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Gorges to hike and walk near Aghioi Deka, in Heraklion region

List of Gorges near Aghioi Deka

  • 6.8 km
  • Apolychnos Gorge
  • 3 km

The Apolychnos Gorge, situated just a few kilometers north of the town of Mires, is nestled in an area abundant with olive groves. This gorge is essentially a narrow valley that traces the path of a river, which in certain areas deepens and is surrounded by thick vegetation. The Tourki stream that flows through it carries water from a valley that begins west of Makres village to the Geropotamos river. The gorge, which is roughly 3 km long, begins near the village of Panagia and concludes at the traditional settlement of Agios Antonios (Vrelis). It’s conveniently accessible, particularly near its exit close to Agios Antonios, as it’s adjacent to the main road from Mires.

The gorge is named after the deserted village of Apolychnos, which is situated within the gorge at an elevation of 220m. This village, enveloped by verdant trees and bubbling springs, is home to the stunning Byzantine church of Saint Panteleimon, located in the village square.

  • 10.8 km
  • Tripiti Gorge - Heraklion
  • 4 km
  • 3 h

The Trypiti Gorge, nestled in the Asterousia mountain range, lies south of Vassiliki village and channels water from the valley east of Miamou village through the Agiosavvitis river. Stretching over 4 km, the gorge ends in a stunning pebble beach named Tripiti. A dirt road, running along the eastern side of the gorge, provides access to the beach, following several kilometers before reaching the riverbed at the sea’s edge.

The gorge narrows near Saint Paraskevi church, situated at an elevation of 655m. The initial section of the gorge houses steep waterfalls, making it inaccessible without technical expertise and canyoneering equipment. The western side, in particular, is incredibly steep and dangerous. The Prophet Elijah church is a prominent feature at Katsakne, the peak of the western slopes. This church can be accessed via another dirt road that begins about half a kilometer before the gorge’s entrance.

Midway through the gorge, close to the dirt road, lies the Saint Savas church, surrounded by wild olive trees. The unique feature of this woodland is its wild, uncultivated olive trees, offering a glimpse into the natural habitat of these trees. The gorge is also home to an array of wildlife and bird species.

As you continue towards the sea, the road merges with the ravine and soon leads to the most picturesque part of the gorge: the narrow canyon, also known as Steno Faragi. Here, the sides of the gorge come so close together that they appear to touch. A road, just wide enough for a car, passes through this narrow gap. At the end of this narrow section, next to the beach, you’ll find the Panagia Tripiti church, built inside a cave, that celebrates its feast on September 1st.

The Trypiti Gorge is known by various other names, including Saint Savas Gorge, Katsakne, and Lavri. On the eastern side’s Papouri hill, archaeologists have uncovered a significant Preminoan settlement. Additionally, vaulted graves have been discovered at the Kalokambos location.

  • 11.0 km
  • Rizopetro Gorge

On the southeastern flank of Mount Sanida, near the quaint village of Skourvoula, you’ll find a petite yet wildly untamed chasm known as Rizopetro. This gorge culminates in a striking 60m waterfall that cascades into the lake of the Faneromeni dam, a sight to behold especially after heavy downpours.

  • 12.3 km
  • Rouvas Gorge (Gafaris)
  • 6 km
  • 2.5 h

The Agios Nikolaos, Gafaris or Rouvas gorge is nestled between the Ambelakia and Samari peaks. This gorge, the most significant in Psiloritis and central Crete, is named after the St Nicholas monastery located near its exit at Zaros. This area is an ecosystem teeming with diverse flora and fauna, smaller canyons, and striking geological formations and cliffs. It spans 4 km, with 2.7 km developed by the Forest Service for activities like hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, and wildlife observation. However, a fire in 1994 significantly damaged the beautiful Rouvas forest near the gorge’s south entrance.

The Rouvas forest, located in the Saint Nicholas gorge, is a nationally significant ecosystem of holly trees. It covers the inner valley of Psiloritis, surrounded by the peaks of Ambelakia, Samari, Chalazokefala, Skinakas, Koudouni, and Giristi. The area’s trees are ancient, with some trunks exceeding 1 meter in diameter and reaching heights of 15 meters. They grow densely, forming a unique forest society, supplemented by various shrub species.

The forest houses other typical Cretan flora, such as aria, zelkova, cypress, pine, plane, and pear trees, covering approximately 30,000 acres. The uniqueness of the Rouvas forest lies in the holly trees’ unusual size and characteristics compared to their typical Greek counterparts. This is likely due to the absence of external factors that allowed these shrubby oaks to evolve into their current form. Around the forest, one can spot scattered “mitata” (shepherd houses), most of which are now abandoned.

Recommended hiking routes include Zaros Lake to Saint John (a 2.5-hour return trip) and Psakofarago to Agios Ioannis to Lake Zaros (a 5-hour trip). The first route starts from Zaros Lake, leading to the St Nicholas monastery before entering the Rouvas gorge. The trail then ascends through the old burned forest, offering stunning views of the Zaros and Messara planes, before entering a narrow gorge filled with dense vegetation. The path follows the river bed, abundant with water in spring, leading to the heart of the forest, the Agios Ioannis area.

The second route begins north of Agios Ioannis at the Psakofarago gorge, the upper extension of the Rouvas gorge. The trail starts from the Holy Cross church and ends at Lake Zaros, passing through Agios Ioannis and the Rouvas gorge. This route requires a transfer to the Holy Cross church and a pick-up from Lake Zaros. Both routes offer the chance to experience the unique beauty of the Rouvas forest and its surroundings.

  • 13.8 km
  • Agios Charalambos Gorge
  • 1 km
  • 0.5 h

Saint Charalambos Gorge, a picturesque but petite canyon, is situated to the south of Ano Asites village. The gorge is named after the Saint Charalambos church that was constructed near its entrance beneath a rock. Up until mid-spring, the gorge is filled with water, compelling trekkers to walk along its walls to bypass the riverbed. The stream of the gorge carries water from the valley situated east of Prinias village to Agios Antonios gorge, eventually forming the Xeropotamos river that concludes at the Pancretan Stadium beach in Heraklion.

Our journey begins from the Agios Charalambos chapel nestled in a large rock shelter. We then make our descent along the river, where lovely ponds are formed. As we look upward, the grand walls with their vast caves become visible. The exit of the gorge has incredibly narrow passages which require us to traverse along a trail during winter. However, in the summer, it’s possible to walk on the riverbed, but caution is advised to prevent any ankle injuries.

  • 13.8 km
  • Trafoulas Gorge
  • 0.5 h

The Trafoulas Gorge, located in the Asterousia Range, begins southeast of Krotos village and concludes at the Psili Ammos beach on the southern coast of the Cretan Sea. The majority of trekkers only explore a small portion of the gorge, typically from where they park their vehicle to the beach, despite the gorge’s origin being at a greater altitude. Even this limited section of the gorge is quite striking, characterized by narrow walls and towering rocks. According to local lore, the most narrow section of the gorge is referred to as the Pidimatou Gorge, or Jumping Gorge, given that a goat could feasibly leap from one side to the other.

  • 14.3 km
  • Goula Gorge
  • 1.7 km
  • 4.5 h

The Goula Gorge, a rugged canyon nestled in the Asterousia Range, begins just south of the village of Kapetaniana and concludes at the coastal settlement of Agios Ioannis. Like its counterparts in the area, such as Flomias, Salamiano, Koumos, Gerakia, and Valahas, it is untraversable without the correct canyoneering gear. Nonetheless, there is a hiking trail on the eastern side of the gorge that takes approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete.

Entry to the gorge is via Kapetaniana, with the closest access point being the telephone antenna en route to Agios Ioannis. The gorge boasts 18 rappels, the tallest of which is 55m, and others measuring 25m, 15m, 13m, and smaller. The gorge spans roughly 1700m in length and a team of five would require around 4 and a half to 5 hours to traverse it.

The gorge’s beauty lies in its wild and haunting rocky landscape, caves, and rock shelters. The primary vegetation is pine trees. Although it is generally dry, the name “Goula” translates to “spring” in the local Cretan dialect. True to its name, Goula is home to the area’s main spring, which provides for the water needs of the Agios Ioannis settlement.

  • 14.6 km
  • Koumos Gorge

The Koumos Gorge, nestled in the Kapetaniana region, concludes near the coastal village of Agios Ioannis, amidst a landscape abundant with pine trees. This relatively undiscovered gorge requires technical equipment for access, making it exclusively passable for canyoning experts. Typically, the gorge remains dry, but intense rainfalls transform it into a spectacle of stunning waterfalls. The tallest waterfall reaches a height of 60m, accompanied by approximately 10 smaller cascades.

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