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Flampouritsa is a deep, wooded valley at Mount Ziria in northern Peloponnese. It is an ideal destination for a day trip from Athens for anyone looking for a quick yet exciting nature escape.
That being said, Flampouritsa actually wasn’t the original target of our trip. We planned to climb to the top of Megali Ziria following the classic ascent route from Ziria’s tiny ski center.
But arriving at the car park of the ski center and seeing the whole mountain covered in a thick carpet of fresh snow we realized we are painfully unequipped for such an adventure.
So instead, we turned our sights towards the still snowless valley of Flampouritsa separating Megali and Mikri Ziria and discovered a small paradise filled with unspoiled nature, pristine forests, bubbling streams, and beautiful hiking trails!
How to get to the Ski Center of Ziria from Athens
We left Athens following the highway to Corinth and later Patra. We abandoned the highway at Xilokastro and followed the signs for Trikala Korinthia and Ziria Athletic Center (not ski center, I guess because of its tiny size and almost non-existent slopes).
The route was easy to find but don’t be fooled by the short distance of only 37 kilometers between Xilokastro and Ziria. It took us around one hour to complete the drive up to the mountains due to the many sharp turns and occasional holes on the road.
The whole drive from Athens to Ziria took us a little over two hours. You can see the driving directions on Google Maps HERE.
Maps, signposting & difficulty
The area of Flampouritsa Gorge is covered in the Anavasi Map of Mount Ziria (Kyllini). And even though the trail is marked and we followed a recording on Wikilock, our paper map come in handy multiple times.
At first, the trail was clear and well-marked by red signs but towards the end of the hike, it become much harder to find. The path turned into a faint rocky trail and the markings were old and far apart.
What’s more, we encountered a couple of wooden information tables along the way but they were far from helpful. The majority of them was either fallen or placed in strange locations causing some serious confusion.
We made our way through the gorge safely in the end but I would definitely recommend bringing a map in addition to flowing Wikiloc or other GPS recording. You can see our recording of the trial on Wikiloc HERE.
We found two options to cross Flampouritsa Gorge and choose the “easier” trail starting right at the ski center. At 12 kilometers in length and around 550 meters of elevation gain, it looked like an easy hike.
In reality, it was much more challenging than we expected and we arrived at our car after 6 hours of hiking pleasantly worn out. The longer trail should have around 16 kilometers and starts at the wooden kiosk at Varnevo.
From Ziria Ski Center to Flampouritsa Gorge and the Sytha springs
From the car park of Ziria Ski Center, we walked towards the edge of the valley keeping the lifts to our right. We passed a wooden kiosk and followed a dirt road descending down to the valley.
At the first turn, we spotted a path with a few wooden steps diving into the forest from the left side of the road. We followed this trail, clearly marked by red signs, on its steady descent through the wooded slopes.
When we reached the bottom of the valley we encountered a small stream and a wooden sign. We turned right here and followed a comfortable and well-marked trail running parallel to the stream.
The stream may not be here during the hot summer months. But at the beginning of December, it was rushing happily through the bottom of the gorge making the forest scenery truly magical.
Even on a warm sunny day, it was surprisingly cold under the thick blanket of trees and everything was moist and hazy. The tree branches glistening with thousands of small droplets and frosty grass and moss only added to the beauty of the place!
We crossed the stream multiple times which was an easy quest in December. However, it could become quite the challenge in the spring when the stream fills with ice-cold water from the melting snow of Mount Ziria.
After about 4 kilometers of easy hiking, we spotted our trail crossing the stream and turning uphill through the slopes on the right side of the valley. But Wikilock was leading us straight and after a bit of hesitation, we decided to trust it.
We continued along the stream and soon we come out of the forest on a large grassy meadow bathing in sunshine. These meadows are the source of the Sytha stream and the perfect place for a lunch break with stunning mountain views.
Return back to the ski center of Ziria via the cave of Hermes
After our break, we walked back across the pastures among a couple of shambly shepherd’s huts until we reached the forest and found our trail. From here, we embarked on a steady climb through steep, rocky slopes.
In the beginning, we kept losing our trail but as soon as we come out of the forest it become clearer. The views started opening up and we got to admire the dramatic silhouette of Mikri Ziria on the opposite side of the valley while trying to catch our breath.
Once we reached the top of the slope, we come across a dirt road. After some confused wandering up and down we turned right and followed the road for about one and a half kilometers.
We come across another wooden sign at a junction with a smaller dirt track breaching off to the right. We turned right here and continued all the way to the end of the road.
It ended abruptly on the top of staggering cliffs offering superb views across the valley of Flampouritsa. The cave of Hermes lied somewhere to the right of the road end but we didn’t bother searching for it as it is not easy to enter anyway.
Instead, we continued along the edge of the cliff searching for red markings painted on the rock. The trail was hard to find at first but later turned into a clear path that took us all the way to the top of Ziria’s ski lift.
From here, we descended along the right side of the ski run all the way down to the ski center. We finished our hike with a cap of slightly overpriced mountain tea in Ziria’s chalet enjoying the last rays of sunshine falling at the mountain tops.
More from Ziria: Winter ascent of Megali Ziria in photos