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Skiritida Forest is the perfect destination for an amazing autumn hiking trip from Athens! It lies right in the heart of the Peloponnese between the mountain ranges of Mainalo, Parnonas, and Taygetos only about a two-hour drive from the Greek capital.
It is a magical place full of bubbling streams and hidden waterfalls, deep ravines filled with jungle-like vegetation, refreshing springs, crumbling watermills, majestic old trees, and beautiful hiking trails.
The forest was replanted since the beginning of the last century in a place of ancient woodlands destroyed by large fires and wood cutting during the Greek war of independence in 1821. However, walking under the thick canopy of trees it is hard to believe this natural paradise is actually man-made.
A circular, 14 kilometers long hiking trail runs through the forest starting at a picturesque village called Vlachokerasia. Following the trail of Vlachokerasia is the best way to enjoy the colorful autumn foliage of Skiritida and explore the many charming hidden corners of this beautiful forest.
How to get to Vlachokerasia from Athens
Vlachokerasia lies in the south of Arcadia in Peloponnese about 175 kilometers away from Athens. The drive from Athens to Vlachokerasia took us about two hours and cost us approximately 60 euros including gas and tolls.
We followed the Kalamata highway from Athens until Tripoli. In Tripoli, we left the highway and drove in the direction of Sparta for about 17 km until we reached a crossroad with a welcome sign of Skiritida and a restaurant of the same name.
We turn right here and drove the remaining 2.5 km toward the village. There is a lovely spring called Marmorenia right outside the village if you need to fill up your water bottle. For the driving directions on Google maps click HERE.
Signposting & dificulty
The circular trail through the Skiritida forest from Vlachokerasia has around 14 kilometers in length and 400 meters of elevation gain. It is very well-marked with red signs and easy to follow.
We didn’t use a map or GPS this time and had no difficulty navigating the trail. However, you can use our Wikiloc recording HERE if you want to make sure you’ll find your way.
The trial seemed easy on paper but in reality, it had its challenges. At some parts, the trail was rocky and steep with a rope secured to the trees helping the hikers to proceed.
We had to cross a stream uncountable times, too. On a rainy autumn day, the rocks around the stream were wet and slippery and the terrain was generally quite muddy.
That being said, it was nothing that an average hiker couldn’t handle and we actually really enjoyed the added challenges along the way.
Vlachokerasia hike through the Skiritida forest
We started our hike right before the entrance to the village near a wooden kiosk. We didn’t see any map or sign marking the beginning of the trail (even though there is supposed to be one) but spotted the red markings right away.
At first, we followed a road climbing uphill among the last few houses of the village until we met a dirt road branching off to the left.
We joined the dirt road for about 500 meters until we met another smaller dirt track running to the right. Finally, we come across a trail diving to the forest from the left side of the road.
For the next two and a half kilometers or so we followed the trail through a beautiful thick forest of black pines mixed with colorful chestnuts and oak trees.
We crossed the asphalt road connecting Vlachokerasia with Kollines at one point and joined another dirt road for a bit before we returned back to a trail.
The terrain was relatively flat and the path easy to follow which made walking through this section of the forest pure joy.
The ivy-covered tree trunks, colorful autumn foliage, fern undergrowth teeming with mushrooms of all sorts, and warm rays of light peaking through the stormy clouds made the forest scenery all around truly magical.
Once we passed the first of many springs along the trail called Pigi Dasous (Forest Springs), the path started descending down to the valley. The pines were slowly replaced by plane trees, willows, and more and more oaks.
At the bottom of the valley, we come across a stream and a little bit later a small artificial lake surrounded by colorful woodland. We spent some time exploring the banks of the lake and the nearby ruin of a picturesque watermill and enjoyed a lunch break under the colorful canopy of trees.
Once we passed the watermill, our trail returned back to the stream running through the bottom of the valley. For the next approx 4 kilometers we followed a narrow, muddy, and rocky trail crossing the stream uncountable times. The vegetation in the gorge was thick and the rocks slippery making our progress quite slow.
That being said, walking along the bubbling stream through the colorful vegetation was delightful and we spent quite some time taking photos and examining the various creatures and plants inhabiting the riverbanks.
Towards the end of the gorge, we come across another picturesque spot with a small waterfall and a couple of pools surrounded by fern-covered rocks and colorful trees.
From here on, the valley started opening up and our trail come out of the forest and onto a grassy pasture for a bit. But once we crossed a forest road, the path started ascending through a narrow gorge overgrown by vegetation with a small stream running through its bottom.
This was the steepest and most tiring section of the hike with a few of the hardest sections secured by a rope. The air in the ravine was warm and humid even on a late November day and after couple hundred meters, we were puffing and gasping for air.
But it didn’t take too long and we reached the spring called Pigi tou Melissiou (Bee Spring) and enjoyed a well-deserved break. The spring, shaded by large plane trees and equipped with a couple of wooden benches, is the perfect place to rest after the strenuous climb and to enjoy the peace and quiet of the forest for one last time.
From the spring we climbed towards a dirt road running across the slopes above. We crossed the first branch of the road and turned to the right (north) when we encountered it for the second time. We followed the road for about 400 meters until we reached a crossroad.
We turned right here following a sign for Profitis Ilias. It led us to a picturesque small church on the top of a hill with stunning views across the wooded valley.
We passed the church and followed the road for another 2 kilometers until Vlachokerasia enjoying the beautiful evening views of the forest of Skiritida and the ridgeline of Mount Taygetos in the distance.
We finished off the hike in a small tavern called Kali Kardia (Good Heart) in the center of the village with a glass of beer and a tasty homemade meal accompanied by the banter of the elderly locals. What an amazing day!
For more information about Skiritida forest, the beautiful trail of Vlachokeresia, and its creators check out THIS website.