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Gorges to hike and walk near Orthés, in Rethymno region

List of Gorges near Orthés

  • 970 m
  • Margarites Gorge
  • 2 h

Margarites is a renowned village in the Milopotamos province, celebrated for its stunning architecture and traditional pottery. The broader region, encompassing the villages of Margarites, Orthe and Eleftherna, is characterized by a sequence of small, parallel gorges. Tiny watercourses like Margaritianos meander northwards, contributing to the Geropotamos River. These gorges are carved into the white-yellow marly limestone from the Upper Miocene era (8-10 million years ago), a result of the area’s uplift and water erosion.

The gorges’ most striking features are their abundant flora and extraordinary environment. Small groups of horizontally branched cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens var horizontal) blend with low shrubs, wildflowers, and aromatic plants. The local authorities have fashioned small trails that reveal the area’s beauty to visitors.

  • 6.8 km
  • Arkadi Gorge
  • 4.5 km
  • 2 h

The Arkadi Gorge begins just north of the Arkadi Monastery and offers a picturesque journey of approximately two hours. Certain sections along the gorge’s bed are inaccessible due to waterfalls and dense vegetation, making it possible to walk only along the eastern banks. The hiking trail concludes near the Pikris village where it joins the Gypofarago gorge. Here, visitors can appreciate significant Venetian architectural landmarks. The gorge, with its extraordinary natural beauty, allows visitors to marvel at representative species of Cretan flora and fossils.

A slim area of the gorge can also be viewed by driving to the Arkadi Monastery, as the roadway runs through it. This means you can get a sense of its appearance just by visiting the monastery.

  • 11.7 km
  • Platania Gorge
  • 2.5 km
  • 3 h

The Platania Gorge, positioned above the Platania village, links the southeast slopes of the Psiloritis range to the Amari valley, approximately 38km southeast of Rethymno. The river flowing through it collects water from the west of the Migia (1584m) and Spathi (1779m) peaks and channels it to the River Platys, which terminates in Agia Galini. A challenging yet secure trail winds its way up to the starting point at Kokkinoharako, skirting its steep slopes. The trail provides hikers with breathtaking views of the towering cliffs, vertical limestone rocks displaying yellow-red hues of erosion, rock shelters, and numerous caves.

At roughly 800m altitude, a small plateau hosts the cave-like church of Saint Anthony (Agios Antonios), constructed near a spring. The trail from Agios Antonios continues its ascent northwest, meeting a dirt road originating from the Vistagi village. On the opposite side of the gorge, in the east, lies the Panas cave, named after the ancient god Pan, god of the wild, shepherds, and flocks, who, as per local folklore, was born here. The cave houses petroglyphs from the Minoan era, indicating continuous worship at the site. The same dirt road from Vistagi provides access to the nearby church of Saint Mammes (Agios Mamas), the patron saint of shepherds in Christianity.

The Platania Gorge’s interior is stunning, though few get to witness it due to its steep waterfalls, which require technical canyoning equipment to navigate. The tallest waterfall stands at approximately 40m. The first known crossing of the gorge was in 2008 by the canyoning group of Giannis Bromirakis and Christoforos Cheiladakis. The cliffs provide a nesting habitat for various bird species, including vultures, hawks, wild pigeons, and crows.

  • 13.4 km
  • Zoniana Gorge
  • 6 km
  • 4 h

The Zoniana canyon is situated to the south of Zoniana village within the Psiloritis Range. It begins at a height of 950m, gathering water from several streams that flow from the Zoniana mountains, and concludes at the village at a height of 650m. The “serpentine” river Oaxis, which carries water until spring and ultimately drains into the Geropotamos river, flows through this gorge.

This gorge is not only easily accessible but also safe for hiking due to its gentle slope. The rock formations in many areas are truly remarkable, made up of numerous layers, and there are stunning geological structures and trees clinging to the steep slopes and narrow points. As it nears the village, the canyon broadens and morphs into a slender valley.

  • 14.4 km
  • Patsos Gorge
  • 5 km
  • 2.5 h

Located in the stunning province of Amari, the Patsos or Agios Antonios gorge is situated 8 km southwest of Arkadi Monastery. The gorge’s water is collected in the Potami dam. Trekking through the gorge is relatively easy up to a certain point, thanks to a well-marked trail created by the forest service. This trail concludes at the gorge’s narrowest point, where a unique waterfall cascades into a cave. Beyond this point, the gorge narrows and forms several small waterfalls. The descent to the Potami lake demands careful attention, particularly during winter and spring. Another path leads to the avifauna watchtower situated above the river.

The Patsos Gorge is renowned for Agios Antonios’ cavernous temple (Saint Anthony), which was once a sacred cave dedicated to Kraneos Hermes in ancient times. Water seeps from the rocks and drips from the temple roof, accumulating as holy water. It’s fascinating to observe the thousands of prayer papers that devotees have tucked into the rock cavities surrounding the temple. Large plateaus with wooden benches and tables, perfect for picnicking, are located beneath the temple and by the river.

The gorge derives its name from Patsos, a village nestled at the base of Mount Soros at an altitude of 490 meters. It’s approximately 30 km south of Rethymnon. The area boasts a rich variety of flora due to the numerous springs throughout the region that provide a year-round water supply.

  • 14.7 km
  • Prasses Gorge
  • 6 km
  • 4 h

The untamed Prassano gorge, also known as the Gorge of Prasses, is situated 10 km southeast of Rethymnon. It commences south of the Prasses village and provides a captivating three-hour hike through enormous rocks and some fairly challenging passages, adding to the intrigue of the trek. The Prasano Gorge, currently serving as the “overflow” channel for the Potami dam, winds its way through the rocky hills of Gargana, with its stream terminating in the suburb of Platania, east of the city of Rethymnon. The river is engulfed by lush vegetation and towering plane trees, making it an ideal spot for a refreshing excursion.

The Prassano gorge can only be accessed from mid-June to mid-October due to the water flow. It is a crucial biotope of Crete, providing a habitat for buzzards and a small group of Bonelli’s eagles.

The Prasses Village
Set amidst the verdant Cretan landscape on the slopes of Vrysinas, Prasses serves as an entrance to the southern coast. This medieval village showcases the intermingling of diverse cultures that have traversed Crete, evident in the Venetian mansions, Turkish farmsteads, and Orthodox churches. The rich natural and cultural diversity make the village an ideal location for tours and walks. Heading south from Prasses, the road leads to the Potami valley, home to the dam of the same name.

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