Cozia National Park is a hiker’s dream destination and one of the most breathtaking protected areas in Romania. The almost endless nature panoramas and the rich cultural heritage from its foothills transform this national park into one of best hiking locations in the Carpathian Mountains.
Situated along the valley of one of the longest rivers in Romania, Olt, the area of Cozia National Park extends on over 17,000 hectares and includes Cozia Mountain and partially Capatanii and Lotrului Mountains. With a maximum altitude of 1,668 meters reached in the highest part of the massif Cozia, these mountains are not nearly as tall as the nearby Fagaras. But, their abrupt slopes make hiking here an unexpectedly intense experience that can prove to be difficult during snowy winters.
The variety of landscapes and habitats from Cozia National Park can only mean a rich biodiversity of both plant and animals species, including the iconic large carnivores, the chamois, the deer, the wildcat, many rodents, and even a rare viper species. One fish species – nisiparita – is endemic to this protected area.
Over 120 bird species live in this national park, located on the migratory route between Central Europe and the Aegean Sea, and its territory is covered almost completely by dense forests of beech, spruce and oak. What’s particular to the area is the high number of mushroom species, over 400 discovered until now, along with almost 200 species of moss and six endemic flower species.
Nine hiking trails cross the national park. Some are short and easy, but some are intense and require good hiking boots and physical training. Choosing one depends on your time, season and what you’d like to see along the way.
The most scenic ones start from the 18th-century monastery of Turnu, located very close to the national road that goes to Sibiu. You can either follow for about five hours the red line trail until you reach the mountain chalet Cozia or you can choose the blue line trail that intersects the red line.
The blue line will take you to the same destination, stopping also at the 17th-century Monastery of Stanisoara. Both trails are abrupt with amazing panoramic views. You can depart from Turnu on the red line switching to the blue line until the chalet and returning to Turnu on the blue line.
This national park offers even more than memorable hikes. Ancient ruins from the time of the Roman conquest, almost 2,000 years ago, are found here. The castrum of Arutela, very close to the monasteries Turnu and Cozia, and the castrum of Pretorium are among the few traces of the Roman fortifications built in the area.
Still, the most famous cultural attractions are the old Orthodox churches and monasteries: Cozia, built during the 14th-century reign of Prince Mircea the Old, buried here, Frasinei and Cornet Churches.
This atypical combination of medieval churches, ancient ruins and intense hiking trails create a unique imagery and experience that make Cozia National Park a hiker’s dream destination, one of the best in the Carpathians.
Carry enough water with you, and wear only hiking boots. The slopes are very steep.
There are limited accommodation options on the mountain, book your room in time.
Read more about this national park on www.cozia.ro