It was a beautiful sunny morning just after Christmas and just before the end of 2018 and I took the decision to go for a training hike on Mount Parnitha. The previous days there was a quite heavy snowfall and due to rather low temperatures I was able to hike on snow (in the north side of the mountain) and on dry conditions from the east/south side of Mount Parnitha.
Mt. Parnitha is located in Attiki province, 25km North from the city of Athens. It is one of the 4 mountains(the others are Immitos, Penteli and Aigaleo) that surround the circular plain,in which the city of Athens is built. Mt Parnitha is the talllest and more impressive among the mountains that surround Athens.
Ancient Greeks believed that the cloven-hoof god Pan used to come here to play his flute and dance in the forest. Parnitha was first inhabited during the Mycenean Period and was always a key point area for Attica’s defense. There are also many beautiful churches and monasteriesto see here such as Aghia Triada, Kleiston Monastery, Aghios Kiprianos Monastery etc.
Walk on hundreds of footpaths, take a mountain bike ride on a designated trail in the area of Agios Merkourios, explore dozens of small caves and visit a lot of beautiful churches and monasteries (Agia Triada, Moni Kleiston, Moni Agiou Kyprianou etc). At the location Bafi and Flambouri (alt. 1,158 m.), two mountain refuges operate with a capacity of 50 persons each. The mountain attracts climbing fans (locations “Arma”,”Katebasma Gouras”, “Flambouri”, “Korakofolia” and “Megalo Armeni”).
see previous climbs on Mount Parnitha here:
- Climbing on Flabouri Ridge (Parnitha)
- Christmas Ascent on Mount Parnitha
- Training on Mount Parnitha
- Via Ferrata in Parnitha (Arma Parnitha)
Hiking is a very popular activity in Parnitha. Two climbing associations, along with the Forest Service of Parnitha have created a dense network of trails, that covers the whole mountain range. Numerous paths pass along springs, thick forests and pastures. There are many options, according to the altitude difference that someone intends to cover (0 -800m.), the distance (500-5,000m.) and the time needed (30΄- 6 hours). Several routes give the opportunity to observe different vegetation types: firs, pines, oaks, junipers, plane-trees, phrygana.
The most important trails are indicated either by simple red signs on rocks and trees or by red tapes or finally, by special signs for each path, such as red triangles, red squares, yellow rhombs etc. In this way, following the same shape and colour of the signs, one can find the path and follow it to its end.
Flabouri Refuge – Wildfire Observation Station of Skipiza
Starting point of the entire hike was Flabouri refuge, which is one of the two mountain refuges on mount Parnitha. In the green forests of Parnitha and at an altitude of 1,158 meters, there is the shelter of Flambouri. With a magnificent view, from the south you will see Athens from above, Aegina, Poros, Peloponnese, and even Hydra.
From the east and north, the lake of Marathon, the Evoikos Gulf, Evia, the highest mountain of Dirfy and the Aegean Sea and the curvature of the earth!
A place so close to Athens, but so far away from the routine of everyday life in the city. There are multiple marked paths climbing up to the Flabouri Refuge from Thrakomakedones. Therefore, it’s easy to make this a round trip and to adjust the difficulty of the hike to everyone’s needs.
The entire hike is a very easy hike that can be done pretty much from everyone, including families with kids.
The major and more distinctive peaks are:
- Karavola (1413m)
- Ornio (1350m)
These 2 highest peaks are full of military installations and antennas so they are not reachable.
- Avgo (1201m)
- Plati Vouno (1171m)
- Kira (1160m)
- Aeras (1127m)
- Xirovouni (1120m)
- Skimthi (933m)
- Arma (884m)
- Katsimidi (849m)
Among them the most impressive ravines are Chouni, Agias Triadas, Gkouras, Mavrorema and Charadros ravine.The upper half of the mountain is covered with snow for at least 2months,usually mid-January to mid March but in the northern slopes of Karavola peak remains of snow can be found even in late April.The snow is usually soft and never icy, so special equipment isn’t needed to ascent Parnitha in winter,apart from a solid trekking boot and a pair of gaiters.There is not a danger of an avalanche.
Wildfire Observation Station of Skipiza
The wildfire observation station of Skipiza is located in the position of the same name at 1.240m., on the NW side of Parnitha. Skipiza in arvanitika language means eagle’s nest. In the area (15 minutes walking distance to the south of the station) the spring of Skipiza can be found. I.Sarris in his book “The springs of Parnitha” (1925) mentions Skipiza as the highest, coldest and the best in terms of quality spring of Parnitha.
A real eagle’s nest, that in 1987, with the establishment of EDASA was selected by members of the association as the ideal position for observing the western and northern slopes of the wider Parnitha mountain. During the first years wildfire observation was made outdoors, camping on the rock were today stands the fire lookout station. In 1989 a small wooden platform with a protective wall was build and in 1990 it was decided to build a wooden wildfire lookout station, which was built gradually paid by EDASA with the work of dozens of volunteers.
Dozens of forest fires have been spotted from Skipiza and were suppressed in a short time by the authorities. The strategic importance of Skipiza is due to the wide field of view and the absence of similar infrastructure in the north side of Mount Parnitha. During its operation as a wildfire observation station, forest fires have been detected in the wider mountain of Parnitha, in Salamina, in Aspropyrgos, in Dervenochoria, Oinofyta, in central Evia, in the mountain Pastra and Kitheronas while a fire was even spotted in Parnassus (under excellent weather conditions).
In 2007 it was determined that the wooden structure was in need of a reconstruction due to extensive damage from the adverse weather conditions that had made the wildfire observation station unsafe. The design study and the purchase of materials was made through WWF Greece sponsorship, the construction was carried out by a specialist crew with the help of volunteered EDASA members. All the building materials (wood, machines, aggregates, etc.) were carried to the site by hand by EDASA volunteers. The base of the station was strengthened, the station was build larger to accommodate more volunteers and a balcony was created on the north side as well. The great fire of 2007 fortunately did not destroyed the then unfinished structure, so fire observation on the position continues smoothly until today. The wooden fire observation station is maintained twice a year (before and after the fire season) by EDASA volunteers.
Staying at the fire observation station outside fire watching duties is prohibited under the regulations of the Parnitha National Park. Access to the Skipiza fire observation station is possible only on foot from the position Skalakia (45 minutes of walking).
Wildfire Observation Station of Skipiza – Bafi Refuge – Chouni Valley – Thrakomakedones
From were paths and routes start:
Usual starting points to ascent Mt Parnitha are:
The valley Makrichorafo(570m)
The town Afidnes (300m),if there isn’t a car to proceed to Makrichorafo
The town Thrakomakedones (400m)
The parking of the cable car (480m)
The town Fuli (250m)
The village Avlon (180m)
The village Sfendali (290m)
The town Varibobi (300m)
Details of the Hike:
- Location: Mount Parnitha
- Starting Point: Flabouri Mountain Refuge
- Ending Point: Thrakomakedones
- Trail Signs: Well signed path
- Minimum Elevation: 517 m
- Maximum Elevation: 1.281 m.
- Total Distance: 14.5 km
- Difficulty: Easy
- When to Hike: All year
- Water Features: Three
Bellow you can see the route we have followed on a map:
see previous climbs on Mount Parnitha here: