Cozluk Circuit, Măcin Mountains

Greci – Pășunea Crucele (80 m) – Valea Cozluk – Valea Radului – Baia de Arama – Pietrele Lacului – Vârful Conaciu (340 m) – Valea Plopilor – Pietrele Mariei – Greci

How do we get there?

For a whole life I have not reached the Măcin Mountains, although I had them on the list, and in 2019 – 2021 I went on 3 different tours in the Măcin Mountains: Țuțuiatu and Ghiunalțu, Culmea Pricopanului, where I made a terrible thirst and now in April 2021, and now on The Cozluk Route or Circuit.

I chose this destination because there is still snow in all the other mountains, and I don’t have specific equipment, even though I’ve been going to the mountains in winter for a long time, on permitted routes.

The route starts from the village Greci, Tulcea county. For those coming from or from Bucharest, a good tip, contrary to waze this time, is to approach the route Bucharest – A2 – Cernavoda – DJ 223 – Saraiu – DN 22A – Topolog – DJ 222B – Cerna – DN 22D – DJ 222K – Greci. What is gained on the highway is not lost on the DJs in the TL county, under regular traffic conditions, and the waze calculates the speed of the DJs and does not consider crossing the Danube by ferry on the other option correct. The DJs are in good condition. Another option is crossing the Danube on the bridge from Giurgeni – Vadu Oii.

Arriving in Greci, enter the beautiful lighted street of the locality until the roundabout, where you can find the Angelo Cake Shop (recommend!), then continue a little further over a bridge, then right next to the tourist information center (from what I read, highly praised and documented) and even before here on dirt road, in the field, practicable with any type of car when it is dry.

About the Măcin Mountains

The Măcin Mountains are the oldest mountains in Romania. Eroded by the winds that blow in Dobrogea, many wonder if it is not a joke to consider them as mountains when they barely reach a maximum altitude of 467 m in Tutuiatu Peak (or Greci, as I learned at school). Because of their height, winter leaves earlier in the Macin Mountains. And yes, they are mountains, they have all the characteristics of mountains, I have also heard the expression “Făgăraşii Dobrogei” attributed to the Măcin Mountains.

The Macin Mountains are located in the northwest (NW) of Tulcea County (TL). Their limits are given by Ostrovul Brailei (V), their western extremity being the most rocky and spectacular, the Tulcei Hills, the Babadagului Plateau, the Niculitel Hills. Their orientation is NW – SE. The Macin Mountains are mainly made of granite, like the Retezat Mountains for example. The flora and fauna are specific to the steppe. The forests, where there are, are deciduous: gorun, linden, ash, oak. Among the plants we find the peony, bluebells, carnations, cypress. The animals include the wild boar, the wild cat, the turtle, the newt, and snakes. Thanks to the special ecosystem in Dobrogea, several endemics and protected species have developed here, including several species of amphibians, reptiles and butterflies.

Route Map

(click on objectives for extended version)

Technical Box

Difficulty: easy

Duration / distance: 4 hours / 13 km

Marking: red dot

Water sources: Cozluk Spring

Minimum altitude: 80 masl, starting / finishing point

Maximum altitude: 340 meters above sea level

Difference in level: +270 m / -270 m

Remarks: accessible all year round

1. The starting point and the parking place

You can set “Mary’s stones (Pietrele Mariei)” on waze and stop next to them at the edge of the forest, after you pass a big lonely tree. You can park at the point marked on the map with start / finish or at point number 2 on the map. If you start from point 2, you shorten the hike by 3 km of flat walking on a dirt road, often through heat. I will describe the circuit route starting from the point marked on the map with the start.

parking at the edge of the forest

the lonely oak

2. Forest edge (camping, point 1 on the map) – loop branch (point 2 on the map)

Duration 30 minutes

We start from the start in a loop format route. The marking to follow is a red dot, with the mention that in the area at the base of the mountain, it is found sporadically. In the first part, as the road remains low, it passes through a forest where there is also a stable and a camping site, then the route follows the edge of a young forest. This segment can also be traveled by car up to the point marked on the map with 2.

The Muntii Nostri application helped me to identify from the first where I have to leave the dirt road under the mountain and take it to the left, on an uphill valley, on the Cozluk Valley. At the bifurcation where we turn left, there are some arrows on painted stones next to the red dot marking, so normally you should not miss this point.

sheepfold

loop branching

3. Loop branch (pt. 2) – Cozluk Spring

Duration 30 minutes

The route measures 16 km from Greci, 13 km from pt 1 and 10 km from pt 2.

Greci – Pășunea Crucele – Valea Cozluk (pe care intram) – Valea Radului – Baia de Aramă – Pietrele Lacului – Vârful Conaciu – Valea Plopilor – Pietrele Mariei – Greci

This is the description we were going to find on an information board a little higher. Here you can also pay the natural park fee in the amount of 6 lei, if you meet the ranger.

We continue on the Cozluk Valley, so we have water. Don’t rush to stock up yet, we’ll get to the source. On the right we leave a mountain that we will circle on our tour. The road is wide, the climb is smooth, we take pictures of forget-me-not flowers, lindens and other plants, some of which seem unique. The road passes through the forest, which is thinning. A wide clearing and a canton appear, both abandoned (the old Cozluk Canton). And to the left of the path is the Cozluk Spring.

Cooling, hydration and cold water supply point. On the second tour of this route, In May 2023, I found the landscaped spring dry and fed it with water from the stream that flows past the stone landscape.

loop branching

Măcin Mountains

spring flowers

anthills

mistletoe in the trees

mountain flowers

Cozluk Spring

4. Cozluk Spring – the peak with peonies

Duration 30 minutes

After the short stop, we follow to the right our marking that passes behind the canton and identify good tent sites in the clearing near the canton. We also take pictures of cockroaches or insects like the gentleman’s mother and climb through the forest. Small flowers like some purple bunches or a kind of spotted white bells delight the zooms of phones. There are many branches of mistletoe in the crowns of the trees, and willow on the trunks of the trees. We go out to the top, above the forest.

Here is alpine pasture, the land is straight and opens a perspective towards the neighboring mountains hidden until now. We look at the wheel and imagine where our route will go. In this part of the hill we met the famous peonies, which were in full bloom, which means that they will be in bloom around May 1st. It is perhaps the most suitable period for this route, because this route is also known for the visual spectacle of the peonies. The second time I passed by this place was in May and I was delighted to see many red peonies in bloom.

Cozluk Spring

Cozluk Canton

campsite near Cozluk Canton

beetle

life

Măcin Mountains

mountain flowers

peony still unopened

blooming peonies

5. Peak with peonies – La Părlitură

Duration 45 minutes

On my second experience on this route, in the middle of May, I saw many peonies in bloom, but also some still unopened, on this sector of the route. This is where the natural spectacle of peonies from the Măcin Mountains takes place. There are many clumps of peonies, some in the path, some outside.

Stop! Belvedere! At a certain point, a wide frame opens to the left where we recognize the town of Greci (I climbed something!) and in the distance the bend of the Danube before it joins the Borcea arm before Braila. Superb spring here when on other roads everything is white! Not that the snowy mountains wouldn’t look magnificent! I photographed ferns, dandelions and a bird’s nest built in a dwarf orchard.

In the more deforested sectors or with less defined paths, you must carefully follow the markings, which exist, but they must not steal our landscape. Another forest welcomes us to the trill of birds.

peony still unopened

view from the hill to the Danube

blooming peonies

blooming peonies

6. La PârliturăValea Radului – Baia de Aramă – Vârful Conaciu

Duration 45 minutes

The path continues to descend, but not much, until Valea Radului, at the point called “La Pârlitură”. We follow a piece of road downstream of Valea Radului. And here we have to be careful where we separate from this valley, next to a rock, in order to climb for a few more minutes on the other side. We go around a peak through the forest intoxicated by the chirping of birds.

We arrive at a lake, rather a pond in the middle of the forest. It is called Baia de Arama. On the shore of the pond, the storks prepared a copious meal based on frogs, placing their remains on a tree trunk. The route is well marked and easy. We are on Vârful Conaciu, which is wooded, in fact we are a little to the east of the peak itself, at an altitude of 327 m.

Radului Valley

to the left of these rocks we have the last climb

Baia de Aramă (Copper Bath)

storks menu

7. Vârful Conaciu – Pietrele Mariei (Mary’s Stones)

Duration 1.5 hours to the finish point or 1 hour to point 2 on the map.

The road is winding down, looks like a forest road cut for what purpose through the forest? We realize that we are losing altitude easily. The forest road is deep and is sloped by high banks. At one point I found a huge crown of mistletoe fallen at the root of a tree. I cut a piece of it to bring to Bucharest.

We took a long lunch break, before leaving the forest, at the foot of the mountain. After leaving the forest, the landscape changes radically, we have only plowed fields and fields of grain in front of us. If we left the car at point 2, we must follow the right at the first branch, past the woods. If we follow the route ahead, which is no longer marked here, we head towards Pietrele Mariei and point 1. To the right, until we reached the car, we admired the rocky steepness of the Macin Mountains up to near the Ghiunalțu and Țuțuiatu Peaks (the latter cannot be seen from here), which rises right next to the town which is already visible in the distance. On the left, this time we were admiring Pietrele Mariei, a series of rocks rising out of the grass. Right next to them, our road turns right to reach the edge where we parked the car, among the trees of which we can see the barn once more.

sloped forest road

mistletoe

we come out of the forest

cornfields at the foot of the mountains

Măcin Mountains

Pietrele Mariei (Mary's Stones)

Pietrele Mariei (Mary's Stones)

Pietrele Mariei (Mary's Stones)

Conclusion

The Cozluk circuit is an easy route that takes about 4 hours. You can add breaks to the peonies and the exit from the forest.

Among the great satisfactions of the first hike was that I was accompanied by my father (at the age of 77, admiration and respect for his longevity on mountain paths) and my brother, sharing beautiful and unforgettable family stories. During the April tour, I met many cyclists, but also mountain runners. In the second shift, I was in a large group of acquaintances with children, including my daughter, Denisa (11). On the May tour we met several hundred hikers, come to enjoy thousands of blooming peonies.

I recommend hiking on the Cozluk trail at any time of the year, obviously May is the most suitable month. Have water with you, desire to see and listen to nature and life in the forest and good cheer.

All the best!

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