Hike to Gigilos Summit

Chania, Greece



5 miles

Elevation Gain

2624.7 ft

Route Type



Added by Andreas Brokalakis

A hike to an iconic peak of the White Mountains sierra through a unique scenery and rewarding views.

Omalos plateau is one of the highest plateaus in Crete at an altitude of 1080m above sea level. It is located in the heart of the White Mountains sierra and it is surrounded by seven of their peaks. One of them is the iconic Gigilos. From far away, Gigilos seems the wildest of all, however it has the easiest trail to reach the peak and therefore it is the summit that is most accessible.

Gigilos directly overlooks the famous Samaria gorge (longest gorge in Europe). The trail for the summit starts a little above the entrance of Samaria gorge (Ksyloskalo) at an altitude of 1200m. The Gigilos summit is at 2080m therefore the vertical ascent (elevation) is approximately 800m.

The first part of the trail is the same as the European Mountaineering Trail E4, therefore the trail is clearly marked. It should be noted though that the trail is harsh and you will be hiking on hard rock and broken stones. As a result it is highly recommended to wear proper hiking boots and carry hiking poles. It is quite steep, therefore you should be reasonably fit and trained for the ascend.

After approximately an hour (depending on how fast you are are hiking), you will reach a spring called Linoseli from where you can drink water or replenish your water supply. It will take you one more hour to reach the col of Gigilos, where there is a spectacular view of Tripiti gorge and the sea in the south of the island. At this point, you exit the E4 trail as it continues on the right towards Koustogerako. You follow the signs and marks on the left towards Gigilos summit.

At this point you should be careful to follow the trail so that you avoid any of the chasms in the mountains. It will take you another hour to reach the first summit and then some more time (appr. 15-20min) to reach the second and highest summit at 2080m. This is the wildest part of the trail and from time to time you will need to use your arms or climb to get to the summit (not any technical skills required, however this is the reason I do not have many photos from this part of the trail).

Once you reach the summit, the view you enjoy spans from the north to the south of the island.

Overall, the trail is approximately 4km long (with 800m elevation). Assuming a reasonable pace, you can reach the summit in about 3,5 to 4 hours. You follow the same trail to return to Ksyloskalo at Omalos plateau, so consider that the overall activity will take you 7+ hours. Apart from the Linoseli spring, you wont find water along the route, therefore plan accordingly. Bear in mind, that only in the beginning of the trail you will encounter a few trees, so for the overall path you will be walking under the sun. This should be taken seriously under consideration, especially if you plan on hiking during the summer months which in Crete can get very hot. Therefore, you are strongly advised to take proper sun protection (clothes, hat, sunscreen) and carry enough water. On the other hand, the summit is at 2080m so be prepared to face strong wind and some chill on the summit and plan accordingly.

It should also be noted that I marked skill level as intermediate/advanced. Although the trail does not present technical difficulties, the terrain is quite harsh and the ascent is steep as well as the weather conditions as I mentioned are something to consider. As a result, you should be reasonably fit and well-prepared for such a hike.

Furthermore I marked as most appropriate seasons summer and autumn. I would consider as ideal the late spring time, however these mountains are typically covered in snow that may be present till late May. Going for the summit when there is snow will make this ascent a mountaineering activity and not a simple hike, changing significantly the skillset required. So if anyone wants to try this, he/she is strongly advised to contact the local mountaineering club of Chania (EOS Chanion) or guides/people familiar with the territory. Remember to put your safety first. June is preferable to July and August as these months are generally very hot, and this makes September and October great choices. Always remember to check on the weather - as you should always do before trying to summit any mountain!

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