Menoikio Mountain is a mountain in northern Greece with an altitude of 1,963 meters (Summit Mavromata).lt is located on the border of the prefectures of Drama and Serres. It connects to the north with Orvilos mountain and to the west with Vrontou Mountain. At its foot there are villages and towns with rich folk and Macedonian architecture , great traditional music and folklore. Their names are Alistrati, Mikropoli, Kallithea from Drama region, Emmanuel Pappas , Chionochori, Agio Pnevma, Dafnoudi and Nea Zichni from Serres region.
So we started from Thessaloniki with direction to Kavala , until Amfipoli’s junction (98 km) and from there to Drama (49 km). From Drama we turn to Mikropoli and after 30 km we arrive at the beautiful village. From Mikropoli we follow the sign that says “Panagia Kastaniotissa” which means Mother Mary of the Chestnuts and we go up to the perennial chestnut forest which is our destination.
USEFULL INFORMATIONDistance from Thessaloniki 185 kmCamp location: Mikropoli, Perennial chestnut forest (altitude 850m)Water: YesEuropean emergency number: 112Fire brigade Dept: 199
Medical Emergency: 166
Kallipoli Plateau, Menikio mountain
Route InformationDescription: Hiking, light ascentPerennial chestnut forest -Plateau Gallipoli (altitude 1250m)Route length: 4 km and 500 meters.Water in route: NoDuration: 2 hours and 15 minutes. (ascent)
1 hour and 45 minutes. (descent)
The journey took place in Oct 2012
Team members 4 adults and 3 children 10 and 5 years
In front of the Environmental Education Center of Mikropolis, begins the ascent to our camp location. The route has a length of about 5.5 km ascending from the trail and 7.8 km ascending from the forest road. The road has a Southwest direction, has gentle slopes and it is in very good condition. In the same condition it is also the trail which coincides in many points with the forest road. We chose to use our car up to our camping spot .
The first contact with the forest begins after 1km , where we meet a small clump of chestnuts in 500 m altitude . After the clump there is a small glade and the we enter a forest of beech. The route through the dense forest is fantastic. The road is almost flat and in some points even downhill. After about 1km the chestnut forest begin again. The inclination has become greater and the forest road makes many maneuvers, following a South direction. The hikers, at this point, can use the trail which goes straight up, gaining a considerable distance.
For a few hundred meters, the route is between the edge of the two forest species (beech and chestnut). The road curves continue for 2.5 km more and when they end , we can see on the right , the entrance to a large glade with low grass. In one end there is the chapel of “Panagia Kastaniotissa” and in the other end a wooden shelter, which unfortunately is in bad shape and in very poor condition. All around there is a dense forest with towering and gigantic chestnut trees. It is the Perennial Chestnut Forest and the trees are over 300 years old and some of them more than 700 years old. Here is our camping place. We couldn’t find a better one after all. The branches of trees are twisted together, forming dense shade and their fruits hanging from their edges. Fallen leaves create α physical layer to set up our tents. Three fountains run gurgling water, a large wooden gazebo in the middle of the glade and naturally formed streams curved by the spring rains, complement the setting.
( Small Tip: every August because of the feast of the Virgin Mary, and every mid-October due to the Chestnut Festival, the place is very crowded and therefore difficult for camp.)
After setting up our camp, we started our hike to the plateau of the Kallipoli .
We fill our water bottles and we return to the forest road going uphill. The road from this point on is in bad condition and if someone wants to continue by car he will need a 4×4. Our route follows the mild uphill direction. Right and left, the forest accompanies us with the towering chestnut trees and their shade. The day of our hike is quite warm and the shadow is what we need. The stunning beauty of the forest, has dazzled us and so we walk slowly. We admire the shapes that created by the full of fruits branches, we hear the song of the birds and we eat berries and blackberries which they grow like a natural fence at the roadsides. Green chestnuts, it is not their season yet, are hanging over our head, like grapes. We continue to ascend on the snake shape road which leads us step be step to our destination. We are now a little above the 1000 meters of altitude and we find a u-turn with a junction. The local name of this place is Koritsampeli. The road to the left ascends to the Plateau of the Kallipoli and the road to the right goes back down to Mikropoli, from a different direction.
We continue to the left towards the plateau. The road continues to move through the dense forest of chestnut trees. There are trails that are lost in the woods, gaining length and time for the hikers, but they are not very clear shaped and have no signs. So we preferred the certainty of the forest road that slowly bring us into higher altitude. The forest begins to end, it becomes sparser and grass and shrubs replace the tall trees. We are walking already for 4 km when we reach the end of the uphill . To the right we can see the plateau and far in the horizon the “Ratzana” ridge and the summits “ Pentapetro” and “Mavromata”.
To the left, there is a small uphill where we can see the refuge of Kallipoli’s plateau. It is a small wooden cabin with a table and two benches in its small yard. We continue to the right for the plateau and the dry walls of the pens. We heard, from the locals, about a small lake that exists in the region and we decided to make a visit. But the instructions that they gave us were a little mixed up. So, in searching of the lake, we wandered in the mountain meadows, we almost got lost in a gully (we almost reached the south side of the plateau near Serres region) and we were completely out of schedule. So we took the road back to the Kallipoli plateau refuge. We hike the small hill road up to the refuge and we find ourselves in a small glade which is the yard of the small wooden cabin. We sit at the table under the gazebo gazing the magnificent view. All the plain of Drama is lying on our feet, down below is Mikropoli and in front of us the gorgeous shape of Falakro mountain. We are resting in silence, admiring the pictures we see and trying to keep them all in our memory.
After our little break, we follow the same route back to our camp. This time in a more loose mood, picking up blackberries from the roadsides. Having gathered enough quantity to eat as a dessert after our dinner, we arrived at our tents, without understanding how the time had passes by. Now the time has come for camp life. We freshened from the gurgling waters of the springs and started preparing our dinner. The place has pre-constructed places for broiling and we used them with great success and taste. The Sun slowly goes down and the nightfall fills the sky with fantastic colors. Slowly, the first stars are starting to appear and the sweet night fills the air with forest scents.
Description: A day without a schedule
We woke up by the sunrays that were falling on our tents. The morning dew was decorating the leaves and the grass .The morning scent is fresh and cool. The sunrays were penetrating the top of trees and starting to warm the morning air. After having breakfast, we decided that the day would be a day for playing. This is the reason for second day’s description.
So, by playing with our children we became children again. We were swinging in the wooden playground facilities that are existing in the next to the gazebo. We played hide and seek, we were chasing each other, we played football and volleyball. We were climbing on the trees and we experienced flying fox. We picked up chestnuts and acorns. We run, we yelled, we rolled over the grass and we remembered our childhood .It is very important that, a family excursion must not be a compulsion, especially for the children, but a pleasure. So the benefits of the contact with nature are multiplied and family ties are becoming stronger and more stable. Somehow like this, without program, we spent our second day and after eating our lunch, we took the road back to Thessaloniki. The promise we gave was, that when our children grow up we shall come back.