Hiking the Praia – Lagoa do Fogo Trail
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!
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
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. The 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.
If you are wondering what to bring along when taking part of hikes in general take a look at the comprehensive Hiking Packing List that I put together. It 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. The list includes several different essentials such as:
Hiking Shoes | Keen Targhee
Water Bottle | CamelBak Chute
Action Camera | GoPro Hero 8
Rain Jacket | Columbia Watertight II
Backpack Rain Cover | Joy Walker Cover
Portable Charger | Anker Powercore
Hiking Backpack | Osprey Talon 22
Take a look at some Azores guide books to better prep you for your trip:
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.
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.