The Cindrel Mountains cover 9873 ha bordered to the south-east by the Sadu Valley and to the south-west by the Frumoasa Valley which continues to the west with the Sebeș Valley. The north-east is the only part where the mountain peaks descend to form the hilly depressions of Sibiu, Săliște and Apold, successively scattered under the “porches” of the villages from Mărginimea Sibiului between Jina and Rîu Sadului. This space is dominated by hard crystalline schist rocks and by a rough terrain crossed by valleys with very steep slopes which form, for instance between Șugag and Tău Bistrei, a spectacular gorge.
Cindrel is “one of the most important pastoral regions” of the Romanian Carpathians - this is easily proven by the dense system of paths - many with tourist markings going back well over a hundred years and by the hundreds of seasonal homesteads of the people from Mărginime who own the pastures and forests going all the way up to over 1750-1800 m of altitude. The sources of the countless valleys start from the suspended glacial cirques. Three such glacial calderas (of all 12, some of them barely outlined) are Iezeru Mare, Iezeru Mic and Gropata on the northern side of the mountain. The 609 ha surface surrounding the two ponds forms the complex homonymous reserve. Cindrel Mountains together with part of the Șureanu and Lotru Mountains form the Natura 2000 site "Frumoasa" with a total surface of 137,000 ha.
The oldest and highest of the country’s mountain resorts, Păltiniș, at 1450 m of altitude, lies 4-5 walking hours of the highest peak (Cindrel, 2244 m) which gives its name to the entire mountain. This is the starting point for the marked tourist trails adjacent to the main peak marking (red line) between the town of Cisnădie and Oașa Chalet from the banks of the homonymous lake laying in the Frumoasa Valley. The resort has skiing trails equipped with cable chair, numerous cabins, guesthouses, hotels and various recreational facilities. A modernised road which is permanently open links the resort to the municipality of Sibiu and a non-modernized county road (DJ106N) will get you via the Șteflești Saddle (1725 m) to Tărtărău and on the most spectacular alpine road, the Transalpina.
The large pastures, the rich forests and the springs from Cindrel have led to the appearance of countless sheepfolds. Thus, a hike to the Cindrel is an opportunity to discover a fascinating landscape but also a good opportunity to get to know the locals’ well preserved, ancestral way of life.
The vegetation of the Cindrel Mountains is rich, with vast forests of beech, birch and various coniferous. High up we encounter shrubs of small juniper trees, mountain alder, blueberries, cranberries, Rhododendron kotschyi while the bare slopes are covered with raspberries and blueberries.
In summer, multi-coloured carpets of spring crocuses, Iris ruthenica, hallers primels, large pinks, great yellow gentians, whorled louseworts or red vanilla orchids cover the slopes of the Cindrel.
The Cindrel Mountains are well-known for the variety of their fauna; the wild boar and the deer populate beech forests together with carnivores: wolves, wild cats and lynxes. The slopes belong to the brown bear and the Carpathian stag. The upper sections of the rapid streams roam with trout while downstream we will find the grayling followed lower by the European chub.
Protected natural areas
"Cindrel Natural Park" Nature Reserve
It comprises glacial calderas, the most important being Iezerul Mare, Iezerul Mic, Gropata. The vegetation is represented by juniper and blueberry shrubs and by the Rhododendron kotschyi.
"Iezerele Cindrelului" Nature Reserve
On the northern slope of the Frumoasa Plateau, near the Cindrel Summit (2244 m) lies a mixed reserve with two glacial valleys with the glacial lakes of Iezerul Mic (1946 m of altitude, 1.7 m deep) and Iezerul Mare (199 m of altitude and 13.30 m deep).
There are countless legends about these two lakes. Since the old days people used to say that the actual depth of the lake is unknown and that deep down lives a monster. It’s not for nothing that the area between the Cindrel Summit, Frumoasa and the two lakes is called The Devil’s Plateau. Moreover, if your steps take you to Iezerul Mare, do not throw stones in the lake. Local shepherds are saying that you will upset the depths monster and the mountain will be covered in storm.
Masa Jidovului, La Grumaji, Pintenii din Coasta Jinei
The three monuments of nature are close to Jina. They are made up of crystalline schists and distinguished due to their shape, size and location.
The Cretaceous limestone from Cisnădioara
… or the Frog Rock as locals call it. The formation is made up of rosy limestone shaped as a reef where organic remains of oysters, hippurites, melon sea urchins and starfish accumulated under the neo-cretaceous sea.
The 500 years old fir tree
On the road between the La Pisc spot from Gura Râului and the Crăciuneasa Chalet lays one of the oldest fir trees in the country. A lot has this fir tree witnessed in its over 500 years of life; legends have it that it is a miracle from God. In 2010 the fir tree was nominated to the national competition for “The Tree of the Year”; it is 40 m high and 8 m wide.
Photography lovers may choose among several viewpoints in the Cindrel Mountains: Godea Glade, Găujoara Glade, Bătrâna Saddle, Rudarilor Summit, Onceşti Summit, Cindrel Summit, Măgura Summit, Foltea Summit, Niculeşti Summit.
Trails in the Cindrel Mountains
The hiking trails and biking routes from the Cindrel Mountains are of moderate difficulty and accessible to all types of hikers, all year long. Access is possible from Mărginimea Sibiului and Păltiniş.
If the trails from Cindrel are excellent for short hikes, amateurs of longer, more demanding hikes will find trails to their taste in the Făgăraş Mountains.
For further details about the Frumoasa Site of Community Importance, part of the Natura 2000 European ecological network please go to the administration’s website.
There are three Tourist Information Centres in the area open all year long (at Sălişte, Cisnădie and Răşinari) and two mountain rescue stations (at Păltiniş and Cisnădie).