Sunset Mountains, Transylvania
Best Motorcycle Roads
A steep incline on a tight, winding road leading you to Petreasa Peak offers you 9 km of fascinating views that paint the perfect image of Sunset Mountain hamlets. The road has been symbolically named Iovan’s Road in the memory of the aviator Adrian Iovan and the flight tragedy that occurred here in 2014.
If you have not ridden Transursoaia Road yet, you now have one more reason to come here. The magnificent surroundings will make it worth your while.
Petreasa Peak has become infamous due to the crash of BN-2A-27 Islander utility aircraft flown by Adrian Iovan. The plane was on a humanitarian mission. In the memory of the victims of the tragedy, the community has made efforts to pave the route taken by the rescuers.
Although most of the people that visit the area come here to see the cross and the gazebo built in the memory of the aviator Adrian Iovan and med student Aura Ion, they get more than expected. The enchanting views offered by Sunset Mountains from the elevation of 1600 m captivate and the peaceful life of the moţi (inhabitants of the area) relaxes.
Iovan’s Road was paved in 2019 and links the village of Horea with Petreasa Peak crossing the hamlets of Budești, Giurgiuț and Zânzești. The fact that up until now the access in this area was hard on a gravel/dirt road with puddles and mud has preserved the authenticity of the place.
The road, one lane wide, climbs up on a section of tight bends with no visibility and takes you up to 1600m in altitude on the ridge of Gilau Mountains. Riding on Iovan’s Road you get the feeling that it is not a motorcycle you ride, but a time machine. Front, left, right and reflected in the rear-view mirrors, bucolic images accompany you the entire 9 km.
The mountains tops stand tall and mysterious on a azure sky, as if were painted by a skilled artist.
Wooden fences carefully surround the pastures of green grass on which the animals of the household graze peacefully. The air smells of wood and dry hay. Everything paints the idyllic image of village life. Once at Petreasa Peak, the asphalt ends suddenly. The road was paved in Alba County up to the border with Cluj County. The route continues for about 1 km through a pine forest on a dirt road that takes you to the site of the 2014 plane crash.
At the scene of the aviation accident, the residents placed a cross and a gazebo in the memory of the victims. Here is the place where those interested in laying a wreath, saying a prayer, or just seeing the place of the tragedy gather. Dark tourism attracts. On the way to the Memorial, you hear passers-by who consider that the area would have drawn more visitors if the wreckage of the plane had remained on the spot.
The balmoș (traditional polenta with cheese on grill) and the slab pies, the wooden craftsmen and the folk show – attract tourists every year on Petreasa Peak. Carpenters, sculptors, or house builders gather here to display their craftsmanship. The Woodworkers’ Fair has been held here every year since 1995. The event promotes the traditions of the area in wood processing and the crafts from Sunset Mountains.
The stunning views lure you. Unleash your imagination. Let Loose. Stop time for a few seconds and admire the nature. Capture it.
On the way back to Horea, you go down the same paved road. The route is narrow and there are rare areas where two vehicles fit next to each other. To provide visibility in the most dangerous corners, road mirrors have been installed. Give priority to those who climb.
Before reaching the village of Horea, make another stop. Gâf’s Hill has attracted lovers from the area for years, and the village mouth says that many of the commune’s inhabitants were conceived on this hill.
If you climb Gâf’s Hill on foot, you will surely gasp by the time you arrive (a gâfâi – to breath heavily). Some say – hence the name of the place.
The most popular explanation, however, is that the name Gâf comes from the panting of those who secretly love each other up the hill. Nowadays Gâf’s Hill hosts sensual artworks carved in stone.
The theme of the carvings is Eros – the Greek God of love, and the artists were invited to use love as muse for their work. Visit the theme park dedicated to love on Gâf’s Hill. Take a break and cool off by drinking the crystal-clear water. The cold-water flows through a piece of wood, carved using the same theme – Eros.
If we would create another tradition in the spirit of the place, we could say that the women who drink from the spring on Gâf’s Hill will soon be bearing children. Keep to yourself the reason you will gasp while visiting Gâf‘s Hill. And if you get pregnant soon after climbing the hill, it is definitely not just from the water.
Once back in Horea, you can ride Transursoaia Road down to the city of Huedin or continue the visit in Sunset Mountains with Ordâncușii Canyon, Călineasa Peak and Scărișoara Ice Cave.
Distance: about 9 km
Road quality: paved up to Petreasa Peak. The road is the width of a traffic lane with steep climbs and tight turns.
Access: as you enter the village of Horea from Albac, Iovan’s Road opens to the right.
Follow the sign to Dâmbul lui Gâf or Drumul lui Iovan. The road is well indicated and marked.
Motorcycle model: all motorcycle models can travel this route
Experience in riding tight turns uphill or downhill required
Explore and discover Sunset Mountains
Photo Credit: Alex Palfi