Agios Nikolaos Monastery, Agios Nikolaos Gorge, Rouvas Forest
(6kms, 4.5 hours on foot)
The gorge’s path, 6kms long (4.5 hours on foot), is considered as one of Crete’s most stunning routes and forms part of the European walking route E4 - Crete. The eastern slope of the gorge’s entrance features the Agios Nikolaos Monastery and the Agios Efthimios hermitage. Being central Crete’s most important gorge, it presents outstanding vegetation and wonderful geomorphological formations. It is one of the richest ecosystems of Greece, as far as flora is concerned, in the past it featured wild goats. Following the gorge’s path (supervised by the Forest Service) you reach the breathtaking forest area and the picturesque Agios Ioannis church, next to a small stream with plane trees. There is also a small mountain hut.
The Rouvas forest is one of the most solid forest complexes of Crete where much of Crete’s flora thrives. We find maple trees (Acer sempervirens), plane trees (Platanus oriendalis), cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens), pines (Pinus brutia), holm oaks (Quercus ilex) and wild pear trees. The forest covers a total area of about 3000 hectares. A unique feature of the forest is that the oaks present an unusual size, larger than the shrub-like oaks usually found in Greece. The slopes and the forest itself feature many mitata (stone-built shepherd huts).