Ten Volcanoes Trail, Faial
Key information: Ten Volcanoes Trail, Faial
- Faial’s great walk, a series of fascinating and beautiful tableaux, from caldera rim to levada in cedar forest, to cones and giant heather bushland to the badlands at the island’s tip.
- Walkopedia rating93
- Natural interest18
- Human interest10
- Negative points0
- Total rating93
- Length: 19.5km
- Maximum Altitude: 900m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
This is Faial's great walk, and one of Azores’ finest.
Beginning at the dramatic rim of the high (900m+) caldera at the heart of the island, the trail descends to the lighthouse at the island's western tip (well not quite, as an eruption in the 1950s extended the island and left the lighthouse burnt out and stranded). It takes in several cones and features along the way, so, while descending over 1,500m, it involves some demanding climbs as well. (Where are the 10 volcanoes? Including a deep vent-cave and cones you walk quite near you do get to 10, but without necessarily realising it.)
When not in cloud the caldera provides huge views of the lower slopes with their fields and woodlands and little cones, and of the central archipelago laid out on the Atlantic and down to the lush crater floor with its little lakes and marshes some 400m below. The walk around the rim is atmospheric even in cloud in a slightly ghostly way. On a good day it is a pedestrian marvel...
Half way round, you drop off the high ridge and join a cinder track which drops steadily through vegetation zones into surprisingly interesting Japanese cedar forest, enlivened by tree ferns and hydrangeas.
An hour+ in, you join a levada, a little irrigation channel which winds delightfully along the hillside, between mature Japanese cedars and interesting little pastures. There is a water tank to take a quick dip in, where you may meet Azorean bats flitting around. Further on is an area of smashed trees where the brunt of a hurricane must have been suffered.
You then drop into remarkably pretty little fields among the scrubby outcrops, and wend your way along paths and lanes to climb the steep Cabeco do Fogo, which has an area of lovely heather mixed with a low grey moss-relation to create something visually rather exceptional and with another remarkable view. Lunch time?
You then drop steeply to head on off tracks through the undergrowth to the sleepy village of Capelo and on to climb the high flank of the Cabeco Verde to inspect a 150m deep “bad cave”, an empty vent, and swing round a spectacular sheer-walled, lushly vegetated crater.
One more steep climb, agony at this time of day, gets you over a final crater to drop to the Badlands, the final tip of the island still devastated by the 1950s eruption. It is a remarkable area to meet after the lush greenery of the walk so far, as you end your walk on loose ash slopes and looking over into the heart of the recent volcano. How the lighthouse is still standing is a testament to something.
The route follows red-marked trails on the Kompass Azores map 1.
This is a demanding walk in high mountains with unpredictable weather. Come prepared
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You get to the start by road, so having a taxi to/from end to end is the practical option, circa 25€ each way in 2021.
Please help us by making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!
For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Azores page.
WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk
The caldera was in cloud when Walkopedia was there, as it often is, so we missed out on huge views of the lower slopes with their fields and woodlands and little cones, and of the central archipelago laid out on the Atlantic; but the walk around the rim was atmospheric in a slightly ghostly way, swirls of mist breaking to reveal tantalising glimpses of so-blue sea one way and the lush crater floor with its little lakes and marshes some 400m below on the other. On a good day it is a pedestrian marvel...
Half way round, you drop off the high ridge and join a cinder.....READ MORE
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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.
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