Samos has two main mountains that cover almost the whole island. Westward is Mount Kerkis and in the center of the island Ampelos is spread out with a broader range.
Mount “Kerkis” extends its peaks high above the west side of Samos at 1.434 m. Its name was “Kerketeus” according Strabo, “Kerkitios” according Plinius and “Snowy Mountain” according Nikandros. It is the second highest mountain in Aegean Sea after “Feggari” or “Saos” in “Samothrace“, with height 1.611 m. (excluding the mountains of Crete and Evia).
According to author Ep.Stamatiades the mountain’s name derives from the Greek verb “κέρκω” that means “hit with noise”, and it is referred to the sound that the waves produce when they are crushing on its craggy coasts. Another view is that the name has been given after “Kerketes”, tribe from Asia Minor who came as miners.
Its highest top is Vigla in 1.434 m., around it, there other peaks,such as “Prophet Helias”, “Zastano”, “Diemen” (Ntemen Aga), “Mademia” and more, with altitude more than 1.000 m..
Kerkis is literally a huge rock. As it is completely dry, it is a very unfriendly and difficult place to trek. For this reason, people have lost their way back, many times.
Kerki’s mountain sides are rugged rocky and they end up smooth, eastward to Karlovassi valley, it then stretches southward to Velanidia’s and Marathokampo’s valley and to the point that “Kerkis” and “Ampelos” mountains meet, in the village of Agii Theodori. In these areas, the ground is fertile, with thick forest acreages, and many water sources.
Mount “Ampelos” or “Karvounis” it’s the second mountain of Samos. The second name is more common and it derives, probably, from charcoal production that used to take place on this mountain. The name “Ampelos” had been given because of the abundance of vineyards. Although in ancient times, Samos was not so famous for its wine.
Its highest peak is “Prophet Helias” in 1.153 m. with a little chapel to honor the saint. The mount located in the central region and the eastern part of the island.Strabo claimed that this mountain is the reason why the whole island has highlands.
In general, “Ampelos” is smoother mountain than “Kerkis”, with fertile ground, gentle slopes, plateaus and just a few craggy areas across the ridges. On high, formed large plateaus that at the end of the 19th century, covered with vines and other crops.
The water foundations were always adequate to cover all the needs of the area (nowadays, water supplies are primarily used for the villages and irrigation for crops).
In the south of the island the mountain spreads across the biggest valley of the island, the valley of Chora village (where airport is), spread across 1.200 hectares and the second biggest valley is Messokampos of about 250 hectares. There are also other, smaller flatlands in Kokkari and Vourliotes.
On the mountain the road network consist of agricultural paths and dirt roads that lead till the top of the mountain. These routes start from the surrounding villages (Vourliotes, Stavrinides, Ampelos, Pandroso, Manolates and more).top