Ceahlau Massif is only one component of this dizzyingly beautiful corner of western Moldavia. The area is criminally unexplored considering the great hiking opportunities and picturesque mountains and valleys. When combined with the Bicaz Gorges and Lacu Rosu, this area offers a varied tableau of Romanian landscapes and attractions. This website has detailed information on hiking trails in the area.
Near the Bicaz Dam, at the junction 4km north of Bicaz, is a turn-off for the twisting mountain road leading to Ceahlau (chek-lau). If you right turn immediately after the bridge you’ll find Munteanu Port on the western shores of Bicaz Lake. There are paddle boats for hire and nice picnic spots here.
Eventually you’ll arrive at the village of Izvoru Muntelui, the last stop before you start hiking to Ceahlau. Unfortunately, locals here have failed to pick up on a clear business opportunity; there isn’t a single shop around, so acquire any supplies you’ll need in (including water!) in Bicaz.
From here hiking trails begin to climb the Ceahlau Massif, Moldavia’s most spectacular mountain range. Head through the gate in the fence and after a five minute climb you will reach a little flat section with picnic tables. From here two of the tracks begin, each going in opposite directions. No need to agonize over the options; a posted map illustrates how the trails meet at the peak of the Massif, without any cross-over, allowing for two unique hikes during ascent and decent (the menacing skull and cross bones on the map only applies to wintertime).
With an early start and the requisite fitness level, the Ceahlua Massif can be done in a single, knee blasting day. Be warned that going down can be just as punishing as going up, so keep an even pace. For those wanting to break up the hike, Cabana Dochia sits welcomingly at the top with single and double rooms (though no showers) and a passable restaurant.
You can also start/finish the hike in Durau and Ceahlau . Durau (elevation 800m), on the northeastern side of the mountain, has a relatively strong tourist infrastructure built around its spa and busy winter sports. A steep, one hour trail (red stripes) leads to Cabana Fântânele and from there others lead towards Toaca Peak.
The annual Ceahlau Folk Festival takes place here on the second Sunday in August. Shepherds come down from the mountains while locals don traditional dress.
In Ceahlau (elevation 550m), 6km north of Durau, are the remains of a princely palace built between 1639 and 1676 and an 18th-century wooden church.