Hiking Salto Do Prego on Sao Miguel
The Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean are on many European travelers' bucket lists. There is breathtaking coastlines, beautiful beaches and numerous hiking trails. Some of the hiking trails lead to unmatched views of the island landscape. Others lead to one of the many waterfalls that are sprinkled on the islands.
One of the more popular waterfall hikes in The Azores is on Sao Miguel, the largest island in the archipelago. That hike is Salto do Prego. If you are traveling to this European paradise, you will want to include the Salto do Prego hike in your itinerary.
No matter where you are staying on Sao Miguel island, getting to the trailhead for the Salto do Prego hike is relatively easy to get to. The hike is located on the southeast corner of Sao Miguel not far from the town of Povozao. If you are staying in the popular area of Furnas you don't have too far to travel to get there. And the drive itself is magnificent once you get closer to the trailhead. I recommend stopping at Miradouro Pic dos Bodes along the way. If you are coming from Nordeste there are numerous spots to stop at driving along the coastline. My favorite was Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego.
Once you get near the trailhead the area to park is very small. When you drive up take the road as far as it goes, it will turn into dirt and get narrow before you get to the little parking area right at the start of the trailhead. I got there in the morning, about 9 am and there was only one other car there. But by the time I left around 10:30 the little parking area was full and people were forced to park along the street leading up to the trailhead.
The Salto do Prego hike can be done a couple of different ways. You can do a down-and-back hike from the car park to the waterfall. Otherwise, you can do it as a loop for part of the hike. If you do it as a loop it will take slightly longer to complete the hike than if you were to up and back. When I went, I decided to go back the same way I came since most of the hike was along the stream and I was somewhat limited on time.
If you are an experienced hiker this hike is fairly easy. It took me about an hour and a half to go up and back. That included about 15-20 minutes I spent at the waterfall itself. There a few spots where you have to cross some rocks over small streams. So be sure you have good hiking shoes that won't slip on wet rocks. Most of the trail is dirt and was fairly dry when I was there but could see how it could get slippery if there had been a recent rainfall.
The trail starts along the stream before rising up and going away from it before coming back once you're near the waterfall. Overall the trail is easy to follow and well marked. There were a couple of different forks in the path, but I always stayed right and it got me to the waterfall. Much of the trail is covered by forest vegetation, so even on a day in the middle of July the hike didn't get that hot.
On my way up I only encountered a couple of other people. Instead, I met quite a few chickens that were not afraid of me at all. They weren't hostile and did move when I came near, but they didn't flinch until I got really close.
About 2/3 of the way up the hike there is a fork in the trail. One way will take you to the waterfall and the other will take you to the abandoned village of Sanguinho. Many people decide to take this way back to get a different view and to visit the village.
If you keep following along the trail you will eventually get to the top of the waterfall and get some views of it from above. To get to the bottom of the waterfall you have to diverge off the main trail, walk down a path that gets rocky at the end and you'll be surrounded by rock walls and thick vegetation. The air was much cooler at the bottom of the falls and felt nice on the warm day.
The pool at the base of the Prego do Salto waterfall is suitable for swimming but the water is very cold. The area under the water is also very rocky so I would recommend swimming shoes or
some sort of sandals if you do decide to go swimming. I didn't have swim shoes with me and was wearing my hiking boots. And the air near the waterfall felt refreshing enough that I didn't think a swim was necessary.
Since I had gone early enough in the day I found myself at the base of the waterfall for about 15 minutes before anyone else showed up. There was no sound around me except for that of the water splashing down from above. If you want some time to yourself in nature this is a great spot to do it, as long as you're there at the right time.
The trek back down the trail is great as you'll get some beautiful views of the landscape out to the ocean. If you decide to take the train back through the abandoned village you should get even better views leading you back to the car park.
I definitely passed more people on the way down the trail than on the way up, but it still wasn't what would have called busy. So it seems like you could get to the trail almost any time in the morning and not have to worry about too much crowding. But like I mentioned early the car park had filled up by the time I finished the hike.
Overall I highly recommend the Salto do Prego hike on Sao Miguel. If you have kids they could likely do this hike as I didn't find it too strenuous and the trail is well marked. The kids would also love some of the flowers and chickens you'll come across.
If you have any questions or want to know more details about the Salto do Prego hike let me know in the comments.