Comprehensive Guide to the Sarakina Gorge Trail, Lasithi

Sarakina gorge hike in Lasithi, Crete

Crete is a treasure trove of natural beauty, archaeological wonders, and cultural heritage. Among its many breathtaking attractions, you can’t miss Sarakina Gorge, a hidden gem that promises an exhilarating hiking experience. Sounds interesting? 

This guide will show you the unique features of the Sarakina Gorge trail, including its towering walls, vibrant greenery, and, of course, the picturesque Sarakina Gorge waterfalls. You’ll also find practical tips for hikers so you can make the most of this natural beauty.

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Overview of Sarakina Gorge

sarakina gorge
Sarakina Gorge, Lasithi.

Sarakina Gorge is a unique natural wonder in East Crete, near the traditional village of Mythi. The 1.5-kilometer-long Sarakina Gorge Trail is accessible to hikers with moderate experience due to the steep climbs you’ll often attempt. However, the extra difficulty level brings with it extraordinary views.

Imagine walking in a canyon 3 to 10 meters wide with towering walls reaching up to 150 meters in height. Add the imposing rock formations around the area’s vibrant greenery to the picture, and you’re in for a treat. 

sarakina gorge
Sarakina Gorge.

To top it all, the Kryopotamos River flows through the valley all year round, creating picturesque waterfalls and serene ponds. In short, it’s a sight to behold.

The locals often refer to the gorge as “Saranyapihos,” a name rooted in Greek mythology. As the legend goes, the giant Sarantapihos, a son of Zeus, once stopped to quench his thirst from the river Kryos. His long beard reportedly slashed the mountain in two, thus forming the breathtaking gorge.

Sarakina Gorge Map and Location

sarakina gorge
Southern coast, nearby towns of Myrtos and Ierapetra, near Sarakina Gorge (Google Maps).

The Sarakina Gorge trail is approximately 20 kilometers west of Ierapetra, near the village of Mythi. To reach the gorge, take the National Road for Ierapetra and follow the signs pointing toward Mirtos. 

Once in Mirtos (or Myrtos), the first main road to the right leads to the settlement of Mythi. Just past the center of the village, and turn right to arrive at the hike’s starting point. 

You will know you are there either by seeing many other cars around or if you reach the tavern just outside the trailhead. Of course, the traffic depends on whether you visit Crete during or outside the season.

Embarking on the Sarakina Gorge Trail

sarakina gorge
Sarakina Gorge.

The entrance to the Sarakina Gorge trail starts near Mythi village and ends near the coastal settlement of Mirtos. Before the hike, ensure everyone with you is relatively experienced and fit. After all, it’s a moderately challenging route that requires a certain fitness and agility level. 

Depending on the season, you may need to navigate over large boulders, narrow passages, and even wade through knee-deep water. Being well-prepared and aware of the potential challenges is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable time.

sarakina gorge
Sarakina Gorge.

We attempted the hike in mid-March and had to navigate through a low stream of water, desperately trying to keep our shoes dry. Although we failed, we had lots of fun in the process.

Just imagine a grown-up holding and throwing rocks on the tiny river to use as a step from one dry spot to another. Someone once recommended waterproof socks to me for such occasions, and I’d love to have them at the time. It was the beginning of spring, after all. 

sarakina gorge
Sarakina Gorge.

If you visit in summer, you don’t have to worry much about it. The water will be less and the temperature warmer, so you’ll be more than fine.

Regarding trail signs, the path is well-marked, with carved footholds on boulders and ropes in challenging spots to help with climbing.

sarakina gorge
Sarakina Gorge.

Despite these aids, always be cautious, particularly during the winter when you may encounter a significant amount of water.

Hiking Routes

sarakina gorge
Sarakina Gorge.

Several hiking routes are in the Sarakina Gorge trail system, offering varied experiences for hikers of different skill levels.

Short Sarakina Gorge Hike

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Access to the gorge.

The shortest hike is approximately 4 kilometers long. It involves starting from the top of the gorge and walking down to the hydro station in Mithi. This relatively easy trail is perfect for beginners or those preferring a less strenuous hike. 

It offers spectacular views of the gorge’s natural beauty, including its towering rock walls, tranquil streams, and small waterfalls.

Stick to the gorge if you want to go super basic and short. You’ll be in and out within 40 minutes. 

Long Sarakina Gorge Trail Hike to Mirtos

sarakina gorge
Sarakina Gorge.

Like the short hike, the longer hike starts at the top of the gorge and continues until it reaches the village of Mirtos. Imagine a 12-kilometer-long route that crosses the road from the hydro station before Mithi and follows the river downstream. 

This trail offers a more challenging and adventurous hike, taking you through bamboo forests, pine tree plantations, and waterfalls.

Males to Mirtos: The Longer Sarakina Gorge Trail Hike

sarakina gorge
sarakina gorge

For the more experienced hikers, there is the Males to Mirtos route, an approximately 16-kilometer trail. This hike combines aspects of the above-described hikes since it starts from the village of Males and descends through the gorge to Mirtos. 

The result? Lots of climbing and a quite challenging yet rewarding adventure.

Two-day Hike from Selakano to Mirtos

sarakina gorge

For the ultimate Sarakina Gorge trail hiking experience, consider the two-day hike from Selakano to Mirtos. 

This 36-kilometer route takes you through different parts of the gorge’s stunning scenery. It is an excellent option for seasoned hikers looking for a multi-day adventure.

What to Bring When Hiking Sarakina Gorge

sarakina gorge

When hiking in Sarakina Gorge, come prepared with the following essentials:

  • Water: Hydration is crucial, particularly during the summer months.

  • Food: Pack enough food for the duration of the hike.

  • Footwear: Waterproof shoes or secure sandals are recommended for the hike, as they involve crossing streams and potentially wading through water.

  • Clothing: Dress appropriately for the weather. Extra clothes may be necessary to swim in the gorge’s ponds.

  • Backpack: A sturdy backpack will be handy to carry all the essentials if you attempt a longer hike.

  • First Aid Kit: It’s always a good idea to have a basic first aid kit on hand for any minor injuries.

Top Tip: Rent a Car to Sarakina Gorge

sarakina gorge
sarakina gorge

Given Sarakina Gorge’s relative remoteness, renting a car is a convenient way to reach the site. Thankfully, several car rental companies operate in Crete, offering a range of vehicles to suit different needs. Here’s the website I suggest for the most seamless experience with your car rental:

DRIVING IN CRETE: Looking for a local rental company? Rethymnon Cars offers great value for money and has no hidden fees!

Exploring the Sarakina Gorge trail is an unforgettable experience. It gives you a front-seat taste of Crete’s mesmerizing natural landscape in eastern Crete. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a casual nature lover, the trail offers a unique adventure that will leave a lasting impression. It did for us. 

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More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking out my ultimate guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Remember to explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets for an unforgettable experience.

Use this comprehensive Crete packing list to ensure you have everything you need. Explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches, and check out the best times to experience its beauty.

If you are exploring specific areas like Lasithi or Heraklion, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Lasithi

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More useful travel resources

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sarakina gorge

Written by Dimitrios Tsevremes
Passionate about travel, spirituality, and sports, Dimi divides his time between Chania (Crete) and other countries. Writing is a way for him to express himself and his creativity. You can find out more about him and his work here.

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A Local’s Guide to Lasithi’s Sarakina Gorge


About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the Crete. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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