Biking in Romania: around Cluj-Napoca
Let`s go somewhere we haven`t been before! Let`s go to Cluj county!
Today`s tour goes around Apuseni National Park. And when I say “around”, it means that it won`t get too far in the heart of the park, just a little tease on the sides. But we never know what the future may bring! 🙂
As I was saying, the track takes us to the border of the National Park of Apuseni by traversing the Gilău Mountains. The target or final stop is Beliș lake, home to “the church under the lake”, which can be seen, with a little bit of luck. And luck means that it should be summer and dry enough for the water level to drop. We were not so “lucky” but maybe you will be. 🙂
You will need a car with bike supports for this track, as the place I am talking about is far away from all the train stations. If you really want to cycle all the way, I must let you know that there are about 80 km from Cluj to Beliș lake. Out of which 30-40 km are only uphill.
We took the car and left it in Gilău, shortening the track by about 20 km as well as avoiding cycling in traffic. I must warn you that, in Romania, cycling on big roads is not so safe, considering the way people drive their cars and the low respect and awareness of cyclists.
Gilău – Gilău lake – Someșul Rece – Someșul Cald lake – Tarnița lake – Mărișel village – cross roads with road 1R – Beliș village – Beliș-Fântânele lake
Total length: 55 km
Level difference: 900-1000 m
Equipment: helmet, spare wheel room + bike pump, rain wear, 20-25 L backpack, water, energy food, first layer, wind-stopper, T-shirts, a lot of will 🙂
Even if the whole track is only 55 km long, it will take you a day to complete it. More than half is uphill and the level difference is 900-1000 m. So, you would better find some accommodation for the night! But this is not hard to find as there are many hotels and guest houses around Beliș-Fântânele lake as well as in Mărișel village. I cannot say anything about the quality of the accommodation as we haven`t tried it, but I suppose you don`t need all inclusive for only a night. 🙂
The first part of the track goes around the lakes: Gilău lake, Someșul Cald lake and Tarnița lake. The landscape is stunning!
Further away, the track starts to go slowly uphill, the slope becoming steeper closer to the top. The road is supposed to be paved, or at least was… once upon a time. The traffic is not heavy at all and, from time to time, you might encounter some cars or cows. 🙂
The up slope is about 30 km long but follows the shadow of the forest. The view from the top is definitely worth the challenge! Up there, hidden, on the plateau, there is Mărișel village, where traditions meet picturesque.
From now on, the road goes straight to the intersection with the road 1R, this one being the only intersection in the area. Once you reach that, you have to take right and then continue straight until Beliș village. You can search here for some accommodation as well, as you might need to stop over the night.
The same day or the day after, after arriving to Beliș village, you have to turn left in order to reach the lake. The road is unpaved and not so good but you can manage to do it by bike. The lake can be seen after another 4-5 km from here.
As for the church under the lake, you should ask the locals for the exact location as I cannot tell you precisely. Bear in mind though that it can only be seen in dry summers, in July or August as I have heard.
Some photos from the lake.