Romania, an all-seasons country, is the favorite destination of many. This doesn’t come as a surprise when one sees nature as an architect; its beauty spread across the entire country. While many choose to spend their summers at the coastline, swimming, admiring the Costineşti Evangelia shipwreck or visiting Romania's Black Sea party hub - Vama Veche; many wish to take a break from the crowded beaches and the noise. These people prefer the tranquillity of the mountain, the smell of trees, and the sound of springs. If you are one of these people, then I have a perfect destination for you. Located 60 km away from the city of Bicaz in northeast Romania, Ceahlău National Park has its staircase to paradise that you can climb. The stairs make Toaca Peak in the Ceahlău Mountains accessible to a vast majority of people, bringing the mountain closer to the hike-lovers.
When one thinks about a staircase, nothing heavenly about it comes to mind. That is until one visits the upper plateau of the Ceahlău Mountains. Here, visitors can find 500 steps, made out of 60 three-meter-long sections of steel. They serve as a shortcut to Toaca Peak, the hikers being able to reach it from the plateau in only 20-25 minutes. The staircase starts at an altitude of 1771 m and reaches 1893 m, almost to the top of Toaca peak, which is 1904 m high.
The heavenly part is the view from along the way. While climbing the stairs, tourists ascend through areas where the fir trees are almost taking over the stairs with their branches. Looking behind, many smaller peaks and panorama of everything that nature has to offer can be seen. Hills of different sizes and high rock formations complete the scenery.
The original staircase was made in the ‘70s to protect the soil around the rock formations. In recent years, it wasn’t safe to climb and hikers needed to use a much longer alternative route, on an unmarked path. Unmarked paths should be avoided since their safety hasn’t been proven so far. The longer unmarked route towards the peak sometimes makes the less experienced hikers not want to finish their journey. A new staircase was completed in 2018, and it took around a year and a half to finalize. Over 120.000 euros were invested in this project, to offer the hikers a safe shortcut to the top of the crest. Over 1000 tourists climb the Ceahlău mountains each year, and this number is rising continuously since the modern staircase was inaugurated.
Reaching the staircase and Toaca Peak is easy. The entry to the Ceahlău National Park is possible through the Durău Mountain resort. Visitors are granted access after paying the small fee of 6 RON, the equivalent of 1.27 EUR. The road is marked along the way through a red band on the trees. The first stop is the Fântânele Cabin, after hiking for about an hour ( or more for inexperienced hikers) through the forest. There are frequent rest stops along the way, like benches or fallen trees which are enticing to sit on.
After arriving at the cabin, some of you may choose to spend the night here. One can either choose to camp outside or rest in one of the cabin’s rooms. The beauty of the surrounding area will give you a boost to reach the heights which you have never reached before. Toaca Peak is visible from here, and it is breathtaking. Once you see the staircase, know that your journey is almost at its end. While climbing 500 stairs may be challenging for some, it is all worth it because the peak will give you an exquisite 360º view of the entire Ceahlău National Park.
When in doubt where your next excursion should take place, remember that the nature in Romania provides infinite hiking opportunities throughout the country. The roads that take us deep into the mountains are as important and fascinating as the destinations themselves. The view when climbing this staircase in the Ceahlău Mountains is truly like taking a glimpse at paradise. Come take a look for yourself and fall in love with the Romanian mountains.
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