While I had some off work time left I searched for an affordable destination with great landscapes and the opportunity to take great pictures and doing a lot of trailrunning as well. I’d seen some pics of Madeira on Instagram and after I saw the prices where low on flights and rental cars the decision was made. I booked on Sunday for my flight on Monday morning.
P I C O D O A R I E I R O
Pico de Arieiro is home to a Observatory and you can be reached by car within a 40 minute drive from Funchal. The parking as at around 1800m above sealevel and its free of charge. The trail starts directly on the end of the road and will lead you to the highest peak of Madeira, the Pico Ruivo with a height of 1860m above sealevel.
The trails are some of the best I ever ran on. Wild rockfromations with strong blacks and greens on them standing aside of the winding trail which leads you downwards first for 2 Kilometers. Afterwards several tunnels lead through some of the peaks. Sometimes the path is so narrow, that even thin people barely can pass. After reaching the low point you'll climb up to the top of Madeira via several staircases. The view up there is incredible! Afterwards return on the same way. I highly recommend to watch the sunset from the top of Pico do Arieiro, if you’re lucky you’ll get some nice bit of fog which makes the scenery just more mystic. It’s also worth to watch the sunrise up there!
Route facts: Pico do arieiro to Pico Ruivo 12 km, around 800vm.
Strava Move: https://www.strava.com/activities/1947939158
P I C O G R A N D E 1660 M
The pico grande is not the highest of the summits but offers some great Trailrunning and a bit of scrambling. The most direct way is from Curral das Freiras and leads steep up for 1000 vm of elevation gain to the summit. You'll reach the Nuns Valley from Funchal within a 30 Minutes drive. The road offers great views and once you're through the tunnel you'll fell like you're in the heart of the entire island. There are different routes starting here, so you can also ascent to Pico Ruivo from here 8around 1200 vm ascent). Check Maps.me for trails around.
The ascent to Pico Grande starts at the Bus Stop Faja Escura. First follow the steep paved road for a few 100 meters before you get on a wide gravel road. After about 1.5 k of running you'll find a Sign on the right hand side with Pico grande Encumeneada written on. Now follow the steep an winding single Trail till you reach an exposed balcony. After another 100vm of climbing the trail gets flat and traverses for about 1 km in western direction. Another time you'll find a sign on the right hand side with pico grande written on it. Now its time for the final ascent, a steep trail leads you, partly secured by ropes the last km and 370 vm up to the top of pico grande. The last 20 vm you'll need to do some easy climbing. Aftern soaking the views get back down on the same way.
Strava Move: https://www.strava.com/activities/1949497721
The other option is to cross to the main ridge and following it to the Pico Ruivo. When descending the main ridge after Pico Ruivo there is a trail that leads you back down in the valley you started from where you'll reach the road at Faja dos cardos. I didn't run that on my own, so i don't know how the condition of the trail is. but definitely looks like a great option. Should be a nice run covering around 1500 vm and about 15-20 km.
I headed for another round to the pico grande fro the Encumeada pass. I highly recommend this route. You'll start directly on the pass (several parking spots, free of charge). First follow the LEvada behind the snackbar for about 1 km. After passing through a tunnel yolk reach the end of it. really at the end there is a trail leading downwards. When reaching a gravel road, turn right and after 30 meters follow the water pipe downwards for another 100 vm. There you'll reach the trail which you'll follow to the left. follow this trail for 4 km until roll reach a sign with Curral dos Freiras written on. Shortly after it you'll reach the sign with pico grande written on it i mentioned before. Now follow the same trail up to the summit as on the other route. Now traverse over to the main ridge. The trail starts about 70 vm below the summit on the left hand side. first its a bit steep before you traverse the small valley and climb up on the other side. Exposed sections are secured with ropes. On main trail you can either descent down to the Encumeada pass or go for the rive before the descent. Going to the Ruivo will take about 1 to 2 hours more time. Even though its just about 400 vm to climb, there are still 5km to run.
Strava Move of The Pico Grande Roundtrip: https://www.strava.com/activities/1953147510
25 F O N T E S
The Levada Trails at 25 Fonts are one of best know touristic places on the island, but still great running terrain. I stopped there on a rainy day, so the amount of people was totally fine. On a sunny day it will be hard to run because there is limited space to pass people. Its up to you what you wanna look at. I went for the Waterfalls and the 25 fontes and ended my run at the Lagos do Vento. All the spots are beautiful, for sure the trails in between too, but my biggest recommendation is the Lagoa. My whole run covered 14 km of wonderful running, so have a look at the move and decide on the go, where to go.
Strava Move: https://www.strava.com/activities/1951200733
T H E W E S T E R N E N D
The western side of the island has some great landscapes, rough coasts and thrilling roads to offer and is in my opinion definitely worth the trip. After the end of the big motorway at Paul Do Mar the winding road leads you up to the stunning coast, there are several viewpoints on the way. I Recommend stopping on the lighthouse at Ponta do Gardo and on the little bit more northern waterfall called Giganta Fonda. The Waterfall is nice, but the views of the cliffs are really incredible. Pass this spot for sunset, definitely worth it. Afterwards don't forget to stop by in Porto Moniz. Its a quiet and pleasant village on the northwestern end. Great coastal views, an aquarium and seawater pools are waiting to be discovered.