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Mount Kitheronas in Western Attica has been on our radar for quite some time now but it took us a while to actually give it a try.
Truth to be told, seeing the long silhouette of Kitherona and the neighboring Pastra from distance, tortured by rows of wind turbines and a maze of dirt tracks, it didn’t look all that appealing.
But as soon as we finally stepped on one of Kitheronas’ pretty hiking trails near the village of Vilia we understood, that this mountain still has a lot to offer.
End even though the shelter of EOS Eleusina and the highest peak of the mountain, Profitis Ilias (1.409 meters), can be accessed by car over an asphalt road, it is actually the parts in between that make a visit to Kitheronas worthwhile.
Getting to Vilia from Athens
Driving to Vilia was easy and relatively fast, it took us approximately one hour to reach the beginning of the trail from the center of Athens. You can find the directions on Google Maps HERE.
There are KTEL buses connecting Vilia with Athens, too, but right now their timetable is completely useless for a day trip. It may change with seasons though, so it is worth checking the KTEL Attikis website from time to time.
The trail, signposting & maps
Mount Kitheronas is covered in the Anavasi map of the mountains of Western Attica together with the neighboring Pateras and Geraneia mountains. For this hike, we didn’t really need our map though, because the trail was thoroughly marked. You can see our hike on Wikiloc HERE, too.
At first, the trail is marked by red signs painted on the rocks and trees and metal poles in between. About halfway through the climb to the shelter, the long-distance path 22 connecting Mount Parnitha with Parnassos joins in. From this point, the markings become a mixture of red squares with the number 22 on them and small arrows of EOS Eleusina.
It took us around 6 hours to complete the 12 kilometers long hike but this included two long breaks and uncountable photo stops. The trail itself was clear and comfortable but with 750 meters of elevation, it wasn’t completely without a challenge.
Vilia – EOS Eleusinas Shelter
The trail starts near a small church called Panagia Zoodochou Pigis right outside Vilia. We parked our car at a small clearing on the right side of the road and continued on foot from here. There were no signposts marking the beginning of the trail but it was easy to spot the first red signs painted on the rocks to the left of a small water tank.
The initial section of the hike crossed a large, rocky meadow covered by a blanket of bright yellow, exotic-looking plants. As I later discovered, it is called Euphorbia Rigida and is quite common in Southern Europe as well as toxic.
But we’ve never encountered such a large field of these unusual-looking plants and spent quite some time admiring their beauty while taking an excessive amount of photos.
At the end of the meadow, the terrain steepened and soon we reached a dirt road. We followed it for about 600 meters until we found a path branching to the left. It climbed through a barren, rocky slope first, crossing the road one more time, until it finally disappeared into the forest.
From here up until the shelter, the path ascended through a beautiful fir forest with views opening up from time to time on our right. On a stunning, clear day like ours, we could see all across the plains of Thebes and as far as Mount Elikonas and the snow-capped peaks of Mount Parnassus.
EOS Eleusina shelter – Mikri Koryfi
The shelter of EOS Eleusina is not open to the public (as many other Greek mountain huts) so don’t expect to get any refreshment here. It is a nice place for a break though thanks to its beautiful location in the forest, pretty views towards Mount Pateras, and a couple of wooden kiosks with picnic tables.
From the shelter, a trail climbs through the forested slopes of Kitheronas towards the summits. There is a small wooden sign marking the beginning of the trail with estimated time to reach Mikri Koryfi (Small Peak) 45 minutes and 90 minutes to Profitis Ilias, the highest peak of Mount Kytharona.
The path ascends steadily along the northern side of the mountain until the main ridge where it splits into two. The left branch leads to the top of Mikri Koryfi just a few hundred meters away while the right branch follows the ridge all the way to Profits Ilias.
We settled for the smaller of Kitheronas summits and enjoyed a long lunch break here taking in the sunshine and widespread views towards Mount Pateras and Geraneia, the Gulf of Alkionides, and the plains of Thebes.
The main peak of Mount Kitheronas is unfortunately covered in pylons of an old military station and doest look very pretty from distance. The rocky ridge, on the other hand, is beautiful and well worth a short detour.
We return back to Vilia the same way relishing the stunning views of Mount Patera, covered by a thick blanket of bright green pine forest, bathing in the golden afternoon light.