Mellisa Gorge Loop

Walk down into the delightful Mellisa Gorge in the hills above Lefkada town. This gorge is frequently mentioned in guides to Lefkada as a great place for a shady walk beside a stream in the impressive Mellisa Gorge – and indeed it is. However the path through the gorge itself is in extreme disrepair and most of the wood bridges are rotting and very dangerous. Hence you can’t safely traverse into the deepest part of the gorge. But this trail takes you to all the safe parts of the gorge and adds a loop up and back through Kavalos village to make a circular walk.

If you want an alternative gorge have a look at the Klousouria Gorge on the other side of the island.

Map data ©OpenStreetMap contributors, SRTM
Map style ©OpenTopoMap (CC-BY-SA)

7.8km
330m ascent
Moderate (Easy if you just visit the gorge and return)

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Many hotels, tavernas and shops in Lefkada town.

There are several walks in the gorge and valley – a nice one starting from Lefkada village. Unfortunately none of the paths in the gorge link up so you need to walk into the gorge from different directions. This trail takes in the best bits (at least as far as safety allows).

You need a car or taxi to reach the start of the trail. You could take the Karia bus from Lefkada town and get off at the monument, and then walk the 3km to the start.

Drive up the road out of Lefkada town towards Lazarata. About half way up there is a monument on the right hand side (commemorating the 1819 uprising against the British). Immediately in front of the monument is a narrow road going right. Follow the twisty road for 3.5km until an unsurfaced track goes downhill on the right signposted to the Mellisa Gorge. Park here without blocking the road or other tracks. A few drivers go a little down the track to park, but it is pretty rough for a car.

Start of the trail down to the Mellisa Gorge. Park here without blocking the road or track.

Head down the track going left at the first fork and then keeping on going down the hill. After a few hundred metres you reach a stream with a collapsed wooden shelter followed by a wood arch across the track. More interestingly on the left are signs of an ancient cave that has collapse leaving old stalactites on the cliff wall.

Cliff wall of old collapsed cave system.

Carry on down through the wooded valley down to the start of the gorge. Here is a stone shelter and wooden fences indicating the start of the “official” gorge hike. The gorge runs left and right with dead-ends at the end of the path for each.

Path through the Mellisa Gorge with collapsed hand rail.

First take the path to the left going up the gorge. The narrow stone-surfaced path follows the banks of a lovely stream gently climbing through trees. There used to be a wood handrail but this has almost all collapsed. However the path is easy and the biggest danger is tripping on one of the remaining metal supports. Go a few hundred metres until the path joins a track and then terminates in a grassy area. Good for a rest or picnic. Afterwards retrace your steps back down the path.

On returning to the stone shelter keep left as the stone-surfaced path heads this time downstream. Again, go a few hundred metres as the gorge starts to get narrower and steeper. You meet a track fording the stream and heading off into a valley up to the left (you will go up this track in a moment). The stone-surfaced path heads down into the gorge proper and starts to get very narrow and steep. However the path crosses over increasingly high wooden bridges over the gorge and back again – all of which are in serious disrepair. The wood floorboards are all rotting and several have already broken leaving big gaps. We recommend going no further down the gorge as it is just too dangerous. We will watch to see if they get repaired and update this trail accordingly.

The bridges are now too dangerous to cross – especially where they get higher.

If you came just to see the gorge, go back to the track you came down and hence back to your car. If you are up for the the full loop, head back only as far as that valley that went off left, now right as you are now looking the other way :-). Walk up the track climbing this lovely tree-lined valley.

The start of the valley leading away from the gorge.

Follow the track running up the base of the valley. You pass a huge quarry cliff face up on the right. Ignore the tracks heading into this quarry. Shortly after the track ends in a grassy area. Follow an indistinct path going right straight up the steep hill – just to the left of a small gully filled with thick vegetation.

Head up the steep bank to the left of the thick vegetation

After about 100m the path becomes much clearer before becoming a track zig-zagging up the steep slope. Ignore tracks leading off into olive groves and keep to the main track continuing upwards. After a long climb the track meets a surfaced road. Head left along this road.

Views back across Mellisa Gorge to Lefkada town and mainland

The road climbs, a little less steeply, around the gorge top around to the pretty village of Kavallo. You get great views across the gorge and down to Lefkada town and the mainland beyond. As you approach the village there is a crossroads (or double fork) on the saddle of a hill; take the left turn ahead. Heading into the village you can either keep to the road or take a short track running around to the left – both end up in the village. Once in the village you pass the village church with a distinctive metal lattice bell tower.

Church bell tower in Kavallo

Just after the church, there is a turning off left marked back to the “Mellisa Gorge”. You will turn left down this road, but first walk 50m further past the junction where there is a small taverna on the right. After refreshment head back to the Mellisa Gorge road.

Turn to “Mellisa Gorge” in Kavallo village

The road starts to head back down around the other side of the gorge. It is down hill all the way from here. After going round a few bends, just after passing a cemetery on the right, there is a further turning left again marked towards the gorge. Go down this road as it starts to descend more steeply. After winding down through several olive groves, and passing an old stone watermill on the left, it eventually reaches the track where this trail started.

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