01 September 2013

My Favorite Trail Running Route around Brasov

I present here my favorite trail running route through the forests and on the mountains around my home city Brasov. It is a long loop, from Brasov (600m) until the summit of Postavaru Mountain (1799m) and back. The route measures about 32km in length and has a total of 1700m elevation gain. It reaches the two beloved peaks of Brasov: Postavaru Peak (1799m) and then, towards the end, Tampa Peak (960m) which towers above the old city.

For me, this is a good training route for a trail marathon. Here is the GPS track that I recorded last year when I did the final long run training before the demanding Piatra Craiului Marathon - my first ever full marathon race.

Below is a brief description of the route. The photos that illustrate the route are taken on various occasions.

The route starts in the historical part of Brasov, in Piata Unirii (Unirii Square), the center of Schei District. Brasov Intersport Half-marathon also starts/finishes here. The route starts with an rather steep uphill on Coasta Vacii - that would translate as Cow's Ridge.
Piata Unirii, Brasov
The uphill slope on Coasta Vacii is quite steep, but runnable and offers great views over Schei District, Brasov City and of course, Tampa Mountain where the route will get later, towards the end.
View from Coasta Vacii.
After a little more than one kilometer and around 200m of elevation gain, we reach the Belvedere car parks on the car road to Poiana Brasov ski resort.
View of Brasov from Belvedere car parks
The route continues along the road, then, crosses the road and goes up until Coltii Corbului peak. The hills here are covered by a thick wood, but it is possible to catch glimpses of the Barsei depression and the mountains around.

Piatra Craiului seen through tree branches from Coltii Corbului
After a descent the route crosses the car road again and after a short while it gets out of the forest on some beautiful meadows. We are rewarded here with great views towards Postavaru and Bucegi mountains. We are approaching Poiana Brasov ski resort.
View of Bucegi Mountains
The route goes again along the car road for a few hundred meters. Then from the bus-stop in Poiana Mica we continue along Drumul Vechi (The old Poiana Road) until we reach Poiana Brasov (1030m), the ski resort at the foot of Postavaru Mountain.
On Drumul Vechi
It is a good idea to replenish the water supply in Poiana, before going up on Postavaru. The route starts the climb to Postavaru on Bradu ski slope (the nursery slope). Then there are more options to get to the top of the mountain. The longer and easier route follows Drumul Rosu, the main dirt road up the mountain, which becomes a popular ski slope during the winter season. A steeper and nicer route is the trail that climbs through the forest, parallel to Sulinar ski slope.

Half way up on Postavaru mountain
Half way up from Poiana to Postavaru Mountain we reach Ruia plateau at about 1500m.  On the plateau there is a new reservoir built last year. It stores water for making artificial snow.

Ruia Reservoir
300 meters higher we reach the top of the mountain. The of Postavaru mountain is surrounded by steep cliffs and offers the beautiful panoramic views.

Postavrul Ridge seen from the top
View from Postavarul top towards the ski slopes
View to the north
View to the south-east towards Piatra Mare Mountain. In the distance Ciucas Mountain.
Panoramic view of the mighty Bucegi mountains, towards south-west
View towards west, to Poatra Craiului Mountains. In the distance Fagarasi mountains
From the top we descend back to Ruia Plateau. From here we head east on Crucur ridge. It is a very nice wide trail through thick forest, marked with blue stripe signs.
The trail on Crucur ridge
At some point the trail turns to the north leaving the ridge. The trail gets eventually steeper, descending through the forest, until it joins a trail that comes from Poiana Brasov.  For the next few kilometers, from here until after Poiana Stechil the trail keeps more or less a constant altitude of 1000m.

The constant elevation trail to Poiana Stechil
Then the trail slowly descents to Saua Tampei (Tampa's Saddle) at about 800m where it gets out of the forest. 

Between Poiana Stechil and Tampa
Between Poiana Stechil and Tampa
From the saddle to the top of Tampa the route goes up across a wild meadow. Halfway it passes by the ruins of the old Brasovia fortress.
The ruins of old Brasovia
On Tampa Top
The top of Tampa offers great views to the city below and the mountains around. From here, the route follows the serpentine's trail that slowly descents towards the old city, passing several times under the cable of the cable car.

The old City of Brasov seen from Tampa top
Brasov
Schei District seen from Tampa