The hike to Pan’s Cave is one of my favorite walks at Mt.Parnitha. Even when the rest of the mountain teems with day-trippers from Athens the area around Fili stays quiet and peaceful. Except for few climbers trying to vanquish the high cliffs at Alogopetra outside of Fili we met almost no one. The Pan’s cave can be accessed only by foot and there are no coffee shops or taverns nearby. All this, fortunately, discourage the crowds.
The path to the Pan’s cave is very well-marked and getting lost would be difficult. However, if you plan on getting back different way or want to explore the area further the Terrain map of Parnitha can be very useful.
The trail to Pan’s Cave starts at Fili on the northwest outskirts of Athens and to get there by public transport is surprisingly fast and easy. Just take the suburban trail from Stathmos Larisis in the direction for Kiato and get off at Ano Liosia. The train ride takes only around 15 minutes and the normal metro ticket applies here as well. From Ano Liosia it takes another 15 – 20 minutes to reach Fili by the 723 bus.
At Fili get off at the center of the village in case you need to stock up on food or drinks as this is the last opportunity of the day. Or, if coming prepared, wait for the bus to turn right at a large football field and get off at the next stop. It is called Ag.Kyprianou. From here, follow an asphalt road climbing up and to the left towards a deep canyon.
It passes few shabby farms full of chickens, goats and crazy looking dogs until it turns into a dirt road at the last house of the village. Actually, there are two dirt roads to choose from, so be careful. Our is the left one, running along the wooded slopes and into the canyon.
After a while, the dirt road turns into a narrow path climbing over boulders and through bushes and groves. There is a rock climbing park at the beginning of the trail and two springs with fresh, running water. Use this opportunity to re-fill your bottle as there is nothing else along the way. We underestimated the length and difficulty of the trail and ended up returning in 35 degrees heat without as much as a sip of water.
The first section of the trail follows the cliffs of Alogopetra and offers great views of the Kleiston monastery on the other side of the valley. Once it joined another path coming from the Kleiston monastery across the valley it started its most strenuous climb. It was a tiresome half an hour however once the views opened up all fatigue was forgotten. Once on the top, we continued along the rim of the canyon, more or less straight with just a few craggy exceptions.
However, the highlight of hiking to the Pan’s Cave, at least for me, is the final descent. After leaving the main path at a crossroad with a sign pointing to the left towards the cave the trail drops down abruptly. The last meters are more of a scramble than a walk until finally, the trail disappears altogether. There is a long drop to the terrace in front of the cave with small steps carved into the rock. The climb is secured by a sturdy metal rope attached to the rock. It looks pretty scary from the top but only the first step is challenging and from there it’s just a lot of fun!
For centuries the Pan’s Cave has been a place of worship to the god Pan, therefore the name. If you bring a flashlight and don’t mind bunch of shrieking bats flying over your head you can explore the 70 meters long cave with some interesting stalagmites and stalactites. Otherwise, the terrace is a perfect place for a break shaded by the surrounding cliffs and all sorts of bright green vegetation. And if that’s still not enough, climb all the way down to the bottom of the valley and explore the riverbed, dry or filled with bubbling stream depending on the season.
To return back to Fili either follow the same trail backward or continue from the cave down to the stream and climb up on the other side of the valley. The first ascent is very steep but after a while, the path widens and continues up and around the Arma mountain. This option is longer and more grueling but gives the opportunity to visit the Kleiston Monastery towards the end of the walk. Either way, its gonna be another 6-7 km of wandering through this glorious landscape before reaching Fili.