When Is the Best Time
When visiting the Azores, hiking through the lush forests to one of the many waterfalls in Sao Miguel is a must-do. I will give you all the details for three waterfall hikes, including the trailheads, locations, best times, crowds, and one hidden gem hike to three waterfalls and four pools for swimming.
Sao Miguel is the most famous island because it is the biggest and easiest to get to by direct flights. Swimming is permitted in the pools at these waterfalls, so bring a towel and a bather in your backpack. We prefer lightweight, absorbent and quick-dry cotton towels.
3 Waterfall Hikes in Sao Miguel
1. Salto do Cabrito
It is one of the most popular waterfalls because of social media. But, to enjoy the natural beauty of this exceptional area with its waterfall and pool, come early in the morning or late in the day; otherwise, give it a miss! This is my honest opinion. We arrived in the afternoon, and it was too crowded.
There is one short walk of less than 200 meters and a second longer and breathtaking hike to the waterfall.
- Trailhead and two parking lots - short stroll Google Maps Location
- Second Trailhead and Parking for the Salto do Cabrito hike through the river gorge. Google Maps Location
This is a 3 km return hike: Hiking Map by Locus Map App. It takes roughly 2 ½ hours, including a break at the waterfall. This trail map also shows a circular tour in red; this is the PRC29 SMI, which is 7,5 km long.
Luckily, we chose the three km return hike to Salto do Cabrito. The trail is easy to find, although not well marked. Parking close to the power station and dam (link above). From here, we followed the pipes down through the forest toward the waterfall.
We crossed the pipe on this small footbridge. Watch for these yellow and red marks and follow them. We walked along the trail until we reached the river and Salto do Cabrito Hydropower Plant. Here, we accessed a metal staircase and crossed the river on a metal footbridge.
Now came the most exciting part of this human-made small footbridge through the gorge above the river. We already heard the tumbling waterfall from the distance and followed the staircase down to the bottom of the waterfall.
We enjoyed this part a lot and met just one local couple walking their dog. We were disappointed when we reached the pool and waterfall because it was noisy and crowded. Check out my Azores video on YouTube, and you know what I mean.
2. Salto do Prego
This waterfall is less popular with tourists and, therefore, worth hiking to. Nevertheless, it is a famous local spot for a swim in a huge refreshing pool, so avoid weekends in the summer. We visited Salto do Prego in September, and the estimated water temperature was 20°C or even colder.
- Parking and trailhead in Faial da Terra in the southeast of Sao Miguel. Google Maps Location
- Return trail length: 4 km to Salto do Prego
- Return trail length: 7,5 km to Salto do Prego plus Salto do Cagarrão
- Trail difficulty: medium – ascending to the waterfalls and descending on the way back.
- Trail map by Locus Map App
This trail is well-marked with signs, and it took us roughly one hour for two kilometres on the uneven path until we reached the bottom of the Salto do Prego waterfall. The trail is ascending and usually a little slippery and muddy.
From here, the trail continues to the top of the waterfall and the stream to another waterfall: Salto do Cagarrão. We didn’t continue because of a landslide a few weeks ago.
3. Moinho do Felix Cascatas – Trilho TM6
This circular route is my top tip, and it was our highlight in Sao Miguel. This outstanding trail led along a stream to three waterfalls and four pools, which were fantastic for swimming. Best of all, we were mostly alone on this trail and in the pools.
- Parking and trailhead in Lomba de Sao Pedro - Google Maps
- Our hiking app and map we used to find the correct trail: Locus Map App
- We parked in this small village along the road near the hiking trail information board.
- Circular trail length: 9 km - well marked
- Difficulty: medium – shoes with good traction are essential for the uneven path.
- Elevation difference: 280 m
- Duration: 4-5 hours, including stops for swimming in several pools and a lunch break.
- What to pack: Bring a towel and a bather in your backpack. We went swimming in three of the four pools. The water was absolutely refreshing during our sunny hike.
First pool to the right: Poço da Truta
Poço means puddle or here pool. This was a fantastic, deeper pool with a small cascade.
First waterfall and pool down to the left: Cascata da Gruta
This was one of the most breathtaking waterfalls – I could walk behind it and was utterly refreshed by the spray.
Second waterfall and pool: Cascata do Teófilo
This was another beautiful waterfall and a shallow pool, not too cold.
Next stop: Felix watermill ruins
The name for this trail came from this ancient watermill.
Third waterfall and pool: Cascata do Homem
The last waterfall with a smaller pool is located close to the sea. A narrow and paved road leads to the last waterfall. You can drive to this spot if you cannot walk this trail.
From there we went back on the road to the village and our car.
My Personal Hotel Tip
Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa has a fantastic location with spectacular mountains and Atlantic views. I highly recommend a room with a sea view. There is an indoor and outdoor pool, which is fantastic and great for swimming. In front of the hotel is a huge parking for rental cars. A bike rental is offered. A rich breakfast is included to start the day.
Don't miss out on my 9 Azores Guides; hikes, waterfalls, things to see and do, the best time, and my personal tips.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
On the Azores Islands, it is a Must-Do to explore the beautiful and lush vegetation and the breathtaking waterfalls. We already spent several vacations on these unique islands, and I compiled a hiking guide with the most popular and terrific waterfalls from Sao Miguel for you. Salto do Cabrito may be the most famous but not the best. I will give you honest advice and a detailed description of how to find these waterfalls, the best time, and a hiking map link. Most of my family lives in Portugal, making it easier for me to get tips for hidden gems.
I took all these pictures and went to the Azores several times. If you wish to use any of my photos, contact me, but I will take action against picture theft.