high top of Testes (1240
Starting from Camping Eldorado in Gilau, heading Muntele Rece
("the colt Mountain"), under the peak of Magura Mare, where the
valley of Rasca Mare and the valley of Somesul Rece cross each
others ways. From here we continue our trip by foot. After we
cross the bridge, we turn to left and continue our trip on a
winding/serpentine road to the Plopi peak. Widespread houses,
extended hayfields are the surroundings of our route, sometimes
we can look down in the valley of Rasca Mare. In a short time we
get to the base of the Testes. On the right side there is a road
that goes to the Dobrin peak (The Andrassy Mountains) on the
parallel ridge/crest with the valley of Iara. We go up through a
birch wood toward the peak. The view is fascinating/captivating.
Far away the Eastern and South-Carpathians, nearer, toward Cluj,
the settlements of the Somes Valley, the Faget (Bukk), the peak
of Magura Mare; the valley of Hesdat and the Turda Gorge, the
Szekelyko and the peaks along the Aries valley. Underneath the
Iara valley, with the village called Valea Ierii. Above, on the
other side of the valley, the triple peak of the Gergely
After a short rest, we continue our route and in no time at all
we approach the small farm with a few houses on the Plopi peak.
The Plopi peak is the watershed of many creeks that flow into the
Somesul Mic. The spring of the Hesdat creek is nearby.
On our route we pass by a TV-tower, and walk on to the castle
from Letea (Geczi-castle). Another possibility is to go to the
left, to Finisel and take the bus from Savadisla to Cluj Napoca
till the police post at the DN1/E60. From there we go to the left
to Camping Eldorado in Gilau.
Maguri Racatau (682 m)- Negruta valley- Dobrin (1520 m)-
Dumitrea-sa top (1638 m)
The Aries valley, oriented West-East, divides the
Transilvanian Rocky Mountains into a northern and a southern
part. The most considerable part, with an area of about 1300
square kms of the northern block are the Gilau Mountains, a
specific unsymmetrical configuration. In the south high, 12-20
km. long ranges, while in the North relatively low, 30-40 km.
long ranges. The 1826 m high Muntele Mare is The Transilvanian
Mountains third highest peak, following the 1849 m high Bihorul
Mare and the 1836 m high Vladea-sa, while the Magura Calatele is
only 1401 m high. This shows that the Gilau Mountains decrease in
height from South-East to North-West.
Starting with the 70's, the hydro-energetic possibility of the
Somesul Mic was utilized with the construction of several storage
lakes. The tunnel-system built in the mountains, beginning from
the 1101 m high situated Bondureasa Lake in the Iara valley,
along the secon-dary creeks of Solyom, through the lake on the Lo
(=hor-se) creek the water of Iara and its secondary creeks flow
into the lakes of Negruta, Dumitreasa, then through the so-called
"Izvorul Baii" on the Somesul Rece at 1035 m, following the so
called "Izvorul Alb" in Racatau, the whole quantity of water is
stored into the big-gest, most beautiful, highest situated Belis
Lake, with an area of 980 acres, finished in 1976, with a dam.
Near the lake was built the Belis-Fantanele tourist center,
situa-ted at 950 m above sea-level, with nice hotels and
restaurants, a capacity of 320 per-sons.
Under the Belis Lake is situated one of the most beautiful and
difficult to cross gorges of the Gilau Mountains, right before we
get to the picturesque Tarnita Lake, situated at 525 m above the
sea level. This became one of the most favorite touristical
attracti-ons of the population of Cluj-Napoca.
The village of Marisel, situated above the gorge of Somesul Cald,
at 1197 meter above sea-level, a typical mountaineer settlement,
the only from all over Romania with permanent inhabitants at this
altitude/height. The view from up here is fantastic. At the end
of this gorge, under the ground are the three turbines, 75 MW
each, alimented by the Belis lake.
At the junction of Somesul Cald and Somesul Rece near the last
lake (75 hectares) upper Gilau starts the waterpipe to Cluj
Napo-ca. At the other side of Gilau in the direction of Oradea is
a nice and modern equipped cam-ping (Eldorado) waiting for the
One of the most frequented places for tourists is the
1638-meter high DUMITREASA PEAK and its surroundings.
There are several possibilities to approach it, the most
frequen-ted roads are: the red triangle through the 1240 meters
high Tes-tes; the yellow sign from the Negruta valley, 3 km away
from Maguri Racatau, in the valley of Somesul Rece, a 3 hours
long road; the last one is a 2,5-3 hours long road, starting from
the valley of Irisoara.
There is a nice road through the woods in Negruta Valley going
up to the 1520 meter high Dobrin, next to the 1549 meter high
Scobo-ras-Buturi. After crossing the tourist path coming from the
Testes we reach the peak, covered by houses with a seasonal
characteris-tic. We go ahead toward South on the crest. Stepping
out from the woods in a clearing on the formal Andrassy property
we can admire a wonderful view on the valley of Iara and Solyom.
In the last one there is a road for cars to the village of Codru,
a trip that takes about one hour. From the mentioned place there
is a great panorama on the huge, so called Bradul Lung (long
pine) mountain, which has the shape of a big ship, and the Buszka
and Oreghavas (=old snowy mountain). The rocks of the imposing
Piatra Grosii close the view to South. On its crest goes further
on the vertical red stripe-way to Smidele-Balomireasa, the
touristical path to the Bihor Mountains, to the ice-cave from
Scarisoara. On our way we reach the main road, coming from the
left side in Soimului Valley. At this crossing lays the so-called
"La Tina" swamp, with its inte-resting vegetation.
On the way back we should choose the 12-km long Irisora valley,
or the touristical path, indicated with a yellow stripe, which
goes through "Urasa" settlement to the Valley of Somesul Rece.
The second one has a big advantage: a wonderful view of the
valley. After we arrived in the valley of Somesul Rece, a 13-km
long way to Racatau, we can take the bus to Cluj-Napoca (which is
42 km away) and Gilau, where you can stay in Camping
THE GILAU MOUNTAINS
BELIS - FANTANELE - PETREASA PEAK (1564 meter)
Kalotaszeg is a 1000 km square area situated in the valley of
Crisul Repede, Calata, Almas and Nadas. A very important part of
it is Fels-zeg - South from Huedin, surrounded at South by the
Gilau Mountains, at West by the Vladeasa with its 1836-m high
The folk art and churches (mostly built of wood) are the most
important touristical attractions of this area. Many of the
chur-ches are very old, dated from the Arpadhazi period. In the
center of Huedin - about 50 km away from Cluj -, with a
population of aprox. -10.000 people, there is a very old church,
with painted ceiling, with carved stone altar, dated from the
If we start our route in the valley of Calata, we can visit the
famous churches of Sâncraiu, Valeni, Domosu. From Calata it
is easy to reach Vladeasa, then the road that goes to Padis, and
from here can be made trips to the Bihor Mountains. The end of
the local railway used to be here until 1992. Starting from here
the valley gets narrow and after a 17 km long walk along the wild
creek we reach the "Ardeleana" chalet, at 520 meter above sea-
level, an accommodation for 22 persons, 2nd class. After crossing
the woods, we get to the Dealul Negru crest, then, at the 27th
km, we reach the village Belis (1100 meter). The old Belis is
covered by water, they built a new village, with a population of
1500 people. On a winding road can be reached the Belis-Fantanele
tourist-center - a spa with 5 hotel-buildings, a capacity of 320
per-sons, situa-ted on the border of a storage lake, where you
can make a boat trip. It is a very beautiful view in the winding
valley of Somesul Cald. From there you can go by bus to Huedin
and to Gilau to camping Eldorado.