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Hiking gorges on Crete Island

Find a Hiking gorge near you

  • Sykia Gorge at Rodakino

The stunning Sykia gorge, which is actually the easternmost gorge in the province of Sfakia, is located north of Rodakino village. It’s a technical canyon, meaning that traversing it requires specialized equipment due to its over 10 steep descents or waterfalls, which are safeguarded by the speleological groups of Crete. The tallest rappel stands at around 12 meters high.

The Sykia stream combines with the untamed canyons of Rodakino (also known as Maglinara) and the longest gorge in the area, Karavos. The stream then flows under both the new and old bridges of Rodakino, finally reaching the picturesque Korakas beach. Canyon explorers typically leave the gorge just after the old bridge, while those up for a full-length trek will encounter another rappel. The narrowest part of Sykia, after it merges with the Rodakino Gorge, is truly breathtaking.

Speleological clubs have named the gorge Sykia, meaning sycamore-fig tree, due to the abundance of fig trees found along the route. However, its official name is Xepitira. Except for times following heavy rainfall, the gorge is typically dry.

  • Charkomatas Gorge
  • 3 h

The Chalkomatas, also known as Charkomatas Gorge, is situated close to the village of Chamezi in the province of Sitia. The gorge begins where a dirt road ascends towards the Prophet Elijah temple and Liopetro fortress. The vegetation in the gorge is sparse, but the limestone geological formations are striking. The path along the usually dry riverbed is mostly smooth and relatively easy to navigate.

Approximately halfway along the route, elevated 60m above the riverbed, lies the Geloudospilios cave. Its name derives from the Geloudes, demonic entities that take the form of women and are said to drain the life from newborns by drinking their blood.

A three-hour trek through the gorge leads to the stunning Roussa Limni beach. The beach is located below the Chalkomatas cave, where, as per local folklore, pirates once concealed their valuable loot. There are rumors that locals even detonated the cave in their quest for gold. Alternatively, Roussa Limni can be accessed via a road from the nearby Papadiokambos beach, which is just a short walk away.

  • 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.

  • Kaminolakkos Gorge

In northern Rethymnon, beneath the village of Myrthios (not to be confused with the Myrthios near Plakias), a petite ravine teeming with plane trees gives way to a wild and untamed gorge at Kaminolakos. The gorge is typically dry, only filling with water after significant rainfall. It is accessible only with canyoneering gear. This gorge remained unexplored until March 22, 2013, when Christopher Cheiladakis, Argyro Koghylaki, and Rudolf Riegler ventured into it for the first time, installing safety rings in the process.

The initial stretch of the gorge is particularly wild, leading to a series of small rappels before reaching the final waterfall, a towering 55 meters high. This waterfall is nestled under an umbrella of large trees, hidden away in a shadowy enclave. The gorge culminates at the renowned stone bridge of Simas, which is situated on the road to Amari. This bridge, the highest in Crete, is considered an architectural marvel of its time.

  • Lihnou Laki Gorge

Located just half an hour above the Lissos archaeological site, in a concealed location known as Lichnou Laki, is a small yet stunning canyon. This gorge is situated in the Selino district, beneath the village of Prodromi, to the south of Chania. It can be accessed via a dirt road that leads south from the village. This petite canyon is lush with greenery and is divided into two distinct sections. The first section is predominantly populated with lentisks, junipers, and oaks, while the second section is blanketed with pine trees, despite a previous fire that ravaged the area.

The gentle riverbed of Lichnou Laki canyon doesn’t feature any waterfalls or other impediments. At the canyon’s most striking point, there is a picturesque rock shelter forming a triangle. Towards the lower exit, a plateau is scattered with ceramic fragments, a clear indication of a former ancient settlement.

  • Rehta Gorge at Kolokasia

In the heart of the Sfakia Province, nestled in the ruins of the village Kolokasia, a stream begins to form at the base of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) church. This stream, fed by the village’s water, meanders through the local olive grove before transforming into a rugged, small gorge known as Rechtas or Rektas – a name signifying ‘waterfall’ in the local dialect.

True to its name, shortly after the gorge’s onset, a breathtaking 20-meter high waterfall cascades down, barring further access to the gorge without the aid of a rope. Beyond this majestic waterfall, the gorge is adorned with awe-inspiring rock shelters and caves, once used by locals as animal paddocks.

The journey through the gorge also includes small waterfalls, a natural arch, and a grove of carob trees. Eventually, the canyon opens up, revealing an ancient trail that ascends up the eastern side, leading to a rock shelter. This shelter, perched high above the riverbed, provides stunning vistas of the gorge and the Fragokastello valley.

In recent years, this wild rock shelter has been transformed into a charming, cavernous temple, possibly the newest in Crete. This transformation was inspired by a priest from Sfakia, George Chiotakis, who received a divine vision from the Blessed Porphyrios of Athos, advising him to build a temple. Consequently, the church is unofficially dedicated to Saint Porphyrius, with his icons scattered throughout the temple, along with several icons of the revered Saint Anthimos from Cephalonia, who once resided in the Sfakia region.

  • 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.

  • Koudoumas Gorge
  • 3.5 h

The Koudoumas or Kofinas gorge starts at an elevation of 1000m near the base of Kofinas, the tallest peak of the Asterousia Range, and concludes at the Koudoumas Monastery beach. Its initial segment is a technical gorge of exceptional beauty, locally known as Katarraktis (Waterfall) or Keadas (Kenad). The total descents in the gorge leading to Koudoumas monastery are 18, with the highest reaching 38m. The upper section is only accessible with canyoning gear and was first explored in 2004 by Kostas Psarakis and Manolis Kambourakis, and bolted in 2017 by the Asterusia Adventure Team (Manos Petrakis, George Makrygiannakis, Nikos Foukakis, Savvas Paragmaian, Giannis Aggelis, Christina Aggelidou, Savvas Eftychis, and Dimitris Karatarakis).

It is possible to descend the gorge without technical equipment by navigating around the Katarraktis section. However, caution is required due to the area’s steep slopes, unstable ground, and lack of marked trails, which can strain the knees.

As you descend, the initial vegetation is predominantly cypress and oak trees, but as you near sea level, pine trees become more prevalent.

  • Havgas Gorge by Kavousi
  • 1 km
  • 1.5 h

In the eastern region of Crete, the term Havgas is frequently encountered, often used to name canyons and in some variations such as Ha, Havgoudi, and so on. One of the many gorges bearing the Havgas name is located near Kavousi, in the Ierapetra province. This gorge is essentially the lower segment of the wild Mesonas gorge, which originates from the Thripti plateau.

The section known as Havgas begins close to the Minoan settlement of Azorias and concludes its path in Kavoussi. Despite its short length of only 700m, traversing it via its stream demands technical (canyoning) gear due to the presence of six stunning waterfalls. The tallest of these waterfalls reaches 20 meters in height and retains water well into the late winter.

As an alternative, the gorge can be navigated by foot along the ancient hiking trail that skirts the canyon from its eastern side, linking Avgos to Kavoussi.

  • Gorge Kinigospilios at Hordaki

In the quiet, almost abandoned village of Chordaki, located in the Amari district, we discovered the hidden gem of Kynigospilios Canyon. Situated south of the village, this small but stunning canyon remains a secret, its location hidden from view, which contributes to its relative obscurity. The Kynigospilios Canyon boasts a significant water flow from the slopes of Mount Kedros, which lasts from winter through to late spring.

However, traversing the canyon requires the use of ropes and canyoning equipment due to the presence of eight stunning waterfalls along its path, with the last one being particularly breathtaking. Unfortunately, the canyon’s safety measures, installed by canyoners around 2011, are not ideally positioned, making them inaccessible during periods of high water flow. The canyon was christened ‘Koutsouna’ (meaning ‘small’) by the first group to cross it, as they couldn’t find an existing name for it.

At the canyon’s entrance, you’ll find two adjacent watermills, and the surrounding area is lush with greenery, including platans and oaks that provide ample shade. Beneath most of the waterfalls, you’ll find ponds perfect for swimming in the canyon’s crystal-clear river waters. The Kynigospilios Canyon eventually merges into the Platys River bed at its termination point.

  • Mavrogiannis Gorge
  • 3.5 km
  • 3 h

The Mavrogiannis Gorge, also known as Skinias Gorge, originates from the vicinity of the Skinias village in the Mirabello province. Following a winding path, it culminates at the stunning Avlaki beach in Vlychadia. This dry canyon is characterized by magnificent rock structures throughout its length. Although the gorge transports water from the Areti Monastery region, it is predominantly dry.

  • Troulla Gorge
  • 0.7 km
  • 2 h

A few kilometres west of Tsoutsouras gorge in the eastern Asterousia range, you’ll find the smaller and narrower Troulla gorge. Though it’s shorter than the Tsoutsouros canyon, it has captivated the hearts of canyoners with its over 15 stunning waterfalls, the tallest reaching 15m. Its close proximity to the Tsoutsouras Canyon makes its geological features similar. It was endearingly named Tsoutsouraki, meaning small Tsoutsouras, by the first group to traverse it.

The entrance to the gorge is situated just west of a remarkable rock known as Troulla near Tsoutsouras, at a location called Meli Lakos (Honey’s Pit). The exit is located in the area of Staoussa, adjacent to the village. Descending the gorge requires technical canyoning equipment, particularly during the winter when the waterfalls are in full flow.

  • Mindris Gorge
  • 7 km
  • 4 h

The Mindris Gorge, starting near Filippi village and ending at the Tsoutsouras port, spans a length of 6km. It’s an open canyon with no vertical walls and a riverbed that dries up in the summer, making it easy to traverse. Along the riverside, remnants of ancient settlements from the Minoan to Roman Era have been discovered.

One can start their hiking journey from the road that links Kasteliana and Tsoutsouras. This route takes you through the riverbed of the Myndris River, where carob trees are predominant. Midway through the canyon, at Perdikoneri, you’ll find a spring with drinkable water.

In the vicinity of the canyon and near Tsoutsouras, archaeologists have unearthed signs of the ancient town of Inatos, including Roman Baths, a trail, and several other structures dating back to the Minoan era.

  • 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.

  • Maliaris Gorge

The Maliaris Gorge, which originates near the Peronides village, travels west of the Souvlos village where a trail commences, and combines with the Anemaliaris gorge before concluding at the Tzavlidon Vlyhada beach. This gorge, characterized by scrublands, expansive areas, and cave-filled walls, is a classic representation of the Mirabello region. Notably, the gorge is home to a massive cave known as Volakospilios, situated in its center.

  • 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.

Other gorges in the areas

Chania

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