The trail of the Misarela Bridge – PR5 MTR is one of the most popular in Northern Portugal and the Gerês region in particular. However, it takes place outside the National Park, and the Misarela bridge itself is less than 1 km from the Park’s border. Originally this trail was called “Entre Cávado e Rabagão” (between Cávado and Rabagão), as it is the area between the rivers Cávado and Rabagão, in the municipality of Montalegre.
Undoubtedly the main reason for the popularity of this trail is the Misarela bridge, also called The Devil’s Bridge. This medieval bridge crosses the Rabagão river, next to a waterfall creating a fabulous setting. In summer, it is possible to dive in the wells next to the bridge, while in the rainy season, it is possible to appreciate the splendor of the falls. In addition to the natural setting where Misarela Bridge is located, it is a place of legends and history.
This trail is already a few years old, and maybe that’s why some signalization is already lacking. Below we will describe the complete trail, but we advise you to take GPS or map, as, without it, it will be difficult not to get lost in the desired route. Let’s explore the PR5 Montalegre – Ponte de Misarela.
Misarela Bridge trail – General Information
- Name: PR5 MTR – Between Cavado and Rabagão
- Start – Sidrós, near the park
- End – Sidrós, near the park
- Distance – about 12 km
- Time required – 4 hours
- Difficulty – moderate
- Max/min altitude: 653/300 meters
- Altitude gain: 353 meters
- Type – circular
- Signalization (1-5) – 2
- Bicycle: No
- Highlights: Misarela Bridge, Misarela falls, Medieval road
- You can download the official map here (in Portuguese)
Misarela Bridge trail
Misarela Bridge Trail – PR5 MTR is a circular route, so theoretically, you can start at any point that will return to that place at the end of the trail. However, the starting point of the brochure and the place where everyone starts the walk is in Sidrós (Vila Nova, Ferral parish, Montalegre), next to the playground and the excellent Hotel da Misarela. Here there is a small car park where you can leave your car and an information panel about the trail and the bridge.
To start the trail, you must descend on the main road for about 50 meters and then turn left on a cobbled road. From here, we have some trail markings and signs to the Bridge. It is over a km to the bridge, first through the village, but you quickly enter the Roman footway and begin the descent to Misarela.
Also called Devil’s Bridge (as it’s supposedly created by the Devil), Misarela is a magnificent medieval work with a span of 13 meters and a considerable height. In addition to the bridge, we have a beautiful waterfall just a few meters away. During the rainy months, the waterfall has a big flow and becomes quite impressive. This is the high point of the trail, so spend some time exploring the area’s beauty before continuing.
To continue the official route, we have to go back and start a long climb. However, we suggest that you leave this route for a bit and continue on the same path after the bridge for about 500 meters to one km, as it is a beautiful ancient road along the escarpments of the Rabagão River.
Returning to the route, we now have a long climb ahead, initially on the same route to Misarela, but then we will have to follow a small trail up the hill. From the moment we leave the path to the devil’s bridge, signaling gets worse until we reach a section where we basically have no indications. Without GPS, it will not be easy to follow the right route.
The climb is long and lasts about 4 km, with some steep sections. The initial part is almost always on a dirt trail, and after about 1.5km, we have a small detour to go to the Moorish table. Again, it is not well signed; if you are not following the GPS, you will probably miss it. At the “Mesa dos Mouros”, the view over the Rabagão valley is spectacular.
After enjoying the view, we continue to climb until we reach the main road, and then continue to climb until we reach a new dirt road with a gate. This is the least beautiful, worst-marked piece of the trial, and to make things worse, it has several closed gates. The general idea is to continue climbing until we reach Ferral, the highest point on the route. So if you want to go through the main road to avoid the gates, you can. When arriving at Ferral, we have to continue until we reach the main road again, and after a few hundreds of meters, we turn left and start a long descent.
From Ferral onwards, we have more signs again, and interestingly it is clear that many are new. It isn’t easy to understand why the same hasn’t been done for the rest of the route. Anyway, the descent is much more beautiful than the ascent; at the beginning, we walk along agricultural paths until we reach the village of Viveiro, where we pass through the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Abadia.
After Viveiro, we continue descending by entering a densely forested area with oaks. Somewhere in the middle of the descent, we found another small detour (this one marked) to Penedo das Pegadas. Please note that the slope detour to Penedo das Pegadas is perhaps the most dangerous part of the route, as it is tight, and you can slip if it is wet.
Right after the Penedo das Pegadas, the landscape changes again, as we leave the forest area definitively and into a medieval path with stunning landscapes towards the Cávado River, and the Geres and Barroso mountains. In our opinion, this is the most beautiful part of the route, after Misarela, obviously.
Finally, we arrive at Vila Nova, go back onto the main road, then cross the village through its old streets, and a few hundred meters later, we arrive at Sidrós and the park. This final part of the course is much better indicated; it is not perfect, but it is enough to follow the trail.
Best time to do the trail
In our opinion, the best time of the year to hike this trail is unquestionably the Spring. There are already mild temperatures in this season, but it is not hot enough to be unpleasant. But more importantly, the rivers usually have some flow, making the landscape even more beautiful and the waterfall impressive. Finally, in spring everything is very green, which is always an advantage.
It is possible to hike this trail in the Summer, but there a few caveats. Despite having many shadows along the trail, it has some long periods in the sun, which in summer can be problematic. On the other hand, the only area where it is possible to go to the water is right next to the bridge, on the Rabagão river. Thus, one ends up not taking much advantage of the high Summer temperatures. Furthermore, if you are looking for a natural pool or waterfall, there are better options in the National Park.
Is the trail family-friendly?
This is a relatively long trail (12km) and with very few flat bits. To complete it, it will take about 4 to 5 hours. So, although not difficult technically, it is for people who are used to walking for at least a few hours. So, it isn’t really the best family-friendly trail, though it’s suitable for a couple or an adventure family with teens. We strongly advise against doing it with young children or the elderly. In the “how to go section” we mention an easier alternative to visiting the bridge.
On a positive note, you don’t have to hike the whole trail, you can simply go to the bridge and back. It is about 3km (round trip), and so it is accessible to many more people.
Is it possible to go to Ponte da Misarela without hiking the trail?
It is not possible to go to the bridge without taking a walk. It has no access for cars or even 4×4. However, it is not necessary to hike the whole trail to go to Ponte do Diabo. To do this, simply start the trail towards Misarela (just over 1 km) and then go back.
There is another alternative that does not even involve making this trail, which is to access the Bridge from the side of Ruivães, from the CM1397 road. Just before reaching the bridge over the River Cávado, it has a car park and an information panel. From there it is easy to get to the Bridge because besides being a relatively short hike, it is also a much more flat route. Finally, it is a very beautiful route on an ancient road along the river escarpments. If you have mobility limitations or travel with children, it is a much easier option.
What to take to Misarela?
This is not a particularly technical trail, but knowing that it should take about 4 hours to do so we advise you to take:
- Plenty of water (at least 1l per person, 2 if it is in the summer);
- Snacks and lunch to have a picnic in nature;
- Comfortable walking shoes; It is possible to wear sneakers, but it is preferable to do it with hiking boots. We strongly advise against flip-flops.
- comfortable clothing;
- Rain jacket in winter, as the weather changes quickly here;
- Swimwear, sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen in summer;
- Camera and mobile phone, as there are many opportunities to take beautiful pictures. Mobile phone also to be used as GPS, this track has parts that are very necessary.
- Small backpack to carry all of this;
As always, please do not make any trash. Bring back everything you take with you.
How to go to the trail?
The beginning of the trail is easy to identify. Besides being well signed, it is next to the Hotel da Misarela and the village’s playground. The park and the bridge are also signposted on the road that passes through Sidrós.
To get to the beginning of the trail, we have to take the N103 road from Braga that goes towards Gerês, go to Salamonde, and then Ruivães. In Ruivães we turn to CM1397 towards Cávado River. Note that before arriving at Cávado we have a sign for the Misarela bridge, but this is the access to the other side of the bridge. It is beautiful as mentioned above but not part of the route. Nevertheless, you can always start and finish there.
After crossing the Cávado turn right to CM1021 and continue for about a km, then cross the Cávado again, and the road starts climbing. From here we are in Vila Nova and in a short time the Hotel da Misarela and the playgroud will appear.
Where to stay?
If you want to stay close to Misarela, the best accommodation option is quite obvious, and we have already mentioned it several times, Hotel Rural da Misarela. It is an excellent hotel, very comfortable, with an outdoor pool and restaurant. See more information here.
Otherwise, you can stay in one of the beautiful villages in Gerês or in Montalegre. See the map with more options below:
If you like hiking have a look at some of our favorite hikes in Portugal: