The PR9 MTR – Poços Verdes do Sobroso Trail is a circular trail with 10.5 km that crosses Gerês and takes us to the most beautiful places in the Peneda National Park-Gerês, taking us to Poços Verdes do Sobroso (Sobroso Green lakes), also known as the 7 Lagoas do Xertelo (Xertelo seven lagoons), Poços Verdes do Cabril and Lagoas das Lages dos Infernos.
The seven lakes of Xertelo are one of the most spectacular destinations of Peneda-Gerês National Park. That’s why we always find many people on the Poços Verdes do Sobroso Trail (PR9 MTR), but especially near the lakes (which are well over seven).
We love this route. The famous green lakes are naturally the trail’s highlight, but there are many other points of interest and overall extraordinary natural beauty. So let’s take a closer look at all that the PR9 MTR – Poços Verdes do Sobroso trail has to offer us.
Sobroso Green Lakes Trail information
- Name: Poços Verdes do Sobroso
- Start: Xertelo Village
- End: Xertelo Village
- Distance: About 10k
- Time required: 4 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
- Max/min altitude: meters
- Altitude gain: meters
- Type: circular
- Signalization (1-5) – 5, perfect
- Highlights: Seven Lagoons, Vila Nova Cascades, Cubo Vertical, Wolf trap (Fojo do Lobo)
Poços Verdes do Sobroso Trail
It is a fantastic trail. Initially, we didn’t expect the route to be so beautiful; we thought it was a way to go to the seven lagoons. However, we were clearly mistaken; the entire route has excellent points of interest and stunning landscapes. Of course, the lagoons are incredible and the highlight of the trail. On the other hand, which trek wouldn’t have these lagoons as the highlight?
The PR9 MTR is a circular trail, with over 10 km and moderate difficulty, primarily due to the section by the right bank of the river and the river crossing. It is excellently signposted, so you don’t need to use a GPS to follow it. However, we always advise you to download the route if something unforeseen happens and you get lost.
The trail is well-marked in both directions, but we hiked it counterclockwise. This direction is especially recommended if you are unsure whether you want to complete the course or only go to the seven lagoons, as it is the shortest and easiest way to go there.
The Sobroso green lakes trail starts and ends in the village of Xertelo, next to the Seven Lagoons bar. There is a sign indicating the beginning of the route with trail data and some helpful information. As the whole trail is on Gerês Mountains, this is the only easy access point to it.
When entering Xertelo, you will easily find the signs to follow the trail. There are two options: take a right and take the short and easy version of 4.5km to the seven lagoons or turn left and start with the longer (and much more difficult) part with 5.5km. Since this is a circular trail, when you reach the seven lagoons, you should return on the other path. Here, we will describe the route as we did – counterclockwise – going the easy way and returning on the hard.
From Xertelo to Sobroso lakes
Start by going into the village, first right to the center of the village and then turn left, starting a challenging 600/700-meter climb. Initially inside the village, but quickly you will leave it as it’s tiny. Eventually, you’ll arrive at one of Xertelo’s main points of interest, the Vertical Cube – a vertical water mill, where the water comes from a canal and falls into the mill, making it rotate and grind.
After the vertical cube, we continue to climb a bit more to a viewpoint where you can see the Xertelo’s traditional wolf trap – Fojo do Lobo. It is an excellent place to admire this ancient monument that was very important for people to protect themselves and hunt the beast. It’s also a good opportunity to gain some breath as we’re already leaving the village and the path is getting flatter. Not even 1 km is gone, and the most challenging part of reaching the seven lagoons is already gone.
Now we will follow a Levada for some time, entering the deep mountain. But the path is surprisingly flat, rising very slightly for almost 3 km. It is a beautiful area with incredible views of the Cabril valley, and Surreira do Meio-Dia. We pass by the source of Travassos, and at the end of this part, we come to a road.
We have to turn left/down on the road, and now we will descend for about 2km. Less than 1km later, we find the cascades of Vila Nova and Ribeiro do Pinhedo dam. The waterfalls are behind the small dam, and both are perfectly visible from the road. In summer, it is natural that they have little or no water.
Continuing along the road for 1.5km, we reach the highlight of this trail and the main reason for this walk, the Sabroso lakes. This is an excellent opportunity for a well-deserved rest, to dive in. and, of course, take some pictures. We usually spend an hour or two here, exploring the lakes and the falls in between. Despite the name, there are well over seven lakes and waterfalls.
From Sobroso lakes to Xertelo
If you’re satisfied, you can return through the same path, but if you want to finish the PR9 MTR trail, you need to continue straight ahead and cross the river at the dam nearby. From there, we have to climb a lot for about 500 meters until we cross the Corga das Quebradas. In summer, there will be little or no water, but it may be problematic or even impossible to cross it at other times.
From this point in, the trail tends to descend, with some slight ups in the middle. You’ll pass close to a bear trap (out of the way, but it’s indicated), and eventually, you’ll reach a relatively dangerous part. There is no sign indicating, but you will quickly notice it, as the path is very steep and rocky, where caution is needed. Proceed for a few meters, and ultimately, the track returns to normal.
After this more technical area, the path continues descending, becoming increasingly steep until we reach the Ribeira de Cabril. Once there, you have to cross it by jumping on the rocks. In summer, it is easy because the river has little flow, but in winter or after rains, it can be challenging and even impossible.
After crossing the stream, you will start a long climb with some undulating parts. We are still 3 km from Xertelo, and we will pass by several viewpoints, from where you can see Poio da Cabra and the Cabril gorge. It is a place of unusual beauty and another of the highlights of the trail. Unfortunately, it is also one of the last areas of interest on this hike.
From there, it’s always uphill, and there are no significant points of interest. The final climb is the hardest of the entire trail, and with the accumulated fatigue of walking 10km, it gets even worse. Right at the end, and already in Xertelo’s entrance, we can closely appreciate the wolf trap we saw initially. And with that, we are just a few meters from this journey’s starting and ending point.
How to go to 7 Lagoas do Xertelo
The seven lakes of Xertelo are one of the highlights of Gerês, making them one of the most popular and sought-after destinations in the Park. However, access is quite limited, and there are only two ways to go to the lakes, and they are part of the PR9-MTR Poços Verdes do Sobroso trail:
- If you want the easiest way, you should take the shortest route mentioned above (4.5 km relatively flat and without technical difficulties);
- If you want a bigger adventure, you can always take the longer and more adventurous path (5.5 km, steeper and with several technical zones);
Technically it is possible to reach the Sobroso lakes by road on a 4WD vehicle. Still, the National Park does not allow this option, as it is not authorized to travel on these unpaved roads without authorization. So there is no legal alternative to going to the Sobroso pools for those who do not have the mobility or strength to walk the above routes. In addition to being costly due to fines, you will be breaking park rules. It’s up to you, but it’s not an option we suggest.
Best time to do the green pools of Sobroso Trail
This is a summer trail or at least a for when it’s sunny, and it hasn’t rained for some time. The most obvious reason is that only on hot days can you take full advantage of the lagoons and cascades – by swimming and diving in those wonderful waters. Note that even when the weather is hot, the water is freezing.
The other and most important reason is that the second part of the route follows some rather dangerous paths, especially when it’s wet. Around km 7, there is a section of craggy rocks that is highly dangerous to cross with high humidity, rain, or worse, ice. Finally, crossing the Cabril river is fun in summer, but it should be utterly impossible in winter due to the river’s flow and the absence of a bridge.
We must also mention that this route has few shadows due to the absence of forest cover. So, if it’s too hot, consider going only to the lakes through the most straightforward route and leaving the complete trail for a colder day. Or, take lots of water.
Is the trail family-friendly?
Overall this trek requires some physical effort and stamina, mainly on the second part. Between Xertelo and the seven lagoons, it is relatively easy and accessible to almost anyone, as long as they have some strength and agility. It is not recommended for older adults or small children who are not used to trails.
Doing the entire route is a little more complicated, and we strongly advise against it being done with children and elderly people. In addition to being more difficult, it is also more dangerous due to the steep areas and bare rocks.
In any case, if you are at least used to hiking, you will be able to finish the trail comfortably. It just may not be an easy ride, but it’s well worth it.
What to take to Poços Verdes do Sobroso Trail?
This is a mountain trail, and it will have to be recognized as such. Despite being very popular because it gives easy access to the green pools of Sobroso, the complete route turns out to be tough, and there is no support infrastructure after the seven lagoons bar in Xertelo. So you have to take everything you need with you. We advise you to take:
- Lots of water (about 2l per person)
- 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?
Access to the trail is straightforward. You will have to go to the village of Xertelo in the parish of Cabril and to go there you’ll need a car. When you arrive at Xertelo, you will find a car park on the right-hand side and seven lagoons bar on the left-hand side. Parking costs 2 Euros in the private car park or, if you can find a spot on the roadside, it’s free.
Please note that it is not possible to enter Xertelo with your car; access is only allowed for residents. The start of the trail is right next to the prohibited traffic sign, where there is also an information panel.
From Porto to Xertelo, it takes almost 2 hours, while from Braga it is roughly 1 hour 10 minutes and Montalegre is only 45 minutes away.
Where to stay when hiking Poços Verdes do Sobroso Trail?
There aren’t many accommodation options in Xertelo, but one of our favorite hotels in the Gerês regions is in the vicinity – the Hotel Rural Misarela, which, as the name implies, is very close to the Misarela Bridge.
So our suggestion is to stay at the excellent Hotel Rural da Misarela, and in addition to going to the seven lagoons, take advantage of its privileged location to visit the legendary Misarela bridge. You can also hike the Misarela Bridge trail if you have one more day, which is equally beautiful. In addition to being very comfortable and offering stunning views, the hotel also has a pleasant swimming pool that will feel like heaven after a day of hiking. See here photos and other comments.
If the Hotel Rural da Misarela is not available or is a little expensive, the Hostel Retiro do Gerês in Fafião is another excellent option and usually at very affordable prices. It also has a swimming pool and stunning views. Check more information here.
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