Scărița Belioara

Anna and her sons, tell of their experience of hiking Scărița Belioara, in Romania.

Scărița Belioara
Scărița Belioara

Anna, the Mom

Scărița Belioara is a beautiful loop hike in Muntele Mare (Great Mountain) reserve, located in the Apuseni Mountains, which is part of the Occidental Carpathians, Romania. Muntele Mare is one of the tallest in the Occidental Carpathians with the tallest peak, Muntele Mare Peak that reaches 5,991 feet (ca. 1,826 m).

This gate marks the beginning of our hike. We were so fresh and happy when we started. Back from where we started, we didn't bother to take another picture, we were so tired. It was fun doing this with friends. 

Scărița Belioara hike is not for the faint of heart. The first part of it takes you almost from the beginning up on a steep incline through forests of beech and spruce, coupled with treeless portions of steep pastures and meadows on a pretty intense ascent.

On the trail, the beginning was tough, but the backdrop was stunning.

When you think that you will die of shortness of breath, you arrive up on a plateau and the path continues upward, but it is more mellow and pleasant. At the top of it, you can admire the spectacular cliffs hanging on the side of the steep pastures into the valley below and the mountains going as far as the eye can see in the horizon.


Once we got on top of the plateau, that's when things get interesting because the view opens up to the valley and the side of the mountains. I liked this part the most. After much toil climbing to the top, the walk on the plateau was a rewarding break. We also got to have lunch at the viewing point. There, on the side of the path, we sat down on a patch lined with soft, tall grass mixed with shorter wild blueberry plants. The blueberries were not ripe yet.

We sat down for lunch with a view. 

The way back to the valley was no less challenging. Occasionally, when we go on a difficult hike, we wonder what is harder? To climb or to descend? When we climb, we say climbing is definitely harder. But then when we go down on a mountain path, it is decided, climbing was easier.

The path takes us very close to the precipice

The way down was steep at times, again we went through forests, meadows, pastures. Even if it was taxing on my legs, I was continually awed by the scenery unfolding on our way down. We saw a big cave in the side of the mountain, which we probably will explore another time. The boys were excited about the idea.

A cave in the side of the mountain. 

At some point, we found the most fragrant wild strawberries that were so good. They look pretty too.

A hiker let me take a picture of his bouquet of wild strawberries

It took us a few hours to complete this hike, it was hard but very rewarding. We were happy to be able to do it with friends, which is always fun.  

Mihai, 14

Șesul Craiului - Scărița-Belioara is a steep hike that takes you up a mountain, then on top of a plateau, and then finally back down the cliffside to the hilly country below. On this hike, you can even see a gigantic cave in the mountainside and some huts made by sheep herders long ago.

Wild flowers on the plateau

My favorite thing to do there was hiking on the cliffs. First, we used a broad path until a trail branched off the main road and went up a steep hill. The trail was so narrow, we would have missed it if there wasn't a big sign pointing the way to the trail. The first part was very hard, so I wouldn't recommend it for people with lesser reserves of stamina. Soon, we came to a bitter cherry tree, the fruits of which were delicious.

These bitter-sweet cherries were delicious. We found them at the beginning of the hike, like a much-needed treat for what was awaiting us, further on. 

Later, the trail took us through a dark forest and then out in the open again. We had to climb an almost-vertical boulder and then hike some more in the blistering heat. We entered another forest, which was a relief, and then came out again in a meadow which sloped up to yet another forest. After this forest was the great plateau.

Rough terrain

On the plateau were many signs about the different environments, animals, etc. at Scarița Belișoara. Nearby was a cliff outcrop which we dined on. The views from the plateau were astonishing, and we stayed long eating on the cliffside, until rain clouds started moving in our direction.

This is where the climb started to be less difficult

Next, we went through another forest and down a steep slope until we came to the hill country again. Two men with a Suzuki Vitara used the dirt road to get near the bottom of the cliffs, and they told us if we went straight into a meadow instead of following the road, we could see a giant cave. True enough, we saw the cavern previously mentioned, and it was at least big enough to fit a house in. Or maybe two.

The path down went through beautiful pasture

In the meadow, we also found two old huts built by sheep or cow herders, probably from one of the villages nearby. After following the path through the meadow, we came to the dirt road again, and eventually got back to the village where we started.

The roof of the hut, it is very tall and covered with moss

Some of my favorite things to do on this hike were eating on the cliff outcrop and seeing the giant cave in the cliffside.

Resting for a bit

Scarița Belioara is:

The puny hills far below the cliffs;
The sweet scent of sandwich with ham;
The ancient huts, with moss growing on the thatched roof;
The rustling of leaves in the wind as the storm came;
The massive cave gaping in the cliffside.

I would go again in the autumn to see the forests.

Paul, 11

My favorite thing to do on the trail was to descend. On the way down, me and our friend who decided to come along talked about cars and their different components. I liked this part of the trail so much because the hike up was the definition of pain.

We thanked God for forests with their shade and clouds that day. 

Occasionally, the hike down also got difficult, and I had to crab walk. At one point I thought the trek down was over, but I was wrong. I thought we had arrived at the end of the trail, but we were only halfway done. The other half consisted of us trekking through a grassy field, where I saw old houses made of wood.

On the way down

Another part that I like of this hike was the picnic on the cliff. My dad had spotted a slab of rock jutting out of the side of the trail, so we decided it was a good idea to go and have a picnic there. When we went onto it, one of the friends who invited us on this hike decided it was a good idea to stand right near the edge of the cliff and shout “echo” (he survived)!

Our picnic cliff.

I also liked the giant hole in the side of a cliff we saw when we were walking through the meadow on our way down. When we first saw this giant opening, we were shocked that it even existed.

Beautiful landscape

I would go again to the hike at Scarita Belioara to sprint up the hardest part of it.

Scarita Belioara was For Me

The majestic cave in the side of the cliff;
The rough gravel of the trail slipping from underfoot;
The back of my hiking shoe scraping my foot;
The echoing of our friend's voice as it bounced off the jutting rocks;
A beam of sunlight penetrating the thick foliage of the dense forest on the path.
In the meadow on the path up.