Hiking on breathtaking trails amid towering mountains and plunging gorges
Ancient fresco-covered monasteries clinging to the cliff faces of the Lousios Gorge
Cross the ancient stone bridge of Zarzi on the tranquil Mylaon River
Discover the hidden hermitage of Sfyrida
Stay in traditional mountain villages in this unspoilt and undiscovered corner of Greece
Hiking the Menalon Trail: Self-guided walking holiday in Arcadia
The well-signposted, 75km Menalon Trail stretches from Stemnitsa to Lagkadia, passing the dramatic scenery of the Lousios Gorge, the western slopes of Mt Menalon, the Mylaon River valley and the Gortynian Mountains. On this week-long hiking trip, you will discover the wonders of the beautiful region of Arcadia in the heart of the Peloponnese. Although relatively undiscovered by visitors, this is one of Greece’s richest regions in terms of heritage and stunning landscapes.
The Menalon Trail is a well-maintained hiking route which was created by a group of local volunteers in order to shine a spotlight on the area by creating new paths that illustrate its beauty and historical importance. The spectacular trail was the first in Greece to be certified by the European Ramblers’ Association (ERA) and has also been placed among the Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe.
The trail consists of 6 stages. The trail begins in the village of Stemnitsa and journeys through eight more villages, concluding in Lagkadia. Through the dramatic Lousios gorge, with its impressive monasteries clinging precariously to its cliffs, you reach Dimitsana. Dense forests surround you as you make your way via Zygovisti, across the Bilani mountain pass, to the remote village of Elati. Descending from Elati, you follow the course of the tranquil Mylaon River, passing several old watermills and a picturesque stone bridge. Continuing through tranquil forests, you will pass a large monastic complex, followed by a well-hidden hermitage on your way to Magouliana. Along the river Potamia you reach Valtesiniko, a stunny amphitheatrically built village in the Gortynian Mountains. The last day leads you through open fields with walnut trees, threshing floors and huts towards Lagkadia, where the Trail ends.
|8 DAYS/7 NIGHTS||From €530 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for groups of 3 or more. Please enquire for prices.
|AVAILABILITY||Available all year round, starting any day of the week. Because of the altitude of the trek (between 1000-1500m), the best spring period is late April until the end of May.June, September and October are also very suitable periods for this trip. July & August average temperature is 32 Celsius. It is also a great winter destination.|
|ACCOMMODATION||7 nights accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis. All accommodations of this trip are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite.
Most of the nights are in traditional guesthouses located in the villages, with taverns and restaurants nearby. In the tiny remote village Elati, you will stay in the private house of the family Anagnostou. The host speaks English and is known for her excellent hospitality. In Lagkadia you will stay in a comfortable hotel in the centre of the village. Below you find the standard accommodations of this trip. If any are fully booked, we will book a similar alternative for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
You can book additional night(s) at any of the accommodations along the way.
|DIFFICULTY||This trip is graded moderate-to-challenging overall. Moderate day walks are interspersed with more strenuous excursions, 4-7 hours per day (excluding breaks) on hilly to mountainous terrain using well kept, sometimes stony paths. The trip is suitable for walkers who are in very good physical condition.|
Day 1: Arrive in Stemnitsa
The beautiful village of Stemnitsa is located on the western slope of the Mainalo mountains, at 1,100 m altitude. It is known for its traditional stone houses and Byzantine churches, as well as the skilled artisans who have been producing wonderful gold and silverwork for many years. There are wonderful views over the village and the Loussios Gorge from the Kastro (castle) hill. There are many restaurants, taverns and cafes and you will also have the chance to visit the Menalon trail office in the central square of the village for a briefing before setting off on your hike.
Day 2: Hike through the Lousios gorge to Dimitsana
Distance: 13 km | Ascent: 780 m | Descent: 910 m | Walking time: 5 hrs approx.
Departing from Stemnitsa the picturesque path zigzags down into the valley. You follow an old mule track to the impressive Prodomos Monastery, hanging on the high cliffs. After visiting the monastery, you continue along the path that traverses the gorge. You can ascend to the Old Philosophou Monastery (dating back to 963) before continuing to the ‘New’ Philosophou Monastery (1691). You then follow the course of the Lousios River through lush vegetation towards Dimitsana. You cross the river via the Tzani bridge and come to the interesting Open-Air Waterpower Museum. Nearby you will find the watermills and gun powder mills that made the fame and wealth of Dimitsana, a town built on the ruins of ancient Theftis.
Day 3: Walk from Dimitsana to Elati
Distance: 19.5 km | Ascent: 1215 m | Descent: 995 m | Walking time: 7 hrs approx.
Today’s route is a long but extremely rewarding hike. The section Dimitsana-Zigovisti begins with a gentle ascent from the Lousios valley to the outskirts of the pine forest. From the church of St. Paraskevi you will enjoy splendid views over the Lousios river, with the settlements of Dimitsana, Paliochori and Zatouna standing out against the wooded landscape. You continue via footpaths and dirt roads through old agricultural fields to the mountain village of Zygovisti. The village played an important role in the Greek War of Independence war of 1821, which is commemorated with a large marble book in the village square.
After a break at the local café, the route continues and straddles the Western Menalon massif. First through a beautiful ravine to the country church of Agios Georgios and adjacent spring, then uphill through dense forests to the Bilali Pass. From here you have the option of ascending to the Pliovouni summit, the highest peak of this route at 1643m.
After this demanding section, you descend via small roads and paths, passing fountains and chapels, to the tiny mountain settlement of Elati.
Day 4: Walk from Elati to Vytina
Distance: 9 km | Ascent: 350 m | Descent: 500 m | Walking time: 3 hrs approx.
A shorter day today, which will give you a chance to recover from the exertion of yesterday. You may choose to visit the woodcraft workshop before descending from Elati to the riverbed of the Milaon River. You will pass the Pirgaki Springs – which supply the village of Vytina with water – followed by the stone fountain of Makrinou, which is a nice place for a break.
Further along the river the vegetation becomes even more lush, and you find yourself surrounded by tall plane trees. You walk past abandoned watermills and cross a nice wooden bridge. You leave the valley and zigzag uphill via a rocky path to the Artotsi Fountain. Nearby is the Agia Paraskevi church, from which you have great views over the valley and mountain. Finally, you reach the picturesque village of Vytina. Serving as the main village of the region, it offers all facilities and nice local food.
Day 5: Walk from Vytina to Nymfasia via the Zarzi bridge
Distance: 12 km | Ascent: 630 m | Descent: 830 m | Walking time: 4 hrs approx.
From Vytina you make your way back to the Artotsi Fountain and descend from there via a zigzagging path into Mylaon River valley. You now follow the river in northerly direction, passing the beautiful single arched Zarzi bridge. Gradually you ascend to Old Vytina. Here you are back on the Menalon Trail, which leads you to Mavra Litharia. This massive limestone boulder in the riverbed of the Mylaon River has created an impressive gorge. You come to a second stone bridge that once secured the connection between Vytina and the western Gortynian villages. The trail then descends into another gorge before ascending gently through rocks and shrubs. Then, through oak and spruce forests, the trail descends to the small village of Nymfasia. You will find your accommodation just before Kernitsas Monastery.
Day 6: Walk from Nymfasia to Valtesiniko via Magouliana
Distance: 16 km | Ascent: 1200 m | Descent: 930 m | Walking time: 5½ hrs approx.
You first walk through a pleasant oak wood to the Kernitsa Bridge. From there you ascend via a steep path to the Holy Monastery of Kernitsas, a large monastic complex surrounded by well-maintained terraced fields. It is one of the oldest monasteries in Greece. You next cross a dense pine forest and arrive at the Sfyrida Hermitage. You traverse the foot of the long steep slope of Kastro, passing the Gavros Spring, before entering the small settlement of Magouliana. At 1,250m this is the highest inhabited village in the Peloponnese. Here you can take a well-earned break at a local tavern or café.
Leaving Magouliana behind, you come to a splendid viewing point, surrounded by stone built threshing floors. You descend past an old sanatorium, before following a good path along a riverbed to the village of Valtesiniko. In the center of this village, well-known for its woodcarvers, there are many nice taverns to choose from for your evening meal.
Day 7: Walk from Valtesiniko to Lagkadia
Distance: 14 km | Ascent: 810 m | Descent: 980 m | Walking time: 5 hrs approx.
From the road above Valtesiniko Village, you will enjoy splendid views over the northern plains. You follow a footpath along a ridge where you will find the Byzantine Fortress of Valtesiniko, perched high in the mountains. You then descend through open landscape with stunning views to the small country church of Agia Triada. The route now traverses an extensive pine forest and you gain some altitude before descending again to the Krya Vrysi fountain. You ascend the path to the saddle from where you will already see Lagkadia ahead. Continuing through fields and past a small spring you finally come to the Rapi Watermills, on the outskirts of Lagkadia.
The Menalon Trail ends in the center of Lagkadia, the village of the stone builders.
Day 8: Departure
You hiking trip on the Menalon Trail comes to an end after breakfast this morning, unless you have booked any additional services with us. We would be happy to arrange a taxi transfer to Tripoli, from where you can catch a direct bus to Athens.