At an elevation of 1.752 meters above the sea level the road to Skinakas peak is the highest paved road you can ride with a bike in Crete. The total uphill starting from Gazi (Heraklion) is 1952 meters (there are and some short downhill sections). With a distance of 45,5 kilometers it is also the longest climb of Crete.
The whole route with all the serpentine twists and turns in combination with the scenic landscape and the picturesque villages confirms that this is one of the best road routes in Crete.
During the first kilometers from Gazi to Tilissos there is some traffic. The nicest part starts after we pass Tilissos. In the begging the area is full of olives but after xxx kilometers we pass the impressive canyon of Gonies. In the canyon you can see a bicycle that is hanging from a steel wire. The bike and the wire was placed from the cyclist Manolis Grammatikakis the batman of Crete. After Anogia village the landscape is rocky and more wild but the road is very good and the view of Psiloritis mountain amazing. The last section to the top is very narrow with steep sections up to 16,4% but when you manage to reach the top the panoramic view in breathtaking. For those who do not care about Strava KOMs and fast times you can do stop at Anogia village for a coffee, visit Zominthos archaeological site, Nida plateau and Ida cave. During winter months it is often covered with snow (mainly higher than 1500 meters of altitude).
About the observatory
The road was constructed in 1984 in order to built the first stone-made observatory. In the spring of 1986 hundreds of people from all over Greece came to Skinaka to observe the comet Halley. In the Autumn of 1995 inaugurated a larger more modern telescope with a mirror diameter of 1.3m for research and educational activities in astronomy.. At the top of the mountain there is also a stone made guesthouse for the Astrophysicists.
Skinakas observatory is characterized as one of the best places for high quality astronomical observations in the Mediterranean area because of the perfect astronomical conditions. It has a wide field of view and is equipped with highly sensitive electronic cameras. One Sunday every month from May to September the observatory is open for the public. source: http://skinakas.physics.uoc.gr