Mikri (small) and Meghali (big) Tzena, two peaks of an almost equal height, are the continuation of the mountain range that includes mounts Kaimaktsalan and Pinovo. Renown for its rivers and the gorge of Notia, it is perfect for less demanding hikes, thanks to its mild terrain and relatively low (under 2,000 m.) peak. A main characteristic of the mountain is its beech forest which extends up to an altitude of 1800 meters; above it, young pines are beginnig to climb to ever greater heights.
The forest road, used by woodcutters, extends up to the alpine zone, separating Mikri from Megali Tzena and spoiling the landscape’s wild beauty. Still, several trails begin from Notia village towards the gorge bearing the same name and lead into the mountain’s heart, away from human activity. Aridea’s mountain club is responsible for opening and marking the trails, without which Tzena would be virtually impossible to climb.
(Megali Tzena) 2182m.
577km from Athens.
110km from Thessaloniki.
Canyon of Notia – Megali Tzena top
Start from the village Notia to direction Archangellos. At 100 meters to the left we find the road that leads to the entrance of the gorge. The canyon is visible from the street, and shortly before its entrance there are white and green symbols on the concrete channel that carries water to the village.
To see the waterfall, we must descend from cliffs or go through the river. The trail begins just over to our left. For some time we move into the gorge, passing over small bridges. As we gain altitude, we begin to see the rocks straight ahead, and soon we enter a forest of beech, leaving the gorge. We pass through ferns while the slope of the path increases until we reach a forest road and turn right.
The road seems to have been used in past for logging, but now nature seems to regain control. We proceed with caution so as not to miss the marks because of the dense vegetation. We find again the indistinct path on our left, and we continue through the forest until we get back into a well preserved forest road. We will continue uphill and soon on our left we see the yellow signs that guide us towards the path.
We walk now in a wide path and ascend to the plateau, which sadly is full of trash, a reminder of the “naturalists” who frequent the mountain. From here we can see the alpine part and opposite there are signs are that we will lead us back to a forest road. We continue right and get into some rugged path towards the saddle and the road that divides the Little from Great Tzena.
A sign shows the two peaks and the time required for the route. For the Big Tzena we continue to the left onto the road and soon we find the yellow marks on the left. The vegetation in many places has closed the trail which is easy to miss. We continue northwards, until we reach the ridge, where the peak is visible and easily accessible.
The ascent takes about six hours and five the descent. Particular caution should be paid at the section that crosses the forest. If we lose the marking is good to go back to where we saw the last signal. The route is complicated but not dangerous.
The only ski resort near Tzena is located outside the Greek borders, in FYROM at mount Kozouf. However, the mountain is proposed for ski mountaineering. Nearby is the ski resort of Kaimaktsalan.
author – photographer: Panos Bampaloukas