Kollyvata to Skaros forest loop

Classic route around the Skaros peaks wandering through ancient oak forests along marble terraced monopati. This trail has a number of elements that make it one of the best on the island. The oak trees many of which are hundreds of years old. The ancient monopati following natural rock ledges across the hills. The vibrant colours of flowers and trees that change with each season. And the views across the island and out over the Inland Sea. If you do one walk on Lefkada do this one.

5.3km
230m ascent
Moderate

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Some accomodation in Alexandros and Kollyvata. Taverna in Kollyvata.

If you are fit divert off this path half way along to the Skaros main peak and hence down to the Red Church. From there you can get back along Red Church to Kollyvata. A long trail but well rewarded.

Kollyvata also connects to Karya for long distance hikes.

No public transport unless you take a bus to Lazarata and walk 3km to Kollyvata from there.

Starts from Maria’s taverna in Kollyvata. Follow the path up the right side of the taverna.

The trail starts up the right side of Maria’s taverna

Turn immediately right at the back of the taverna and follow the path/dry stream bed up through the little village. Soon you come to a wider path running up the right side of the churchyard. That turns into a road continuing to climb the hill. Shortly a path goes off left up and over steep rocks. Follow that path until it crosses straight over a second road and goes down the left side of a small monastery.

The trail now follows a classic monopati that traverses across and up the Skaros peaks. The path is very clear and at times you walk over a gently climbing stone ledge – a marble walkway. This is possibly one of the best examples of the monopati network that once covered all of the island. You follow the footsteps of ancient Greeks.

The classic monopati traversing Skaros

As you climb you start to get views over the oak forests that make up much of the flanks of Skaros.

The slopes of Skaros

Eventually the path reaches a plateau where the path divides. Keep left following the big bright red paint marks. Pass under a group of giant ancient oak trees. Soon after the path with the red blobs starts to descend to the left and another track starts continuing to ascend up to the right. Go a short way up this track to reach the ruin of the Church of the Virgin with fine views out over the east coast.

The ruined church with fine views

After enjoying this ancient sacred spot retrace your steps back to the path with the red blobs and go right down the slope. Keep going down through the trees until you get to an unsurfaced road. Follow the road to your left. (Alternatively turn right and via Skaros peak down to the Red Church and hence back up on Red Church to Kollyvata).

The leftward road gradually descends back along the other side of the peak you have just come over. You now have several wonderful views of the east coast and over to the mainland.

View from Skaros down to the Lefkada east coast and the mainland

The road eventually meets a paved road. Turn left and follow the road around a short distance back to Kollyvata. Use the signs to Maria’s taverna as your guide.

Well worth stopping at Maria’s tiny taverna for a post-walk drink and maybe a meal. Best to ring first and let her know you are coming. Like visiting your favourite aunt who cooks good food.

Red Church to Kollyvata

A wonderful ascent from the Red Church up to Kollyvata following a superb tree lined monopati and through the forests and ravines of Skaros. This route combines with the trail Alexandros to the Red Church to make an easy but interesting circular route. For a longer trail it combines with Red Church to Skaros and Kollyvata to Skaros to make a large circular loop for fitter hikers. All paths explore the woods, streams, ravines (and shade) of the Skaros Forest.

2.8km
140m ascent
Easy

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Accommodation in Alexandros. Taverna in Kollyvata.

Links to trails to Karya, Skaros and Kollyvata

The trail is marked with red-orange markers along the whole route. At times you have to watch for them carefully. Don’t confuse with red lichen rings that can be similar.

Start with your back to the entrance to the Red Church. Go 50m across the open area directly out from the entrance and then turn right to follow the path. This path soon crosses an unsurfaced track to enter a thick forest.

The forested section is a wonderful monopati that weaves between and under the thick woods. There is a fork where you turn right to ascend the hill. Follow the twist and turns of the path as it climbs up.

When you emerge from the thick forest section you come to a “T” junction with a track. Follow the track right as it ascends up the left side of a gorge. The gorge gradually shallows and, just after the path turns left to cross the steam at the bottom of the gorge, take the turn off right. Pass a brick block building on you left and continue up the track keeping right at the fork.

The track fords a stream (dry in summer) and turns into a monopati. Cross a clearing ignoring paths to left and right and head up over the steep rocks. The monopati climbs up and over the rocks. After a short but easy scramble enter a flatter tree lined section. Keep going straight on ignoring several paths diverging left and right.

Kollyvata town square with Maria’s Taverna

As you pass the first houses of Kollyvata climb the concrete and stone ramp up into the tiny Kollyvata main square. On the right you will find Maria’s taverna. If you are lucky she will be open serving drinks and food. Eating at Maria’s is like visiting an aunt that can cook very well – and loves to do so. If you phone and give her warning you are coming you will get more choice. This is a special place to sit and watch the sun set over Profitis Ilias across the Alexandros plain.

When you have finished at Maria’s you can retrace your steps back to the Red Church. Alternatively take the short walk along the quiet road to Alexandros and then follow down that variation of the trail to the Red Church. If you are feeling fit you can take the montpati up to Skaros and then down to the Red Church. This is quite a hike but does get the fantastic views from Skaros of the eastern side of the island.

Alexandros to the Red Church

A wonderful descent from Alexandros down to the Red Church following a gorge through the Skaros Forest and a superb tree lined monopati. This route combines with the trail Red Church to Kollyvata to make an easy but interesting circular route. Further afield it combines with Red Church to Skaros and Kollyvata to Skaros to make a large circular loop for fitter hikers. All paths explore the woods, streams, ravines (and shade) of the Skaros Forest.

2.9km
60m ascent
Easy

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Accommodation in Alexandros. Taverna in Kollyvata.

Links to trails to Karya, Skaros and Kollyvata

Walk from the town square of Alexandros along the road towards Platystoma. As you go past the Alexandros town sign turn left onto the clear trackway.

The track goes right – looking back toward Alexandros

At a triple fork keep right. Descend through woods past a cave on the right. Follow the hairpins left then right, ignoring tracks going off at the corners until you reach a small bridge over a stream.

Cave just below Alexandros

Go left and start to climb again, following the hairpin right. At this point you pass where the trail Red Church to Kollyvata ascends. So you could join that path to go up to Kollyvata (and beyond to Skaros). But today we will continue to the Red Church.

Follow the track along the left side of a deepening gorge. Red markers now mark the trail as far as the Red Church. At the fork turn right and start to descend again. After a while the path narrows. After 200m turn off left into the trees. Watch the red markers.

The turn right to enter the tree lined path

The trail enters a delightful wooded section with the path threading around and under the thickening trees. After a descent a similar path joins from the right. Go left and exit the forest. Cross an unsurfaced road and follow the track through to an open area where the Red Church is on your left.

The historic Red Church

Take a while to explore the historic church and monastery grounds. The church dates back at least 550 years and has recently been restored. In summers concerts are held in the grounds.

Retrace your steps to go back to Alexandros. Alternatively follow Red Church to Kollyvata for a variation in the last half of the trail and an easy loop. Alternatively start the climb to the wonderful views up Skaros.

Eglouvi to Katharia Rachi (A4)

Another superb climb from Eglouvi up Mnimati (at 1,157m Lefkada’s second highest peak) and then out along a ridge to an amazing viewpoint (Katharia Rachi) over Nidri bay. Best combined with Eglouvi to Psili Rachi (A5). As A4 is pretty steep it is best to go up A4 and down A5. This combined route is my favourite from Eglouvi.

4.8km
514m ascent
Difficult

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Infrequent bus to Eglouvi from Lefkada and Karya

Tavernas and accommodation in Eglouvi

Links to trails back down to Eglouvi

Start in Eglouvi in the main square with the tavernas. If you haven’t got water fill up now – there will be no more drinking water until you get back down. I suggest at least a litre a person minimum. There is a tap next to the plane tree or buy from the tavernas.

Start of three trails in Eglouvi; even the corrected distances are wrong

Go up and round to the left of the tavernas and down the narrow path to the right. You will soon see the sign for the start of three trails. You will follow A4, and A1 will accompany you as far as the windmills. If you only want a nice short walk going just to the windmills this can make a good evening stroll. For those going on up A4 you get two trails in one. Come down A5, as recommended, and get all three.

You will follow red and yellow paint markers and A4 signs all the way to the top of this trail. They are pretty clear for most of the way.

Walk through the quiet village roads until you see a monopati heading up to the left up the hill. Follow this diagonally up until you reach the windmills.

Approach to the windmills. This trail goes up that ridge on the skyline.

After exploring those and enjoying the view take the track up to the right behind the windmills. Follow to a surfaced road. Turn left and follow around a few bends until there is an unsurfaced track going off right. The track has a yellow arrow painted on the road pointing where you need to go. Beware there is a second track a few hundred metres later also with a yellow arrow. Make sure you take the first.

Track off right with yellow arrow marker

The track approaches a vineyard where a monopati branches off left. It skirts around the vineyard and starts to climb the ridge. The monopati now goes up the crest of the ridge to its top. This is a steep climb but you get fantastic views all the way up – a real classic. There isn’t much shade but it is well worth the effort.

At the top of the ridge the monopati becomes a narrow track going past a very small lentil field (make sure you go round not over). The track turns right, to head up to the radio masts on the top of Mnimati, but the A4 monopati actually goes straight on and slightly downwards. Make sure you don’t miss the monopati yellow dots.

The monopati is now much easier following down to a small pass and then gently up the ridge to the top of the peak. Finally you get to the sign indicating the end of the A4 on Katharia Rachi.

Below you is a wonderful view down to Nidri – with all of the Inland Sea and islands behind. If you have eaten at one of the tavernas at Geni and looked up – this is the steep crag fringed peak you will have seen above you. A fantastic place to sit and enjoy the view.

The end of the A4 trail. And a great place to sit and take in the view.

For those that can’t face the climb you can drive to the radio masts on Mnimati and walk just the last 1.5km along the ridge. Good on a hot day as the air is usually much fresher up here.

For those going back to Eglouvi head back to the radio masts. Here either go back down the way you came up – or follow the road around to the left a short way to where the Eglouvi to Psili Rachi (A5) trail crosses the road. Go down this to Eglouvi. If you want to get good views to the south use the Mount Elati Five Peak Loop route to take a longer path to the A5 trail.

Karya to Profitis Ilias (M4)

Brilliant climb from the excellent hiking base of Karya up to the main peak above the village. There is a church on the top called Profitis Ilias. Warning – there are hundreds of churches on peaks in Greece called Profitis Ilias. This is the 1,009 metre peak just SSW of Karya that provides fantastic views. It is one of the best hikes on the island.

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

4.1km
550m ascent
Moderate difficulty

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Bus to Karya from Lefkada

Plenty of tavernas and accommodation in Karya

Links to trails down to Eglouvi

Start from the town square in Karya, with all the nice tavernas and the shade of the plane trees. There are coffee shops too, so either fortify yourself now or take note for your return.

Start of trail up hill between spring and bakery

This trail is marked as M4 from Karya – with red markers and arrow signs for most of the way. Go up the steep path/ narrow lane in the north west of the square, by the drinking well. There is a good baker as the path starts where you can get cheese pies for the top.

Follow M4 red arrows

Follow up through the steeply climbing streets going straight up – but bear a little left at first and then a little right. The path narrows and reaches a turning right up stairs. The M4 red arrows show you the way.

Turn right up stairs

At top of stairs you reach a road. Turn right and go a short distance to a monopati heading up the hill left.

The first section of monopati leaving the road.

The monopati zig zags up the hill passing through ruined stone buildings and past a small church. The path then goes left to meet a road on a sharp bend. Go up the road until a T junction where you turn right. Very soon a monopati starts up the hill on your left.

Second monopati leaving the final bit of road out of Karya

Follow the really nice monopati up the mountain. It passes a wonderful natural amphitheatre full of olive trees. Keep going up through some rocky outcrops (but with a good path to keep you safe). The path becomes slightly indistinct as you go over the brow of the ridge – take a mental note of your route if you are coming back this way.

When you reach the top of the ridge the vista west will open up. Below you is a quarry and over beyond that is the old American communications base. Descend a little towards the quarry where you reach a semi-surfaced road. Here you leave the M4 which heads round the quarry heading for Eglouvi. Instead take the road up the hill to your left.

Sci-Fi set or quarry below Profitis Ilias

Climb the twisting road up towards the top of Profitis Ilias. The odd car ventures up here, but it is being undermined by the quarry, and difficult to pass. As a walker you won’t have any problem. Half way up is a path to the right that is an alternative route across a few of the hairpins. But the hairpins of the road are the easiest.

Reach the mountain top and the very pretty church of Profitis Ilias with its amazing views in all directions. Many describe this spot as being close to heaven. You can see all of the Inland Sea from here – on a clear day to the entrance of the Gulf of Corinth.

Church of Profitis Ilias looking back over the last half of this trail

Note that this peak is a drone-free zone. And you can see why many would fly drones here if permitted.

Looking down to Eglouvi and Megalisi beyond from Profitis Ilias

After looking at the views (and eating those cheese pies) reverse your route back to Karya. Alternatively take the trail down to Eglouvi where there are infrequent buses back to Karya. Or walk from Eglouvi to Karya, although you need to be fairly fit to do all three hikes in one day.

Eglouvi to Psili Rachi (A5)

A superb climb from the mountain village of Eglouvi up to Mnimati (at 1,157m Lefkada’s second highest peak). Psili Rachi is a viewpoint on one of Mnimati’s ridges. After leaving the area of the village the ascent is on a mixture of unsurfaced tracks and footpaths. The middle part of the route is indistinct at times, so keep a close eye on the GPS or map.

Forms a circular route if combined with Eglouvi to Katharia Rachi (A4). As the A5 route is less steep (mostly) then it is recommended to go up A4 and down A5. Either way, do not miss the excursion out to the end of A4 on Katharia Rachi – as it has fantastic views down to Nidri bay. The two routes are with a few minutes walk as they each near their ends (around the other side of the radio masts).

3.8km
460m ascent
Moderate Difficulty

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Infrequent bus to Eglouvi from Lefkada and Karya

Tavernas and accomodation in Eglouvi

Link to trail returning to Eglouvi

Start in Eglouvi in the main square with the tavernas. You can obtain water at either the tavernas or a tap next to the plane tree. I suggest you take plenty as there is no drinking water on this route beyond this point.

Start of A4 (and A1 and A5) in Eglouvi; even the corrected distances are wrong

Go up and around to the left of the tavernas and down the narrow path off to the right. You will soon see the sign for the start of the three trails. You will follow A5. The trail is marked with red and yellow paint markers and signs along all of its route. Occasionally the red and yellow marks are helped by strings of rocks showing the way.

Walk through the village streets and follow up a steeply climbing narrowing surface road up a very pretty valley. Eventually the road turns to unpaved track as it climbs further up the valley.

After a fair climb the track turns to the right and a monopati branches off sharply to the left. Take this monopati as it traces up out of the valley and onto a ridge. The monopati is a little indistinct at times here so a GPS or good map reading skills is helpful.

As the monopati goes over the ridge and joins a second valley going up it turns back into a track. Follow this up until that track again turns around to the right and a monopati cuts off left.

Follow the monopati up the small valley as it climbs to the top and meets a surfaced road near to the top of Mnimati (and the radio masts). Now you have a choice, as you can follow the road left to pick up Eglouvi to Katharia Rachis (A4), or cross the road and follow the monopati going right across the boulders.

Following the monopati the trail runs a short distance across the high mountain top until it reaches a small peak Psili Rachi.

There are excellent views from here although one can’t help wondering why the path stops here. However you can explore the mountain top as it has many little peaks and tracks with just the goats for company. Or head over to the A4 top with its view down to Nidri.

Cheats can drive up to the radio masts on Mnimati and enjoy high level walks around the radio masts and over to the small peaks for a range of views. It is a pleasant place to escape the heat of the summer.