Minoan route

minoan-route-header-image

Epic mountain bike tour at the northern Dikti mountains around Louloudaki mountain that passes through the two northern entrances of Lasithi Plateau, “Selli Ampelu” and “Tsouli Grave”.


Landscape
Start point
Avdou
Distance
36.5 km
Altitude
1050m ↑ / 1050m ↓
Max / Min points
1080m / 225m
Duration
4h
Finish point
Avdou

Highlights


  • the view, the view, the view
  • the nature
  • the canyons: Ambelou, Rozas & Vatonero
  • the vultures
  • the fresh water from the fountain
  • Lasithi plateau
  • the downhill through Ambelos canyon
The ride starts from Avdou village 17 km from Hersonisos. After the first tavern on the right, we follow the road that goes to Kastamonitsa (at this point there is a sign to Agia Fotini cave and Velani hotel). From here starts a long climb of 900 meters with just 2 or 3 very small downhill sections to take a breath but with wonderful nature and spectacular views.After two kilometers begins the tough climbs which combined with the loose roads become even more difficult (especially in the summer because of the jeep safaris).

First stop “Mesada” at the church of Saint George. There is drinking water (not all year) and shade to rest. The church is located at the exit of Vatonero canyon and just above the point where the water of Lasithi Plateau (which travels underground from Chonos) spurts again. A little further, 100 meters to the east begins the Minoan path. An amazing Minoan path thousands of years old (the best we have seen so far in Crete). The locals used this path until 60 years ago to transport their animals and products from Lasithi plateau to lower places (impossible to ride with normal bike).

After Saint George the ascent is easier and we ride faster until the limit of the olives, the point where the gardens end and starts the mountain, the kingdom of the goats and vultures. At the point where our road meets the road that comes from Kastamonitsa there is a wooden sign, we take a deep breath and begin the ascent to the top. If we do not have enough water we can go 200 meters further to Toichos village. At the entrance of the little village which took its name from the Roman aqueduct there is a fountain (Toichos = wall).

At 800 meters of elevation the road is a little bit flater. At this point where stop and the jeep safaris to admire the view we can make a stop. We have just finished with the steep uphills, the road to top is a little bit easier.

Next stop and highest point of the route the "Pigadi tis Caras" (well of Caras) a small plateau with many shepherds houses. Here is and the church of Agios Mamas the saint – protector of the shepherds and the animals. The saint is celebrated on September 2 and the shepherds of the area are preparing a fiesta.

The road from here to Lasithi plateau is a 300meters downhill but we can not do it without any stop. At least one to see the panoramic view and admire the vultures which fly permanently in this area searching for their prey or roosting on the rocks in order to digest. The whole Heraklion prefecture is visible from here. Next stop the “Tsoulis Grave”, to throw a small stone-curse to the evil Janissary that the Cretans murder here at 1817. (At this point ends and the Minoan path).

This first descent ends in Lassithi Plateau at the Chonos, the great cave that swallows the Plateau's waters which have no other way out (until 2016 when constructed the underground channel from the Vidiani monastery to Gonies village). Once you reach the asphalt go left. After one kilometer you meet the Monastery of Vidiani where there is always fresh cool water and a small natural history museum. The monastery is dedicated to Zoodochos Pigi (5 days after Easter).

A final short ascent of 75 meters, and we reach the “Seli Ambelou” pass with the ruins of the 27 windmills which used in the past to grind the cereals of Lasithi plateau. From here we descend from the asphalt. Before Kera village on our left there is a dirt road which we follow in order to pass through Ampelos canyon. The canyon is very beautiful and the view of Avdou village and Aposelemi artificial Lake amazing. The downhill is fast but in some places it is advisable to slow down in order to stay on the road. In the canyon there is fountain with fresh water.

Our suggestion is to do this tour counterclockwise in order to move as quickly as possible on the asphalt (because of the traffic) and avoid the steep uphill sections.

...and explore Crete on your own!

Maps


Asphalt road


Dirt road


Single track


Carrying / pushing


Alternative route

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