Santo Espírito - Maia PR04SMA
How to get there
Leaving from the centre of Vila do Porto, take the Regional Road, towards the parish of Santo Espírito. Arriving at this parish search indication sings of the centre of the parish, where you will find the church. The trail begins near this church, as it is signed in the trail panel.
Appropriate footwear for walking, waterproof jacket, hat, sunscreen and water
Along the trail, that begins and ends at Forest Road of Pico Alto, it is possible to observe the enormous richness of natural flora, highlighting examples of Laurel Forest.
Likewise, there are faunal endemism of arthropods and molluscs of the Pico Alto Protected Area for the Management of Habitats or Species, considered, for this reason as a high diversity site.
You can also watch and listen to various birds, many of them endemic subspecies of the Azorean archipelago.
Start the trail at the parking lot of Pico Alto and climb the steps next to a military building to the highest point of the island, with several perspectives on Santa Maria: by west the most arid landscapes with less relief and altitude; by east the mountainous landscapes, more green and forested.
From here the trail returns to the starting point and follows a dirt path in a forest area towards the north. Along the section, you will find large trees such as Cryptomeria japonica (criptoméria), as well as some endemic shrub, such as Viburnum treleasei (folhado) and Vaccinium cylindraceum (uva-da-serra). Through the vegetation, you can listen or watch some of the species of passerine birds that live on the island, such as Erithacus rubecula rubecula (pico-de-peito-ruivo), Fringilla coelebs moreletti (tentilhão), Turdus merula azorensis (melro) and the Regulus regulus sanctaemariae (estrelinha de Santa Maria).
The trail continues in a descending and curvy plane passing by a detour on the left to the Caldeira Viewpoint, a place with an impressive view of the west coast of the island, specifically of São Pedro parish. Back to the main path, pass the “Casa do Guarda” (house of the guard), the intersection point with the Grand Route of Santa Maria, and head south, towards the place of the Alto Nascente.
From here the path begins to climb back to the starting point by a path used by workers responsible for the afforestation of this area. In this last stage, you will pass by a monument created in memory of the victims of the biggest plane crash in Portugal in 1989.