The mountainous region surrounding Jiu Valley offer a diversity of outdoor adventures, from its well-known skiing in the winter to rock climbing, caving/spelunking, mountain biking and hiking, paragliding, river rafting, etc.
Hiking / Backpacking
Although the valley is surrounded by other beautiful hiking and backpacking areas, the Parâng Mountains on the east end of the valley and Retezat National Park on the west end provide the most developed trail networks and beautiful scenery. The Vâlcan Mountains, which form the valley’s southern border, also offer substantial hiking and backpacking areas.
• Parâng Mountains
The Parâng Mountains offer spectacular alpine hiking opportunities to the visitor. Though smaller in area than Retezat National Park, Parâng is more accessible and boasts Romania’s third highest peak, Parangul Mare.
The best point of entry into the Parâng Mountains from Petrosani is the Parâng Telescaun (chairlift). The top of the telescaun serves as a major trailhead to the Parâng Mountains.
Another major point of entry, though slightly farther from Petrosani, is Cabana Groapa Seaca. Located 18 km outside of Petrosani, the cabana provides hikers a beautiful, and relatively non-crowded hiking experience and is also closely situated to several trail heads.
• Retezat Mountains
The Retezat Mountains also offer many opportunities for hiking and backpacking. Retezat National Park itself is one of Europe’s premier parcels of pristine forest. Created in 1935, it is the first national park in Romania and boasts glacier lakes and towering peaks. It is a must-see for visitors to the area.
There are several points of entry into the Retezat National Park from both the north and south sides. Cabana Pietrele (accessed via Ohaba de Sub Piatra) and Cabana Baleia (accessed via Pui) serve as the major northern points of entry into the park.
Cabana Baleia also serves as a point of entry into the overall Retezat mountain chain, and not strictly the park itself. The southern area is best accessed via Cabana Buta, past Câmpu Lui Neag. 4-wheel drive vehicles are highly recommended. By foot, hikers can reach Cabana Buta from Câmpu lui Neag in approximately 7-8 hours.
• Vâlcan Mountains
The Vâlcan Mountains form the southern border of the Jiu Valley. Unlike the Parang and Retezat mountains, the Vâlcans are more gently sloped and slightly more populated by small farms. The view from these mountains is no less spectacular and several trails run along their length. These mountains are accessible directly from the cities of Uricani, Lupeni, and Vulcan. From Lupeni, visitors can take a telescaun (chairlift) nearly to the top of Straja Peak.
Jiu Valley is home to several small limestone sport climbing crags. The Taia river area and Uricani both have climbs that are enjoyable and easy to access. Most routes are one pitch in length and require a set of quickdraws. Routes range in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.13 (Yosemite Decimal System.) Many of the bolts and pitons are old and should be inspected before climbing. Longer routes, some up to 6 pitches in length, can be found in Retezat National Park. Approaches for these climbs are at least 2 hours. In Small Retezat, more bolted climbs can be found a short distance from the road. There is potential for new route development as well.
The easiest option for sport climbing in Jiu Valley area is the Taia River Cliffs, located east of the town of Petrila. Take Route 66 north 2-3 km from Petrosani, follow the signs to Petrila, continue on the same street, Strada Repbulica, until it curves around to the right, take a left on the road that follows the Taia River. Continue for approximately 2 km until you reach the cliffs. Free camping also available.
An option for non-sport climbing is in Campusel, approximately 40 km west of Petrosani. Follow Route 66 until the pavement ends. Go left and cross river instead of going to Cheile Butii. Follow the dirt road for approximately 5 km. Limestone cliffs will appear on the right.
Skiing – Snowboarding
Heading south on route 66 (DN 66) in Petrosani, take a left on Closca Street and continue straight on Zorilor and gen. V. Milea. The telescaun is situated approximately 5 km up this road. The lift is open 9.00-4.00 year round. The mountain has several runs to offer. It also boasts numerous lodging options, right on the mountain.
From Route 66A (the main Jiu Valley highway) in the town of Lupeni (approx. 13 km west of Petrosani), turn south (look for sign on highway) and head toward Straja mountain until you get to the telescaun. The lift is open from 9.00-4.00, although it shuts down in the middle of the day during non-winter months. Equipment rental available.
Speleology (the study of caves) is a passion for many people in the region. With hundreds of documented caves and thousands of undocumented ones within the valley, caving is an appealing attraction for visitors to the Jiu Valley. However, visitors should not attempt to explore caves without proper equipment and precautions.
Although still in the early stages of developing as a mountain biking destination, Jiu Valley offers practically unlimited destinations for it – without the traffic. Visitors can take mountain bikes practically anywhere in the area, and on any foot trails except in Retezat National Park. However, we suggest the following destinations:
Take your bike up the lift at Telescaun Parang. From the top, ride further up the mountain along the main hiking trail, or ride down the mountain on the dirt road leading from the resort to the valley below.
Another option is to take the telescaun at the Straja resort. From there explore some of the trails leading from the top of Straja and along the Vulcan Mountain ridge, or ride your bike back down the dirt road to the city of Lupeni.
Enclosed by three major mountain areas and laced with a rivers and streams, the Jiu Valley has a lot to offer in the way of outdoor sports, and with these prices, you just cannot go wrong. Visitors can chose from a variety of sport options in the valley, from light hiking and camping, to more extreme and adventurous sporting activities like caving, rock climbing, snowboarding, mountaineering, and paragliding.
The winter season, from November to April, offers a long ski season, and the Jiu Valley, especially in Parâng, has some of the best ski slopes (with several lifts) in the country, and two of the country’s best Salvamont (Mountain Rescue) teams (Lupeni and Petrosani). The summer months offer endless opportunities for hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, fishing, caving, etc.
The valley is also surrounded by some of Eastern Europe’s most beautiful countryside and various points of cultural and historical interest.