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Una hikes the Azores

São Miguel: Hikes

Chá Gorreana Walk
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.5km
Time: 1.5 hours
This circular route along the tea plantations begins at the parking place of the Gorreana tea factory. Carefully cross the gate on the way out of the factory towards the gate accessing the tea plantations. Follow the left side along an ascending dirt road, parallel to the main road that winds among the plantation. This road, once used by the workers on the harvest season, goes down between the plantations until the tea factory where the trail ends.

Pico da Vara
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4km up / 4km down
Time: 2 hours
This is a hike with some of the best views of the island. Pico da Vara is the highest point on the Island of Sao Miguel, and on a clear day, you can see panoramic views of the Island. You can park your car right up to where the path begins along the side of the road. The path changes from cedar wood steps to forest trails to mucky paths so be prepared in proper foot wear.

Faial da Terra to see Salto do Prego
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 5km
Time: 1.5 hours
This is a favourite hike, rewarded at the end by a dip in a waterfall. The hike starts at the end of the town near a bus stop. Follow the signs marked yellow and red keeping straight at the start. You will keep on a mountain path up and down trails, keep following the signs for Salto do Prego (you turn right after about 2 km which is signposted) before descending to the waterfall where you can swim. On route back you follow the same path up until you reach the “salto do prego” sign and a sign for “sanguinho” head towards Sanguina, a small old abandoned town. Keep following the trail which will bring you back to where you parked.

Água Retorta Hike
Difficulty: Medium
Length: 5km
Time: 2 hours
This small circular route develops through the village of Água Retorta. The trail begins near the church of Nossa Senhora da Penha de França. Follow the road until you go in a dirt road accessing pastures that crosses a small wood. Proceed until reaching a tarmac road, giving access to the place of Fagundas. Follow the marks until entering the village of Água Retorta, with ca. 500 inhabitants where people still preserve the old ways and where it is possible to enjoy beautiful natural landscapes. Passing the center of the village, visit the ruins of an old windmill formerly use to grain the corn for the bread. From here, the walk follows the road, passing by a fountain and reaching the starting point near the church, where the trail ends.

Pico do Ferro
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2km

Time: 1.5 hours
Park down by the lake and walk over to the left of the car park along the road there is a small cabin on the right in front of the lake and opposite is where you will find a small trail leading up into the forest (you can ask for directions off any of the staff. You follow this path uphill for 30-40 minutes where you will reach the viewing point looking out over the lake. On the walk, you will go by corn fields, meet a series of natural steps and feel really in the middle of nature. The other path has now been closed so you’ll must walk back down the way you came.

Lagoa do Fogo
Difficulty: Moderate / Hard
Length: 11km
Time: 3 hours
The parking is in on a dirt road in the middle of farmland. As you follow the path, there’s only one obvious trail at the start and from there the markers are used to guide. The path starts steep for the first 2-3 km but it does ease off and flatten out. You go from dirt road to mountain trail to jungle trail to a gravel road, keeping an eye on the markers at every turn especially when you meet a large pipe and small cabin the route sign is hidden just around the corner. There is a small track to your right you can follow up to get different views of the lake but ultimately you will be returning the route you came.

Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades
Difficulty: Moderate / Hard
Time: 3 hours
Out of all the hikes this one is probably the most iconic. This hike however is not circular so you’ll ether need to arrange a pick up at the end location or you can double up and walk this whole route back. You start the walk from where you parked with an initial steep climb, don’t worry its pretty flat from here on out. You get to the first viewing point and begin to make a semi circle around the crater before your descent down to the town.

Salto do Cabrito
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 3 hours
Drive to the Ribeira Grande hot springs. The trail runs besides some rusty pipelines that were once used for a hydroelectric dam. It also has you walking via narrow bridges and several metal grated catwalks on top of the old pipes. the spectacular Salto do Cabrito waterfall, which you approach via a walkway hidden behind the very top of the waterfall. It’s worth staying at the bottom for a little picnic or a swim.

 

Moinhos da Ribeira Funda
Difficulty: Medium
Time: 2 hours
This trailhead starts at the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Aflição. A fantastic hike that’s not on the usual tourist itineraries. The second half of the hike leaves the forest behind and goes through a wide-open coastal landscape, offering panoramic views of São Miguel’s northern coastline.

 

Lagoa das Furnas
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 1 hour
Start at the town of Furnas. The path around the lake is wide and completely level and can be finished within about an hour or so, so if you’re looking for an easy hike on the Azores, it’s highly simply going around the lake. If you’re lucky to be there at the right time, you can observe how the typical local dish (Cozido das Furnas) gets cooked above some of the volcanic steam vents that are beside the lake.

 

Vista do Rei – Sete Cidades
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 2 hours
Start at the Vista do Rei viewpoint. The volcanic crater of Sete Cidades is arguably the most famous sight in São Miguel. In fact, you may have seen photos before of people standing on a hilltop trail with two lakes in the background. This is the Boca do Inferno viewpoint, giving the iconic postcard view of the Azores. What not everyone realizes is that the Vista do Rei viewpoint, just a kilometer or so further, is also the start of a hike that goes along the crater rim, then down the slopes and into the caldeira of the dormant volcano, ending in the town of Sete Cidades.

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We have written these guides to help our guests and visitors to the Azores with curated tips and suggestions. While we have visited each place, these are just our opinions. Should you have any feedback or places we have not discovered please do email us so we can improve the guide for future visitors