The Red Lake, the largest natural dam lake on the Romanian territory, is located in Harghita District in a dingle characterized by a subalpine climate. It has been created in 1837, at the base of Hasmasul Mare Mountain, near the Bicaz Straits. According to the latest measurements (which were conducted in 1987), the lake expands over 114.676 square meters and has a volume of 587.503 m³.
According to the geographical accounts, the lake was formed when a part of Ghilcos Mountain, fell during a torrential storm and blocked the three streams that traversed the valley: Licas, Valea Oii and Paraul Rosu (The Red Stream). The name of the lake was given after the stream that flows in the Red Lake and which, in its path, traverses terrains rich in iron oxides and hydroxides, which have a reddish coloration.
The lake is also known as the “Killer Lake” due to the legend which revolves around it. Apparently, during the formation process, when a section of the mountain came tumbling down, a human life was taken. A shepherd and his flock of sheep found themselves being crushed by the massive quantity of terrain that fell on them. In fact the name of the lake is also explained through this legend. It is said that the blood of the victims had poured into the lake, thus being responsible for its color.
Due to its unique coloration, people have started attaching various meaning to the lake, some of them considering it magical. The reddish nuance has a chemical explanation (it has been provided earlier), but this does not mean that tourists cannot let their imagination wonder in surrealistic realms. And why shouldn’t they? The setting is perfect for this. The reflection of the trees in the calm purple water invites the beholder to take a dreamlike trip. There is the possibility to go on a boat trip on the Red Lake and even across the Red Stream, thus getting as close as possible to nature.
The imagery that presents itself is breathtaking. Unfortunately, the surface of the lake is in a constant shrinkage process as a result of silting – the alluviums carried by the river build up and thus reduce the size of the lake. Scientists have investigated this process and have reached the conclusion that by 2100 the lake will disappear from the geographical maps. But this situation had to be dealt with accordingly so as to avoid the imminent destiny of the lake. The authorities have decided to initiate several projects meant to stop the alluviums from depositing on the surface of the lake. These consist of building dams along various creeks that flow into the Red Lake, namely Licos, Suhard, Verescheu, and so on.
Reaching the Red Lake is possible irrespective of the means of transportation you have. If you have a car then things might be easier because you will reach your destination much faster. But there are also trains that can get you there. These will not take you directly to the Red Lake, but from the last train-stop you can take local transportation and arrive at the site.
The best part about this mountainous region is that it offers you a variety of options in terms of tourist tracks. There is the Red Lake Track which takes about 90 minutes to complete, the Bicaz Track (which extends anywhere from 180 to 210 minutes), or different tracks that take you up the mountains located in this area. The majority of the tracks are marked so it is in everyone’s best interest to follow the pointers and not stray from the path.
But if hiking is not your cup of tea, then you can enjoy a relaxing day on a boat, making ripples on the calm water of the lake. You will have the opportunity to feed the wild ducks that live here and have got so accustomed to the human presence.