Hiking Mt. Olympus with a temperamental preteen turns out to be a gift from the gods

Mt. Olympus has had profound cultural significance for millenniums as the source of inspiration for countless myths. Much of this celebrity undoubtedly stems from its landscape, which is best appreciated while slowly walking through it.

While you are climbing Olympus, it’s easy to see that, unlike nearby peaks, the gods’ mountain doesn’t host an orderly succession of vegetation as the elevation increases. Thanks to the massif’s rugged and elevated terrain, high precipitation, proximity to the sea and extended winter snow cover, it features an unusual patchwork of microclimates where different types of vegetation can thrive near one another.

Olympus’ distinctive characteristics contribute not only to its stunning scenery but also to its remarkable biodiversity, for which it’s been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The mountain hosts 1,700 kinds of plants, which represent a quarter of all Greek flora.

Hiking with kids is particularly appealing in Europe, where networks of trekkers’ huts offer an opportunity to explore the region without having to lug heavy tents, sleeping bags, stoves or large stores of food.

The amenities at each hut vary, as do their operating seasons. Of the nine on Mt. Olympus, the largest and most popular is the Spilios Agapitos Refuge, which has 110 dorm beds, two dining rooms and an unheated bathroom block with flush toilets and cold-water showers. This refuge is along a heavily used section of the E4 Trail that runs from Cyprus to Spain.

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