Impressive route with many changes on the landscape and amazing views. The slopes are moderate and despite the 38km the total climb is not very big.
The route starts from Gonies village. We ride on the asphalt road towards Anogeia, at the junction to Kamariotis (where there are dozens of signs), next to the small shrine there is a small path which we follow. We descend alongside the river and at the old stone bridge we pass across and ascend to Anogia village.
At Anogia make a stop at a cafe for coffee and galaktomboureko or ice cream. This mountain village is famous for its traditional dairy-livestock products and for the dozens of artists who still keep the Cretan tradition alive. Here you will see several people dressed with traditional Cretan clothes.
After Anogia the landscape changes. At the northern foothills of Psiloritis mountain the olives can not survive. Here start the pastures of Anogia that reach up to Nida plateau, the dominant trees are the Oaks (Prinos) and the maples. A little bit highr of Anogia we leave the asphalt road and follow the dirt road to St. Iakinthos passing by the forest of Roussa Limni one of the biggest oak forests in Crete. It is said that it got its name because of the red soil (rosso in Latin means red). Before St. Iakinthos you will see sheep and even some pigs grazing under the oak trees.
Saint Iakinthos is for orthodox curch the saint of lovers like St.Valentine.The celebration is on 3 of July, and for a week the locals orginize artistic events in the forecourt and the small outdoor theater. The festival is called Iakinthia. Here is built the only church dedicated to St. Iakinthos and is constructed like Mitata, the round stone mountain shelters of Psiloritis shepherds.
After Saint Iakinthos we continue eastward, and reach the main road to Nida Plateau at the archaeological site of Zominthos. Here was excavated by the archaeologist Ioannis Sakelarakis a huge luxury two-storey building of 1360 sq.m with 80 rooms, warehouses and workshops. He believed that it was a station on the road to Ideon Antron and this is the first Minoan installation on mountains. According to Homer, the king Minoas every nine years climbed to Ideon Andron to receive the laws from Gods and rule. A little higher at Agia Marina church you can light a candle and refill your bottles with fresh water.
This is the highest point of the route. Eastern of Zominthos starts a dirt road that leads to Livadi plateau of Krousonas (the entrance is closed with large stones but the bikes can pass). Livadi is a small plateau with many churches, several cottages, 2 tavernes and 300,000 apple, pear and cherry trees.
From Livadi we ride north and after a short climb we reach Pentacheri plateau. The return to Gonies village is almost without any uphill and with spectacular views. After the large antenna, the road is concrete and very fast. At the entrance of Gonies village stands a beautiful old stone windmill.
The start can be done from Gonies, Anogia or Livadi. The route can be done to both directions. If you start from Gonies or Livadi is better to ride counterclockwise. While if you start from Anogia ride clockwise. In summer during Iakinthia festival you can start from Zominthos and at the end watch an artistic performance. In this case take a jacket with you, at night at this altitude even in July is cold.