Ikaria, an isolated island geographically, with characteristics which are internally dysfunctional morphologically (rugged slopes, uneven ground) and far away from the centre of the decision making infrastructure was only able to create a transport infrastructure which was absolutely necessary for it’s inner transportation activities. Thus, small and large trails were created all over the island in order to serve exclusively, up until a few decades ago and in a small degree up until today, the residents of the island. Pedestrians and animals walked throughout these trails carrying other people of various supplies.

The trails where elsewhere wide and stone-paved, which served the major arteries of the island, and elsewhere narrow, serving the basic agricultural activities, and are a major chapter in the Ikarian tradition and heritage.

They are not and should not be considered as truly folklore but as an element of the historical memory and also the existence and conservation which is verified today that they are extremely useful for the reason that they are in part the sole passageways for all the very inaccessible areas which are part of the history of the island (castles, old churches, ancient monuments) tourism (walking, hiking, mountain excursions, areas with fantastic views) traditional as well as ecological and of scientific interest (protected forest land, rare natural environment) and for areas which are either difficult or even catastrophic to reach by the main roads. Therefore, the trails provide a major helping hand in the island’s development which is emergent, providing protection / maintenance and reliability of the ignored mountainous volume.


They are either dirt, paved or covered in cobblestones which vary depending on the rock foundation of the region which surrounds the trail (exceptionally beautiful and resistant are the trails which are covered by raw and crude marble) or paved by Ikarian slates- a material which is found in mass quantities on the island.  Out of necessity the trails are full of curves, fluctuation slips and different widths adapted to the uphill and abnormal morphological areas normal to Ikaria and in an effort to avoid rocky parts and private property.  In the places where the borders of the width of the trail are apparent or where the borders of the trail are side by side with neighbouring property or where a cliff is reached, a short stone wall or upstanding stone slates from or sand formed slate rocks (locally called “atsiri) show the boundaries of the trail.  In many places, due to the large tilt of the ground surface, the trail is supported by a wall whose upper half results in the ready paved part.

In 2000, as part of the Community Programme Terra of ‘Development Company of Ikaria Provence’, topographical mechanic and mountain guide  Dimitrios Karagiannis along with architect / mechanic Filippos Mortakis, were appointed/commissioned to prepare a research/study with the title ‘Evaluation of Ikarian Trails’

The study then resolved in recording and evaluating five mountainoustrails of Ikaria:

1.     Kapsalino Castle – Karavostamo

2.     Kapsalino Castle – Arethousa

3.     Arethousa – Karavostamo

4.     Karavostamo – Evdilos

5.     Mavrato – Kapsalino Castle

The maintenance and cleaning works performed on the trails, and making them know to the public, began in 2001 and already the routes Mavrato-Kapsaliko Castle and Kapsaliko Castle- Karavostamo are available to aspiring hikers.  The trails arerecorded or a map 1/50000, interchanging course, the highlights  and the elevation/altitude are noted with Global Positioning System (GPS) and in geographic coordinations.

Ranking of the routes

Undoubtedly the Byzantine monuments have a dominant position and importance,  the Kapsalino Castle, Koskina and Aghios Isidoros, surrounded by the cross findings of Pounta and above Maganitis, created the backbone of a basically high altitude which is mainly ideal of summer crossings.

The Round of Raches

The western side of Ikaria has always been an isolated region.  The scarce amount of tourists from the 1980’s only know about the Livadi and Mesakti beaches, and most rarely ever dared to penetrate within the inner parts of Raches, mainly due to a lack of safe information.  However, in the last years, with the initiative of the local guides and along with the support of the municipality and local organizations and clubs a more integrated network of will selected and well labeled ecotourist routes now operate and function, and this can all be noted by any visitor who whishes to walk the trails.

–          Samples of architectural and morphology of the old mountain settlements of the island that are found in this area

–          The intense anaglyphic terrain and the interchanging scenery (marine, woody, rocky)

–          The large variety of nature and wildlife (overland and underwater)

–          Halari canyon, in Raches, and the numerous streams and natural habitats of notable beauty

–          The mountain forest of Raches and the geological formation of the plateaus and the extremely exciting area of Kavo Pappa

The program is called “The round of Raches on foot’.  It is constantly in progress  in the area since 1995.  It is a self-financed program, with the sole purpose to maintain and continually extend the route. A very interesting and artistic map has been issued and is available commercially and includes much information for the travelogue – and not only.

1st route

A circular ‘legacy trail’ inside of very close by to settlements and axle roads.  Signs / Signals : orange colour imprinted bare footmarks in the ground, signs and a large board in the village square.  Terrain: semi-mountainous, quite abnormal in many parts, trails, stone walkways, and normal agricultural roads.  Degree of difficulty: in general moderate.  Length: 25 km. (along with return).  Duration: 7-8 hours (along with return).

2nd route

Halari canyon: This route is addressed to climbers and naturalists.  Signs / Signals: simple coloured signs.  Terrain:  narrow, an abnormal and rocky trail.  Degree of difficulty:  Moderate at the beginning and more difficult later on.  Length: 9 km. Duration: 5-6 hours.  Returning by the main road saves you almost half the time of the ascent.

Myrsona ravine:  A very mild naturalist great length route.  Signs / Signals:  Simple colours and signs.  Terrain:  Semi-mountainous trail and dirt road.  Degree of difficulty:  Moderate in the beginning and quite easy afterwards.  Length: 7 km.  Duration:  3-4 hours.  Returning by the main road saves you almost half the time of the ascent.

3rd route

Within the margins of the central routes, other labeled trails are opening up for the more experienced hikers, which in return lead to steep areas of absolute beauty and freedom.  The program ‘The round of Raches on foot’ is continuously in development and ambitiously hopes and wishes for extend to all of Ikaria.  Information can be found in the on-line international community forum which supports the eco-tourism of Ikaria.