Exploring the hiking path E4 in the western part of the Lasithi plateau.
Across the Lasithi plateau runs a network of trails, which aroused my interest. So I set out with my rescue dogs to a first reconnaissance trip in the northwestern part of the plateau. The starting point was the Northwest ring road, where a dirt road branches off in western direction between the village of Kato Metochi and the monastery Vidani – directly at the point where there is the sign for the monastery.
After driving a few hundred yards the car was stopped because the specified trail from there is hardly to drive yet and rapidly transformed into a walk-only path.
This path is rudimentary equipped with signs for the E4 trail, but which are easily overlooked in some places. Which is why it can happen that you have to go back a bit to get back on the right path.
The sheep gates which you have to pass are marked with an attached hose like a horseshoe. These gates are everywhere on Crete and usually locked on one side with a cord or a piece of wire, which can be opened. After passing through the gate it must be closed by the other side, so that no sheep or goats may leave the premises.
The path seems to follow after a short time an old, ‘donkey road’, which led down to the level of Kasteli with the Byzantine church Pandeleimon near Pigi.
To the surprise, after climbing a short but steep slope (at this point one can speak of a climbing path instead of a hiking trail), you meet again the although unpaved but good road.
After walking a short while on the road you will encounter a large and from afar visible memorial stone. It recalls that at this place the ‘Turkish criminal Tsoulis Pasha was executed by locals for his atrocities against Christians’ more than 200 years ago. Also, the text outed that the path was probably already used by the Minoans. But in any case, its use goes back to the Venetian period.
Not far away there is a picnic area with stunning views on Kasteli with its (military) airfield and to the north to the coast at Hersonissos. Up to this point we were about 45-60 minutes on foot and stopped for a short rest.
Thereafter, however, we realized that the way leads very steep descent about 550 yards over a well-preserved mule track down from the Lasithi plateau towards Lytos. Unfortunately, it was obviously impossible to descend before dusk and again to return to the vehicle. The route down then hits a dirt road between Tichos and Lytos which continues to Kastamonitza. But for completing this route is likely to be needed about the two to threefold time.
In order to explore, the return trip took place now on the good road, which we went down much faster and easier than on the hiking path E4. When you move on the road yow will also pass the holy pilgrimage chapel of ‘Saint George Honos, Parish of Kato Metohi’.
The distance to the Tsoulis Pasha memorial stone with the magnificent view can be managed on any case without problems in no time by car. It is also possible for the next attempt to leave the car behind at this place and hike down from there.
Even better, it could be, however, if another person drives the vehicle to the destination point of the hike and waits there. This will certainly avoid the walker to have a considerably strenuous two to three-hour extra return trip back on the high of the Lasithi plateau.
Overall, the one-time route is approximately 4 – 4 1/2 miles over 550 yards difference in altitude and 3-4 hours can be estimated.
Video from Lasithi Plateau including panoramic views from the path E4
Video (2 min 40 sec) of the Lasithi Plateau