Chóra - Skárkos - Agios Ioánnis - Profítis Ilías and back 

Evaluation: This hike first leads to the very interesting excavations of the acropolis of Skárkos; the path then continues through the beautiful interior of the island of Ios. You arrive at Epáno Kámbos, where you first go to the chapel of Agios Ioánnis, then to that of Profítis Ilías – the view over there is really splendid.
Since 2011, the walk is well signposted with trail markers [1].
Deserves ***.
[Updated in May 2012 by Jean-Paul Ovigne and George Roubaud
and by Raymond on April 28th, 2013.]
[The translation of this walk was made with the help of Google translate - so, do not mind the mistakes...]

[Note first of all that in this walk, your goal is not the top of the high Profitis Ilias (519 m), but the lower top of the hill (210 m) which lies at the end of the valley of Gialós!]
Estimated time: It takes only 20 minutes to reach the site of Skárkos, then you follow most of the time beautiful trails to Agios Ioánnis, which will cost you a little over 40 minutes (still in AWT). The walk up to the chapel of Profítis Ilías does not need more than 10 minutes - the actual walking time for the way there thus amounts to a total of approximately 1h10 (AWT). The way back takes about the same time, that is to say 1h15.
The AWT thus amounts to a total of 2h25 – as for us, we walked from 11am to 4.30pm - a total time (TWT) of 5 hours and a half.

Route description: (0h00) You leave from the little square at the Mitrópoli, the main church with the blue dome. You then take the Odós Syndésmou Iítoon on the left, on the left-hand side of the shop Theros, and you follow this paved main street for about 5 minutes. Thus, you do NOT take a left immediately (which would lead you upwards, to the three chapels dominating the town of Chóra), nor do you go right into the small street. Further on you go right twice and after about 2 minutes you arrive at the nice little square of the platía Sp. Valetas – in the morning this is a very peaceful spot, but at night there is a lot of noise coming from the bars…
Further on, you get to the platía
Ioannis G. Stinis with a rather big church with a blue dome: there is an archway or kamára to the right and in front of you, you see a second small church and a telephone booth. You leave here the main street: you go left for a few moments, but in the corner of the square you go to the right (there is a hiking sign and a [1].

The hiking sign at the beginning of walk [1].

(0h04) The paved street goes down and becomes a concrete monopáti leaving the village. You always go straight and and therefore you do NOT go down to the left – the concrete alternates with a beautiful pavement.
Arriving down, there is a staircase on your right - you veer to the left and a little further, you still hold to the left (red mark).

[The path to the right is walk [2]: it goes to Agios Prokópios.]

The hiking sign at the bifurcation of walks [1] and [2].

(0h08) You descend now on the right side of a wide valley. Your path describes a sharp turn to the left, then right, and you go down on well maintained steps. After 5 minutes, you keep of course to the left, continuing on the main trail - and after another 4 minutes, you arrive between high walls [1].

The splendid pavement of the path to Skárkos.

(0h17) You get a beautiful view of the hill of Skárkos and by following a staircase you come to the right of the entry.

General view of the hill of Skárkos.

[This archaeological site dates from the beginning of the Bronze Age, and more particularly of the Kéros-Sýros civilization, which was at its peak in the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. The acropolis was very well located, near a sheltered harbour and the fertile land near Káto Kámbos.
The site was discovered in 1984 and excavations began only in 1986. The site was completely renovated in the years 2002-2008, when, among other things, the circular walls that support the acropolis were built. In 2008, the restoration has received the "European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage".
You can see 11 small squares, with 6 groups of houses and 35 houses in total. The objects which were discovered are to be found in the museum of Ios.]

The excavations of Skárkos.

(0h20) When leaving the site, you continue of course to the left (there is big hiking sign + [1]). The path is still well paved, but a minute later, it becomes a normal monopáti, which continues on earth or rock. A little further, you keep to the right and you remain on the main trail: the view of the fertile valley and the continuation of the trail becomes very beautiful.
A little more than 4 minutes later, you arrive more or less in the bed of the river, with many oleanders in bloom (18 May 2010). You keep again to the right at a bifurcation – you thus remain on the right of the bed.

(0h31) After a beautiful stretch, you reach the Pertesis-bridge and you continue on the other side
[1]. The climb that follows is really beautiful: the hill is planted with olive trees and the pavement of the rocky trail is sometimes very nice.

The path continues between nice fields with olive trees...

You describe a few turns and you climb faster now, with the result that you get behind you a beautiful view over Chóra and the row of windmills.

Looking back towards Chóra.

(0h39) At the top, you reach a small gravel road, which you follow up to the right ([1] a little further). You pass on the right side of a chapel and some stables, then the road veers left and then slightly to the right.

[In the second curve, there is a path on the left which seems to lead straight to your goal, the (small) Profítis Ilías - do NOT take this path, because it is completely overgrown by vegetation after 6-7 minutes! ]

(0h44) So you continue on the gravel road, but after 3 minutes, close to a wall with a large green gate, you do take this time the path on the left, at the right side of an electricity pole – and you don’t follow anymore the walk [1].
Soon, the trail veers to the left, and then it winds to the left again and to the right, while you cross the bed of a small river. After another 5 minutes you get to a small gravel road, between the houses of Apáno Kámbos.

(0h52) You follow the small road to the right (red mark) and already after one minute you reach a wider gravel road, where you take a left. After another 4-5 minutes, there is a bifurcation, and you go left again. You are now facing the hill of the (low) Profítis Ilías, with behind you the summit of the “real” Profítis Ilías (517 m).

[The main gravel road that continues straight ahead – your will follow it on your way back -,  surrounds the hill of Profítis Ilías from the west and could be a quick and easy - but rather monotonous – return to the bay of Gialós, situated not far from the harbour.]

(0h59) Pay attention now: soon enough, you
should take a very stony path that goes up to the right (a few red marks). Once in a while, this steep trail is dotted with typical Greek rubbish, it passes next to a farm and ends next to the simple chapel of Agios Ioánnis, which is closed.

The chapel of Agios Ioánnis.

(1h03) A gravel path continues winding between terraces: as soon as you see the chapel of Profítis Ilías, you know what direction you must pursue. There are some steep sections and you have to step over some walls, but you finally reach the chapel Profítis Ilías without major problems. (1h08)

[If you want to avoid the climb to Agios Ioánnis and the the quite indistinct path, you can go straight at the point (0h59) above: in this way, you also will reach the top of Profítis Ilías by following the main gravel road.]

From above, you enjoy a wonderful view: you can see (from the left to the right) the summit of the Profítis Ilías (the "true" summit, 519 m high), then Chóra, the whole valley of Kámbos, the sharp top of the Chondrí (244 m) and the island of Síkinos.
The place is ideal for picnic: there are two stone tables, benches and ... a little shadow of the lonely tree.

The chapel of Profítis Ilías.

(1h08) To avoid the vague trails and the difficult descent from Agios Ioánnis, we preferred to go back by the gravel road.
This road begins on the west side of the chapel, behind a low wall. After 2-3 minutes, you veer to the right, you describe a very long turn and you get in this way after 9 minutes to a wider gravel road in the valley - you veer right again.
After a few minutes, you keep of course to the right and you thus continue on the main road that goes around the entire hill. After a total of 18 minutes, you reach the junction where you took a left earlier this day, in order to get to the steep path that leads to Agios Ioánnis.

(1h26) You continue of course to the left, but after 4-5 minutes, you take the side-road on the RIGHT (blue lines on the little wall), towards a house. You pass to the left of the first house and to the right of the second, and so you find the beautiful path that cuts a wide bend of in the road. After 5 minutes, you get again to the same road, where you RIGHT. In fact, you are back in Apáno Kámbos and from here, the route is marked again by trail markers [1].

(1h37) About 3 minutes later, you pass the path that is overgrown a little further, and 6 minutes later, just before the road comes to a dead end near a small farm painted in white (with a blue water tank on the roof), you see on the LEFT the beautiful path that you will follow for many minutes (red lines). During the descent, you again can enjoy that splendid view over Chóra.

The nice descend between the fields, with Chóra in the background.

(1h46) A rocky path and steps lead you in 7 minutes until the bridge you saw from afar. The next 3-4 minutes are beautiful, because you continue along the river bed covered with oleanders. Your path continues for another 6-7 minutes, always with the magnificent view over Chóra.

(2h03) The nice pavement of the trail begins just before reaching the site of Skárkos.

Another general view of Skárkos.

You climb for many minutes - behind you the chapel of Profítis Ilías is still visible!

(2h16) About 13 minutes after Skárkos, you arrive on the concrete near the first houses of Chóra. You continue straight, but after another 2 minutes, you reach a fork: to the left, you could go to the mills, but you continue to the right and the center of Chóra. You reach first the Platía Ioánnis G. Stinis, next to a small church. You go left for a few moments, then you continue to the right, near the cafe, and you follow the Odós Syndesmou Iïtoon. The main street goes down, first to the Platía Sp. Valetas (with the café Ios Blue) and finally you arrive next to the main church. (2h26)

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