Round Olympus by bike
| Distance: 144 km | Elevation change : +2970/-2970 m | Difficulty: 6/10
You can go around Olimp in many ways. I had a mountain bike at my disposal and wanted to ride mainly on dirt roads. Besides, I was in no hurry. I didn’t set the record, I didn’t know the route, I wanted to taste the space slowly and stop where my heart desires.
I started from Litochoro at 9 am and headed north. I knew that the whole is about 140 km, I decided to divide the route into two days, with accommodation in Kokinopilos, exactly on the other side of the Mountain. I also deviated from the most optimal route. I wanted to explore the Orlias waterfalls, so I walked along the riverbed a few hundred meters deep into the valley (it was impossible to ride a bike there). I wanted to see the village of Petra so I added about 4 km.
Generally, the presented route seems to be the most optimal, it is impossible to ride closer to Olympus (if we want to drive around, because the number of mountain routes inside the massif is of course huge). The asphalt road is not much longer (although it goes a bit further from the top), according to Google Maps it is 148 km long.
The route led around Olympus, but it was not always the same. Both days were a bit similar: every morning I started from civilization and slowly moved away from it.
In the beginning there were kiwi plantations. A floor of large, round leaves hung on a grid stretched between 2-meter posts and gray, heavy fruits hanging underneath. Vineyards here and there, with grapes already ripening. Generally agricultural landscape, although I have not passed through any village. Several times maybe I passed a lonely farm. However, already in the Dion area, around the 10th kilometer, the agricultural landscape was over; I drove through wilderness and wastelands, maybe pastures, and the only trace of civilization were the old stone canals supplying water from the mountains. The road was meandering with bends and small hills, although the profile shows that it has been rising all the time. After Petra, about 37 km, wilderness and open spaces ended, I entered the forests of Olympus. Mostly pine on this section, giving a lot of shade. The great valley of the Zervomilos River slowly leads properly to Kokinopilos itself. Almost 25 km uphill, arduous, but not too difficult uphill.
Kokinopilos is a small, quiet village located 1100 m a.s.l. There are no shops, but there are several taverns (here Greece :-)) and one hotel. You can’t count on great comfort, but the climate is unique and the beautiful view from the window.
On the first day I made 64 km, of which 5 km on asphalt. The sum of the elevations is 1130 m.
The key to closing the loop around Olimp is the exit from the asphalt road, for 101 km of the entire route, to the left, towards the mountains. The application, maps.cz, which I helped, suggested that this road would lead me to Pigadi, a place I know from the Olympus Mythical Trail. I also knew that with Pigadi a beautiful, fast gravel road could take me straight to Litochoro. But will I really get to Pigadi? Immediately after the turn I went into the real mountains! It was still a road, but it is hard to call it a gravel road, rather a mountain trail, much more uneven, and with sections much steeper; nevertheless, beautifully meandering between the surrounding hills and very picturesque. Browns and yellows still dominated, however, increasingly interwoven with shades of green. The watch showed 1300 m above sea level. Pretty soon I found the Olympus Mythical Trail 100k marked with red dots and reached it to Pigadi itself. This, however, means that 4 km before Pigadi there was a (very) narrow, mountain single track, set with stones, partly on a very steep traverse, on which there is not always enough space to put one foot, let alone balancing a mountain bike with a big handlebar 🙂 I didn’t expect it, but I admit – I liked it a lot. As always when we are surprised by a sudden surge of adrenaline.
22 km from Pigadi to Litochoro, wide for gravel road, with a speed of up to 40 km per hour is a beautiful reward for every effort 🙂 The loop turned out to be very well composed. I recommend defeating her in this direction.