Lefkada Trail day 4 Eglouvi to Ag. Ilias

This walk runs between the mountain villages of Eglouvi and Ag Ilias. It climbs up and over Mount Elati visiting the high peaks of Katharia Rachi and Stavrotas before descending to Ag. Ilias. This takes you over the highest part of Lefkada; crossing from the north to the south of the island. The trail is along monopati and unsurfaced tracks for almost all the first half of the route – with a quiet road descent on the other side.

15.5km
930m ascent
Difficult (but there are shortcuts).

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Tavernas and limited accommodation in Eglouvi and Ag. Ilias.

Infrequent bus to Eglouvi from Lefkada town. However you really need to use a taxi or have a friend/partner that drives.

Day 4 of the 80km Lefkada Trail.
Day [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

The trail is the fourth part of the Lefkada Trail. It is one of the hardest days as it climbs high and is long too. The full route takes you over both Katharia Rachi and Stavrotas. Katharia Rachi is the end of a ridge and has the best view in Lefkada. Stavrotas is the highest peak on Lefkada. If the day is too long for you then you can easily skip one or the other of these. But do come back when you have finished the Lefkada Trail and do what you missed on this day. Otherwise, you don’t get the T-shirt 🙂

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. 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 follow A4, and A1 will accompany you as far as the windmills. You follow red and yellow paint markers and A4 signs all the way to Katharia Rachi for the first part 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 read and 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 red and yellow arrow. Make sure you take the first.

Track off right with yellow arrow marker – note now red and yellow

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 painted 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.

When you have finished looking take the path heading sharp-right almost back the way you came. The same red and yellow paint marks descend down and right down to high pass below you. After about 200m the marked path turns back left and descends more gently to the pass. The path then turns right and goes over a low hill until it reaches a T junction with an unsurfaced track. Follow the painted marks off right.

Follow the track as it winds across the high plateau. There may be wire fences to cross but most have tied “gates” where crossing the track. Leave them as you found them as they stop the cows roaming.

Track winds across the high plateau

The track eventually climbs back up to the road near the radio antenna at the top of Mnimati. At this point leave the paint-marked trail and take the road going left away from the masts.

Follow the road left away from the antenna

Descend the road for 1.5km until you reach a junction. Take the road left going down towards Ag. Ilias. After a few bends there is a track off up to the right. Here you have a choice whether to climb Stavrotas up above you or to carry on down the road to Ag Ilias. The route up Stavrotas from here is 1km long and 220m of climbing – and then back on the same route. If you do climb Stavrotas, and being Lefkada’s highest mountain you really should if able, you will eventually return to this point on the road.

The track heads into a small high valley with fields and pasture. Very shortly you reach a small hut on the left where the track divides. Take the left track running past the hut on the left hand side. There is often a dog attached to a chain blocking the track – but this is easily avoided with a path that run around to the left and then re-joins the track.

Distant view of trail up Stavrotas. Track comes up in lower left (the road just out of shot), past the hut, up to the ridge line up on the right, and then up left to the summit.

The track turns suddenly to the left and heads straight up the steep slope – at this point carry on straight ahead on the path that goes off right.

The trail is marked in yellow dots and steadily climbs up the slope going diagonally to the right. It is unclear in parts so a GPS map helps. Goats don’t have GPS and make several tracks – but keep going to the ridge up and right. After a climb the path goes over a small ridge marked by two large yellow painted arrows on the rocks.

Large yellow arrows on stones

At this point a second path joins from the right marked with red dots (Stavrotas from road above Eglouvi). Carry on upwards and slightly rightwards following both yellow and red dots. Sometimes the yellow and red take slightly different routes for short distances but either path works. Climb up through a small field system and up onto the steep rocks of the last part of the climb.

Keep going up to the top. There is a slight false summit just before you get to the real summit. The real one is clearly the highest and has a small cairn, flag pole and shrine box.

The views from the top are the best in Lefkada. You can see up North over Preveza to Paxos and Corfu – South to Ithaca and Kefalonia – east to the Gulf of Corinth – west out over the Ionian Sea.

South over Ithaca and Kefalonia

Retrace your steps back down the path until you reach the road where you started up Stavrotas.

Descend down the road about 3km into Ag. Ilias village. If you use your map, there are a couple of paths down this slope as alternates to the road, but very rough and overgrown and indistinct lower down, so hard to recommend (use your discretion and scrambling ability).

The road passes a monastery and bell-tower viewpoint. Near the village the road becomes a one-way system (the roads being super narrow in the village). Best to follow the right hand side where cars also descend. Just as the road recombines there is a very welcome taverna.

Well done, you have just done the hardest day. Take a well earned rest and consider day 5 tomorrow – being much shorter and much less climbing. There is limited accommodation in Ag Ilias. There is much more accommodation and tavernas in Syvros a few km further down the road (walk taking a very good path running to the left of the winding road). Or arrange a taxi or lift back to your base. Day 5 will start back in Ag. Ilias.

Mount Elati Five Peak Loop

Stunning walk across the roof of Lefkada. A trail with the best views of the north, east and south of Lefkada with the surrounding seas, islands and mainland. Takes in five peaks on the high plain of the eastern end of Mount Elati – the highest part of Lefkada. And all for a mere 166m of climbing. The easy way to be a mountaineer.

If you want a full-on longer hike then walk up the A4 trail from Eglouvi, go around this trail, and then go back down the A5 to Eglouvi. This makes probably the best mountain hike on Lefkada. In total 600m of ascent and 11.5km long.

You won’t have to climb but do take suitable clothes, boots or walking shoes and carry plenty of water. The weather up here is usually more extreme than down below except being cooler in summer. The sun is stronger though.

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

4.7km
166m ascent
Easy (but very rocky ground in parts).

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You need a car or taxi to reach the start of the trail. You can walk up from Eglouvi if you are fit.

Links to trails up and down to Eglouvi, or beyond to climb Stavrotas too.

The trail starts from the high road by the antenna at the top of Mnimati at 1,130m. Drive up from either Eglouvi, Karia, Chorta, or Sivros. Take the turning off the high road crossing from Eglouvi to Sivros leading up to the antenna station at the top. Park just before you get to the antenna gates – near to a concrete blockhouse up on the right of the road. Do not block the road or tracks leading off.

Track at the start of the trail leads north-east from the road just below the radio antenna

Take the track heading north-east. There is sometimes a metal fence that you need to locate and untie the wire or rope that holds the track gate closed. Take care and don’t damage the fence (it keeps the cows in). Make sure you re-tie as you found it.

Head along the track with views all the way up to Lefkada town in the distance. After about 300m the track turns sharp left and a marked path goes right. The path is marked with big red and yellow paint marks on the rocks – and is the A4 trail coming up from Eglouvi. Follow that path rightwards all the way to Katharia Rachi – the first peak. The path descends at first to a low pass before climbing up gently to Katharia Rachi after 1.5km. You can’t miss the red and yellow paint marks all the way.

Distinctive read and yellow paint blobs mark much of the trail.

Katharia Rachi is marked with a sign in a small cairn. Also the slope suddenly drops steeply down in front of you and to both sides. You are now at the top of the most glorious view in all of Lefkada. Look north towards Lefkada and Preveza beyond – on a clear day up to Paxos and Corfu. To the east is Nidri, out across the Inland Sea with Meganisi, Kalamos, and the mainland. To the south is Ithaca and Kefalonia beyond. To the south-east on a clear day is the start of the Gulf of Corinth and Patras. Stunning. Sit here and enjoy.

Stunning panorama view from Katharia Rachi

When you have finished looking take the path heading sharp-right almost back the way you came. The same red and yellow paint marks descend down and right down to high pass below you. After about 200m the marked path turns back left and descends more gently to the pass. The path then turns right and goes over a low hill until it reaches a T junction with an unsurfaced track. The paint marks go off right, and you will eventually go that way too, but first turn left and follow the track downwards.

Your destination ahead on Alevrata peak

The track descends to another pass where it ends and a path ascends a peak in front of you. Take that path to the top. At the top you stand on Alevrata with a similar amazing view as you had on top of Katharia Rachi except oriented more to the south. You can now see over the whole south of the island with Ithaca and Kefalonia beyond. Again, sit for a while and enjoy.

When ready retrace your steps down the path back down to the first pass and then back up the track you came down. Follow the track all the way until you pick up the red and yellow paint marks. Follow the track as it winds across the high plateau. There may be wire fences to cross but most have tied “gates” where crossing the track. Leave them as you found them as they stop the cows roaming.

Track winds across the high plateau

The track eventually climbs back up to the road near the radio antenna at the top of Mnimati. At this point the paint-marked trail follows the A5 down to Eglouvi. Instead follow the road right towards the antennas and your parked car.

Follow the road back right towards the antenna

This trail can be easily linked into the trails A4 and A5 up and down from Eglouvi. You can also head along the short road to the start of the trail up Stavrotas – and go for a sixth peak.

Stavrotas from road above Agios Ilias

Climb up the highest peak on Lefkada up the shortest route. Stavrotas is without doubt Lefkada’s top mountain: it is the highest at 1182m, it is unencumbered with man made masts or buildings, it has impressive steep crags and screes, and has far reaching views in all directions. If you like mountains and come to Lefkada you must climb Stavrotas. If you can pick a day with clear blue skies and no mist or haze.

There is an alternate longer but less steep route: Stavrotas from road above Eglouvi. You can use one to go up and one to descend as it isn’t far along a quiet road between the two trailheads.

The steep crags and screes of Stavrotas

This route starts from 960m leaving a mere 222m to climb over just over one kilometre. What a reward for such a small effort. However it is not to be taken lightly as the climb is up over steep rocks. The weather can change quickly at these heights with mists and high winds. In the summer the sun is strong and there is no water. Be prepared.

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

1.1km
222m ascent
Difficult

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You need a car or taxi to drive up to the starting point.

Tavernas and accommodation in Agios Ilias.

Links to trails down to Eglouvi and Agios Ilias

The trail starts from the very top of the road up from Agios Ilias heading towards Eglouvi. As the road reaches the top it goes around one last bend and a track heads off uphill to the left. Park anywhere near here and take the track.

The track heads into a small high valley with fields and pasture. Very shortly you reach a small hut on the left where the track divides. Take the left track running past the hut on the left hand side. There is often a dog attached to a chain blocking the track – but this is easily avoided with a path that run around to the left and then re-joins the track.

The track turns suddenly to the left and heads straight up the steep slope – at this point carry on straight ahead on the path that goes off right.

The trail is marked in yellow dots and steadily climbs up the slope going diagonally to the right. It is unclear in parts so a GPS map helps. Goats don’t have GPS and make several tracks – but keep going to the ridge up and right.  After a climb the path goes over a small ridge marked by two large yellow painted arrows on the rocks.

Large yellow arrows on stones

At this point a second path joins from the right marked with red dots (Stavrotas from road above Eglouvi). Carry on upwards and slightly rightwards following both yellow and red dots. Sometimes the yellow and red take slightly different routes for short distances but either path works. Climb up through a small field system and up onto the steep rocks of the last part of the climb.

Keep going up to the top. There is a slight false summit just before you get to the real summit. The real one is clearly the highest and has a small cairn, flag pole and shrine box.

The views from the top are the best in Lefkada. You can see up North over Preveza to Paxos and Corfu – South to Ithaca and Kefalonia – east to the Gulf of Corinth – west out over the Ionian Sea.

South over Ithaca and Kefalonia

It is possible to walk along the ridge to the southern peak of Stavrotas. The going is rocky but you can pick a path that is no harder than the climb to the main peak.

The ridge to the southern (lower) peak of Stavrotas.

Retrace your steps back down the path. Alternatively follow the trail Stavrotas from road above Eglouvi in reverse and then walk back along the quiet paved road to your starting point.

Stavrotas from road above Eglouvi

Climb up the highest peak on Lefkada passing through lentil fields and high pastures. Stavrotas is without doubt Lefkada’s top mountain: it is the highest at 1182m, it is unencumbered with man made masts or buildings, it has impressive steep crags and screes, and has far reaching views in all directions. If you like mountains and come to Lefkada you must climb Stavrotas. If you can pick a day with clear blue skies and no mist or haze.

There is an alternate shorter yet steeper route: Stavrotas from road above Agios Ilias. You can use one to go up and one to descend as it isn’t far along a quiet road between the two trailheads.

The steep crags and screes of Stavrotas

This route starts from 940m leaving a mere 242m to climb. What a reward for such a small effort. However it is not to be taken lightly as the last section of path climbs up over steep rocks. The weather can change quickly at these heights with mists and high winds. In the summer the sun is strong and there is no water. Be prepared.

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

2.2km
242m ascent
Difficult

Trail on Gaia GPS >
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Bus to Eglouvi from Lefkada. You need a car or taxi to drive up to the starting point.

Tavernas and accommodation in Eglouvi.

Links to trails down to Eglouvi and Agios Ilias

Start from the road between Eglouvi and Agios Ilias. The road goes round a tight bend just where a track and then a footpath heads up the hill. The footpath is marked with red blobs of paint.

This trail follows the footpath up the first part of this route. However the path is a little indistinct and so a little difficult to follow without a GPS map. A good alternative is to follow the track instead that runs in parallel with the footpath; which is much easier to follow. Or you can go up one and back down the other.

Follow the footpath up around high lentil fields and then up the slope to the left. You go over a low ridge to a plateaux with a track – follow the track right for a short distance where you join a second track coming from the right – this being the top of the alternative track route from the road. Keep going straight across the plateaux.

As you start to climb again the track is blocked and a path starts following the same route as the track but slightly down the hill. Take this path along and up to a small saddle of rocks. The red paint markers help you follow the trail. After the saddle you go left up to the start of the main slope up Stavrotas.

At this point a second path (Stavrotas from road above Agios Ilias) joins from the left with yellow dots. Carry on upwards and slightly rightwards following both yellow and red dots. Sometimes the yellow and red take slightly different routes for short distances but either path works. Climb up through a small field system and up onto the steep rocks of the last part of the climb.

Keep going up to the top. There is a slight false summit just before you get to the real summit. The real one is clearly the highest and has a small cairn, flag pole and shrine box.

The views from the top are the best in Lefkada. You can see up North over Preveza to Paxos and Corfu – South to Ithaca and Kefalonia – east to the Gulf of Corinth – west out over the Ionian Sea.

South over Ithaca and Kefalonia

It is possible to walk along the ridge to the southern peak of Stavrotas. The going is rocky but you can pick a path that is no harder than the climb to the main peak.

The ridge to the southern (lower) peak of Stavrotas.

Retrace your steps back down the path – possibly taking the track or path over the last part to vary your way down. Alternately go down Stavrotas from road above Agios Ilias in reverse and walk back along the quiet paved road.