About the area

The Falcon Stone Nature Reserve is a geological reservation. It is located westfrom Tusnad Spa, on the right bank of the Olt River, in the volcanic chain of the South Harghita and at the bottom of the Piliske Mountain (810 m altitude). The reservation is part of a mountain landscape, which is covered with deciduous and coniferous, mixed forests. The phytogeography importance of the reservation is the local endemic Hawkweed specie (Hieracium telekianum), which was described in 1942.

Climate and hydrography

Due to the geographical position and the surface, the climate can be characterized as the generally known moderate climate for mid-mountain ranges. As a result, we can find out some climatic factors: the annual average temperature is between 4-6 °C, the average temperature in a decade at summer is 12-14 °C and at winter is -6 -8 °C, with a 25 °C summer maximum and a -25 °C winter minimum. The average annual precipitation is between 800-900 mm/year. The snow cover usually lasts for 100 days and much longer in the shady places. The surface watercourses of the reservation are the Raven stream and the Miner stream, both belongs to the Olt River basin.

Geology and geomorphology

The Falcon Stone Nature Reserve is located on the south side of the Harghita volcanic chain and on the east slope of the Piliske volcanic cone. Two types of volcanic rock were identified in the geological composition, which originates from two eruption phase: - pyroxene andesite from the first phase; - a succession of clastic rock and andezite lava with basaltic hornblende from the second phase. The foundation is formed of flysch formations, whose composition are involved rocks like marly-limestone, sandstone, marl, marly-clays and slate. Morphologically the area belongs to the volcanic chain of South Harghita and it is located on the east slope of the Piliske volcanic cone with tower-shaped andesite protrusions which rises 50-60 meters above the earth's surface. The Piliske cone represents a relative simple topography with long slopes southward and northward and steep slopes eastward.

Always follow the mark!

The hiking trail towards the Falcon Stone is indicated by a red triangle painted on the side of the trees, roughly at head level, warning us that this mark should be followed and it is not allowed to leave it in order to reach the Falcon Stone safely. This mark is available for up and down hiking the trail. However, the red triangle do not highlights one important thing: the obligatory use of the serpentines. Often we think that if we cut off the curve and climb straight upward, we spare time and energy. But instead, we endanger the physical safety of our companions left behind, because using shortcuts we could roll down stones. The used shortcuts ensure space to the course of rainwater, which makes the hillside steeper and more dangerous. Therefore, it is important to follow the route with responsibility in order to have a pleasant trip.

The wounds of the nature

The nature is very sensitive to pollution of human origin (anthropogenic). Some of these pollutions may look like just visual pollutions, but the most of them can cause soil pollution and may harm the wildlife too. The artificially manufactured and most common pollutants in nature have a long degradation time: paper bag – 1 month, cardboard – 2 month, cotton rag – 5 month, cigarette butt – 5 years, plastic bag – 15 years, leather shoe – 50 years, plastic bottle – 500 years, beer can – 500 years, plastic jug – 1000 years, glass bottle – 1 million years or even it is non-degradable. These data may change according to the quality of the materials, but they emphasize that materials thrown by us will be seen after many generations. So, don't forget: during the trip leave only footprints and take only memories!

Life after death

Deadwood is a critical component in forest functioning, which plays five major roles in the ecology of a healthy, natural forest:

  • maintaining forest productivity by providing organic matter, moisture, nutrients and regeneration sites for conifers (some tree species germinate preferentially on logs)

  • providing habitats for creatures that live, feed or nest in cavities in dead and dying timber, and for aquatic creatures that live in the pools created by fallen logs and branches

  • supplying a food source for specialised feeders such as beetles and for fungi and bacteria

  • stabilising the forest by helping to preserve slope and surface stability and preventing soil erosion in the event of storms, heavy rainfall and other climatic extremes

  • storing carbon in the long-term, thus mitigating some of the impacts of climate change

 

The Falcon Stone view

Reaching the Falcon Stone the view of Tusnad Spa unfolds before us. Tusnad Spa is the most important holiday site in Hargita County, proclaimed a city in 1968 he became the only city in the Lower Ciuc basin and the smallest town in the country. The city can be seen almost entirely, crossed by the Olt River. In the centre of the city is the Ciucas Lake, which was formed artificially, the water is captured from Miner Creek. The Falcon Stone is located on the South side of the Harghita volcanic chain (853 m), which is the youngest volcanic mountain of Romania. At southwest is the Raven Peak (1134), at north the Ulies Peak (1142 m) and at west the Great Pilisca (1374 m). Opposite the reserve, eastward is the Surduc Peak (1199 m), southward from Surduc is the Comlos Peak (1269 m) and at north from Surduc is the Fortress Peak (1079 m), there were found traces from Iron Age (it was an observation site). The peaks opposite the Falcon Stone belongs to the Ciomat Mountain. Closer to the city, at 701 m altitude, is the Apor Bastion and north of the bastion is Ludmila hill (731 m). On the right side, southward, is the Bixad Basin with the nearest settlement, Bixad village. On the left side, northward, is the limit of the Lower Ciuc Basin, Tusnad Defile and the nearest settlement lying north, New Tusnad. Even though the lava flow stopped about 1 mil years ago, the volcanic activity shows itself through the gases which breaks to the surface through cracks and fractures. They arrive to the surface as CO2 (carbon dioxide) or H2S (hydrogen sulfide) emissions or dissolved in the water. These emissions indicate the end of the volcanic activity.