Psiloritis is the highest mountain of Creta, a greek island mostly known for its beaches. Between november and june, you also can see white mountains from almost everywhere in the island, and enjoy sea, sun and ... snow (sorry for it...). Psiloritis is approximately located in the centre of Creta, quite close to its biggest city Heraklion. In summer the mountain can get quite crowded, when the weather is not too hot.
Psiloritis is a sacred mountain in the greek mythology, the god Zeus is supposed to be born in a cave close to the start of the normal route. On the very summit you'll find a ruined chapel.
The trail to the summit is a very easy one, at least during late spring and summer. Beware of the heat in summer, as the temperatures can rise well above 30 degrees Celsius and there is no shade on the higher slopes of the mountain. On the other hand, the area receives heavy snow during winter, and deserves some ski hiking from january to march. When there is lots of snow, the trail might be hard to find, it is marked with red and/or yellow spots of paint.
Enjoy the fabulous view and the landscape of whole Creta, which is standing below your feet, you can feel like a god...
The E4 hiking trail
, which crosses the whole island from west to east, leads directly over the summit of Psiloritis. Therefore there are two main ascent routes for the mountain.
The easiest and most common way to the summit is the E4 trail from the ski resort of Creta (!), in the Nida Plateau at around 1500 meters high. A large and well-marked trail starts from the Ideon Andron cave, and leads to the summit in about 3 hours. From Heraklion there is a road (in good condition) to the village of Anogeia. There are also busses coming from Heraklion and reaching this village during the whole year. After the village the road coninues up to the plateau of Nida (about 15km far from Anogeia). From Nida-plateau begins the most common path to the summit of Psiloritis. Nida is at the east side of the mountain without accomodation possibilities. There is only a taverne that works in the weekends.
The other side of E4 trail goes up to the summit from the village of Fourfouras. The ascent from this side covers more than vertical 2000 meters, so the return trip will take you about 8 - 10 hours (5-6 up, 3-4 down). The E4 trail on this side of the mountain is marked with yellow dots of paint and the occasional sign. Sometimes the markings are hard to find, but the trail is well trodden. Finding the start of the trail from this side can be hard, this map has details on finding it, and other valuable information can be found in the comments section of that page. This side of the mountain used to be the normal starting point, from Fourfouras or the nearby village of Kouroutes, but these days they are apparently less popular. From Kouroutes there is also a dirt road to the Stoubotos Prinos hut (see the 'huts' section for more information)
There is also another road (in bad condition) that goes far inside the south area of Psiloritis coming from the village of Lochria.
The best way to get to the trailheads is to hire a car in one of the major cities (e.g. Heraklion). Bus information is very hard to find on Crete. According to SP member parky though, there's a daily 7am "Amari bus" from Rethymnon which can take you to Fourfouras. Please see here for more information.
Finally, the guide book The High Mountains of Crete by Cicerone Press contains lots of useful information on Psiloritis (thanks to SP member parky for pointing this out).
HutsThere are two huts on this mountain. The nearest is the hut of "Stoubotos Prinos" (1600m.) in the south site of the mountain. You get there from the village of Fourfouras or Kouroutes. From Kouroutes there is a road that goes straight to the hut (in the winter not possible to go by car). From the hut about 3-4 hours to the summit. It belongs to the Mountaineering Club of Rethymnon and you have to take the key to get access in the hut.
The other hut is the hut of "Prinos". It belongs to the Mountaineering Club of Heraklion and it is far away of the summit (on the east side of the mountain.
With special thanks to alkiskond.
Red TapeNo permit, parking pass or fee required. On the south side you will find some goat fences, please leave all gates as you find them.
Other than that, just be afraid of the crowd during summer time !
When To ClimbThe mountain can be climbed year-round, no technical climbing gear is required. On dry trails, usually free from snow from late june to late november, only hiking shoes are needed.
In summer, beware of the heat. Temperatures can soar well above 30 degrees Celsius, and on the higher slopes there is no shade whatsoever. Make sure that you bring enough water!
Don't forget your skis in winter, but be aware of the avalanche danger on the steep slopes. Indeed a french ski-hiker died of an avalanche in Creta in the 90's.
Additional caution should be taken in winter: If there is snow there its almost impossible to see the spots that mark the trail, so that means,
that on the higher slopes you will have a lot of problems finding the right way between so many small
peaks around. Only people that know the path right good will not have any problems
to find the way during winter (thanks Alkiskond).