The trail to Poço Azul in Gerês is a way and back trail along the same path. In total, it’s about 9km (4.5 to go and 4.5 to return), taking us from Cascata do Arado to Poço Azul. Despite being quite popular, it is not an official trail, and it is not marked, nor does it have indications.
Therefore, it is essential to be well prepared, follow our instructions, and carry the map on your cell phone to make your life easier. The route is not physically or technically challenging, but the absence of markings can cause some confusion, although there are not many difficult points.
We will explain step by step everything you need to know to go to Poço Azul in Gerês National Park. Even without being an official trail, this is undoubtedly one of the best trails in Gerês and takes us to one of the best wells/lakes in Gerês. The highlight and purpose of this trail is obviously the fabulous Poço Azul, but along the way, we will pass through some emblematic landscapes of Gerês. And, of course, in the beginning, we have the spectacular Cascata do Arado, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Gerês, and the Rocas Viewpoint, one of the best viewpoints in the National Park.
Trail from Cascata do Arado to Poço Azul – general information
Poço Azul trail – quick information
- Name: Trail to Poço Azul
- Start – Car Park close to Arado Waterfall
- End – Car Park close to Arado Waterfall
- Distance – 9 km (4.5 each way)
- Time required – 3 hours, plus the time you spend at Poço Azul
- Difficulty – easy to moderate
- Max/min altitude: 820/ 710 meters
- Altitude gain: 350 meters
- Type – way, and back, linear
- Signalization (1-5) – 0, it’s unmarked
- Highlights: Poço Azul, Conho River and valley, Arado Waterfall;
About the Poço Azul Trail
To go to Poço Azul, we have to hike this trail, but we can start at three different points as it is possible to do the initial phase by car on the dirt road. Below we explain in detail the three points where to park, at the viewpoint of Rocas, next to the bridge and Cascata do Arado, in the car park after the waterfall.
Starting at Miradouro das Rocas, turn onto the road towards Cascata do Arado. It is about 1 km until you reach the bridge over the Arado river. After the bridge, on the left, some stairs lead to the viewpoint towards the waterfall. If you’re unfamiliar with the waterfall, it’s a detour worth taking.
After the bridge, you can continue straight ahead for about 500 meters until you find a prohibited traffic sign (except for Ermida residents) and a parking lot. This is where our trail really begins. Up to this moment, we can do this part on foot or by car, and the choice is yours.
The trail to Poço Azul starts where you can no longer take the car but follows the same road for almost 2.5 km. Thus, the first part of the trail is still on a dirt road. The first km is quite hard, consistently uphill and with few shadows, while the second km is basically going downhill, and the final part is flatter.
Throughout this route, we must follow the dirt road, passing by the Malhadoura fountain, Curral dos Portos, and the Tribela, until we reach a crossroads next to Casa do Doutor. The intersection is easy to identify as it has a stone with “Tribela” written on it, the walls of Casa do Doutor, and the signs for the PR50 multi-day trail.
At this intersection, we have to turn left, and quickly the dirt road becomes a path for walkers and shepherds. This path is initially flat but then quickly descends to the Conho River, which we have to cross on a wooden bridge and then climb back the valley. The ascent is short but steep.
At the end of the climb, we reach a new road, where we turn left, continue for a few meters (100 to 200 meters) and turn left on a narrow path that will run parallel to the Concho River. This is the trickiest part in orientation, but don’t worry, as it’s quite visible.
Note: If you get to Curral do Pinhó, you’ve walked too far. You have to return for about 50 to 100 meters.
After turning onto the narrower path, we will go straight ahead for a long time. This is the hardest part of the route as, in addition to the long ascent, there are many rocks that require some attention and physical effort. But don’t worry, It’s not particularly difficult or technical – it’s just a mountain path.
This stage of the route lasts about 1.5 km. It is mainly going up, but it also descends a little at the end before reaching the bank of the Conho River. You will have to cross the river through the rocks, as no bridge exists. Then you continue the path on the other side. The trail goes up again, but after about 5 minutes, you reach our destination, the wonderful Poço Azul.
If you’re lucky, or it’s low season, there won’t be many people, and you can make the most of this stunning Gerês lagoon. Stay as long as you want; the return is exactly the same, so you already know exactly what to expect.
In our experience, the trail from Cascata do Arado to Poço Azul takes about 3 hours (round trip), and the way out takes a little longer than the way back.
Best time of year to go to Poço Azul
The best time to go to Poço Azul is clearly the summer when you can dive into its crystal clear waters. However, we suggest that if possible, avoid going in August, or at least the weekends.
Although Poço Azul is a remote place and high in the mountains, it is also one of the best-known lakes in the Peneda-Gerês National Park and one of the most popular among hikers in the summer. So, during high season it is very difficult, or almost impossible, to have the place to yourself.
To make the most of Poço Azul in high season, we suggest you go early to reach it before other hikers. We recommend you arrive before 10 am, which means starting the hike at 8 am / 8:30 am.
If you plan to visit it at any other time, you should not see many people, just a few hikers. Just be aware that although the trail is not at all dangerous or technical, it has rocky parts that can become slippery with rain and humidity.
Is the trail family-friendly?
This is an easy to moderate difficulty trail without technical zones, so anyone with walking or exercise habits can do the route without problems.
The trail is quite undulating, with several ascents and descents, but they are not long. Thus, you can do it with greater or lesser difficulty, with a few stops to take pictures and catch your breath. Even children and older people will be able to trek the trail if they are used to walking regularly.
The most significant difficulty of the trail is the absence of markings because, as we have already mentioned, this is not an official trail. However, if you download the GPS file to your phone and follow our instructions, you won’t have any problems.
What to take?
This is a mountain trail; you won’t find any cafes or bars along the way, not even at the beginning. Therefore, we advise you to take:
- Lots of water (about a 1l per person, more if you want to stay there for the day)
- Snacks – note that there aren’t places to eat along the trail.
- comfortable hiking or running shoes;
- comfortable clothes;
- rain jacket if it’s winter;
- sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen if it’s sunny;
- camera and smartphone, there are plenty of photo opportunities here;
- A daypack to take everything with you;
As always, please do not make any trash. Bring back everything you take with you.
How to go to the trail?
The trail starts after Arado Waterfall, so getting there is relatively easy. As mentioned above, there are three places to begin your walk and park your car. So you can park:
- Next to the Miradouro das Rocas – further away from the beginning of the trail, but it does not require driving on the road;
- Next to the Cascata do Arado – halfway, it means driving around 1 km on the road. Despite having some holes, any car can make the route, as long as you are careful;
- In the car park – last chance to park. From here, it is forbidden to take the car, although the trail begins on a dirt road. If you leave your car here, you save about 2.5 km of walking in total.
All these places are close to each other, and the access to the trail is the same. We start a little further up the trail.
If you have the energy and/or don’t want to put your car on the road, you can start at Miradouro das Rocas. Leave your car in the car park if you want to walk less and/or don’t mind doing a few km on dirt. On busy days, it can be difficult to find a spot in the car park, but you should be able to find a place to park along the road.
The Rocas Viewpoint is about 100km from Porto, which takes 1h45m. To get there, we have to go first to Vilar da Veiga, then turn towards Ermida, and in Ermida, turn to Pedra Bela.
Alternatively, we can go straight from Vilar da Veiga to Vila do Gerês, and at the exit of Vila do Gerês, turn towards Pedra Bela. When we get to Pedra Bela, head towards Ermida. Before reaching the Ermida, we have the Rocas viewpoint.
Once you are at Rocas viewpoint, you can park your car or turn onto the road that leads to the Arado waterfall. When you arrive at Arado, you can park, or continue, to cross the bridge and go a few hundred meters until the final car park.
Where to stay?
The Peneda Gerês National Park has many accommodation options, many relatively close to the beginning of the trail. If you want to know where to stay in Gerês, we suggest you check this article, where we talk about the best areas of the park and our favorite hotels in each of them.
If you are thinking of hiking this trail at the height of summer, it is essential to spend the night close by, so you can start the trail early and avoid crowds. Therefore, we suggest you stay in the village of Gerês as it is the place with the largest accommodation offer. In the village of Gerês, we usually recommend:
- Hotel Lagoa Azul do Gerês – an excellent hotel at attractive prices. Great for families and couples. An Advantage of these rooms is that they have a kitchenette. See more information and prices here.
- Adelaide Hotel – Right in the center of Gerês and therefore a good option for those who have never been to Gerês. Comfortable rooms with TV, AC, and WIFI. It has an outdoor pool and good value for money. See prices here.