Domogled-Cerna National Park

Trans Euro Trail Romania

Off-Road on TET Romania

Canyons, springs, rocky peaks, and legends lost in time. An adventure motorcycle route passing through Momârlanilor Land and riding along Cerna Valley on a sinuous trail made of gravel and dirt with landscapes that take your breath away. The route is part of Trans Euro Trail (TET), crossing Europe on mostly unpaved roads, intended for dual sport/enduro motorbikes.

We arrived in the city of Vulcan late in the afternoon, so we agreed to spend the night here and embark on our off-road adventure at sunrise.

Off-road motorcycle routes Romania

Founded in 1990, Domogled-Cerna National Park is the second largest national park in Romania and the only one covering an entire river basin. 

On the way to Cerna Valley you cross cities with poor apartment block buildings in total contrast with the landscape around. 
The region of Vulcan – Jiu Paroseni – Lupeni – Uricani, is a coal exploitation area on Western Jiu Valley. Many mine workers lost their lives underground and the memorial in front of Vulcan Mine tells their story.

Vulcan Mines

Cerna-Domogled National Park

The road leading to Cerna-Domogled National Park is paved. In some areas the potholes are covered with bitumen and fixed with raveling. The fine gravel having the colour of the asphalt is in excess in some places, that could lead to uncontrolled sliding.

After by-passing Uricani the asphalt ends abruptly, and an uphill gravel road begins. The road can be difficult for the less experienced off-road motorcycle rider and easier to the experienced one. In both cases, a challenging road with ascending sections of gravel, dirt, rocks, and bumps formed by flooding and 4X4 vehicles that ventured in the area.

off-road on Trans Euro Trail Romania

On one side the road is protected by the rocky wall of the mountain and on the other one is the abyss. The twisting road leads to Cerna Springs. A wild area guarded by the rocky cliffs and the deep blue sky. If you feel the need to take a break, this is the perfect place. A picnic lunch here at Cerna Springs, near the cold, refreshing waters will give you the energy you need to continue your journey to Valea lui Iovan Lake.

off-road motorcycle tours romania

Potholes, Puddles and Mud

From Cerna Springs to Iovanu Dam the road is bumpy: with potholes, puddles, and mud. Here and there some obstacles on the road formed by falling of the trees and stones.  This section of the road requires increased attention during the bends, as the road gets narrower and will only allow one vehicle at a time.

The streams that flow from the mountains wet the dirt road, and the abundant vegetation keeps the trail in the shade, forming mud.

Mud on Trans Euro Trail Romania

Amazing Landscape

Although you have been riding along Iovanu Lake for many kilometres, the abundant vegetation withholds the wonderful view from the curious eye of the passer-by. If you want to have a look, all you need to do is park the motorcycle and walk down the forest to the base of the lake to admire the charming landscape.

Once you reach Valea lui Iovan Dam, the entry is forbidden for vehicles. The curious explorers walk on the dam only to discover an amazing panorama. Just one look at the Lake and it was all worth it.  

The artificial Iovan Lake was formed by the dam of Cerna River downstream of the confluence with Iovan River. The peaks of the Godeanu and Mehedinți Mountains guard the picturesque lake offering a magnificent view.

TET Romania - Iovan Dam

On the way to Cerna Sat hiking lovers can trek Corcoaia Canyon. Park your motorcycle, change your boots with more comfortable shoes and start walking. Here, Cerna Valley has carved the stone of Mehedinti Mountains into a spectacular corridor. With only 300 m in length, Corcoaia Gorges can be explored on foot in about 20 minutes.

Hercules and Hydra

If time allows, it is worth a visit to this amazing tunnel. Find out the legends of the place related to Iovan Iorgovan (Hercules), his fight with the Dragon Corcoaia (Hydra) and the power the mythical hero regained by bathing in the 7 springs. The statue of Hercules reminding passers-by of the legends of the place is still found in the centre of Băile Herculane. The waters in which the folklore says that Hercules himself bathed, attract travellers from all over the country eager to regain their strength.

TET Romania

The road that continues to Cerna Sat is paved, but the passage of time and landslides have left their mark on this section. Riding the cracks and potholes makes you feel like you are attending a rough vibro-massage therapy session.

You can end the day in Băile Herculane. Enjoy a hearty dinner and regain your strength with a relaxing time in the thermal waters of the area.

Other attractions:

Village Museum of Momârlani Region
In Câmpu Lui Neag you can visit The Village Museum. Under the administration of Retezat Pension – the museum it’s all about traditions and customs of the inhabitants of Jiu Valley. The elders of the place say that the term momârlan comes from momârle (statues) raised on mountain tops, for worship and guidance.


Map of Domogled-Cerna National Park

Technical details:

Motorcycle Model: dual sport/enduro. This trail was ridden on BMW G650GS (pilot), BMW F650GS (pilot + passenger) and a BMW R1200GS (pilot). It all depends on your experience in riding unpaved roads.
Access: from Uricani to Cerna Sat
Distance: from Vulcan to Baile Herculane there are about 130km, approx. 50 of them are unpaved
Road quality:  the unpaved section of the road is made of gravel, dirt bumpy road, ascending/descending loose gravel road sections, paved bumpy road but also of smooth gravel sections, easy to cross. Before you go, please check the weather forecast. Rain, even a few days prior to your journey can turn the road in a very difficult one due to the mud.
Obstacles: trees or stones
Phone access: there are sections without GSM signal
Pay attention to: vipers, deer and other dangers
Bring a flat tire repairing kit with you, just in case. After finishing the off-road section, once you reach the accommodation, you might want to clean and lubricate your chain, so pack the necessary tools with you.
Luggage: textile luggage


Subtitles on, English available.


Photo Credit: Alex Palfi

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