The eastern border of Maramureş is formed by the Rodna mountains, one of Romania’s best hiking areas, largely because you’re sure to have them virtually to yourself. Routes converge on the grubby mining town of Borşa, 5km east of Moisei, with some buses continuing for 10km to the small ski resort (beginners and intermediates only) of Borşa Complex on the mountain flanks. Naturally, there’s a wooden church in Borşa, hidden away north of Strada Libertăţii, west of the centre; it was rebuilt in 1718 and painted internally by Zaharia Zugrav in 1765.
The easiest way into the mountains is either by the chairlift from Borşa Complex (daily 9am–5pm, although you may have to wait until a dozen or so people have gathered; €2) or by hiking south from the 1416m Prislop Pass on the road from Maramureş to Moldavia; you can also head north into the Maramureş mountains, wild and largely unvisited, although scarred by mining and forestry. Heading south into the Rodnas, following red triangle markings then blue stripes, it should take two hours at most to reach the main crest at the Gărgălău saddle; from the Complex you can get here in no more than four hours following blue stripes. Then you can follow red stripes east to the Rotunda Pass and ultimately (camping wild en route) to Vatra Dornei, or head west along the main ridge to the highest peaks. This will get you to La Cruce in four and a half hours, from where you can turn right to follow blue stripes up to the weather station on the summit of Mount Pietrosul (2303m), ninety minutes away. There are great views in all directions, particularly deep into Ukraine to the north. Borşa is 1600m below, another two and a half hours away, or you can return to the Complex (a loop of 22km in all). Well-equipped hikers can continue west to the Şetref Pass (south of Săcel), or south towards the Someş Mare valley and Năsăud in two days, camping wild en route.
Alternatively, follow red stripes from the Complex up the Fântana valley to the Cascada Cailor (Horses’ Waterfall; Romania’s highest at 90m), which takes ninety minutes. You can continue to the Şaua Ştiol (at the top of the chairlift) and on to the Prislop Pass, following red triangles (4–5hr), and return to the Complex in at most three hours following yellow stripes. In 2016 the new gondola should finally open from the bottom of the Complex to the southwest, opening up more direct routes to Mount Pietrosul.