Beautiful autumn hike at Mount Kyllini (Ziria)

Trikala Corinthias

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Mount Kyllini or Ziria is the perfect destination for a day trip from Athens full of hiking, nature and stunning mountain views. The drive from Athens took us only little over two hours but hiking through the tranquil countryside of Mount Kyllini we felt worlds apart from the busy and loud Greek capital.

Mount Kyllini lies in the western corner of Corinthia, on the borders with Achaia and Arcadia. It rises to an impressive altitude of 2.376 meters but thanks to its rounded shape it’s actually quite easy to ascent.

As with almost any Greek mountain Mount Kyllini has its place in Greek mythology as well. Hermes, the messenger of gods, was born here as well as the Pleiades, seven companions of the goddess Artemis. The mountain itself took its name from the nymph Cyllene who dwelled in the area or it may have been the other way around. Who knows…

Mount Kyllini

Driving to Ziria from Athens

To get to Ziria you’ll need a car. The drive from Athens takes around two and a half hours and we paid approximately 60 euros for petrol and tolls. From Athens, we followed the highway to Patra leaving it at Xylokastro some 50 kilometers after Corinth.

From Xylokastro, a smaller road full of turns climbs up to the mountains passing through the charming villages of Ano and Kato Trikala until finally reaching the small Ziria Ski Centre at an altitude of 1.600 meters. Although the distance between those two is only 35 kilometers it took us over an hour to complete the drive due to the many turns, huge altitude gain and most importantly the beauty of the place enhanced by the golden autumn colors.

Trikala Corinthia’s is the last outpost of civilization on the way to Ziria and a popular base for multiday trips to the area. It has plenty of accommodation in style of traditional mountain chalets and couple of taverns and cafés. Except for that, I didn’t find the villages particularly interesting so unless you need your morning coffee fix before heading out to the mountains no need to stop here.

Leaving Trikala, the road continues its climb for another 10 kilometers pass the picturesque Agios Vlasis Monastery and up to the plateau between the peaks of Megali and Mikri Ziria. At its southern end, between Ziria’s Refuge A and the entrance to Flamburitsa valley lies Ziria Ski Center, the starting point of our ascent to Mount Kyllini.

Trikala Corinthias
Trikala Corinthia’s
Refuge A near Ziria Ski Center
Refuge A and the indispensable horses of Ziria

Mount Kyllini Hike

There are many trails crisscrossing the landscape of Ziria, the most popular being the ascents of Megali and Mikri Ziria and the traverse of Flambouritsa valley. They are market quite well for the Greek standards but finding the starting point of our path wasn’t all that easy. There was no information table or a sign at the carpark of the ski center, just a couple of fainted paths running in all directions. So unless you’ll be coming with someone who knows the area I would recommend bringing a good hiking map.

The ascent to Mount Kyllini from Ziria Ski Center takes around 3 hours and is not particularly difficult. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still have to overcome 800 meters of an altitude gain which brings a bit of a challenge especially on a surprisingly hot autumn day. But the path is easy to follow and comfortable enough with awesome mountain views as a distraction. There are no springs along the way and not shade during the whole hike so bring enough of water!

To get started, head towards the dirt road running from the top right corner of the carpark at the ski center of Ziria (when looking at the lifts). On the right side of the road, you’ll see a narrow path crossing the meadows roughly in the direction of Megali Ziria. Follow this path zigzagging among a large amount of cow’s poop and horses roaming freely through the countryside.

After about a kilometer the path ends at wider tracks. Turn left here and continue for another 500 meters until you’ll reach a wide dirt road with an unkempt looking farm on the other side. Cross the road and continue towards the buildings wandering nervously if you are trespassing. Turn left in front of the building (even though the more obvious path leads to the right) keeping your eyes peeled for the first red markings painted on the rocks. Once you find them the confusing part is over and they will lead you safely to the top.

The first section of the ascent passes through one of the ravines cut to the side of the mountain. This was the steepest, most tiring part of our hike and after just a couple of minutes we found our self’s huffing and puffing, chucking away all unnecessary clothes. But it didn’t take too long to reach the ridge where all our efforts were rewarded by stunning views of Mikri Ziria and the beautiful forested valley of Flambouritsa underneath. This was possibly my favorite spot of the whole hike and awesome place for a snack break.

Once on the ridge, the path becomes much easier meandering through the grassy slopes of the mountain. At one point, it joins a dirt road for couple hundred meters but don’t get too comfortable, soon enough you’ll see a rocky path branching to the left and up towards the top.

The top of Mount Kyllini is marked by a small pillar and stone wall, welcomed protection against the wind if you decide to have a lunch break here enjoying the views. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much from the top as it was hopelessly shrouded by clouds with just a few brief, foggy openings. However, if you are luckier and arrive on a clear day you can admire the views towards the mountain ranges of Chelmos and Oligyrtos and even catch a glimpse of the Gulf of Corinth glistening in the distance.

Starting our hike to Mount Kyllini from Ziria Ski Center
Starting our hike to Mount Kyllini from Ziria Ski Center
First unmarked section of the trail to Mount Kyllini
First unmarked section of the trail to Mount Kyllini
Looking accross the plateau of Ziria
Looking accross the plateau of Ziria
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Raw beauty of Mount Kyllini
Mikri Ziria and the valley of Flambouritsa
Mikri Ziria and the valley of Flambouritsa
Heading up to the clouds at Ziria
Heading up to the clouds
Mikri Ziria
The views are getting better and better…
...until they are gone!
…until they are gone!
At the top of Mt.Kyllini
At the top of Mt.Kyllini enjoying the views…NOT
Sun goes down over Mikri Ziria
Sun goes down over Mikri Ziria

Mikri Ziria

Sunset over Mount Kyllini
We did it…looking back at Mount Kyllini

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