Trekking and mountaineering trails in Skyros
The Island of Skyros remains one of the least crowded and quiet islands. It is in the heart of Aegean and fascinates with its natural beauties and its rich cultural tradition. It is a place that keeps well the tradition, popular arts and the authentic .
Skyrosis called the island of contrasts as the north-western part of the island is a quiet place, in relative flat and fertile soil with full plants and pine forests too. In that place there is the second highest peak of the island, "Olympos" (altitude 363 m). In the contrary the south-eastern part of the island is mountainous, rough and not fertile with the higher peak Kochylas (altitude 792 meters). The famous small Skyrian horses live there, well known to Grece and abroad too.
In Skyros friends and mountain lovers will discover a unique natural treasure. Wonderful natural beauties, stunning landscapes, archaeological places, country - churches, outlying villages, beaches, bays, wetlands, unique fauna and flora, old bucolic paths, mild climate, offer unique experience near to nature.
Here, you can choose from simple walks to idyllic spots places to easy climbing.
The climbing to the tops of the Koxylas and the Olympos is one of the most exciting experiences where someone can live in the holidays in Skyros.
As for a part of Skyros, LIFE Programme (LIFE09 NAT / GR / 000323) that was implemented by the Municipality of Skyros, in the period 2010- 2015, with the support of Financial European Commission's created the signality and mapping of eight (8) paths with interesting elements of nature and culture in order to highlight the island's wealth.
ROUTE 1. PLATEAU ARI TOURKOKANALO, KASTRI, TOP VOUVA, MAROYLIKO. Route length: 6 kilometers, hours: 4
The walking starts from the Ari plateau through a beautiful landscape with oaks, Sfendamia trees and phillikia. The larger area is the natural habitat of the Skyrian horse. Nowadays it is frequented by herds of pure and half – bred Skyrian horses, which come to quench their thirst in Loustria, a pit with stagnant rainwater. The route surround the Dafny hill, which towers above the Ari plateau, continues uphill to the “Vouva” peak and end up at the plateau “Marouliko”, a place well protected from the wind for grazing sheep and goats. The rocky sides of the trail are the habitans of the lizard Podarcis gaigae, endemic to the archipelago of Skyros. The rout 1 is located in the network Natura 2000 «OROS KOCHYLAS» (GR2420006).
ROUTE 2: HORA SKYROS, ANAVALSA, PANGIA LYMPIANI, AGIOS KOSTANTINOS, HORA .
Route length: 14 km. Hours of course: 5 hours and 30 minutes
The Route 2, starts from the village of Skyros and ends in it, It passes through the area Anavalousa where the main source of the water supply for the entire island, is found, also an old watermill and lime that point important aspects of daily life in the late 19th century. Throughout the course one can see small country churches, that stand in rare beauty sites. One of them, the Panagia (Virgin Lympiani, is carved into a cave and its foundation lie in the marble of an ancient temple dating back to 1798. Their historical, folklore and social value is very significant. Anather parallel trail with a stream at its beginning, passes uphill through the pine forest alternative with farms and pastures. A large number of free grazing goats inhabit in this area thus the small scattered sheep pens. Certain sites on this route (springs and a goblin’s cave), are associated with many legends, traditions and fairy tales, while historical monuments found in our trail, such as the old aqueduct "Palioslina" and painted churches, are quiet remarkable.
ROUTE 3: SAINT MODESTOS, TOP KOCHYLAS, KALAMITSA.
Length: 11 km. Hours of course: 6 hours and 30 minutes
The Route 3 is located in the Natura 2000 site, «OROS KOCHYLAS» (GR2420006), a Special Protected Area for birds and Site of Community Importance, protected by EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EC) and the Directive on Wild Birds (79/409/EEC). The Hellenic Ornithological Society has declared Kochylas as an Important Bird Area for Greece (code GR115).
Kochylas is the habitat of important faunal species, such as Eleonora's Falcon, Cinereous Bunting, Cretzschmar’s Bunting and the island’s symbol the Skyrian Horse. Kochylas is also the habitat of several important endangered endemic floral species included in IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species such as Aethionema retsina, Campanula merxmuelleri, Scorzonera scyria and Aubrieta scyria, that visitors should be careful with.
The low lying maquis ,vegetation onsists mainly of Kermes Oak, wild Olive trees, Conehead Thyme, Prickly Burnet and Greek Spiny Spurge shrubs of very low height mainly due to overgrazing. The floral biodiversity of the mountain’s interior and ravines which are covered by thickets of Cretan Maple, Holly Oak and Mock Povet are also of great interest
ROUTE 4: ASCENT TO OF THE PROPHET ELIAS Achilli
Route length: 2 kilometers. Hours of course: 1 hour and 30 minutes
To enjoy a panoramic view of the island one must climb up to the country church of “Prophet Elijah” at the top of the hill of the same name by following route 4. ‘Ai-Lias Psles’ (the high one) as the Skyrians call it to distinguish it from the other churches of the same name, is located in the central part of the island on the plain of Kallikri at an altitude of 294 meters. The setting reveals the contrast between the thick pine forest on the northern side and the rocky mass of Kochylas, the ‘’Mountain’’ as the Skyrians call it. The route starts from Achilli and is particularly steep. The Feast of the Prophet Elijah is on July 20.
ROUTE 5 - FROM THE ACHILLES FOR SAINT Artemis AND FROM THERE CONNECTION WITH THE ROUTE 03.
Route length 6 km. Hours of course: 2 hours and 40 minutes
Route 5 leads to one of the most beloved churches on Skyros, Saint Artemios. Built in a cave on the northeast side of Kochylas at an altitude of 370 meters. The visitor is impressed by its magnificent views over the Aegean Sea and the plains of Kallikri.
The starting point is Achilli bay from where according to the mythology, Achilles departed for the Trojan War. The trail sets out up a steep dirt road with brushwood and ravines full of oleander and osier. It continues along a hiking path that crosses the narrow ravine known as ‘Gaidourorema’ and ends at the chapel. The rock is covered with an enormous, age-old ivy plant and among its branches grows the ‘Agios Artemios Carnation’, a small wild carnation with few leaves and grayish in colour. Next to the church there is an underground opening with drinking water, the "well" as they call it in Skyros. Saint Artemios is celebrated on October 20.
The most demanding hikers can continue up to the top of Kochylas (788m. in height) and meet route 3 which leads to Kalamitsa bay.
ROUTE 6: RENES- LIGHTHOUSE.
Route length: 9 km. course hours: 4 hours
The route starts from the Renes bay, crossing the plateau in place and ends on the southeast edge of Skyros in Lithari cape. In Aragón plateau frequented by herds of purebred or imiaiama Skyros horses. The scenery is imposing with cliffs terminate in turquoise waters. From April to October companions on the way to the lighthouse are the Eleonora's Falcons, an endangered falcon nesting in the cliffs.Skyros is home to the largest colony of the world. The last part of the route is on a steep slope, which is still in good condition the old path and ends at Cape Lithari, where the stone lighthouse called Lithari because it is built on the rocks.Constructed in 1894 and is the only lighthouse in Greece with two-storey building of construction of the base of the tower. The old system of rotating mirrors of need "tuning" every fifty minutes. Today is not supervised and is equipped with an automatic machine. Twenty years operates with photovoltaic systems. The lighthouse in 2012 was characterized by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture as a monument both for its architecture and construction for the original mechanism of the lighthouse as an important technical and scientific evidence for the lighting systems of lighthouses in the late 19th century