Crete was once covered with dense forests, thus its mountains were called "Idea", i.e. wooded. Unfortunately these forests have almost disappeared due to logging, overgrazing and fires. Even so, the few remaining forests are some of the most beautiful landscapes in Crete and a typical sample of the Mediterranean vegetation that once covered the entire island.
Each area of Crete has its own characteristic trees. The provinces Apokoronas and Sfakia are covered with cypresses, Thrypti has mainly pines, the lowlands of central Crete host arbutus, the humid areas of Kissamos are covered with chestnuts, while the Diktaean and the White Mountains are home to oaks.
The most important cypress woods are met at the National Reserve of the White Mountains, Kroustas, the lowlands of Apokoronas and the mountainous province of Kydonia. The greatest oak wood is located at Rouvas at Psiloritis and it is home to rare animals and plants, including the endemic Cretan wildcat and the orchid Cephalanthera cuculata. Extensive pine woods are formed at the mountain of Thripti, at eastern Dikti, Sfakia, Asterousia Range and southern Psiloritis. More specifically, the pine woods of Selakano, Vorizia and Kato Symi are the largest beekeeping areas in Crete.
Woods of special tree species are also formed in various parts of the island, such as the famous groves of the Cretan Date Palm at Vai and Preveli beach. Also, Azilakodasos near Malia is the largest forest of holm oaks in Crete, while the area of Tris Ekklisies hosts the largest native forest of carob trees in Europe.
Fourni is a large lush hill next to the picturesque Arhanes village, about 12km south of Heraklion. It takes its name after the local homonym preminoan cemetery, next to Knossano Gorge. Fourni can be accessed through Kato Arhanes, where you’ll meet signs leading there.
One of the nicest villages in Crete is the forested village of Kato Simi by Viannos in Heraklion Prefecture. Together with the ruined village of Pano Simi, they lie in the heart of the largest pine forest of Crete, with the neighboring Selakano and Malles woods included. The whole area is full of water springs gathering water from the slopes of Dikti Range, that waters plane trees, walnut, cherry and many other species of trees. In autumn they give the area colorful scenery mostly reminiscent of parts of northern Greece.
The forest village of Agios Ioannis at Sfakia province is the starting point of one of the most beautiful and best marked trails of Chania prefecture, the trail of Kormokopos. The word Kormokopos means place where trees are cut, due to the dense forest of the area.
The small palm grove of Saint Anthony is located next to the Monastery of St. Nikitas, in one of the most inaccessible places in Crete. An oasis in the middle of nowhere, the palm grove is now protected by goats and is studied under scientific research.
Chamoprina wood is a wood with low oak trees, located 4km south of Malia town. It can be accessed very easily from Malia, because it is located on the road connecting the old village of Malia with Krasi village.
Keri grove is located at an altitude of 300 meters, 9km west of Heraklion, near Voulismeno Aloni and south of the gorge Almyros. It can be accessed via a short dirt road that starts about 300m after Voulismeno Aloni.
The Plateau of Vromonero or Lakkos Limas is located at an altitude of 1300m, 10km west of the village Kroussonas, in an amazing location east of the summit Skinakas of Psiloritis Mt, where the homonym observatory of the University of Crete is located. It can be accessed via a dirt track running through the gorge of Halasia, which starts from Livadi plateau and ends in Krousonas.
The carob wood of Tris Ekklisies is located 64km south of Heraklion, next to the village of Tris Ekklisies. The area, one of the most secluded in Europe, is very difficult to reach, as a very rough dirt road 10km long starts from the village Paranymi, runs across the wild Asterousia Mountains and ends at the beach level.