One of the most unique and memorable hikes I took part of during my trip to Sao Miguel, Azores was the trail from Praia to Lagoa do Fogo.
It had everything you can ask for in a hike – walking through the Japanese Cedar forests, views of the Atlantic, lush greenery, and the famous Lagoa do Fogo. While some parts of the hike are strenuous, the end result is sure worth it.
This hiking guide will go over all the logistics and things to know in order to take part of the trail. If you have any questions along the way feel free to add them in below!
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1) Overview of Praia – Lagoa do Fogo Hike
The Lagoa do Fogo hike is one of the top options to choose from on the island of Sao Miguel. You will start off from the parking lot, make the uphill hike through the countryside, and then begin walking through the island’s green landscape.
You will first be welcomed by the Japanese cedars and then as the trail opens up, you will have the lush greenery in every which direction.
From there it is just a bit more to reach the bottom of Lagoa do Fogo to enjoy some relaxation time at the lake.
After enjoying the lake, it is back the same way you came from to the parking lot to end a successful hiking experience.
» If you would like to get a better background of the trails in the Azores, I would recommend reading the Hiking in the Azores Guide up on the site to learn more
Here are some quick facts about the hike to get you familiar with what to expect:
- Trail: Praia – Lagoa do Fogo PRC2SMI
- Starting Point: Use these coordinates for the starting point – 37°43’40.0″N 25°28’17.5″W
- Mid Point: Lagoa do Fogo
- Ending Point: Same as the starting point
- Length: 11KM / 6.8 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 400 meters / 1,312 feet
- Time: 4 Hours
- Difficulty: Beginning – Hard; Middle/End – Easy
- Official Trail Leaflet
Be sure to check out some of the other best things to do in the Azores during your trip
2) When To Go
Odds are during your trip to the Azores, not every day will have perfect weather. Rain, clouds, wind and fog come and go throughout the day and can get in the way of doing some activities.
When thinking about which day to do the Praia – Lagoa do Fogo hike there are a couple things to take into account. The hike itself is split into four main parts: farmland, forest, open greenery, and lake.
You do not necessarily need good weather to enjoy the first few sections of the trail, however once you get out of the forest and into the open greenery, having nice weather could make it more enjoyable.
This is even more so the case once you reach the bottom of the lake. Lagoa do Fogo is known for its low cloud coverage, so if you go there when there are low clouds, you might not be able to see the lagoon much at all.
My advice would to take a look at the Lagoa do Fogo webcams before you head out (just note that the low clouds can come and go as the day goes on).
It is not the end of the world though if there is not a view of the lake when you arrive.
he hike in itself will still be incredible to take part of. You can also check out the weather in the Azores guide I put together to better prepare you for your trip in general.
3) What To Bring
Since this is a longer hike for the Azores, I would come prepared with some essentials before heading off for the trail.
The list below includes everything I bring along on day hikes, and it will have you better prepared when taking part of trails all over The Azores such as the Sete Cidades hike, Mount Pico, and hiking Sao Jorge to name a few.
Hiking Packing List
In general when it comes to hiking, there are a few main aspects to consider. These includes clothing layers, hiking shoes, hydration & fuel, electronics, and other essentials.
Below in a breakdown of some of the top items, but be sure to check out the Hiking Packing List for a more comprehensive view.
Layering is going to be a top consideration when hiking. You will want to be prepared for all sorts of weather so you can be comfortable in different situations. Some items may include:
→ Hiking Shorts
→ Hiking Pants
→ Short Sleeve Shirt
→ Long Sleeve Shirt / Sun Hoodie
→ Mid Layer Fleece
→ Puff Jacket (not always needed)
→ Packable Rain Jacket (Columbia Watertight II)
Note that your layers should be made of moisture wicking material as they are breathable and quick drying.
Having appropriate footwear will also be very important. You will want to have shoes with the necessary grip and support to keep you safe on the trail.
→ Hiking Shoes (Keen Targhee)
→ Hiking Socks (Darn Tough)
Whether it is hiking gear, electronics, or just some miscellaneous items, here are some other essentials to bring along on hikes.
→ Hiking Backpack (Osprey Talon 22) & Rain Cover (Joy Walker Cover)
→ Hiking Poles (Black Diamond Trekking Poles)
→ Water Bottle (CamelBak Chute or Katadyn Filter Bottle)
→ Portable Charger (Anker PowerCore 5000mAh)
→ Action Camera (GoPro Hero)
→ Energy Bars & Snacks
→ Hat & Sunglasses
→ Sunscreen & Bug Spray
4) Getting to the Starting Point
You cannot just put in Praia – Lagoa do Fogo Hike into Google Maps when trying to get to the starting point of the hike.
To get there simply put these coordinates into Google: 37°43’40.0″N 25°28’17.5″W.
This will take to the exact point where you will find the official hiking trail sign. There isn’t much of a parking lot, more so just a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road.
From Ponta Delgada, it is actually pretty simple to get to. Just take the main highway eastbound (EN1 – 1A) for about 15 minutes.
You will then exit off the right hand side of the highway to Regional 1-1 and then follow that road before turning left on R.Caminho da Ribeira da Praia.
The whole drive should be about 25 minutes or so. Below is a map to show you the exact route to get there.
→ Feel free to browse through Rentalcars.com for plenty of car rental options. You can filter by car type, price, & more to find the perfect rental car for your trip to the Azores.
5) Praia – Lagoa do Fogo Hike – São Miguel PRC2SMI
Now lets get into the hike itself.
As mentioned the hike is broken up into four main sections – first the trail through the farmland, then into the Japanese Cedar forest alongside the aqueduct, followed by the open greenery leading to the lake itself.
The way back is on the same trail so everything would just be in reverse.
A) The Farmland
No joke here, the beginning of this hike is not that easy. There is a steady uphill climb for the first 2-3 kilometers, where most of the elevation is gained – around +300 meters.
There is not much of a view during this portion but you will be passing by various farmland as you make your up the dirt path.
Look out for the various animals too! Plenty of goats were running throughout the area during our hike.
B) The Forest
You will then enter the forest with these massive Japanese Cedar trees lining the path. Also here you be walking alongside an old aqueduct, which makes for some awesome picture opportunities.
As you continue your way alongside the aqueduct you will come across some points when you get to take in views of the Atlantic Ocean out in the distance.
C) The Open Greenery
After slowly making your way out of the forest you will enter one of my favorite parts of the trail – with greenery filled mountains on either side, you will walk through a lush valley filled with plants, trees, and wildlife as you begin the approach towards the bottom of the lake.
Literally everywhere you turn and as far as you can see, there will just be this intense greenery in every which direction.
D) Lagoa do Fogo
Finally, after nearly 2 hours of hiking you will arrive at the base of Lagoa do Fogo. You can spend some time relaxing and hanging out by the shores of the lake.
If you brought lunch with you now would be a great time to just sit back and enjoy the lakeside area.
As mentioned earlier, hopefully the clouds coverage is not low and you will be able to see the entirety of the lake and not be blocked by the fog.
After spending some time by Lagoa do Fogo, you will just turn around and continue on the same path back to the starting point.
Overall, the Praia – Lagoa do Fogo trail is a great way to get introduced to what the Azores are all about.
The natural beauty that is found throughout the trail is something you will not soon forget. If you have any questions at all about the hike or want to learn more, do not hesitate to write in the comments below.
» If you are looking to relax after a day at the hot springs, feel free to check out the guide to the nearby Caldeira Velha thermal pools. It will be a great way to rest after a day of hiking.
6) Where to Stay on Sao Miguel
There are two main ways to go here – either browse through Booking.com to find the best hotel that fits your budget and style or check out Airbnb which might have more options.
There are a few main towns around the island but if you are looking for the most happening spot that would be in Ponta Delgada.
There are way more accommodation and restaurant options here than any other location on the island.
If you want to get a little further away you can also check out the town of Furnas, which is home to several natural hot springs.
Here are some hotel recommendations for each:
That about does it for a recap of the Praia – Lagoa do Fogo hike! Check out the Azores page for more itineraries and guides for what else these islands have to offer.
Monday 18th of November 2019
Bonus idea. If you hike to the top as this trail description states, be sure to continue on up the trail to view the lake from above. There are gorgeous views from up there. Or from the trail head start at the beginning, you can make a loop by heading off to the right up the road and over the fence. This brings you to the lake above so that you see the views. We did this round-trip loop, with no backtracking last week and it was a beautiful hike.
Friday 17th of March 2023
@Myrna, Hey, Myrna. :) Who knows if you will ever see this message, but I will try anyway :D I am not understanding how you got from the bottom of the lake to the viewpoints (eg Miradouro do Pico da Barrosa) without backtracking. I would like to do the long hike and then go from the lake to the viewpoint but the only possibility I have found is to go back approximately half of the way back to Praia and then continue on a path to the Barrosa viewpoint. Thank you very much for your help :)
Monday 9th of December 2019
Thanks Myrna for the great suggestion! I didn't realize it could be done as a loop. Always great to get some nice views in!
Thursday 11th of July 2019
Do you think it is o.k. for 9,12 old kids?
Friday 12th of July 2019
Hi Talia - the beginning of the hike does have a bit of elevation gain - 250 to 675 meters during the first 3 kilometers. After that portion the hike does get much easier but the beginning can be tough. I cant say for certain how kids would handle it so that would just be up to you to decide. Hope that helps!