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From a distance, the bare southern slopes of Mount Hymettus may not look like the most interesting place for hiking. But up close, southern Hymettus has plenty to offer to its visitors from panoramic city views, impressive caves and gulches, and ancient trails.
Due to the lack of forests, the southern parts of Mount Hymettus are better visited during the cooler months. But the absolutely best season for hiking at southern Hymettus is early spring, when all sorts of beautiful wildflowers burst into bloom along the trails!
Even though this is not particularly remote area and the everpresent views of Athens and the sea help to get your bearings right, I would strongly recommend bringing a proper hiking map. This trail was only partially marked and there were plenty of crossroads where it would be easy to take the wrong turn.
Kareas – Michailidis Memorial – Stavros Pass – Trypia Cave – Terpsithea
The trail from Kareas to Glyfada has around 11 kilometers and 450 meters of elevation gain. It is a steep climb from the monastery at Karea to Michilidis Memorial but the rest is mostly flat or descending. It took us close to 6 hours to complete the hike with an abundance of photography stops and a longer lunch break at Trypia Cave.
There are no shops or springs anywhere along the way, not even at the bus stop in Karea. This means that you’ll have to bring all your snack and water with you from the center of Athens.
Getting to Karea and Terpsithea by bus
Getting to the beginning and end of the trail by public transport is easy and quite fast. To get to Karea take bus number 203 from Akademia or from any other convenient stop along the way. Get off at 5th Karea stop and continue walking uphill for about 600 meters following signs for Agios Ioannis Monastery.
From Terpsithea neighborhood in Glyfada hop on the bus number 205 to Eliniko metro station. The bus stops near Plateia Karaiskaki (Karaiskaki Square). Alternatively, use the same bus to descend all the way down to Glyfada beach for an after-hike swim or stroll along the sea.
Agios Ioannis Monastery in Karea to Michailidis Memorial
The trail to Michailidis Memorial starts at the right side of a small parking lot in front of the monastery and is marked by red paint and small cairns (or koukos in Greek – what a cute name!). When we first saw the steep, treeless slopes in front of us we mentally prepared ourselves for an exhausting climb.
But once on the trail, we discovered the path was actually quite pleasant, zigzagging gently among shrubs and colorful wildflowers. The higher we got, the better the views were. Soon enough, we could see as far as the Athenian coast, some of the Saronic islands, and Mount Parnitha towering above the northern suburbs of Athens.
The path crosses a couple of dirt roads on its way to the memorial. The first one of them right next to a small climbing crag called Makris Toichos (long wall in translation) was the only one that could cause confusion. Once on the dirt road, turn left and follow the road until you see a steep rocky path branching to the right.
From here, the rest of the climb is pretty straightforward. It took us around one and a half hours to reach the memorial. The small memorial, devoted to the late mountaineer Georgios Michailidis, is a beautiful viewpoint and a crossroad of multiple hiking trails.
If you were looking for a shorter hike in the area, you can turn back from here and descent the same way or head down to Ilioupoli neighborhood. But we were up for a challenge and ready to cross the rest of South Hymettus all the way down to Glyfada. Therefore, after a short break and some obligatory photos, we took off again following the signs towards Stavros Pass.
Michailidis Memorial to Stavross Pass
The section between Michailidis Memorial and Stavros Pass was surely the most confusing part of our hike. At first, the path was marked by yellow paint, later by a mix of yellow and blue and at one point we lost the markings altogether.
There were plenty of small cairns marking the way, too, but we still managed to lose the faint trail few times. Our map of Mount Hymettus from Terrain was the only thing that got us through without much trouble.
In the beginning, the trail crosses a small plateau on the top of Hymettus’ ridge offering beautiful views towards its main summit. The terrain was almost flat at this point and walking become pure joy. Keep your eyes peeled for snakes, though. We haven’t encountered any but multiple species call this part of the mountain their home, including the (unnecessarily) feared viper.
But it didn’t take long before the trail slowly began its descend towards Stavros Pass. We started seeing more and more pine trees along the way and even got the first glimpse of the enormous entrance to Tripia Cave in the distance.
There was supposed to be a trail going all the way down to the pass, however, we lost it once we reached the next dirt road (the second one from the memorial). Instead, we turned left and followed the narrow road for about a kilometer. Our yellow markings were joined by blue ones, both faded and far apart.
When the terrain flattened, we found our trail again, branching to the left across a field. We followed it for another 600 meters until it emerged from low bushes on side of yet another dirt road. Right opposite, another smaller track continued towards the pass. After some 700 meters, we found the trail one more time on the right side of the road marked by slightly newer blue paint. It finally took us all the way to Stavros Pass.
Stavros Pass to Trypia Cave and Terpsithea
Stavros Pass is a mountain pass lying at an altitude of 454 meters between the peaks of Prophitis Ilias, Daveli and Mavrovouni. It was used since the antiquity as part of the ancient Sfitia Road, connecting the plains around Koropi with Athens.
The pass is also a crossroad of multiple hiking trails including the path to Trypia Cave. There are signs with trail information painted on the rock but they were quite faded and hard to read. However, for Trypia cave just continue straight on.
The path climbs slightly uphill first but soon flattens, giving our already tired legs a bit of a break. It didn’t take long and we started seeing the imposing opening of the cave in front of us. Despite the collapsed ceiling, or maybe because of it, Trypia cave is one of the most impressive caves in Attica. Its grand size is best appreciated from inside the cave so don’t miss the opportunity to climb all the way up there.
There are a couple of small trails ascending to the cave, one steeper than the other. In the end, you’ll have to scramble around a couple of big boulders to reach the cave’s opening. But the effort is well worth it!
Once inside, the path continues along the right side of the cave all the way to the top of the arch above the entrance. This last section is very steep, slippery and possibly dangerous so be very very careful if you decide to climb all the way up there. It is not necessary really, the views are as beautiful from the entrance of the cave.
To get back to Athens, we descended back to the main trail, turned left and followed red markings all the way down to Terpsithea. The downhill trail is wide and easy to follow and passes through beautiful pine forest with views opening up towards the sea and the wooded slopes of Mount Hymettus.
For more beautiful hikes at Mount Hymettus check out THIS post about the best hikes around Kaisariani Monastery.