Key information: Pico Island
- Dominated by a huge eponymous volcano, Pico is host to several outstanding walks and worth several days' attention. Walk fascinating historic vineyards and along its cone-pocked and lake-strewn eastern spine.
- Walkopedia rating94
- Natural interest17
- Human interest10
- Negative points0
- Total rating94
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: 2,350m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
Pico, dominated by its huge eponymous volcano, the highest mountain in Portugal at 2,350m, is host to several outstanding walks and worth several days' attention.
While you can base yourself on the island, Walkopedia stayed in Horta on Faial and took the short ferry ride across each day.
Portugal's highest mountain is an extraordinary stand-alone 2,350m volcano which dominates the entire central group of the Azores islands. It soars above the western end of Pico island, an almost-perfect cone on which balances a steep and slightly sinister mini-cone. It is a fascinating place, awash with the weird remains of lava flows and peppered with vents. It is clothed in vivid heather and other sparkling shrubs, so is a delightful place to walk – but for the long and arduous slog, which impairs the pleasure-to-pain ratio. The great redeeming feature is the wonderful view west across the lower slopes and the sea towards Faial and its own collapsed volcano, which just get grander the higher you climb. As you round the south of the mountain to reach the extraordinary crater, the eastern length of the island reveals itself as an extraordinary green plateau liberally sprinkled with vents and little craters. This is a very tough walk on a high mountain with unpredictable weather.
The fascinating world heritage listed vineyards can be walked in various ways, but to make the most a varied walk of it, start at the enormous lava tunnel of Gruta das Torres and head off downhill on red cinder tracks, descending through rough little paddocks into interesting and varied forest to the traditional village of Monte. Thence you drop to the sea and an enticing swimming enclosure. North up the seaside road, you turn right up tracks and paths lined with high stone walls protecting a sea of little vineyard enclosures, hemmed in by heat-retaining black lava walls, and heading straight towards the great Pico cone ahead. You wind on through the general weirdness to an old windmill, then head back to the seaside road, and on north to Madelena.
Also consider: North coast: https://trails.visitazores.com/en/trails-azores/pico/caminhos-de-santa-luzia 10.5 km, 3h
Descent of the old track from Pico to Madelena: this hugely atmospheric old track from Pico to Madelena starts at a fascinating short lava tunnel and descends steadily beautiful green, rocky fields then woodland and agricultural plots, directly towards Madelena.
East of the volcano
Caminho das Lagoas: PR19PIC. Walkopedia would really like to return to enjoy this long walk along the cone-pocked and lake-strewn eastern spine of the island, on a quiet lane (Estrada Transversal), which passes between cones and craters and past numerous lovely lakes, all the time in high pasture and some shrublands and with huge vistas opening and closing, back to the volcano and across the sea to Sao Jorge and Terceira. You officially begin near the forest services’ house, and end at Ribeirinha in the far east, although you can choose where you want to start and finish and create circuits using the network of lanes and tracks. Little point on foggy days. Up to 22 km, 7hrs.
South coast lava fields: https://trails.visitazores.com/en/trails-azores/pico/misterios-do-sul-do-pico
Gorgeous coastal walk around the far eastern end of the island: https://trails.visitazores.com/en/trails-azores/pico/porto-calhau-manhenha
Descend an old cobbled trail towards the north coast, to the little harbour and shipbuilding village of Santo Amaro.
There are numerous small lanes and tracks which run along the contours of the hillsides above both north and south coasts, and also on the slightly mad plateau east of Pico volcano. They make brilliant walking, and you can create circuits including to/from the Caminho das Lagoas.
Find more walks here: https://trails.visitazores.com/en/trails-azores/pico
The routes mainly follow red-marked trails and small lanes on the Kompass Azores map 1.
This can be demanding walking in high mountains with unpredictable ocean weather. Come prepared.
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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