The Red Lake - Killer Stone Circuit. One Night at the Panoramic Cabin (Apr 2022)

Backpacking Apr 21, 2022

Ucigașul Peak/Killer Stone (1378m) offers a spectacular view of the Red Lake and Bicaz Valley. The Red Lake is the largest natural reservoir lake in Romania, formed by a slope that collapsed after an earthquake hit in 1838.

According to local stories, when the slope collapsed it took some victims with it. Legends speak of shepherds seeking shelter, of a girl with her unwanted suitor and of the inhabitants of an entire village who may have been covered in rocks.

Owing to these stories, the locals named the lake Gyilkostó, which means Killer Lake. The top of the mountain from which the slope came off was also called Killer / Gyilkos / Ghilcoș.

Recently, a panoramic cabin was placed right on the edge of the Killer Mountain, from which you can admire the Red Lake, the valley and the surrounding peaks, while you stay sheltered and cozy.

We passed near the Red Lake before, but did not explore the surrounding mountains. Learning about the possibility of sleeping in a shelter with large windows at the edge of a precipice, I became very curious about the landscapes we can see in the area. So I figured out a route.

Technical Details

The chosen route is an easy circuit, which we did in two days.

On the first day we climb from Lacul Roșu (The Red Lake), following the blue dot to Ghilcoș Meadow, then the circled blue dot to the Killer Stone viewpoint, from where we get to the panoramic cabin.

The next day we went down the red triangle to the lake, completing the circuit.


Parking: Near the main road
  Day 1: Red Lake (~1000m) - Ghilcoș Meadow (1240m) - View Point Killer Stone (1378m) - Killer Panoramic Cabin (1343m)
  Day 2: Killer Panoramic Cabin - St. John Church - Red Lake
  Day 1: Blue Dot + Encircled Blue Dot
  Day 2: Red Triangle
  Day 1: 3,17km
  Day 2: 3,9km
Height Difference:
  Day 1: +390m
  Day 2: -390m
  Day 1: 1h 30m
  Day 2: 1h
Water Sources: None
Camping: Killer Panoramic Cabin
Tracking: Day 1, Day 2

There is no water near the cabin. There are two springs on the map for this route, but one is flowing very slowly and the other has been destroyed by humans and animals.

From time to time the markings are not frequent enough, but we found them relatively quickly. It helped to have a GPS map on the phone.

In Ghilcoș Meadow, the route marked with a blue dot continues forward, but we turned left, towards the viewpoint. The intersection is not very well marked and may go unnoticed.

The Story

It's the long-awaited day of the trip. Miriam still doesn't know where we're going. I was planning to surprise everyone, but the others figured it out after finding out the location elsewhere, and they connected the dots.

We are getting ready for the drive, but we are very slow. I learnt that if we have no reason to hurry, we just don’t. We finally start our trip two hours later than we intended. But it's OK. We have all day to get there.

Day 1

After a few good hours of driving, and a delicious langoș - we can't go through Szeklerland without eating a good langoș - we reach the Red Lake. We find a parking space right on the side of the main road, and at 16:00 we are ready to start our hike.

From the parking lot we are headed to Hășmașul Mare Pension, where the route marked by the blue dot enters the forest and begins to climb towards Killer Peak.

Climbing through the Forest.

Though the forest climb is not very steep, it is enough to warm us up. And we sure need some heat. Although it is theoretically Spring, this weekend is cold and very windy.

Soon we are out of the forest, and the Killer Peak does not look as big as it seemed from below. In a clearing we can spot the panoramic cabin where we will stay at night.

Killer Panoramic Cabin seen from below. Photo: Adina

We continue sometimes through the forest, sometimes through clearings with dry grass. Increasingly big snow patches appear from time to time.

As we climb, the sun keeps hiding, and the scenery is rather depressing. These places don't seem to have seen the Spring this year.

Late Winter Landscape

The ascent calms down when we reach Poiana Ghilcoș. Once again, the rocky landscape presents itself and we admire it while we go on.

Ghilcoș Meadow.

At one point, the route leading to the lookout point on the Killer Stone turns left through the forest. This is where the fun begins. It is the steepest part of the route.

The serious climb begins.

We continue to go up the path with its nearby cliffs and the ascent becomes steeper and steeper. At some point we end up climbing. Then follows a more exposed area, where we are helped by a chain.

This portion of the route is definitely steep, but it is equally short. Before we realize, we find ourselves on top of the cliffs, on the plateau.

Here we meet the first heralds of spring: lots of snowdrops and meadow saffrons.

Harbinger of Spring.

After the flower filled glade, we pass through a meadow full of snow, then through a forest with scarce trees, with snow and ice on the ground.

The exercise of the steep ascent, and the uncomfortable walk through the snow and ice is fully rewarded when we reach the Killer lookout point. It’s 17:20. It’s been 1h 20m since we started.

Killer Stone View Point.

A strong wind is blowing here. But the view we have is unbelievable. We found a pair of binoculars with which we can admire even the distant details of the neighboring hills.

On the right side, a few hundred meters away we can see the panoramic cabin. It's right on the edge of the abyss.

The Panoramic Cabin, seen from the Peak.

We admire the landscape for a while, then we hurry to get to the cabin, to be able to enjoy the views without the strong wind that we feel here.

Once again we pass through deep snow, but we have a bonus: The Ceahlău Massif looks very nice on the horizon.

Through Snow. The Peak at the Horizon: The Ceahlău Massif.

After ten minutes in which our enthusiasm increases with each step, we reach the panoramic cabin.

It's a dream! Both from the outside and from the inside, the panoramic cabin is very delightful.

Once we got here, we have no other plans but to make some pasta, some tea and fully enjoy the scenery.

The clouds parted, so the sun flooded the shelter. In the evening we can even admire a special sunset.

Photo: Laura

Day 2

The night was a bit nerve racking. Several times we were awakened by the strong gust of wind, followed by a slight sway of the shelter, which automatically reminded us that we were on the edge of the abyss. That was enough to make us alert and keep us from resting.

But if the winds tonight didn't move the shelter, that means it’s well anchored and stable.

The atmosphere is very humid in the morning. We have some fog and a little light rain.

After a late breakfast and a cup of coffee brewed in our moka pot, we slowly pack our bags and get ready to leave the cabin. It was very beautiful. Congratulations to those who took the initiative and built it!

Let's not forget that this is not an ordinary refuge, but a panoramic cabin, where you can stay by making a reservation, and which has some ground rules. We hope that it will be taken care of by tourists, so that we can enjoy it for as long as possible.

At 12:15 we close the cabin, put the key in the cipher box, and start our descent, following the red triangle.

At first, we go through a lot of snow. Then through the snow-speckled meadows. Then through the woods.

When we exit the forest we are greeted by a beautiful landscape made of imposing cliffs and stone.

From here, in a few minutes we reach the Church of St. John the Baptist, from where we continue on the road to the car.

The descent was effortless and lasted about an hour. We walked 35 minutes to the hermitage, and another 25 minutes on the road, until we got to the parking lot.


The Red Lake - Killer Stone - Red Lake circuit is a short and easy route - with a single steeper section, on the blue point climb. It can be done easily in half a day. With pictures and a lunch break, it could take three and a half hours.

If you have time, we say it's worth staying overnight in the panoramic cabin. This way the route is divided into two very short and light hikes. In this manner, not only do you get to spend a night overlooking the lake, but there will still be time to travel, or to visit other places around Red Lake, like the Bicaz Gorges.

If you've read this far, we hope you enjoyed the story. If you want to send us an opinion or a suggestion, we are happy to hear from you.

Have you been to the Red Lake area? What hikes did you do? What do you recommend we see in the vicinity?

We are looking forward to your messages on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter, in the comments section, or in a private message.

Till’ next time!