Irakliá: Agios Geórgios - Panagiá - Pápas - Profítis Ilías - Marousoú - Panagiá - Agios Geórgios

Evaluation: Iraklia offers you a lot of possibilities for walking, especially in the southern part of this tranquil island and trails have recently been signposted. This hike takes you first to Panagiá and from there, you can follow the beautiful paths [1] and [2] to the Pápas, the highest peak of the island, and then to the far south-east of Irakliá. The nice monopátia and views make that this hike deserves the maximum of ****.
[29 September 2015.]
[The translation of this walk was made with some help of Google translate - so, please, do not mind the mistakes...]

Estimated time
: The entire walk takes about 4 hours (actual walking time): first, you need one hour to reach Panagiá, then the path [1] to the Pápas requires 55 minutes and it takes 45 minutes to reach the southern tip of the island via the chapel of Profítis Ilías. The return lasts for 35 minutes until Panagiá and for a little less than one hour until your starting point in Agios Geórgios, always in AWT. We walked from 10am to 5pm, a total time (TWT) of 7 hours.
You can of course reduce the walking time by following one of the shortcuts...

Route description
:  (0h00) From the edge of the water in Agios Geórgios (or Káto Chorió ), you follow the main street into the village. The street is paved and passes to the right of the taverna / minimarket To Perigiáli .
You continue to follow the main street and near the bifurcation (with crèperie To Pérasma), you should take the LEFT street in the direction of the church with the blue dome.


(0h06)
While following the concrete road to the church, you see the first signposting [7]. You continue beyond the church Taxiárchis, where you keep to the right.

(0h10) You keep to the left at the next bifurcation (road sign "Agios Athanasios / Panagía / Cave + [7] on a pole). The gravel road is sometimes covered with concrete and arrives after 2-3 minutes near the chapel of Agios Ioánnis - just before the chapel, there is a trail to the right to Voriní Spiliá [8]  - see the walk Agios Geórgios – Voriní Spiliá and back.
You continue straight on and pass a path that goes up to the left – and you still go straight (hiking sign). Soon your road becomes sandy, but here and there you still see the old pavement.

  

The nice trail to Agios Athanásios and Panagiá.

(0h17) Another 4-5 minutes later, there is a short stretch of concrete, where you continue straight [7]. A little further on, there is again a bifurcation, where the road sign Cave / Panagía / Agios Athanásios sends you to the left - the trail that continues straight also leads to Agios Athanásios: this route is a little shorter, but the left trail is nicer.

(0h21) So you go diagonally to the left and your road becomes very quickly a real rocky trail between walls. You climb a slope and the pavement of the staircase-path is sometimes beautiful – later it becomes rocky and stony again. At the top, you enjoy a nice view behind you over the village and on the island of Náxos. You now descend, straight to the blue dome of Panagiá (or Páno Chorió).

The crossroads next to a watering place.

(0h34) After 13 very nice minutes, you get to an important crossroads, located in a gentle valley - there is a well and a watering place. Walk [7] continues here on the right (see the hikes to the cave and Vourkariá), but today you take a left (no indication). The sandy and rocky road descends in 7 easy minutes until it gets to the asphalt road – towards the end, you keep slightly to the right and thus follow the old route, and so you get to the road to the right of an electricity pole (sign).

(0h41) You take a right, you pass over a small bridge, but already in the first bend, you can go straight on a splendid and wide stepped path - that is all what remains of the former liaison Agios Geórgios - Panagiá. You climb about 70 sloping steps, and while zigzagging you reach the asphalt road again – so you have cut a very wide turn.

The nice staircase on your way to Panagiá.

(0h48) You follow the road for 9 minutes, but just BEFORE the chapel, you keep to the right in a rising street (dead end / "Panagiá" on a rock). The street becomes paved and crosses the quiet little village, passing by 2 beautiful pine trees and by To Stéki (store-bakery-restaurant). Beyond the church, you come to a crossroads where the trail [3] starts on the right hand towards the cave (see the reverse route in the walk Agios Geórgios - cave of Agios Ioánnis - Panagiá - Agios Geórgios).

(1h03) You continue straight and at the end of this small village (bus stop), you still continue straight on the concrete road. When you reach the junction, where the asphalt begins, you go up to the RIGHT onto concrete, and after a little less than 5 minutes, you come next to a large cistern.

[Just beyond this tank, there is a paved staircase that rises to the left (sign Profítis Ilías and [2]): this is the easy and direct route to the chapel of Profítis Ilías. After 290 steps, you  might get to the point (2h18) below.]

(1h08) For now, you still continue STRAIGHT on the small concrete road: it becomes wider and ends just beyond a large cistern - a stony path continues straight. A little further on, you will get to your surprise to a recent pavement: the wide trail continues for a few minutes between low walls and arrives next to a well, that was recently renovated - there are also some benches.

(1h15) Behind some vegetation, a stony path begins between walls [1]; the winding trail goes up against the slope – take your bearings to the first large cairn in masonry + [1], on the left. Near the 2nd cairn, the trail becomes a little easier and you gradually climb straight ahead.

(1h23) Some 8 minutes later, the climb becomes steeper and goes to the left [1]: the brownish trail winds up between pale rocks and clearly continues on the left slope of a small ravine. You thus arrive after again 6 minutes against a wall, where you veer right - but still you go left through a breach in that wall [1]. You easily walk towards the south  and the crest of the hill while climbing slowly.

(1h35) Arriving almost at the top, you slowly veer to the right and you continue to climb upward the rounded top of the Pápas. After 2 minutes, you go through a breach in a wall [1], but – pay attention - beside the next cairn you should keep to the right [1].

The path to the top of the Pápas.

You again veer to the right (cairns and [1]) and finally you continue to the northeast, with Ios on your left. You also see that the top is a little higher and a lot further. You therefore continue yet many minutes on a clear brownish trail between juniperus, accompanied by a lot of cairns and marks [1].

(1h53) Eventually, after another 18 minutes, you reach the trig point indicating the top of the Pápas. It is the highest point of the Small Cyclades (420m) after the highest peak of Kéros (434m): its asymmetrical shape gives Irakliá its typical appearance.
All around you, you enjoy a splendid view: to the north, you see Páros, Antíparos and Náxos, more to the right lies Schinoússa with behind it Páno and Káto Koufoníssi and further away Donoússa; to the right, there is still Kéros and the big island of Amorgós. To the south, you distinguish vaguely Anáfi, then more clearly Santoríni and in the southwest the big island of Ios.

 

On top of the Pápas.

(1h53) You retrace your steps: the trail is almost flat for 6 minutes, and then you reach a small height, on the left of a small stable; you then descend gently, but next to the 8th cairn, you begin to go down to the left on a stony slope. Pay attention: only at 10 meters BEFORE the wall, you can veer to the left towards the next cairn.

(2h07) Your path becomes clear again and goes a little further through the breach in the wall [1]. Next to the next cairn, you still veer slightly left.
As long as you see the chapel of Profítis Ilías, you can see in which direction you will continue in a moment... The path that you will follow to the chapel is indeed very vague...

(2h10) A little beyond the last cairn (where you veered left) and BEFORE you will arrive to the left of the nascent valley, there is a vague brownish trail to the RIGHT - we left a cairn here.

[It is of course possible to continue to follow the main trail [1] which descends directly to Panagiá - this would cost you about 35 minutes...]

You now should follow this trail until you arrive on the other hill crest, where you will turn left. You thus continue for 3 minutes in the direction of Schinoússa, then you veer left to follow the ridge - you pass quite easily a low wall. You meander between the vegetation while following a very vague path - you can take your bearings towards the summit of the Zas on the island of Náxos. After following the rocky ridge for about 6-7 minutes, you discover the chapel in front of you.

(2h19) So you get without great problems to the chapel of Profítis Ilías.

Near the chapel of Profítis Ilías.

Again, you have a beautiful view of the other Small Cyclades.

The descent from here is easy: after 100 paved steps, you veer right and after a total of 190 steps, you get to the main path of walk [2] (sign Profítis Ilías).

[Again, you can shorten the walk by going down the 290 steps to the left until you get to the concrete road that leads on the right to Panagiá - see below from the point (2h55).]

(2h18) We prefer to continue our exploration of the southeast of Iráklia and take a RIGHT in order to follow walk [2] (large cairn and [2]). The easy path descends a few minutes, then it goes up on 43 new steps. Later on, the trail becomes rocky and after 6 minutes, you reach a cape, where you enjoy a nice view of the southeastern tip of the island, the Fteró cape.

 

Cape Fteró.

(2h24) You see how the path continues far ahead of you: after 12 easy minutes, you come along a wall and below a high rocky hill. You thus reach the southern tip of the island, next to a ruin: you are here roughly above cape Marousoú and you enjoy beautiful views of the coast on the right and the left of you. From right to left you see Ios, Santoríni and vaguely Anáfi; to the left, you see Amorgos and the Little Cyclades.

(2h36) After enjoying this absolute silence, you retrace your steps: at first, you go up slowly - and you see how the trail descends and rises far ahead of you and finally arrives to the left of two rocks that look from here like two towers. You continue quite some time on the slope below the long rock-face which ends at the left of these "towers". You finally climb 10-15 rocky steps until you get to the cape [2]. The following stretch is easy and flat – the 5 minutes are only interrupted by a slight descent into a valley.

(2h55) You thus arrive near the side-path to Profítis Ilías, where you continue straight of course. You count exactly 291 paved steps - towards the end, you go through two gates in reinforcing steel.

(3h05) You reach the concrete road - where a while ago you went to the left - and you take of course a right.

(3h09) Once arrived at the bus stop and near the asphalt road, you continue straight into the village: you pass the side-trail to the cave and you continue to the right of the church and the pantopolío / restaurant To Stéki, which however is closed most of the time. You cross in this way the village and you get to the asphalt road, just beyond a chapel.

(3h15) You follow the road to the left for 8 minutes; BEFORE you arrive in a right turn and next to a bench, you can go down straight on a beautiful wide staircase (cairn). This staircase winds down until it gets again to the road, and so you have cut a large bend. You pass a small bridge, but then you immediately take a LEFT onto a small gravel road that rises slowly (sign) and that starts to the left of an electricity pole. This rocky, then sandy road rises gradually and reaches after 7 minutes the T-junction next to the well.

(3h35) You take of course a right: at first, you go up slowly, then you go down on a stony or rocky path, later on nice paved steps. After 13 beautiful minutes, you reach the road that comes from Agios Athanásios. After another 8 minutes, you pass the trail of walk [8]. You thus reach the village, you keep to the left near the church and you continue straight to the edge of the water. (4h03)

 

 

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