Filóti - Agia Marína - Zas and back

Evaluation: This hike brings you to the summit of the Zas, the highest mountain of Náxos and of all of the Cycladic isles (1001 m). The trail, the impression you have to really walk in high mountains and the marvellous panoramic views, turn this not so difficult hike into a great experience. The hike definitely gets the maximum evaluation of ****.
[Update by Raymond on the 16th of September 2015 and on the 27th of September 2017.]

Estimated time: In Filóti you first walk through the village and then you follow some nice trails up to the small chapel of Agia Marína – this will take you some 40 minutes of actual walking time. From Agia Marína you follow a beautiful trail for about half an hour – this trail also goes to the tower of Chimárrou, and then you follow a well-marked path, going up to the summit of the Zas – this will cost you a little less than 40 minutes. The distance to the summit is 4,34 km.
The descent to Agia Marína will take about one hour and then it will cost you half an hour again to get to Filóti. The total actual walking time is 3h25, which refers to a hike of some five hours, depending on how long you want to spend on the summit... We hiked from 10.30am to 4pm.
The top of the Zas is in fact a great picnic spot, on the condition that there are not too many reddish brown beetles flying around, as was the case when we were there, on the 3rd of May 2008. 

Route description: [Filóti is easy to reach from Chóra (Náxos), for instance by catching the bus at 9.30am. You can shorten the walk by 20 minutes by asking the bus driver to stop at the crossing to Danakós – after Filóti the bus indeed continues in the direction of Apíranthos and Apóllonas. For your return from Filóti you should not forget to write down the hours of the bus.]

[It is usually quite busy in the neighbourhood of the bus stop in Filóti: at this point the roads to Chalkí, to Agia Marína, Apíranthos and Apóllonas and to Damariónas come together. Most of the taverns and shops are situated in the vicinity.]

Panoramic view on Filóti with the summit of the Zas (seen from the road next to Chalkí).

(0h00) Between the kafenío O Plátanos and the "paradosiakó pantopolío " (traditional grocery shop), you climb the wide marble staircase (hiking sign Agia Marína 1 hour / Zas 1h55 + [2]): in this way, you get to a square with a plane tree, that lies to the right of the church of de Panagía Filiótissa. Here, you go down to the right ([2] on a pole) and you continue straight at the next crossroads [2].
On your right side, you see an old flour mill and an olive press (sign) and further to the right a nice fountain and the old Pýrgos (= tower) Barozzi.
 Above the gate in the tower you notice a beautiful old coat of arms, with the double lion and the inscription "Geronimo Barozzi 1718".

The fountain near the Pýrgos Barozzi in Filóti.

The old coat of arms on the Barozzi-tower.

To the left of the tower, you descend the concrete slope, but immediately you should go up to the left [2]: the little concrete street becomes a path, to the right of the last house.

(0h06) You get to a nice cross path, with a gutter.

[To the right lies the Kálamos source, with a washing place.]

You take a left [2] and soon you arrive again between houses, where you get to a concrete road. You continue straight [2], but after 1 minute, you take the concrete staircase to the RIGHT - there is a hiking sign "Agia Marina 50 ' / Zas 1h45" + [2].

The hiking sign for the hike to the Zas and the tower of Chimárrou.

After a lot of steps, you keep to the left and you get to a steep stony path, which after again 4-5 minutes describes sharp turns right and left.
You now go up for 10 minutes, first quickly, then more slowly, with a beautiful view on Filóti. Note also some stones with dates like 1950 and 1967...

(0h27) You finally arrive at a junction, where, behind a metal gate, there is another path that descends to the right. You continue obliquely to the left and arrive underneath the retaining wall of the road and then on the road.

(0h31) You cross it and you climb the stony path in front of you [2], but after 3 more minutes, you get again to the road. You go for 20 meters to the RIGHT, where a steep rocky trail goes up (red arrow and [2]); after 2 minutes, you still get to the road. You take a right again and you reach after 4 minutes the modest chapel of Agia Marína. (0h42)

[At the chapel there is some space to park, so you could get to this chapel by car.]

There are three trails that start here. To the left you see a first path (that further on is blocked), then a gravel road leading to the monastery of Fotodótis (big road sign) and then the asphalt road to Danakós. On the right of the asphalt road there is another trail (behind a gate): this path would bring you to Danakós – see the hike Filóti - Danakós - Fotodótis - Apíranthos. And then, there is the third path to the Zas and the Pýrgos Chimárrou.]

(0h42) Today you thus follow the broad and beautifully shaded trail on the right of the chapel [2] – there is a signpost in Greek to the Koryfí tou Za, the summit of the Zas. After 3 minutes, you go up to the right  and you pass in this way on the right-hand side of the house. The trail is steep for a while and then you walk horizontally on this nice path. Some 5 minutes later you have a nice view on the Zas in front of you.

The nice path and the beginning of the climb of the Zas.

View on the slopes of the Zas.

(0h52) After 2 minutes you see a bench to rest and then you go through a gate in reinforcing steel (red mark). You curve to the left gradually and then you get to the first, green slope of the Zas. Another 4 minutes later you pass a rock with the inscription "Orós Diós Melosíou" or "Mountain of Zeus, the protector of the sheep" ("mélon = the ancient Greek for "sheep" or "goat"). Next to it, there is a another bench and you can admire the beautiful view on the valley of Danakós with the tower of the fortified monastery of Fotodótis in front of you.

The inscription "Oros Diós Melosíou".

(0h58) Shortly thereafter you pass the Levgássa spring with some drinking troughs and with another bench besides them. You go up steeply now [2] on a trail with a lot of rocky steps – if it were not for the sea on your left-hand side, you could really imagine yourself in the Alps – also because of the mountain goats.

The mountain goats create a real alpine atmosphere...

The path meanders up nicely and then, after a total of 27 minutes, you get to a nice view point (cairns and [2]). You reach a flatter stretch again and then, you have to watch out, because the trail splits up: straight on the trail continues to the tower of Chimárrou, but you have to take a right now, going up to really take on the climb of the Zas (signs and [2]) – there are also a couple of obvious cairns. You are now at an altitude of 750 m and clearly higher than the tower of Fotodótis – there are still another 250 metres to climb.

(1h14) After going up for two minutes you get to a wall [2] and you curve to the right. You follow the wall and the trail remains very clear. Past the wall, the brownish trail continues in the same direction and between the greenery;  it curves to the right very slowly and then becomes very rocky and steep – there are also some big cairn. You now see also the actual summit and, while veering to the right, you reach a sort of mountain crest or pass. You have to take a left, continuing to the summit, but first you can enjoy the panoramic view in front of you: the Tragéa-valley with Filóti and Chalkí; the sea of olive trees; beyond that, the entire northern part of Náxos and the island of Páros to the left. To the right of and above Filóti you can distinguish the white spot of Moní, with Kinídaros on its left; all the way to the right, behind the aerials, you can see Apíranthos – and between Moní and Apíranthos the black mass of the massif of the Fanári.

(1h32) You thus take a sharp right and now go straight to the top, guided by some really big cairns. After yet another 8 minutes you arrive at a slight slope, preparing you for the final climb. Watch out, though: after two minutes you have to keep to the left [2], carefully following the big cairns. After some 10 minutes you thus reach the little trigonometric pole marking the summit of the Zas, at an altitude of 1001 metres. (1h51)

In front of you, towards the west, there is the cliff face of the Zas, descending staggeringly steep, with the island of Páros on the right and straight to the south the island of Ios. When following the elongated top to the left, you can see, from the south to the east, the islands of Irakliá and Schinoússa, the two islands of Koufoníssi, with the high island of Kéros behind; more to the left there is the long-drawn-out island of Amorgós with its typical cloud above, and finally the island of Donoússa.
On the northern part of Náxos you can clearly see Apíranthos with the village of Moní on the left slope of the Fanári.

[On April 24, 2012, the view was particularly clear: we saw ALL the Cyclades, with moreover Ikaría, Sámos, Astypálea and even Crete and the islands in front of the Turkish coast!
Starting from the Kóronos, in the north, we saw turning to the right: Ikaría, Sámos and some distant islands, perhaps Lésbos and Chíos; then Donoússa, nearby, with four vague islands behind (Foúrni, Pátmos, Leros and Kálymnos?); the long island of Amorgós with Astypálea behind it; the Small Cyclades seemed close, with Kéros and in front of it the 2 Koufonissia, the low Schinoússa, then the pointed form of Irakliá. Behind it was Anáfi, then (in the south) Santoríni, Thirasiá and the big Ios - and even, to the left and to the right of Santoríni the snow-capped mountains of Crete! To the right of Ios, there was Síkinos, the long island of Folégandros, the group of Polýaigos and Kímolos with behind Mílos. Further, there were Páros and Antíparos, with Sífnos and Sérifos behind and to the right.
Between Sérifos and the very visible island of Sýros, we saw the vague contours of Kýthnos and Kéa, and finally, quite to the right, in the north-west, Andros and Tínos, then Rhínia, Dílos and Mýkonos.
Between Sýros and Andros / Tínos, we vaguely distinguished the mainland, so we can say that this April 24, we saw the whole Aegean Sea ...]


High on the summit of the Zas.

(1h51) For the descent you first have to keep somewhat to the left, in the direction of the first cairn and then you keep watching out for the cairns when walking on the grey mountain crest. The descent is fairly easy and you can see the trail continuing far away in front of you.

(2h09) After 18 minutes you turn to the right in order to leave the mountain ridge – over here you notice a vague trail off the left, leading to the cave of Zeus – it first descends on the stony slope and then in turns into a much clearer path.
You thus take a right next to the last big cairn and the rocky trail goes down fairly steeply now. After 5 minutes, you arrive between the greenery – this is a fairly difficult stretch. On your right you can still see the Little Cyclades and the island of Amorgós.

During the descent of the Zas.

Yet another 13 minutes later you already reach the heavy wall; after 2 minutes, you go left and right for a moment, so you descend a little away from the wall. Pay attention: after some 4 minutes you take a left abruptly, moving away from the wall. Two minutes later you already arrive at the main trail, where you go left, obviously.

(2h28) The path becomes even clearer now, and a little further you can see its continuation in front of you. You can even distinguish the far away village of Chóra, on the left of the green hill top.

The path that returns to Agia Marína.

After 10 minutes you get to the spring with the drinking troughs and then to the inscription on the rock.
A bit later, there is a side-path that starts obliquely to the left, but you continue straight of course; further on, you veer to the left: you leave in this way the slope of the Zas and then you go through a gate.

(2h44) The path is easy now [2], and there is some nice shade; you pass the house and you walk through another gate. After 9 more minutes you reach the chapel of Agia Marína.

(2h53) For the way back to Filóti, you follow of course the asphalt road to the left. You neglect a marked path on the left, after 1 minute, but you follow the road for another 3 minutes. In the first right turn, there is a path down to the left, to the right of a utility pole: it is steep and leads fast to the road again. You go right, but after 20 meters, the trail continues to the left of a wall [2] - but the trail also gets to the road after 2 minutes.

(3h02) A nice path continues just opposite (" Filóti” in red letters, mark and arrow) - after 2 minutes, there is a bifurcation.

[The path on the left, behind a metal gate, also leads to Filóti.]

You continue straight between the walls while having a beautiful view of Filóti; you descend slowly and gradually you veer left.

A nice path, high above Filóti.

(3h11) After 9 minutes, you begin a zigzagging descent (red marks) and you thus arrive between converging walls.

The descent to Filóti.

You have the impression to continue too far, but then you describe a sharp left turn; now you descend quickly on a stony path, with occasional concrete steps. You thus arrive at the right of some stables, and next to a chapel and finally to a small concrete road between houses.

(3h20) You descend to the left and you continue to follow the small concrete road, while veering to the right [2]. Further, you keep to the left and you go down with the Barozzi tower in front of you. You arrive next to the small square with the tower, you follow the paved street to the right of the square, but you go immediately up to the right ([2] on a pole). At the top, you take a left, you go down to the left of the church and you thus arrive to the right of café O Plátanos. (3h25)

You can wait here for the bus – there is one about half past 4.



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