16 Apr HIKING CAMINHO DO PINÀCULO E FOLHADAL
Caminho do Pinàculo e Folhadal is one of my absolute favourite hiking trails on Madeira. This trail guides you along multiple waterfalls, through dense Laurissilva forest and down fierce rock walls. It covers all of Madeira’s best in one trail. So grab your hiking gear and take your time to discover this trail: you will not regret it. This 17km long trail is a day well-spent!
CAMINHO DO PINÀCULO E FOLHADAL: TO FOLHADAL
I am so happy we are finally able to hike this trail again. Since the major road to Encumeada has been closed due to rock fall the past few years, we were not able to get to this hike for several trips. I was overjoyed to discover that the road had been fixed and quickly decided that this year we would, at last, hike Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal again.
We park our car opposite the Miradouro da Encumeada tourist shop. The Caminho do Pinàculo e Folhadal is an official PR hiking trail, so the start is signposted very well with a map and a description of the trail.
A levada guides us during the first part of the trail. This is the Levada da Serra d’Agua. Our surroundings are very, very green and on a bright day you can easily see the valley below and the small villages with their terracotta rooftops. Since it’s already late summer, there aren’t many flowers now, But during spring and early summer this levada is full of the big blue African lily’s you encounter so frequently on Madeira.
PITCH DARK TUNNELS
Don’t forget to bring a flashlight or a charged phone with flashlight function to this hike, because you’ll encounter the first of several tunnels very soon. This first tunnel isn’t long, but it’s wet and very cold! Better bring a jacket too. The tunnel brings you to Folhadal: a lush green and serene valley. It’s very quiet, remote and filled with flowers, waterfalls and the sound of birdsong. Pay attention to the levada, you’ll see trout relaxing in the water stream. We enjoy our breakfast at the foot of a high waterfall next to the path. This is already a perfect day! Before leaving Folhadal, we encounter two more tunnels, one of which is pretty long and pitch dark.
UP AND DOWN IN CENTURY OLD LAURISSILVA FOREST
Our trails leads us away from the levada for a bit, to descend a very steep forest trail into the unique Laurissilva forest. Madeira’s Laurissilva forests are very old, extraordinary and one-of-a-kind and are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. These trees have been here for centuries and hopefully will be for many yet to come: these forests are beautiful, After our initial descend, the path goes up, and down, up, and down, and up again, putting our calf muscles to good use. Then, all of a sudden, we end up above the treeline, on top of a narrow ridge.
This ridge is the perfect place for a short break. Time to rest your legs a little bit, enjoy the sun, have some lunch, and most importantly: enjoy the magnificent views! Because we are pretty high up in the mountains, you can look in all directions and see the central mountain plateau, the ocean and São Vicente from here. We take our time here, savouring this beautiful day and another great Madeira visit.
ON OUR WAY TO THE WATERFALLS AT PINÁCULO
What goes up, must come down! And so we do, the trails leads us down again, to a green valley and more Laurissilva forest. On our way to Bica da Cana and Pináculo, we encounter another levada and again, our surroundings start to change. While the first part of this trail is mostly very green, at Bica da Cana we walk a shadowy path along the mountain. Here, we discover a more rugged Madeira. It’s especially this variation in surroundings, that makes me enjoy this trail so much. It never ceases to amaze and surprise!
The trail between Bica da Cana and Pináculo is interrupted by waterfalls falling directly next to and onto the path. This part of the trail is always foggy, because of the clouds that gather here as the day goes by. I absolutely love this part of the Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal trail, especially the moody and mysterious atmosphere caused by the fog and waterfall spray. As a result of the waterfalls, you will surely get wet. Not soaked, but definitely wet to some degree. Since the path is also wet, please be careful when passing the waterfalls, because the path is narrow and slippery.
LOMBO DO MOURO
We are at the final part of the trail. When the weather is clear, Pináculo is a great viewpoint to see the two highest mountains of Madeira: PIco do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo. But if the clouds are already gathering up here, small change you’ll these two giants.
Lombo do Mouro introduces yet another different landscape. We descend a steep path while enjoying the view on the mountains, Ribeira Brava and all the green ridges and valleys around us. Hold on, did I say green?? At the moment, we mostly see a whole lot of yellow. Lots and lots of intense yellow, amidst bright green. It looks spectacular! Unfortunately though, since the major forest fires the last years, this plant has been growing uncontrolled all over Madeira, overgrowing other (more important) plants and trees. Also, this plant has very nasty thorns; not much fun to come across on a hike.
The trail comes to an end. We arrive at the ER110, the major road through the mountains, connecting Encumeada, Paúl da Serra en the north of Madeira. In the distance, you can see Miradouro da Encumeada already. This last part definitely isn’t the best part of the hike, since we’re walking on the road. But still, lots of beautiful views to enjoy here and the road is never very busy. Walking along lots of purple ‘Pride of Madeira’ flowers, we end up at the car some 15 minutes later. What a great day!
MORE HIKING INSPIRATION
Curious about all the other great hiking trails on Madeira? Take a look at our hiking page to read about many more.