Mt. Parnitha is located in Attiki province,25km N from the city of Athens.It is one of the 4 mountains(the others are Immitos,Penteli and Aigaleo) that surround the circular plain,in which the city of Athens is built.Mt Parnitha is the talllest and more impressive among the mountains that surround Athens.
Despite its proximity to Athens,it has a much different climate,with lots of heavy rain,many days of snowfall and annual average temperature 5-10degrees C lower than Athens depending on the altitute and the part of the mountain. Mt Parnitha, is the only mountain around Athens plain,that counts weeks,even months(depending on the elevation)of snow coverage.In the upper part of the mountain(above 1000m)the temperature even in summer afternoons,never exceeds 30 degrees C.In Winter,on the other hand we have lots of days of snowfall resulting even in 0,5-1m height of snow in some slopes and the temperature hardly exceeds 0 degrees C at the higher part of Parnitha.Most of the snowfall in Parnitha,happens January and February.Usually most of the snow melts until late March but in the northern slopes of the highest peaks,especially Karavola,it can be kept until mid to late April,depending on the winter.
Mt Parnitha has lots of springs of constant flow(maybe 50) and lots of boiling rivers that form very beautiful ponds even small waterfalls in Winter and early Spring.Most of the rivers and streams in Parnitha get dry during late Summer or early Autumn and their flow varies very much from season to season,depending on the snowfalls of each Winter.
Mt Parnitha although it is a relatively low mountain(1413m)it is very extensive covering the half part of the northern area of Attiki province.It has a nearly square shape,with the main ridgeline proceeding in W to E direction for nearly 20km and some minor peaks inclining from it.The mountains rises just above Athens NW and N suburbs and its nortern slopes reach the towns of Malakasa and Avlona located 40 and 50km corresponding from Athens.In the East the mountain rises just above the towns of Varimpompi,Krioneri and Afidnes(20-30km) away from the centre of Athens.The SW foot of Parnitha is near the towns of Aspopirgos and in Fuli(Athens suburb) but the mountains exceeds too long to the NW reaching the Skourtas plateau in the borders with Voiotia province.
Mt Parnitha is full of thick forests,steep and easy slopes,huge cliffs,impressive ravines crossed by small but boiling streams especially in early Spring.The water of the streams in South Parnitha join with Kifissos river that crosses Athens,the streams of NW Parnitha contribute To Mavrorema stream.The streams in N,NE Parnitha form Viroi stream,that connects as also as Mavrorema with Asopos river in North Attiki.Finally the streams in East Parnitha form Charadros river,which sheds in Marathonas lake.Mt Parnitha is covered with pine trees from the feet to 700m elevation,with mixed pine and fir-tree forest in 700-1000m and with thick fir forests above 1000m.Near rivers lots of plane and poplar trees are found.
All these elements make Mt Parnitha a very beautiful mountain,the most attractive in Attiki province,worth visiting all seasons of the year.In Summer one could enjoy cool and fresh breeze and the shadow of the trees.In Autumn the colours are unique especially,near the streams and the rivers.In Winter the mountain gives another feeling with the snowcapped slopes so close to Athens.Finally,in Spring the meadows and the valleys are in bloom and water,streams flow everywhere.
The major and more distinctive peaks are:
These 2 highest peaks are full of military installations and antennas so they are not reachable
Among them the most impressive ravines are Chouni,Agias Triadas,Gkouras,Mavrorema and Charadros ravine.The upper half of the mountain is covered with snow for at least 2months,usually mid-January to mid March but in the northern slopes of Karavola peak remains of snow can be found even in late April.The snow is usually soft and never icy,so special equipment isn't needed to ascent Parnitha in winter,apart from a solid trekking boot and a pair of gaiters.There is not a danger of an avalance.
Important,is the presence of red deer in areas of Parnitha's national park.The population is quite good reaching 300-400 animals.
Usual starting points to ascent Mt Parnitha are:
The valley Makrichorafo(570m)
The town Afidnes(300m),if there isn't a car to proceed to Makrichorafo
The town Thrakomakedones(400m)
The parking of the cable car(480m)
The town Fuli(250m)
The village Avlon(180m)
The village Sfendali(290m)
The town Varibobi(300m)
There are city buses from the centre of Athens that reach Acharnes(200m) at the south feet of the mountain with the numbers A10,B10.From there someone can proceed to the parking of the cable car(4-5km) and start the ascent.There is a bus from Nea Ionia to the suburb of Thrakomakedones with the number 724.There are also city buses from Kifisia to Varibobi(SE feet of Parnitha) and from centre to Fuli(SW feet of Parnitha).Also the train can be used for the rest approaches of Mt.Parnitha.From the railway stations of Afidnes,Sfendali(2km from Malakasa) and Avlon someone could start the ascent to Mt.Parnitha.There is a cable car from an elevation of 485m that reaches one of Parnithas peaks in 1050m.Just beside the cable car starts the well known Chouni ascent one of the most crowded.From Thrakomakedones there are 2 paths that each one leads to one of the 2 refuges of the mountains and its peaks.From Afidnes good road leads to Makrichorafo valley from which the path ascents the East side of the mountain.From Avlon and Sfendali,paths and bad gravel roads lead to the N and NE areas of Parnitha in areas like Loimiko,Ntrasiza,Palaiomilesi spring,Xouliza,Mola.Also somebody can make the 2 full crossings of Mt.Parnitha.One crossing is from Fuli to Malakasa through Tamilthi spring,Panas cave,Skipiza spring,Mola and the other is from Thrakomakedones to Avlon through Chouni ravine,Mpafi refuge,Mola,Loimiko valley,Pireza.Both are demanding routes requiring 10-12 hours walk.
There is no red tape needed.Whereas Mt. Parnithas is a national park and each visitors should respect the existing restrictions.
There are 2 huts in nearby places(1hour walk one from the other).They both are in the South area of the mountain 2 hours walk from Thrakomakedones.One is Mpafi refuge at 1161m and the other is Flampouri refuge(1158m)situated in the top of the steep ridgeline that rises above Thrakomakedones.Normally free camping is restricted because Mt. Parnitha is a national park,but someone could camp with precaution and respect of the nature at isolated meadows or valleys at the N side of the mountain.
There are maps for Mt.Parnitha,both in 1:25000 scale.One is Anavasi editions and the other is from ROAD editions.Both maps are G.P.S compatible
In Mt.Parnitha are situated most of Attiki's climbing areas.There we find Arma,Alogopetra,Flambouri,Korakofolia,Mikri Varasova,Petra Varibobis.The height of the rocks vary from few metres to 100-150m in Arma and Flambouri.The rocks are ideal for boulder,sport and traditional climbing in a marvelous physical environment.Some of the Parnithas'paths,the easiest ones and the gravel roads are ideal for mountain-bike apart from a walk.Finally,just below Arma peak,there is Gkouras canyon,an impressive technical canyon crossed by a boiling river.This canyon is the most technical canyon near Athens ideal for canyoning.