Xyloskalo (Wooden Stairs)
White Mountains National Park
Operation: May 1 – October 31
Opens: 7:00 am
Due to adverse weather conditions, the gorge may remain closed, we advise you to contact the entrance outpost: +30 28237 70046.
The Samaria Gorge is Europe’s most famous hiking gorge, forming part of the European E4 Trail. Since 1981 it has been part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (MAB: Man & Biosphere), with the aim of highlighting and protecting valuable sites for humans and the rest of the biosphere. It is located on the south side of the Prefecture of Chania and is formed by the river “Tarraios” flowing between the main bulk of the White Mountains and Mount Volakias.
The starting point (at an altitude of 1250 meters) for the trekking / crossing of the world famous Samaria Gorge is called Xyloskalo. The distance is about 3 km from the plateau / village of Omalos. In Xyloskalo there is a forest outpost and an information center (kind of museum) for the White Mountains and the Samaria National Park.
Its length reaches 15 km and the descent from Omalos to Agia Roumeli or the ascent from Agia Roumeli to Omalos takes about 5-7 hours, depending on your pace. There is a related map, printed on the back of the ticket you will buy from Xyloskalo, at the entrance to the Samaria Gorge.
Thousands of tourists either descend or climb the Samaria Gorge on foot every summer. For most of them, the main purpose of their visit to Crete is to find themselves on the magical coast of the Libyan Sea through this hike.
In case you think that you cannot or do not want to cross the gorge of Samaria, we would suggest you to cross the gorge of Agia Irini. A green gorge that is accessible on the main road to Sougia, smaller in size and less difficult. For more information, see our pleasant article about the gorge of Agia Irini or contact us for details.