Levada das 25 Fontes/ Levada do Risco Hiking Trail
This hiking trail will take you to two of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island of Madeira. The Levada das 25 Fontes (PR6) is a 8.7km round trip hike to the waterfall called 25 Fontes, whereas the Levada do Risco (PR6.1) is actually a small hiking trail leading off from the Levada das 25 Fontes and headed to the Risco waterfall, thus adding a 2km round trip detour. However it is very much worthwhile as you will see in this post.
If you wish to read more about what else we did while on the beautiful island of Madeira, head to our Extensive Sightseeing Guide to Madeira. Or head to our Ponta de São Lorenço Hiking Trail Guide for more information on another amazing hike on Madeira!
Where to start?
The starting point of this hike is located next to a parking lot, which is marked on the map to the right. The parking lot is also located directly next to the Miradouro do Rabaçal viewpoint which gives spectacular views over the valley.
Contrary to most other hikes, this hike actually starts at the highest point of 1288m above the sea and descends into the valley towards the waterfalls.
Parking is free of charge.
The Hiking Trail
Like already mentioned above, the hike starts at the highest point of 1288 meters and the route takes you down into the valley. The lowest point of the route is at the base of the 25 Fontes waterfall with 964 meters. This leads to a height difference of a little over 300 meters. The hike itself is of a moderate difficulty.
This hike is a one-way hike which means that you have to go back the same route as you came. However you will see that there are several junctions that allow you to walk slightly other routes on your way back. Some are longer than others. We chose to only take a small detour and partially walk a different path on our way back. However these routes are not that well marked, so it can be a little more tricky to find your way. We usually use an App called Maps.me while hiking. It allows you to download the map of an area and can locate you even without having internet access. Also hiking trails are marked way more in detail on Maps.me than for instance on Google Maps, which makes it convenient for hiking.
The one way hike to the 25 Fontes waterfall is around 4,3km (8,7km round-trip). The detour to the Risco waterfall around 1km one way. Our route was a little longer since we chose to take a small detour at the end.
You can download a brochure with the official route on the official tourism website of Madeira. The detour routes are not marked here but you can find them on the Maps.me map.
We parked our car on the parking lot next to the start of the hike. First we walked towards the Rabaçal viewpoint and soaked in the beautiful view. Then we made our way to the start of the hiking trail and started our descend into the valley. The first part of the hiking trail goes steadily downhill on a paved path, until you reach a shelter house. Next to the shelter house starts the unpaved part of the trail.
On the route there are several viewpoints with spectacular views of the valley and the whole area. We stopped at one of the viewpoints to take a small break and eat a snack. A small bird kept coming really close to us, wanting us to share our cereal bar with him (which we did not do, but it gave us the opportunity for some cute photos).
Then we reached the junction where you can choose to either walk straight to the 25 Fontes waterfall or towards the Risco waterfall. A lot of people seemed to skip the Risco waterfall, but we chose to take the detour and we are glad we did!
A few meters before the waterfall is a small viewing platform. We sat down and marveled at the waterfall for quite some time. Several people passed but we had the place nearly all to ourselves for most of the time.
The photos below actually don’t do the waterfall justice. It is way more impressive to stand there in person.
We then made our way back to the junction to continue our hike towards the 25 Fontes waterfall.
The route from here on out is a mixture of uphill and downhill stairs and narrow pathways nestled to the side of the hills that frame the valley.
Do you see the plant in the right bottom corner of the photo to the right? This is actually a form of dandelion!
At around lunchtime we finally reached the 25 Fontes waterfalls. As the name suggests, this waterfall consists of one big and numerous smaller waterfalls coming down into a sort of cave. It is not really a cave. But compared to the Risco waterfall which is visible from quite far, this waterfall is more hidden away as it is surrounded by rock and a lot of vegetation.
After having spent our lunch break here, we took some photos before making our way back. The 25 Fontes waterfall is also really beautiful. However, compared to the Risco waterfall, it was more crowded though.
On the way back we again followed the pathway lined with the so-called “levadas” (see photo below). They are some sort of water channel, which leads the water coming from the waterfalls into the Calheta Hydroelectric Dam and carries on to irrigate agricultural land.
The way back is way more straining though, since now you have to walk back uphill all the way that you came downhill before. Therefore after making it back to the parking lot we drove straight to our accommodation and relaxed the rest of the afternoon.
Is it worth it?
We highly recommend this hike though. The views are truly amazing and apart from the bit at the end, the hike is very much doable (Also it is noteworthy that at the time of the hike we were not super fit but we managed quite well nonetheless;) ).