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Steni Dirfi’s in central Euboea is the perfect destination for any mountain lover or nature enthusiast looking for an easy escape from Athens! This pretty mountain village sits in the middle of a beautiful forest at an altitude of 440 meters overlooked by two mountain giants, Dirfi and Xerovouni.
It is a popular stop for travelers heading towards the stunning beaches on the east coast of the island as well as the meat-loving foodies looking to enjoy an opulent traditional lunch in one of Steni’s lovely taverns.
More importantly, Steni is the starting point to multiple amazing hiking trails winding through the forest of Steni and towards the summits of Dirfi and Xerovouni.
I have visited Steni and the surrounding mountains many times before but only on our recent climb to the summit of Xerovouni, I got to truly appreciate how rich and diverse this area really is.
From chestnuts, planetrees, and fir-covered river banks near the village to the sweet-scented coniferous forest and rocky, almost alien-looking moonscape near the top of Xerovouni, this place has a lot to offer. On top of it, the views from the summit across the mountainous landscapes and towards the sea are truly breathtaking!
Driving to Steni from Athens
The drive to Steni from Athens is relatively fast and straightforward, it took us only around one hour and forty-five minutes to complete. We left Athens following the Lamia highway until we spotted a sign for Chalkida. We crossed the Evripos Straight and drove through the city of Chalkida until we reached the coast.
We roughly followed the coast until Nea Artaki where we turned right following a sign for Steni. The sign was extremely dirty and hard to spot on the busy main street of Artaki so keep your eyes peeled for it. The rest of our drive to Steni was quite uneventful and we had plenty of time to enjoy the stunning mountain views opening up in front of us.
Once at Steni, we drove through the village and continued uphill until we spotted a small church on the left side of the road. We stopped here and parked our car at a small car park on the opposite side of the road. If you need to buy snacks or water, there is a bakery next to the road just before the village and a kiosk on the main square.
Check out the directions to the beginning of the trail on Google Maps HERE.
Maps, signposting & difficulty
With 15 kilometers in length, over 1000 meters of elevation gain, and some light scrambling at the top, this hike was quite challenging! However, it can be made much easier (but still awesome) by omitting the final ascent to the summit of Xerovouni.
Leaving out the summit would be a good idea in low visibility, too. The trail was hard to find at the scree fields near the top and the final scramble could be potentially dangerous in bad weather.
That being said, the rest of the trail was well marked by red signs pinned to the trees and easy to follow. The area around Steni and Xerovouni is covered by the Anavasi map of Mount Dirfy & Xerovouni which proved useful especially on the descent. You can also check the Wikilock recording of our hike HERE.
The forest of Steni
We started our hike near a small church called Agios Kirykos at the upper end of Steni. This is the starting point of three hiking trails marked S1, S2, and S3, the first two leading to the Refuge of Dirfi and the last one climbing to the summit of Xerovouni.
We followed trail number S3 starting at the right side of the road about one hundred meters above the car park. We crossed a stream running parallel to the road and embarked on a steady climb through the forested slopes on the opposite side.
The trail was clear and well marked and the uphill walk relatively easy. After a while, we reached a dirt road running in the same direction as our path. We crossed it multiple times during our climb but for the most part, it run parallel to our path on the side of a small stream.
It may be tempting to follow the road in some sections as it looks much more comfortable than the narrow trail but don’t, you would miss out! The path itself, lined by lush, jungle-like vegetation and bright green ferns as far as we could see, was beautiful on its own. But by sticking to its course wherever possible, we also discovered a lovely and totally unexpected waterfall, which has become one of the highlights of this hike.
About two hours into our hike at a spot called Kalovrisi we left the stream and climbed up to a gentle ridge. The chestnuts and plane trees were slowly replaced by fir forest and we caught the first glimpses of the rugged ridge of Xerovouni towering in the distance.
On the top of the ridge, we joined a dirt road once again, turn left, and followed it for about 400 meters until we spotted a trail diving to the beautiful coniferous forests on the right side. About halfway through the forest, we were joined by another trail coming from Rachi Syka and the refuge of Dirfy. Make a mental note here as this is our return route.
After a while, we passed another junction with a trail running to the left towards that highest peak of Xerovouni, Portaris. We continued straight and soon we emerged from the forest right in front of the imposing cliffs of Xserovouni.
Climbing to the summit of Xerovouni (1.413 meters)
Once out of the forest, we followed a faint trail marked by small cairns, winding through the grassy slopes. The higher we got the harder it was to find the trail and once we reached a large scree field right beneath the summit cliffs we lost it altogether.
But once we climbed through the slippery scree, wandering if this adventure may not be such a good idea, after all, we found red markings pained on the rock face and an arrow pointing to the right. They led us safely through the final scramble to the top of the Xerovouni ridge.
The scramble wasn’t too difficult or scary and this is coming from someone with modered fear of highs. That being said, it does require caution and some level of experience. If you don’t feel confident you can safely navigate through the difficult terrain, it is better to call it a day lower down and just enjoy the beautiful mountain views.
Once we reached the ridge we turned left and continued to the small concrete pillar marking the second highest peak of Xerovouni (1.413 meters). From here, we were treated to stunning panoramic views across the impressive ridge of Xerovouni, Mount Dirfy, the forest of Steni, and the sea as far as we could see!
Return back to Steni via Rachi Syka
To return back to Steni, we retraced our steps back to the crossroad with a trail coming from the refuge of Dirfy. There is a sign pointing towards the refuge pinned to a tree. We followed this trail through the forest until we reached a dirt road, turned right here, and continued all the way to the asphalt road connecting Steni with Stropones and Chiliadou.
Once on the asphalt road, we turn left and continued for about 150 meters until we saw another dirt road branching off to the right with a large sign pointing towards the refuge. We followed the road for another 600 meters looking for a trail running to the left towards Steni.
There is a pile of rocks marking the trailhead but it could be easily overlooked so pay attention here. This trail took us all the way back to Steni without any complications, exhausted but full of new experiences and beautiful memories.
Want to see more of Greece’s second-largest island? Then head south and explore the stunning beaches and charming little villages of the southern coast of Evia – check out THIS post for more info.