My favorite trail: Serra Devassa

Trilho Serra Devassa
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Serra Devassa trail

There are about 82 classified walking trails in the Azores archipelago. Among trails with higher and lower degrees of difficulty, longer and shorter, there is one that presents itself as a good alternative for people who like to walk, but do not want to walk for several hours.

The Serra Devassa trail is located on the west side of the island of São Miguel, in the volcanic massif of Sete Cidades. It is about 5.5 km long and normally takes about 2 hours to complete this circular route. Terrain conditions vary between flatter sites, sites with water ditches of considerable depth, and wet and slippery sites.

However, this is a place little known by the people who live on the island of São Miguel. Despite its maximum altitude (approximately 850 meters) putting some obstacles to visibility on foggy days, along this trail we can observe many of the things that characterize our island. We have places where you can find large mounds of Moss (Sphagnum sp.), responsible for capturing and storing water, something very characteristic of this area of São Miguel, as well as, along the route, there are many examples of flora endemic to the Azores. 

We also have a fantastic view over the west part of the island, being able to observe the north coast, south coast, the extreme west of the island, as well as the Sete Cidades collapse caldera and its Cumeeira surrounding. At the top of Pico do Carvão (the highest point of the route), the view is absolutely unbelievable. From this point, we can observe the various surrounding lagoons, as well as the central area of the island composed of the volcanic complex of the Picos, as well as the Pico da Barrosa, overlooking Lagoa do Fogo and, further away, the highest point of the island. , Pico da Vara.

            Along the Serra Devassa trail you can still find remnants of the old exploitation of “leiva” – the herbaceous substrate made up mainly of moss – for the pineapple greenhouses, a practice happily replaced by others less detracting from the Azorean natural heritage; slowly, nature has been healing such wounds.

After descending the mountain, it is possible to make a small “detour” and visit a viewpoint where you can see the Empadadas Lagoons, as well as descend to the area where the lagoons are. On the way back to the starting point, we cross a place covered with Japanese CedarCryptomeria japonica) before reintegrating the starting point to the initial part that allows us to close the circle of the route.

There are very few places in São Miguel where you can make an easy walking route, with so many examples of endemic plants, and with unbelievable views. These are the places that make us see São Miguel in a different way. Are there more sites similar to this one? Yes, there are, but in these places we have to walk for several hours and several kilometers.

An important note concerns the state of degradation of parts of the trail. It is important to preserve, and adopt more sustainable practices, when carrying out the same.

There are many beautiful places on our island, many interesting routes and spectacular views, but such as these are difficult to find. And that's why the Serra Devassa trail is my favorite hiking trail!

 

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