Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sao Miguel, Azores - Walk 9: Lagoas Azul and Verde

Our last big day on Sao Miguel we decided to drive to the northwestern men's of Sao Miguel and check out Lagos Azul and Lagos Verde. The hike would skirt the rim of Caldeira Alteres dropping down from Vista da REI into the village of Setes Cidades before completing the loop back at the viewpoint. The hike isabout 12km in length and you ascend and descend about 320m at times on rather steep mountain roads. With the exception of perhaps 1km a few hundred meters outside of Setes Cidades where you slowly ascend away from the colorful lakes on a trail through woods you hike on dirt mountain roads or, briefly, along paved roads in town. 

When we arrived at the bviewpoint a handful of cars were already parked in the shadow of what was once a grand hotel. It's been abandoned for a long time but the spot is clearly popular: good toilets and a food truck were present. We left the car under cloudy skies that threatened rain but never managed more than a momentary spit before clearing away later in the morning. To our right was could see the green and blue lakes below. Lagos Verde was closer and a more noticeable green than Lagos Azul was noticeably blue. I think I was imagining richer color: rich Emerald and vividly blue; these were much more muted. We walked by plenty of foliage, including ever present hydrangeas, that opened up now and then to pastures with cows. Yes, people work the land up here too in this seemingly a bit more out of the way spot. A few cars passed on by.; a couple other Hill walkers too but we were pretty much alone. 

It's an easy walk along the dirt road. We had no real trouble finding our way down the road towards Setes Cidades. At about 5km we followed a paved road for a short stretch before returning to dirt roads that would soon steepen considerably and drop us over 100m in likely not much more than 500m into the village itself. That last bit wasn't fun but I bet less scary than it'd haven riding the quads we saw a few helmeted people riding down that bone jarring Track.

There isn't much in the village. The walk takes you to a church and back but for our money you could just keep going towards the gray buildings on the shore of the lake. There is a resturaunt there too that's lijrly just as good a place to have a bite to eat as S. Nicolau's was.from the village we walked along paved roads for perhaps 1km before turning onto a dirt path with Lagos Verde on our left. We gradually began climbing through a nice bit of forest Soon we passed what I'm pretty sure was the first campground we had seen. I saw a blue tent and maybe there were others in the Glade. 

The trail continued to ascend at a modest rate for about a km before joining a mountain roads that plunged down from the hieghts of the caldera to the lakes below. That last, just over a km, was the final challenge. This time we rapidly gained elevation. I'd not be surprised if the grade was comparable to what we encountered on our ascent to Lagos Fogo. We were working hard but the views under the partly cloudy sky of the lakes below helped make it worthwhile. Our discovery of the gelato selling lady at the top was icing on the cake. 

At the top we found the place jammed full of cars. We did see a couple people and one family (those had better be strong young kids) coming down as we went up but I figure most were doing the loop like us (clockwise) or some out-and-baclk  "clockwise" version. Besides the gelato seller we saw two food trucks. All were busy selling to people. If you plan hiking in this area get to it early and beat the traffic. We arrived at about 09:45. We finished the hike around 14:40. 

About the Photos

It's an overcast morning as we start the hike on the rim road several hundred meters above Lagoas Verde and Azul. At this time the colors of the green and blue lakes are rather muted. 

In photo 2 this cow peers at us as we look at her an the Atlantic Ocean beyond. 

In photo 3 the  last kilometer, actually somewhat less, into Setes Cidades is along very steep rutted dirt road. It is a bit tiresome , and potentially dangerous if wet, section of the hike. I think the people on the 2 quads who slowly rollers by must have been nervous.

Photo 4: By mid-afternoon the sun was out and we had colorful views of the lakes as we climbed a very steep dirt mountain road back to our car

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