Muntii Latoritei – Voineasa – Valea Manaileasa – Vf. Manaileasa Mare
Latoritei Mountains – Voineasa – Manaileasa Valley – Manaileasa Mare Top
Route: unmarked, accessible, difficult in winter from Nopteasa forest cabin to the top.
Duration: 5-6 hours.
To reach the highest top in the mountains between Manaileasa Valley and Lotru we go on the road on the western side of Voineasa to Gura Manailesei, where the road splits into two. The one following the Lotru river to sunset takes us to Vidra Lake through the famous Cataracts and the one to the left, to South-South-West, is in fact the main road connecting Jiului Valley (DN 7A). We go on the second one leaving behind the last houses of the village. The bed of Manaileasa spring was severely modified by the construction of the road and of the three hydroelectric power plants, but it keeps its special charming look, perfectly matching the beech forests covering the valley. After about 2 kilometers, the valley crosses a beam of limestone, in which, on the right bank, we will spot the entrance to a small pit. The road slowly goes up, leaving behind a nursery garden and a cabin (Runculet) and after approximately 6 km you enter the famous serpentines. We can also take the “shortcut” to the path slowly going up the slopes of Padina Mountain, through a young forest and stop for a rest to admire the rocky cliffs guarding the valley on the left bank. Above them a thick pine forest covering the entire peak of Manaileasa Mountain can be seen.
After the serpentines, we go by the cross of Ghimis and by the forest cabin Padina, where, nearby, we stop by the spring for a few moments of rest.
From here, we’ll see in the distance Curmatura Vidrutei, out goal in this journey. The path slowly goes up slowly to the former Manaileasa colony, where only some barracks are left around Nopteasa forest cabin. The valley is crossed at this point by the water adduction pipeline coming from the Vidra Lake, from Lotru-Ciunget Plant. From here onwards, we can continue our way us to the top on two routes: the experienced mountain hikers who can easily find their way around can take the forest road through the Valley of Mihai, left handed affluent of Manaileasa Valley, and after about an hour you reach the alpine empty place, on the bottom of the Manaileasa Mare Top (1853 m).
For those preferring a more relaxed walk, we need to follow the road to Curmatura Vidrutei (1.583 m), and from there, on the path marked with red tape, head to the north, through the forest, to the smaller peak (1.750 m) to the “Relay”, where the pillar of an older TV relay is. From this point, the path heads to the east, to Manaileasa Mica Peak and farther to Manaileasa Mare. We stop on the Top to admire to the North Lotrului Mountains peaks, where the high peaks Steflesti (2.244 m) and Cristesti (2.233 m) meet. To the sunset we can also see the rocky ramparts of the Parang Mountains and to the south Mogosu and Fratosteanu Mare Mountains display their silhouettes occasionally spotted by the white of the limestone.
We can go back either on the peak slowly going down to the sunrise to Voineasa (wide path, unmarked), concluding a very interesting route (4 more hours). On the other hand, we can also go down the path situated in the basin of Steflea spring to the colony of the Miners from the Cataracts and then, on the road, to Voineasa (14 km), going back from Manaileasa Mica Top, by the Relay, to Vidra resort on an old and forgotten path located on Plaiul Hotilor Peak.