Mikri (Little) Ziria constitutes the northern end of Mount Kyllini.Thanks to its orientation, it remains clad in white for several months, while on certain years it receives more snow than even the mountains of Northern Greece. Because of its moderate height and the unpredictability of the local climate, the snow is often not hard enough and a winter hike may resemble an endurance test.
West of the mountain is Meghali (Big) Ziria, while between them lies the gorge of Flambouritsa. The three peaks exceeding 2,000 meters in height may be visited in a signle day. From Tsouma, the remotest of the three, you can see both Meghali Ziria and the gorge seperating the two mountains. The local forest consists mostly of firs and fewer black pines, with more species of flora growing on the meadows and within the gorge.
Lakes Stymphalia, Dasiou and Feneou (Doxas) are all situated in the area. The second one is the most popular among visitors, many of whom rent jeeps to explore the area, terrifying the local fauna. During our last visit, we were surprised by the quiteness of the mountain, which seems as if it has been deserted. We heard or saw no mammals or birds, apart from a few ravens near the peak. Hunters, on the other hand, have left their marks all over the mountain, from the grasslands to the ridge and even in the heart of the forest. A whole bunch of hunting dogs is based at a small sheep pen near Pighadia, posing a constant threat for smaller wild animals. Rubbish has been damped at several places near the forest roads.
Despite the visible signs of human intervention, the region still has a lot to offer to nature-lovers. Spring, just after the snow has melted, is the perfect time to visit the mountain, although on cold days, when the snow is hard, Mikri Ziria is a good choice for hikers wishing to get a first taste of winter hiking.
136 km. from Athens
585 fro Thessaloniki
Local mountaineering association: tel. (+30) 210 38 070 93
We start from the village Kefalari. The trail starts at the mountain hostel to the left of the main square next to a church. There is no climbing sign that shows us the way to go, but the path is visible. We leave right from the hostel and ascend crossing twice a stream without water. At the beginning of the trail we meet a fountain for animals and some trail signs. Soon you will find an old metal sign on a pine. Then, after passing through a narrow passage between hedges, we reach a forest road.
Pass across the plateau and continue our march to the left towards the stream. We go right via a slippery path. Soon we reach a plateau with small trees where we find ribbons tied to branches. Pay attention as in some places the path is blocked by dense vegetation. It is better to move along the branches or we can easily lose track.
We cross the fir trees forest and via a closed track to reach a large plateau. On the left a little farther there is a pen and forest road. We move to the right and follow the clump.
To find the entrance to the trail in the woods, we need to look for the well of Moutsios. There are ribbons and some red metal marks on trees. After a few openings in the forest we begin to ascend through a dry creek. The trail is generally well defined and with a little attention will lead us properly.
As we approach the alpine part, we find on our left some characteristic rocks, which bypass from the right, ascending towards the ridge that is easy and safe. We reach the saddle, where on our left we see the top “Dousias Mountain” while to the right and a little farther is the summit “Chioni”. In line with hiking maps the top “Dousias Mountain” is the tallest with a height of 2.088m. and follows the top of Chioni 2.086m. However, wooden climbing boards will find the on the way back state as the highest peak “Chioni” with height of 2.177m.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle and perhaps the highest peak is located between the two above and has no distinctive name. To return, we move to the right over the ridge until we reach the last peak (Chioni).
From here we either descend to the right passing by the peak or descend before it towards the neck on the right. Essentially, by measuring the necks from the top Dousias we must descend to the third we see to our right. To our left is the path.
We start the descent until we reach the stream Makria Chouni. Here we see the yellow signs from the path E4. Characteristic of the trail are the many broken and uprooted trees from the large amount of snow that fell in the winter of 2010-11. We descend a distinct path until we reach a forest road with a wooden sign. From there we will continue right towards the great plateau that we found at the beginning of the journey.
After about forty minutes we reach to a pen. Located to the left of the forest road, but we must continue right through the path. Animals have opened several passages and is difficult to recognize the right path. Next we enter the woods, moving parallel to the ridge, located at the bottom right.
Soon we will reach the plateau in front of a road leading to another pen. Beware of loose hounds, which bark but not approach. Passing to the left of the pen and following the forest road will go next to the well, we met at the beginning. From here we follow this path to the village, always following the ribbons on trees.
According to legend, in a cave at Kyllini Hermes was born, who was worshiped throughout the region of Evrostini. The fruit of love of the nymph Maia with Zeus, the little god escaped from the cave on the first night of his birth and came to Thessaly, where he stole the cattle of Apollo.
Returning to Kyllini he discovered a turtle and from its shell which made a lyre, the legendary first musical instrument. Eventually, the lyre saved him from the wrath of Apollo, who received it in exchange for lost cattle. Since then, one of the tops of Kyllini called Helydorea, which means skinning turtles.
On the west side of Valley Flabouritsa at an altitude of 1,700 m is the magnificent cave area of 1,200 square meters, where it is said that Hermes was born. The seven rooms are decorated with rare natural white stones and sculptures of stalactites and stalagmites.
The spas of the Baths of Kyllini in the woods, near the Roman ruins and the archaeological ruins of the ancient city of Kyllini , inhabited almost continuously from paleolithic times definitely worth a visit.
The nearest ski resort is located in Great Ziria; although it has been renamed Ziria Athletic Center, since the integration of the region on Natura protected area does not allow such interventions. With the renaming the Centre overcame the “obstacles” which involved the opening of roads and construction of a parking space, resulting in the degradation of the natural environment.
author – photographer: Panos Bampaloukas