Around the Evinos River valley

Nafpaktos is a great location for riding. However if you don’t want to stay on the National Road which runs alongside the Gulf of Corinth either going East towards Erateini or West towards Mesolongi, you better be prepared to climb. Nafpaktos’ hinterland is as beautiful as it is mountainous.

I have chosen the loop around the Evinos river valley as it has some demanding climbs with lots of different beautiful sights to be taken in on the way. What is equally important is that the loop can comfortably be done in less than four hours, whereas riding into the heart of the Nafpaktian Highlands (Ορεινή Ναυπακτία) is a lot more time consuming.

We are leaving Nafpaktos following the road to Thermo and already after passing the last houses of the city we find ourselves on the first climb of 6km averaging a 4.5% gradient. We are almost immediately entering a tell-tale mediterranean environment with olive, pine and cypress trees lining the road and the awe inspiring view of the mountains ahead of us.

What goes up must come down and after cresting the first climb we are descending 5.5km to the Evinos river. The small settlement of Gefyra Bania is the base for rafting tours on the Evinos river. If it wasn’t so early in the ride I would be tempted to enjoy a coffee at one of the two picturesque cafés.

We are crossing the river on a steel bridge with wooden planks.

Bridge at Gefyra Bania
View from Gefyra Bania

After crossing the bridge it is time to climb to the small village of Dounaika – 7km with a 4% average gradient. Our loop would require us to turn right on the road to Analipsi, however we decide to descent another kilometre or so until we can catch a first glimpse of Lake Trichonida.

Lake Trichonida

Lake Trichonida is the largest natural lake in Greece.

After enjoying the view whist having a sip from our water bottles, it is time to climb again. Up we go to the village of Analipsi – 8.5km at an average 4.5% gradient.

View of Analipsi from the South on the way up to the village
View of Lake Trichonida from Analipsi
View of Analipsi from the North after exiting the village on the way down

Knowing that there is a perfect stop to refill our bidons on the descent from Analipsi, I decided to take only one water bottle with me, hoping (in vain) to trick my brain into believing that I have to carry less weight on the climbs.

Kalovrysou Springs

Kalovrysou Springs is a mandatory stop as taking in the clear oxygen with deep breaths whilst listening to the constant gurgling of the springs and looking at the lush greenery surrounding this place is a pacifying sensation for all senses.

small waterfall near Kalovrysou Springs

From the springs we are descending another 4km before crossing the Evinos River again before entering the small village of Poros.

Crossing of Evinos River at Poros

What is ahead is the most challenging part of today’s ride, the Poros switchbacks – 3km at 10.5% average. What a beauty of a climb !!!

Poros switchbacks

Having left the switchbacks behind us we enjoy a view back to the Evinos River valley from above. It continues to amaze me how quickly we can climb on a bicycle and enjoy a view from above of the place we have crossed less than half an hour ago.

Evinos River Valley

We continue climbing – albeit with a very modest gradient – to the small village of Rigani.

Entering Rigani on a tree-lined road
Rigani village

After a small descent the road kicks up again for only a kilometre which marks the last climb of the day. From here we have a long descent (19 km) all the way to Nafpaktos to look forward to.

First view of the Corinthian Gulf half way down the descent – at the small village of Kastraki
Ready for a post-ride coffee at the port of Nafpaktos

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