For millions of years, the geological upheavals are reflected strongly in the intense relief of the island.
While mountains rose, the river water continued its corrosional route through the limestone terrain, forming today’s “land of gorges”, Crete. With more than 400 canyons, Crete hosts the largest number of gorges in Greece.
At the foothills of the White Mountains, the province of Sfakia is home to the most famous gorge in Europe, the imposing Gorge of Samaria. The trail is crossed by thousands of visitors every summer. It starts from the plateau of Omalos, descends through a magical dense forest of cypresses and pine trees, passes between very narrow passages with vertical walls of a height of up to 500m, before reaching the seaside village of Agia Roumeli. Other well-known hiking canyons of the region are the gorge of Imbros gorge that starts near the plateau Askyfou, the wild canyon of Aradena, the lush green Sfakiano Gorge, the Gorge Kallikratis, the rugged canyon of Tripiti and the famous gorge of Agia Irini which ends at the beach of Sougia. Some green hiking canyons are located at the region of Zourva and Karanou, while Chania also hosts the impressive gorges of Diktamos, Lissos, Topolia, Asfendou, Kambos, Sirikari, Sassalos and more.
Rethymnon hosts several accessible beautiful canyons. The most famous is the Gorge Kourtaliotiko, in which flows the river Megalos that ends at the beautiful beach of Preveli with the dreamy palm grove. The gorge has the largest quantity of water in Crete and river trekking along its bed, from the springs to the beach, is an exciting experience. Other hiking-friendly canyons of Rethymnon include the twin Kollita gorges at the area of Argyroupolis, the gorge Kotsifos by Plakias, the gorge of Saint Anthony at Patsos, the gorge Prasano and the gorge Platania. Next to the town of Rethymnon there are the lush canyons of Myli, Vederi and Gallos.
TipTHE PROVINCE OF SFAKIA GETS ITS NAME AFTER THE WORD SFAX THAT MEANS "GAP". ACTUALLY, SFAKIA LITERALLY MEANS "LAND OF CANYONS".
Heraklion also hosts many canyons, most of which cross the ranges of Psiloritis and Asterousia. Asterousia has wonderful hiking canyons, the most important of which are Agiofarago, Martsalo and Trafoulas. However, the most famous gorge is the canyon Gafaris at Psiloritis, crossing the magnificent oak wood of Rouvas. Other canyons of Psiloritis are the gorge of Kroussonas, through which passes the Minoan path to the Idaean Cave, the gorge Vromonero, the gorge Vorizano and the two small canyons of Asites (Saint Charalambos and Saint Anthony). Near Heraklion city, there are the lush canyons of Karteros, Kounavi, Sylamos, Almyros and Venerato. Moreover, the western slopes of Lassithi Mountains host the canyons of Roza, Ambelos, Apotyposi and the river Aposelemis by Hersonissos.
In the warm and dry area of East Crete, most gorges dry up during the summer, however there are a few green oases, such as the canyon Richtis with the impressive waterfall. The Dikti Mountain Range is home to some very impressive canyons, with the most popular being Sarakina by Mythi, Kritsa, Adrianos, Hangas by Kalamafka and Havgas at Lassithi Plateau. Some more impressive gorges, surrounded mainly by pinewood, are located on Mount Thrypti. Among them, the canyons of Pefki, Orino, Ahlia and Mylonas are the most popular. The area of Zakros is dominated by the eerie canyon of the Dead, which takes its name after the Minoan graves found in its cavernous walls. Other local gorges are the dry canyons Katsounaki, Lamnoni, Saint Irene and Pervolakia. North Mirabello area also hosts some less known canyons, ideal for easy hiking, such as Kouroukoulos, Havgas by Plaka and Skotini.