Piatra Mare and Seven Ladders Canyon.
The Seven Ladders Canyon is one of the accessible hikes in Brasov, Romania. Carved by the Șapte Scări Brook in the Piatra Mare mountains, it lies south of the Timișu village in the county of Brasov and is one of the most popular tourist attraction in the Piatra Mare Massif. There are seven waterfalls within the canyon, the tallest being 35 meters (115 ft.) high. Each waterfall has a ladder leading up to the next one, hence the moniker.
The Seven Ladders Canyon
I did this hike with two hostel mates, Ryan and Kevin, we took 4 hours one way to the peak and 2-3 hours back. The receptionist at our hostel said it couldn’t be done in 5 hours, but if you’re determined you can. It’s reasonable to say that’s it’s a moderate hike and I even did with regular tennis shoes. The trail can be muddy and slippery so don’t do what I did. Wear proper hiking boots or shoes!
There’s a fair amount of warning posted all over the place but it’s all in Romanian and I couldn’t understand any of it. I think it’s there to make it seem more dangerous than it is. The trail is family and kids friendly so getting stuck behind a swarm of students on the way up the mountain is very common. In better weather, there’s zip lining available for 50 RON so you can hike up to near the peak and then zip line your way back down the mountain dodging pine trees on the way down.
The canyon is cut from limestone with cascading waterfalls snaking its way down into the valley. The waterfalls aren’t impressive, but the gorge is gorgeous (pun intended) and is unique enough to more than make up for it. There’s a 10 RON entrance fee for the trail and it takes about an hour of complete the canyon section of the hike.
The ladders are slippery because it’s wet from the waterfalls; however, the hand rails are solid. You shouldn’t have any problems climbing up and completing the canyon portion. Some people end the hike at the end of the canyon but the best views are at the top of the peak past the chalet of Piatra Mare.
An easy trail
The trail beyond the canyon towards the Piatra Mare chalet is steep but nothing crazy like the trails I’ve done in the Eastern Sierras, California. The trail meanders through a thick forest that levels down to a meadow where the chalet stands. From there you can continue up to higher peak for another 45 minutes. The average altitude is at a modest 980 meters, not high, nor impressive, but the vistas are stunning.
I recommend this hike if you’re ever in Brasov. Skip, Bran, vampires don’t exist but stunning and spectacular views of the Carpathian mountains does! Once you’re done marveling at the vistas you can take a break at the chalet and have a snack or play with the donkeys there.
From there you can make your way back down the same route you took back to the canyons or choose a different route. Both lead to the same spot. Going the other way is easier as the trail has no carved canyons, it’s just an old fire road that’s muddy and wet.
The Seven Ladders Canyon trail system is beautifully designed. Yellow markings take you up higher to the mountains and following the red markings take you back down. Every few steps there are markings making it impossible to get lost.
Getting to the trailhead is easy. Located 17 kilometers south of Brasov in a village called Timisul. A taxi is the most convenient and fastest way to get there. We paid 20 RON (5 dollars) one way. You could take a bus but I found the bus system in Romania very confusing, but YMMV. You can also drive but I don’t recommend it. Romanians are insane drivers.
Getting back to Brasov, you can either take a bus or hitchhike your way back. We met a nice couple at the chalet and they were kind enough to give us a lift back to Brasov. If this isn’t an option, there’s a little snack back at the trail head and the lady there speaks English. You can ask her to hail a taxi for you or you can ask for the bus schedule. Either way, it’s easy to get back.
TREK THE SEVEN LADDERS CANYON TO PIATRA MARE MOUNTAIN
- The canyon is about 2.5 hours from Bucharest by car.
- It’s 15 minutes from Brasov by Taxi.
- Entrance fee is 10 RON.
- Graded easy to moderate.
- There are two ways back down the mountain. Go the same way or the other longer route that’s more moderate. Look for signs on the way back down.
A DAY IN BREAKDOWN:
- Taxi from Brasov to the Trailhead – $2 (per person, $6 split 3 ways)
- Entrance fee to the park – $2.5
- Breakfast at hostel – free (included)
- Packed lunch – $2
- Cooked own dinner at the hostel – $1.50
- Hostel stay – $14
- 1.5 liter beer after hike – $2
- TOTAL: $24