The Menalon Trail is a long mountain trail in Arcadia, in the centre of Peloponnese, that unfolds through the Lousios River gorge, the western slopes of Mt Menalo, the Valley of Mylaon River and the Northeast Gortynian Mountains. The Menalon Trail is incorporated in the prizewinning programme “Greek Paths of Culture” of the ELLINIKI ETAIRIA – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage. The programme aims to give new life to paths of particular natural beauty and historical importance, all over the country, stimulating local communities with an important factor of sustainable development, that of hiking tourism.
The program begins in the village of Stemnitsa which can be reached either via Kalamata International Airport (78 Km’s – 1 hour and 30 minutes) or Athens International Airport (226 Km’s – 2 hours and 40 minutes) and ends in the village of Laggadia. If you wish transfer form the airports please contact us.
Day 1 - Arrive to Stemnitsa
Upon arrival to Stemnitsa settle to your hotel and a local representative will meet you in order to brief you and give you all necessary material for your tour.
Day 2 – Stemnitsa to Dimitsana Lousios Gorge
From Stemnitsa, the village of goldsmiths and headquarters for the Peloponnesians Senate in 1821 we will cross the famous Lousios Gorge to get to Dimitsana. En route we will cross old farmlands pass through the church of the Transfiguration of Christ and admire the view of Lousios gorge before going into the paved path that leads to the Prodromos Monastery nested right on the gorges walls (open every day, closes at noon, there is a fountain in the courtyard). We continue to the Old Philosophou Monastery dating to 963 and then to the New Philosophou Monastery founded in 1691. Afterwards via an old mule track we traverse to Dimitsana passing through interesting bridges, heading towards the Open Air Water Power Museum famous for its mills that made the fame and wealth of Dimitsana.
Day 3 – Dimitsana –Zygovitsi & Zygovitsi –Elati
The section Dimitsana-Zigovisti ascends from the Lousios valley to the outskirts of the fir forest. The trail head starts in Dimitsana and passes next to important historical buildings. Heading out from the settlement, take the footpath that ascends gently and arrives on the first plateau, intersecting a dirt road and the church of St. Paraskevi. This location offers splendid views of the median basin of Lousios river with the settlements of Dimitsana, Paliochori and Zatouna standing out in the wooded landscape.
The route to Zigovisti follows a succession of footpaths and dirt roads winding a plain of old fields, passing by the small monastery of St. Apostoli. The paved path heading to Zigovisti meanders through a long array of big threshing floor. Just after passing through the Immortals Memorial, the guard of Theodore Kolokotronis, leader of the 1821 Independence War, we enter the center of Zigovisti. The memory of the battles, the sacrifices and the heroes of the Greek independence war of 1821 have imbued this small yet historically significant village with a great sense of patriotic pride.
The Zigovisti–Elati section straddles the Western Menalon massif. The trail heads through a beautiful ravine, continues through a crooked dirt road and an artificially reinforced footpath to the Bourniades Spring. We then smoothly ascend to Bilali Pass, an important node of old paths that connected Radou and Stemnitsa. From Bilali Pass we ascend to the saddle between Pliovouni and Fragovouni (short cut leading to the peak of Pliovouni 1643m, the highest peak of this route). Then following a steep path we enter Vlachika Plateau and follow the path to the mountain settlement of Elati.
Day 4 – Elati – Vytina - Nymfasia
The route descends from Elati to the riverbed of the Milaon River, where it meets the obvious pathway situated on the banks.Following the well waymarked trail (parts paved, parts plain path) pass by the big water drilling rig of the Pirgaki Springs (that supplies Vytina with water) and then the stone built Makrinou Fountain. Enter for 970 meters a dirt road wending to the place name Ellinika, under the hill where the acropolis of the antique city Methydrion was located. Hiking under the main road linking Vytina to Dimitsana we follow the nice, old mule track to Vytina. This part is the richest section of the route ; moving across Milaon River in high riparian vegetation of plane trees and passing by three consecutive abandoned watermills.
After resting and provisioning, we leave Vytina and continue on the route leading to Nymphasia through the Old Vytina footpath that leads to Mavra Litharia, a massive limestone boulder in the riverbed of Milaon River, that the stream cut in half creating a short yet impressive gorge. We then start descending to Tzavarenas’ bridge, a solid stone bridge that secured the connection between Vytina with the western Gortynian villages. The path gains altitude in a unique rocky landscape made of flysch covered with shrubs, reaching an altitude of 880 meters and wending horizontally towards Nymphasia, a small yet lively satellite of Vytina.
Day 5 – Nymfasia – Magouliana - Valtetsiniko
We enter a pleasant oak wood, to the trailhead that heads downhill to cross the Kernitsa Bridge, from where the trail ascends to the Kernitsas Monastery, a big monastic complex nested in an impressive monolith boulder. Following a combination of footpaths and dirt roads, we cross a dense fir forest and arrive at Sfyrida Hermitage, a nice place to rest with a spring. From Sfyrida (1000m) ascend through the forest straight until the intersection for Lasta (alt. 1250 m), from here take a southern direction and traverse the foot of the long steep slope of Kastro. This horizontal trail continues on an old pathway. After passing the Gavros Spring enter the small settlement of Magouliana .
Walk across Magouliana through small roads and arrive to the saddle west of the village, where an intersection to Lasta is located and point of splendid views, surrounded by stone built threshing floors. Descend toward the old sanatorium, known as the Mana Sanatorium, through small footpaths and small roads and reach the intersection of two asphalt roads across the church St. Pantes. The route leads down toward the valley along a small river and continues parallel to the riverbed direction through footpaths and small roads until the junction with another small river and a concrete bridge. The route continues to the left bank entering Kaminia, a nice small inner basin, tucked away at the foot of Valtesiniko. A good path, that was once paved, ascends to the mountain village of Valtesiniko (the village of woodcarvers).
Day 6 – Valtetsiniko – Lagadia
From Valtesiniko square, we pass by the impressive stone built school and access the upper peripheral road of the village, from here the view overlooks all the northern plains. We gain altitude from the footpath and the cement road up to 1250 meters, where the footpath becomes clearer and runs along the ridge where the byzantine fortress of Valtesiniko is nested. Descend to the small country church St. Triada through open landscapes and stunning views. The next part of the route traverses an extensive fir forest through a series of artificially widened paths. After a short detour for the spring at the location Grias to Lithari, gain some altitude before going down again near Kria Vrisi fountain from where the path ascends smoothly to the saddle and asphalt road. Follow the small forest road though a wooded ridge to the place named Elatakos to the great Grilas meadow, withwalnut trees, threshing floors and huts. On the western edge of this zone you’ll see Lagkadia Passing by the small Koubliza Spring and the impressive complex of Rapi Watermills, we enter Lagkadia (the village of the stone builders) and conclude the Menalon Trail to the war memorial.
Day 7 – Lagadia Departure