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VISTA DO REI - SETE CIDADES
This trail starts at Vista do Rei viewpoint, ends in the parish of Sete Cidades and has the total estimated time of about 2 hours. It starts on the western side of Cumeeira da Caldeira das Sete Cidades (Caldeira's highest point). On this part of the trail you can observe the following: on your right-hand side Caldeira Seca and Sete Cidades lakes and on your left-hand side the western coast of S. Miguel island. Follow this unpaved track until you reach a tarmacked road that links Mosteiros to Sete Cidades. Go to the right and descend as far as you have an unpaved track on your left. Go along this track until you find a bifurcation. This is the point where this trail crosses trail PR-4-SMI. Here turn to the right and descend to the parish of Sete Cidades. This trail runs through a zone classified as Protected Landscape and, for this reason, we all have not only the responsibility of contributing to its protection, but also of ensuring its biodiversity through the conservation of this natural habitat.
MATA DO CANÁRIO - SETE CIDADES
This trail starts next to Mata do Canário,ends in the parish of Sete Cidadesand has the total estimated time of about 2.5 hours. It starts on a tarmacked road (about 100 metres) that descends next to an aqueduct and gets as far as Muro das Nove Janelas (Nine Windows Wall). Here turn to the left to an unpaved track. This part of the trail ascends to the highest point of the northern hillside of Sete Cidades' Blue Lake. Continue, contouring the lake until you reach a bifurcation. Here, turn to the left and descend to the parish of Sete Cidades, where the trail ends. On several points of the trail you will enjoy a panoramic view of Sete Cidades lakes. This trail runs through a zone classified as Protected Landscape and, for this reason, we all have not only the responsibility of contributing to its protection, but also of ensuring its biodiversity through the conservation of this natural habitat.
This trail starts and ends near Lagoa do Canário and has the total duration of two hours. It cresses all ""Serra Devassa" area were are located the largest number of lakes at São Miguel Island. You may see at this trail, besides the already referred "Lagoa do Canario", other lakes like "Lagoa Rasa", "Lagoa das Éguas", among others. We call your attention to an aqueduct (named "Wall of the nine windows") which served to transport water for Ponta Delgada, and that can be observed near "Lagoa do Pau Pique". Signs indicate you easily the way. However, this trail occurs between 750m and 900m altitude and fog is frequent. For that, the best period to do it is between February and October.
SANTO ANTÓNIO ROCK SPRINGS
This trail starts and ends in the parish of Santo António (next to Caminho Velho - old road) and has the estimated time of about 1.5 hours. Start the trail descending Nascentes da Rocha de Santo António (Santo António rock springs) on an unpaved track that passes by small water-collecting tanks used for public supply, and go as far as Santo António Hydroelectric Power Station. Next, return to the trail that continues in the form of a narrow short cut through giant reed and water channels until you reach a rocky area near the sea On the descent you can enjoy a view over the northern coast of S. Miguel island, in particular over Capelas. Continue by ascending the cliff to Santo António. At this point the trail is very steep. By the end of the ascent you will get to an open area: Beco das Terças. Then, continue for about 300m on tarmacked ground surface and turn to the left to an unpaved track that ends in Santo António Porto Finally return to Beco das Terças and walk for about 500 metres through the centre of the parish until you return to the point, where this information board is.
ROCHA DA RELVA
This trail begins and ends at the parking lot used by visitors to Rocha da Relva, and it takes around 2h30m. The descent to Rocha da Relva is by a narrow path dug out of the cliff. It is an easy track and presents no major risk. Not far into the trail you will come to a fork in the track where you can either turn left to visit Rocha do Cascalho first, before continuing the descent to Rocha da Relva. This is the only track leading down to Rocha de Relva, located on a terrace of rock fall material (fajã) of which there are many on the island of São Jorge, but few on São Miguel. Once on the fertile terrace you will see many wine cellars, the result of the microclimate that is just right for vineyards, fig trees and fruit and vegetable production. Walkers are asked not to pick fruit along the way. The return is by the same route.
The walking trail begins and ends at the Ribeira Chã Church and takes about three hours to complete. The trail takes you through the village via the Rua de São José, with the Ribeira das Barrelas stream to the right. After about 1 km you come to an irrigation pool, where you should turn left onto a dirt path that takes you up the Água de Pau mountain range. Along this route there are various views of the south coast of São Miguel island, namely of the Vila Franca do Campo district. On a c1ear day you may spot Santa Maria Island, which for locais is a sign of bad weather, as illustrated by the saying "Santa Maria à vista, água na crista" ("Santa Maria in sight, water on the "crest", or head"). Keep on following the signs and you will come to a narrower, rather shaded path, rich in endemic plant life, which takes you across to the left bank of the Ribeira das Barrelas stream. Continue to c1imb until you reach a water reservoir which marks the beginning of the descent back to the parish of Ribeira Chã After about 1 km you will find a short cut to your right, which takes you back across the stream and comes out on the original trail. You can go back along the same route until you reach the parish, where you should take a right turn to visit several small museums in Ribeira Chã When you have seen them, continue back along the trail to the starting point next to the Church.
PRAIA - LAGOA DO FOGO
This trail starts on a beaten earth track, in a zone of pastures. Walk until you reach a water tank. Then turm to the right and start ascending trough a wood of Eucalyptus, Australian Cheesewood (Pittosporum undulattum), Accacias (Acáciasp.) and Kahila Garland liIies (Hedychium gardneranum). A bit further you willalso find a fewspecies of "Espadana", a plant from New Zealand, which was woven and spun in an ancient factory whose ruins you can still visit. Follow the signs until you reach the beginning of a "levada" (water channel), along which the trail runs. Be careful because the trail might be muddy. Alongthe "levada" you will find many species of endemic plants like: "Uva-da-Serra" (Vacciniumcylindraceum), Green Heather (Erica azorica), Laurustinus (Viburnum tinus), "Tamujo" (Myrsineretusa), etc. Duringthe ascent there are severaI places from where you can enjoy a magnificent view towards the Southern coast ofS. Miguel, namely a view of Vila Franca do Campo, its islet and Ribeira da Praia. After walking for about 2 kms along the "levada" you will reach a more opened area, with big slopes on both sides and after walking a bit further you will reach the bank of Lagoa do Fogo. In this area it is necessary to be careful with the seagulls, as they might be very aggressive, especially during the nesting period (April to May). The return is made on the same trail. Almost the totality of the trail is included in a zone c1assified as site of Communitary Interest and Nature Reserve. It is of our responsibility to insure its biodiversity through the conservation of this natural habitat.
MONTE ESCURO - VILA FRANCA DO CAMPO
This trail, which begins at Monte Escuro, takes you around the Pico da Vela peak, then on to the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Paz, and ends in Vila Franca do Campo. It is an easy walk, suited to anyone who is moderately fit. The trail begins at Monte Escuro, on a dirt road which follows alongside the mountain and then turns off towards the Pico da Vela. About 600 metres further on, you come to a fork where you should turn left, and as you continue along an area of low lying vegetation, composed mainly of grasses and green broom, you will see a lake to your left, the Lagoa dos Areeiros. Keep ahead and go around the peak in an anticlockwise direction. This path will allow you to enjoy some of the most beautiful views of the Lagoa do Fogo lake. Then turn around and take a turning to the right to begin the descent to Vila Franca do Campo. On the way down you will have a view of the Pico da Cruz, Vila Franca do Campo and its islet, and a long stretch of the south coast of São Miguellsland. Shortly after beginning the descent, you will go through an area of pastureland, cross a wood of Japanese red cedar, then go across more pastureland before reaching the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Paz. After looking around this 16th century building, follow the cobble path down to Vila Franca do Campo. Once there, you may like to follow trail PRL-1-SMI- Vila Franca do Campo - Praia da Amora. This trail crosses an area classified as a Site of Community Interest and a Nature Reserve. It is everyone's responsibility to contribute towards its protection and to safeguard its biodiversity through the conservation of this natural habitat.
VILA FRANCA DO CAMPO - PONTA GARÇA
This trail is a short local route, which begins in Vila Franca do Campo, goes through the parish of Ribeira das Tainhas, and ends in the parish of Ponta Garça. Before heading for Ribeiradas Tainhas, the trail takes you to various points of interest in lhe town of Vila Franca do Campo. The starting point is the Mother church (Igreja Matriz), dedicated to the Archangel St Michael, whose architecture is typical of the 16th century. The route then takes you via the Tourist Office to the Corpo Santo Beach. The next stop is at a Pottery, the Olaria João da Rita, which belongs to one of the few traditional potters in the Azores. Continue on to the spot called Poço Largo, which has a magnificent view of the Vila Franca Islet. Turning inland, you can visit the Town Park and the Municipal Museum (Open Tuesdays to Fridays, from 9 to 12.30 am. and 2 to 5.30 pm., and at weekends and on public holidays from 2 to 5 pm; closed Mondays).Walking back to the coast, you will come to the Fishing Port, where the traditional fishing boats dock, and just beyond it, the Manna, where you can take a boat trip as far as the Vila Franca Islet, on the "Cruzeiro do Ilhéu", which operates from 1st June to 30th September. Keep on going, past the Vinha da Areia Beach, towards Ribeira das Tainhas. About 2 km further on, you will find a right hand turn which will take you to the quiet little beach of Calhau da Areia, where several endemic plants grow, such as the wild fig tree and fescue. Further on, in the parish of Ponta Garça,the largest parish inthe archipelago of the Azores, you can enjoy a wonderful view from the Miradouro da Costa da Furada, where there is a Whale Lookout Station. A little further ahead you will come to the Church of Ponta Garça, built in the 19th century and containing altarpieces, altars and stained glass windows from the 17th and 18th centuries, which is well worth a visit. A short way beyond is a turning leading to the lighthouse, where you can still find a lighthouse keeper. This spot also has spectacular views of the coast and the interior of São Miguel islands. Continuing on through the narrow streets, flanked by typical houses, you .will come to the chapel of Nossa Senhora das Mercês, an interesting 18th century building, and after another 500 metres you will reach the end of the rail. At this point you can pick up trail PR-10- SMI, Praia da Amora - Lobeira (Ribeira Quente).
The trail begins in Povoação, ends in Ribeira Quente and takes around 3h. It begins at Porto da Povoação and after leaving the town it follows the regional road for about 250 m until coming to a turning to the left along a footpath that leads down to the sea. Along the way you will see the ruins of an old windmill, Ponte de Ferro (an iron bridge), a magnificent 100-year old bridge that is very tall and that spans the Ribeira de Pelanes. You will also see several native species of plants such as pericallis (Pericallis malvifolia) and the fescue (Festuca petraea). After visiting the beach walk back up and turn left for the climb up to Lomba do Cavaleiro. Always following the signs, look for a foot path to the left that leads to Lomba do Cavaleiro. On this path stop and take a look at the magnificent view over Graminhais, Pico da Vara, Pico Bartolomeu and to the Sete Lombas da Povoação. At the end of the path you will come to a cement road that climbs up to the regional road where, after about 600 m, turn left and again to the left you will come to a beaten earth track that begins the descent to Ribeira Quente. This track is the continuation of a footpath that goes all the way down to a stream. Cross the stream go straight on climbing up through a wood of Australian cheesewood or Victorian box (Pittosporum undulatum), acacia (Acacia sp.) and persea or Indian avocado (Persea indica). At the end of the climb you come to a fork in the track, already on a wider beaten earth track, where you turn left. Go straight ahead until you come to another footpath to the left that leads to a wooden bridge. Cross the bridge and turn left again along a beaten earth track that follows the coast until you reach Ribeira Quente, where the trail ends.
PICO DA ÁGUA RETORTA TRAIL
This trail begins in the parish of Água Retorta, ends in the parish of Faial da Terra and takes around 2h. It starts on a beaten earth track and provides wide-reaching views over Água Retorta, Pico Bartolomeu and Pico da Vara. When visibility is good you can see as far as Santa Maria Island. After walking for about 4 km you will come to a narrow path to your left that leads down to Faial da Terra (as shown in the photo).Continue on down for about 2 km until you reach a tarmac road. Go straight ahead on Rua da Lapa until you reach the centre of Faial da Terra.
PICO DO FERRO - CALDEIRAS DA LAGOA DAS FURNAS
The trail begins at the Pico do Ferro viewpoint, ends at Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas and takes around 1h 30m. It begins on a tarred surface that leads down in the direction away from the viewpoint, and after about 200 m you come to a detour to the right leading to a narrow path heading down the cliff. It is a short trail but you will see a wide variety of native plants such as Portuguese laurel (Vibumum tinus), laurel (Laurus sp.), Azores blueberry (Vaccinium cylindraceum), heather (Erica azorica), and non native species such as lily of the valley tree (Clethra arborea), Chilean rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria) Australian cheesewood (Pittosporum undulatum) and the ginger lily (Hedychium gardneranum) as well as the imposing tree fern, A short stretch of the trail goes through a water course so do be careful as the ground may be very slippery. This is the best trail for bird-watching and you will easily catch a glimpse of buzzards (Buteo buteo rothschildi), gold crests and egrets, as well as the only native mammal- the daytime bat (Nyctalus azoreum). You can see Lagoa das Furnas from different angles along this trail. When you reach the end of the narrow path return by turning to your right in the direction of Caldeiras da Lagoa das Fumas. At this point you can choose to take walkers' trail PRC-6-SMI: Lagoa das Furnas that goes through the small town of Furnas.
VIGIA DA BALEIA TRAIL
This trail starts in the village of Povoação, ends in the parish of Faial da Terra and has the total estimated time of 3 hours. It starts on the road that ascends to Lomba dos Pós. At the end of it you will find a road on the right, which you should take. This tarmac road will change into a narrow track that continues ascending to Pico dos Bodes. It is an old short cut that in the past connected both parishes. It is still possible to observe large areas of stone road built by the old generations. A bit further it will change into a beaten earth track bordered by a wood of Australian Cheese (Pittosporum undulatum), Kahila Garland lilies (Hedychium gardneranum) and Japanese cedars (Cryptomeria japonica). At the end of the track you will reach a fork where you should turn to the left to visit Pico dos Bodes and enjoy a panoramic view over a large area of São Miguel island. After enjoying the view, you should return. Go straight ahead and start descending to Faial da Terra. At first you have a tarmac road, then turn to the left to a beaten earth track, which is the continuation of a narrow track bordered by shelters of box-trees ("buxo") and pastures. This short cut ends at the Main Road, along which you should walk for about 300m. Then, on the right, you will find an arrow that indicates the descent through a narrow short cut towards "Vigia da Baleia" (whale lookout). Here it is possible to observe frequently cetaceans. After visiting "Vigia da Baleia" (whale lookout), continue the descent to Faial da Terra, having as background Fajã do Calhau. This short cut ends at the Main Road and after walking for about 100m you will find another short cut that ends in Faial da Terra. In this parish it is still possible to visit the old whaling porto.
POVOAÇÃO - PICO DA VARA
This route starts in Povoação and ends at the Pico da Vara - the highest point on São Miguel Island - 1103 metres. After reaching the peak, you can either descend to Algarvia (PR-7-SMI), to Lomba da Fazenda (PR-8-SMI) or follow the same trail back down to Povoação. In the past, ali of these tralls were used to reach the woods, to fetch branches to provide cattle fodder, to produce charcoal, and they provided a connection with other parishes.
On leaving Povoação, you will find a footpath to the right, which will take you to the Ribeira de Purgar stream. Before reaching the stream, turn to the right for a view of a wonderful waterfall. Then return to the main path and carefully cross the stream and keep going until you reach the regional highway. Here you should turn left and go in the direction of the Lomba da Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. Once you have gone across the Lomba, or Ridge, the trail continues along a dirt track flanked by plane trees (Platanus hispanica) as far as Monte Simplício, a huge estate that marks the boundary of the inhabited zone. The trail then crosses an area of pastureland, via a footpath lined by tall trees. Beyond the pastureland, the trail enters fantastic forestland, so rich in endemic, native species that it must resemble the forests that existed on the island before the discoverers arrived here.
In these forests you can find large specimens of holly (llex perado), bay laurel (Laurus sp.), Azorean juniper (Juniperus brevifolia), Azorean bilberry (Vaccinium cilyndraceum) and laurustine (Viburnum tinus), among others. After crossing the forest, the trail continues through felled woodland which leads to an up land, the Planalto dos Graminhais, as you can see on the map. This upland is only 3, 5 km from the Pico da Vara. This part of the trail goes through a damp zone, so appropriate footwear is required. Please note that it is often foggy in this area, so pay special attention to the signs. When visibility is good, a number of views can be seen from this upland. 5traight ahead is the Pico da Vara, to the right, the south coast of São Miguel, Povoação to be precise, and on the horizon, Santa Maria Island, to your left, the north coast of São Miguel, and, looking back, the whole of the western zone of the island. Continuing along the rail, you will reach the summit, where you will find a geodetic point. After resting for a while, return by the route of your choice: Algarvia - 7 km, Lomba da Fazenda - 8 km or Povoação -15 km.
This trail begins and ends in the town of Furnas and takes around 3 h. The route begins in Três Bicas and continues on through this area until it begins to climb on a tarmac road that leads to Lagoa das Furnas. Following the signs carefully you will reach Caldeiras da Lagoa which is about 2.5 km into the trail, You will often see tourists here watching local inhabitants use the high temperatures in the ground to cook traditional dishes. The trail continues along the lakeside, circling the lake on an easily accessible beaten earth path. After about 3 kms walking you will reach the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, built in the nineteenth century in Gothic style. Then continue along the edge of the stoned paved regional road for about 1.5 km until you come to a turning to your right that leads down to the town of Furnas. Continue along this route and in 30 m you will reach the end of the trail.
PRAIA DA AMORA - LOBEIRA
This trail starts near the access road to Amora Beach, parish of Ponta Garça, ends in the area of Lobeira, parish of Ribeira Quente and has the total estimated time of 2.5 hours. This trail is characterized by many ascends and descends and runs mainly along the coast, crossing several rivulets. It begins on a beaten earth track that descends to the sea. Halfway you will find a detour on the right, with stairs, which is an access to Amora Beach. After visiting the beach, return by the same stairs and continue descending towards the sea, passing by two small beaches. Continue until you reach an area with a small house and traditional vineyards. From that point on, the trail runs along a narrow short cut for about 5 km. You will pass by a traditional "adega" (wine cellar); next you will reach cement stairs that will take you to Lobeira, parish of Ribeira Quente where the trail ends. We request you not to pick any fruit on any part of the trail.
RIBEIRA DO FAIAL DA TERRA TRAIL
This trail starts on the Forest Park of Água Retorta, ends in Faial da Terra and has the total estimated time of 1.5 hours. Start descending between the pastures until you reach an abandoned windmill There you will find a few centuries old bridge that crosses the rivulet of Faial da Terra. Afterwards, continue along a wood of Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) and Australian Cheesewood (Pittosporum undulatuml, and cross several wood bridges over the small streams that nourish the main rivulet. It is necessary to be careful when crossing the bridges, as they might be slippery due to humidity. The trail continues on stairs until you reach a fork where it crosses another walking trail, the PRC-9-SMI "Salto do Prego". Once there, turn to the left in order to see "Salto do Prego" Cascade and then return to the main trail Then, continue on PRC9 by turning to the right, towards the location of Sanguinho. This location has about 20 inhabited houses, which are going through a recovery process. Sanguinho owes its name to the strong existence, in the Azores and Madeira, of an endemic plant with the same name: "sanguinho" (Frangula azorica). After passing by the location Sanguinho the trail descends until ending in Faial da Terra.
LOMBO GORDO TRAIL
This trail starts on Lombo Gordo, ends at Terra Chã in the parish of Água Retorta and has the estimated total duration of l hour. It begins on a beaten earth track, on an area of pastures. After walking about 500m you will find on your right a narrow short cut, through a wood of Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) and Australian Cheesewood (Pittosporum undulatum), which you should take. Continue until you reach the lowest part with a stream, normally dry. Then at the end of the trail, turn to your right, to a track between pastures that ends in the parish of Água Retorta. There you can visit a traditional mill (opened two days a week) where the corn is still crushed for making bread. The trail crosses the parish and ends near the church.
PICO DA AREIA TRAIL
This trail starts on an old rural road, bordered by Japanese Cedars (Cryptomeria japonica) and Ginger Lilies (Hedychium gardneranum), and has the estimated time of about 2 hours. After walking for about 1km, enter an unpaved road (with a lot of pumice stone) and contour, by the left side, a part of Pico da Areia. Take a short cut on the right and walk until you reach Pico da Areia highest point. Here you will have a magnificent view aver Furnas Lake. Ali this area presents great density and diversity of endemic plants, as it was replanted. Follow the marks carefully until you find a descending narrow track on the left that will take you to Ribeira Quente. At the beginning of the track you will see a plant community rich in endemics, from which the Green Heather (Erica azorica) is the more abundant. A bit further the Green Heather gives place to the Ginger Lily and the Victorian Box (Pittosporum undulatum); the track becomes steeper. On those steeper areas you can still observe old stone paved zones made by locals who used this track to walk from Ribeira Quente to Furnas in order to sell fish, buy corn and other food supplies. After descending about 2,5 km, you will reach a tarmacked road on the right bank of Ribeira Quente (rivulet) and a bit further is the parish of Ribeira Quente.
TRAIL OF REDONDO
This trail begins on the Regional Road, on a zone called "Redondo", ends in the parish of Ribeira Quente and has the total estimated time of 1 hour. The whole trail consists of a narrow short cut. At the beginning of the trail you will have a wonderful view aver "Salto do Cavalo". Then, the trail runs on a zone of further it is worth observing Pico dos Bodes, a volcanic cone, with a very interesting shape. Afterwards continue descending, having the rivulet on your right. The trail crosses several small streams that feed the main rivulet.
At several points you can observe tree ferns of great dimensions.
The trail ends a bit further, in the parish of Ribeira Quente. This trail and PR-15-SMI-Pico da Areia are part of "Chicharro Route", as the old fishermen of Ribeira Quente used these trails to go to other parishes for selling fish. In the past this trail continued to the northern coast, to the parish of Salga, passing by "Salto do Cavalo."
FAIAL DA TERRA - SALTO DO PREGO
This trail starts and ends at "FaiaI da Terra" locality and has the total duration of one hour and a half. Firstly, it follows dose to the stream margin, which maintains water ali year long and from where the trail only moves away by a strong inclination track, to the point of the first bifurcation. At this time, one should proceed to "Salto do Prego", a beautiful waterfall where pittosporum and acacia predominate. Baths at the waterfall are not wise due to the possibility of trees falling down. Turn back by the same way until arriving to the same bifurcation, where now one should turn right to "Sanguinho" small village. This place, that has about twenty houses in recovery process, it's so called for, as far as known, the strong presence of an endemic plant to Madeira and Azores of that name: "sanguinho". After "Sanguinho" village, the trail progresses by a descent until arriving again to "Faial da Terra" locality. It is asked to the trailers not to catch fruit at any part of the trail.
ALGARVIA - PICO DA VARA
This trail begins in Algarvia and ends in Pico da Vara (the highest point on the island of São Miguel: 1,103m). After reaching the peak you can return by the same route ar follow the route of PR-8-SMI that ends in Lomba da Fazenda. Whichever route you choose the whole trail will take around 5 h. These trails were used in the past to reach the scrubland where charcoal was produced and cattle grazed. The trail begins through a cedar wood. On days when it is very damp it is advisable to keep to the right dose to the cedars because the track can become very slippery in the middle. After about 1 km walking uphill, the cedar wood gives way to a landscape of 10w~lying, plants, mainly grasses, which give the plateau its name: Graminhais. Further on you will come to a fork in the track where you should turn left for Pico da Vara. From this point on you will be able to see the south coast of São Miguel. After around 500 m you will come to the spot marked to show where a French plane crashed in 1949. From this point it is 1 500 m to Pico da Vara. Close to your destination you will find the first turning to the left that marks the way to Santo António, but do not take this road because it is not safe. Further ahead you will come to a second turning, also to the left, that goes down to Lomba da Fazenda.
First visit Pico da Vara, where you will find a survey marker, and then head down to whichever destination you prefer. This trail goes through an area classified as a special protection zone where, with luck, you just might catch a glimpse of the Azores bullfinch Phyrrula murina (an endangered species). We are all responsible for helping to protect the area and for ensuring its biodiversity by conserving this natural habitat.
LOMBA DA FAZENDA - PICO DA VARA
This trail begins in Lomba da Cruz, the parish of Lomba da Fazenda and ends in Pico da Vara (the highest point on the island of São Miguel: 1.103m). After climbing to the peak you can make the descent by the same route or take PR-7-SMI that ends in Algarvia. The whole trail takes about 5h, whichever route you choose. These trails were used by early islanders to reach the woods where they produced charcoal and grazed their live stock.
The trail begins on a beaten earth track surrounded by pastureland and after about 400m comes to a drinking trough where you head straight on through a wood of Cryptomerias. After about 1 km you come to a fork in the path where you turn right and, keeping straight ahead, you will reach a more open area with a wide-reaching view over Vale da Ribeira do Guilherme. Here the track becomes narrower and follows the summit ali the way to Pico da Vara. The area is covered in bushes where the predominant native species are juniper (Juniperus brevifolia), heather (Erica azorica), Azores blueberry (Vaccinium cylindraceum), holly (lIex perado), laurel (Laurus azorica) and Portuguese laurel (Vibumum subcordatum) and Iily-of-the-valley tree (Clethra arborea) which is the main exotic variety. Watch out for the seagulls in the more open areas because they can become quite aggressive at nesting time (spring). This trail goes through a Special Protection Area due to the presence of the Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) (an endangered species). We are all responsible for helping to protect this area and for ensuring its biodiversity by conserving this natural habitat.
LOMBA DA FAZENDA TRAIL
This trail is a circular route which begins and ends in front of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição in the parish of Lomba da Fazenda. Ihe trai! goes through various places of interest, such as the Nordeste Camping Park, the "Boca da Ribeira", a bathing zone next to the mouth of the Ribeira do Guilherme stream, the "Parque de Endémicas do Pelado", a park of endemic plant species and the "Parque da Morgada", a recreation park.
The trail starts along a short stretch of the regional highway, for only about 200m, after which there is a left turn onto a minor road which descends towards the Camping Park. At the bottom you will have to cross the Guilherme stream and can visit some old watermills. Here there is also a drinking fountain built in 1982.
Continuing on, the trail goes up through an area of Japanese red cedar, Victorian box and acacia trees, towards the town of Nordeste. You can turn off the trail to visit the town, and then go down to the 'Boca da Ribeira" (the mouth of the stream). After enjoying this delightful bathing spot, you should take the footpath up the hillside. When you reach the top, the trail continues alongside pasturelands, descending gently towards the coast. Once near the coast, you need to cross a small stream before coming to the Pelado Park of Endemic Plants. In this park you can enjoy the magnificent views from the vantage point overlooking the coast and also have a rest. Continuing along the coast, you will come to a side path leading to a little port where the boats used to anchor to unload supplies. Follow the signs and you will come to a tarmac road which will take you to the Lomba da Fazenda. There, if you have enough energy, you can visit the Morgada Park. You can walk the length of the park, following the stream, and visit a spot where there are some old troughs where locals used to wash their clothes. Turning back, cross the stream and climb up near to a group of houses, where there is a fine view over the whole parish. Keep straight ahead and you will eventually come back to the place where you will find this panel again.
PRAIA DA VIOLA TRAIL
This trail begins in Lomba da Maia, goes along the beach of Praia da Viola and ends in Maia. It covers a short distance, but it may take some time to complete the walk as it goes through an area of rocks and boulders which is difficult to cross. The trail begins next to the church of Lomba da Maia and follows the regional highway for about 400 metres, where it turns right, down Rua do Forno da Telha, which is opposite a drinking fountain. If you continue down this street you will leave the residential area and come to an area of pastureland which gives access to a footpath which leads down towards the Praia da Viola beach. On the way down you can enjoy various views of Maia and the Ponta Formosa and Ponta do Cintrão headlands. The footpath comes out on a concrete road where you should turn left. If you keep straight ahead you will come to the Ribeira do Salto stream. After crossing it, you can go down past some old watermills until you reach the beach. Towards the end of the descent you can turn off the main to the right for a view of the waterfall at the end of the stream. Go back to the path and keep ahead until you come to the beach. As you cross the beach you will find various streams running down from the cliffs as well as the typical Watermills, surrounded by taro. At the end of the beach, the trail continues along the coast, over rocks and boulders which require good physical fitness and agility to cross. It is unadvisable to cross this zone when the sea is rough because of the risk of drowning. After about 800 metres you will come to the "Azenhas do Nateiro", an area where there are lots of Watermills where you should turn left to climb the cliff. Caution should be taken when climbing up the path as the surface may be slippery. When you reach the top, keep straight ahead down a path lined by canes, with Maia in the background. After about 450 metres you will come to the regional highway where you should turn right and keep straight ahead to the Fonte Velha, an old drinking fountain where you can refresh yourself a little. The trail ends there, but it is possible to continue ahead as far as the little beach and port of Maia, which makes a pleasant walk when the weather is fine