Seven Ladders (Stairs) Canyon in Brasov, Romania
The Seven Ladders Canyon (called “Canionul Șapte Scări” in Romanian), is nestled just south of the village of Timișu de Jos outside of Brasov. The canyon is in the Piatra Mare Mountains, a section of the Romanian Carpathians. The area is known for its hiking, and there are numerous easy (or more difficult) hikes you can undertake while you’re in the Brasov region.
The short trek to the Seven Ladders Canyon, based on my experience, is a popular place for locals to head on the weekend and spend a day in nature, hiking around and having a picnic. The walking paths were traversed by young and old, so it’s not a particularly difficult area to hike. As you’ll see later, the ladders themselves can be a little tricky, though.
How to Get from Brasov to Seven Ladders Canyon
If you’re going by car, just put Canionul Șapte Scări into Google maps and drive there. There’s lots of parking on the side of the road.
It’s quite easy and inexpensive to get there by bus. The bus tickets can be purchased from the booths/kiosks right by most major stations, including Livada Postei (the station closest to old town) and Gara Brasov, the bus station right outside the train station.
How bus tickets work: You purchase a ticket for 4 lei ($1.03), which is good for 2 rides. Once on the bus, you must validate the ticket in the machine. It will stamp your ticket with the time, and you’ll be valid for the next 50 minutes (you can transfer as you please for this time). Do NOT stamp your ticket again when you transfer – I did, leaving me with 4 stamps on my way home for the day and leading to a heated exchange between two fare enforcement officers as to whether I should be fined. Thankfully, the English-speaking woman had her way and I wasn’t fined (I believe the fine is 50 lei – $12.89), for which I was very grateful. So just validate at the beginning, and not again until your ride back (on the other end of the ticket).
Step 1: If you’re staying in the old town area, you need to walk to Livada Postei to catch your first bus. It was about a 10 minute walk from where I was staying. (10 minutes)
Step 2: Take a bus from Livada Postei to Gara Brasov, the bus station right in front of the train station. Bus 4 and 17 will both accomplish this for you. They leave about every 20 minutes on the weekends and every 10 minutes during the weekdays, so account for a little waiting time once you get there. The ride itself is 15 minutes. (15 minutes)
If you’ve got a few minutes, there is a fast food restaurant there (which I tend to avoid), as well as a couple kiosks: one for to-go coffee and another that had sandwiches. I bought a sandwich to take with me for later, so if you’re as ill-prepared as I am that’s not a bad move. I didn’t see people eating/drinking on the buses, so I suspect it’s prohibited, so probably don’t get a coffee. There’s also a convenience store with some baked good items and water inside the train station. If you don’t have water, this is a good place to buy it. They do sell water at the trailhead and there’s a small shop in a hotel at the start of the hotel, too.
Step 3: Take bus 17B from Gara Brasov. “B” is denoted with a line through it, so look for the bus with the “17” with a line through it. It’s about a 25-minute ride, and just about everybody got off at Dambul Morii (the locals too) – which is where you’ll get off. It’s the small village where everyone is headed. The buses display the “next stop” in Romanian on the screen towards the front of the bus, so you can always watch that for “Dambul Morii” if you’re off the grid. (25 minutes)
Step 4: Exit the bus, backtrack 100-150 meters and take a right into the village of Timisu de Jos. From here, it’s very easy. Just stay on the main road, and you’ll see a sign where you veer right to head towards Canionul Șapte Scări (Seven Ladders Canyon). It’s pretty impossible to get lost. Google Maps says 4km to the trailhead, or a walk of just over an hour, which sounds about right.
The first 20 minutes or so aren’t terribly exciting, and the walk is fairly open and lined with locals having their picnics or just hanging out. Then, you enter the forest and have a peaceful walk along the brook for about 40 minutes before reaching the trailhead. I went on a pretty nice day, but the trail definitely looks prone to flooding. So, avoid rainy days if possible, and if it rained the previous night, come prepared with good boots.
There’s a resting/picnic area around the office/trailhead. It’s 10 lei ($2.58) for adults, 5 lei ($1.29) for children to enter. They also sell drinks and snacks, like chips/crisps and candy bars. You can also pay 50 lei ($12.89) to zip-line down.
The Seven Ladders Canyon (Canionul Sapte Scari)
The hike to and back from the canyon is quite easy. It’s uphill, there are rocks and roots you need to navigate, as well as some mud, but overall it isn’t terribly difficult. There were quite a few young children and older people doing the trail. Other locals were doing it in their jeans – it’s not something you need to get all “geared up” for. I saw just a few people who looked like they had just walked out of a Gander Mountain. It was mostly casual, but that’s not to say it isn’t a little challenging.
I would not recommend it for someone who is extremely out of shape, or is afraid of heights. A few metrics for you that calculated my day up until arriving back at home (courtesy of FitBit):
144 min workout
Most of the “7” ladders are rather easy. But one of them is a bit taller and is right next to a waterfall. You’ll get misted a bit, and the ladder can be a little bit slippery. So just hold on tight, and you’ll be fine. Even climbing this ladder, I was still more scared of the bears in the woods than falling.
Moving through the canyons does not take very long. It was fairly busy when I was there, but people moved along pretty quickly.
In a terrifying moment walking along the trail on the way back, I saw a young girl on the zipline not slow down enough and bounced too hard off the tree mat at the end, sending her back up the line a bit. She got absolutely walloped by (I’m guessing?) her dad as he came speeding down the line. Cried a bit, but she seemed ok. Clean collision I guess. Anyways, wait until the other person is secure at the end before starting your zipline.
The trails are marked well. Follow the yellow vertical lines on your way up and the red circles on your way down.
There is a small hotel/restaurant/bar/cafe when you leave the trail area and reenter town (10 minute walk to the bus stop). But aside from this, I didn’t see much from the main road. There are a couple signs for restaurants, but I didn’t walk far down those streets. Since I had some time to burn before my bus, I bought a Ursus beer for 4.5 lei ($1.16) and sat on the patio chilling out for a bit.
All in all, it did not take all that much time. There are longer hikes you can do, in particular an extra 2-hours you can spend after the canyon that takes a longer route, which I opted not to do. Here is how my timing worked:
– 10:15 Left my AirBnb in the morning, walking to Livada Postei
– 10:35 Bought my ticket, took the #4 bus to Gara Brasov
– 11:00 Took bus 17b to Dambul Morii
– 11:30 Walked to the trailhead
– 12:30 Brief lunch, Walked through Seven Ladders Canyon
– 1:15 Walked back to town
– 2:30 Rested/had a beer
– 3:30 Bus #17b back to Gara Brasov
– 4:00 Bus #4 back to Livada Postei
– 4:15 Home again
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