One of my favorite spots in Transylvania, the Turda Gorge features multiple hiking trails along the ridges and inside the canyon, as well as longer routes to nearby villages and additional excursions.
Type of Hike: Trail
Time: 2 hours across the North Ridge/40 minutes through the canyon
Distance: 4.5 kilometers round-trip
Number of Wrong Turns: 1
Finding the Trailhead
The main trail through the center of Cheile Turda is well-marked, but the north trail is a bit hidden. Head up the main road past the main entrance and you should see a gate about 100 meters up the road. It was closed when I went, but the caretaker with the threatening dog waved me through. Once in the forest, you’ll see markers for the trail (the red circle with white outline).
Once on the trail, it’s well-marked and only took about 25 minutes of scrambling straight up a muddy path to reach the ridge. This part can be a bit slick, but you’re immediately rewarded with a beautiful valley of that you just left.
From here it’s an easy stroll across the grassy knoll of the ridge with views in all directions. The only issue I had up here was a pack of half-wild/half-tame sheepdogs that considered me a threat and boxed me in at the edge of a cliff. I was also able to spend some time studying the southern ridge, which looks amazing, but I’m not going to have time to do both today.
Most of the dogs left except the largest one. I never buy Pringles, but had spontaneously bought a small can this morning, and promptly forgot about it. It took the whole can, but I was eventually to bribe my way back onto the path and past the dogs.
The end of the ridge heads down this grassy hillside and to the other entrance of Turda Gorge. On a nice days, there’s a cozy field down here and a small campground (usually open with some beers), but in November, it’s pretty quiet and I headed straight into the canyon.
Where to Stay
Cluj is an ideal base for daytripping out to Turda Gorge. This year, I actually stayed right in downtown Turda. It’s a sleepy city, but restaurants and lodging were up to 25% than staying in Cluj. For $30 USD a night, I had a modern 2-bedroom apartment with a kitchen right overlooking the main pedestrian throughfare of the city.
Five years ago, I wrote “There are two other routes that take a few hours apiece along the top of each ridge. I may have to come back someday…” Looks like I still have that south ridge left to conquer. See you next year.