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PRC1 Gruta do Natal e Mistérios Negros

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Serra de Santa Bárbara e dos Mistérios Negros

PRC1 Gruta do Natal e Mistérios Negros is a 3.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Praia da Vitória, Azores, Portugal that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options.

Distance: 3.2 miles Elevation Gain: 501 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

scramble

The trail begins and ends where the Grotto known the Christmas Cave is located, next to Lagoa do Negro, and it takes around 2h 30m. The trail begins on a beaten earth track that ends at a wooden gate. After the gate it continues through meadowland until you come to a second wooden gate and after that you continue along a narrow path. Heather (Calluna vulgaris), tall growing heather (Juniperus brevifolia), running along the edge of the Vale Fundo lake. Along the way you will get a fork in the path where the right to short detour leads you to a different view of the lake. Return to the fork in the path and go straight ahead through an area rich in native plant species such as juniper, Azores blueberry (Vaccinium cylindraceum), laurel (Laurus sp.), Portuguese laurel (Viburnum tinus), holly (Ilex perado), Cape myrtle (Myrsine retusa) among others. Going through this area you will come upon the "Dark Mysteries", three domes formed from recent lava deposits still bare of plant cover. The trail goes between two of these 'mysteries' over very rough ground that requires careful walking. Once through this area, the track becomes easier and it soon leads into another narrow path that goes through the wood of Japanese cedar. Once clear of the wood, the trail takes you through meadowland and ends at the tarred road where you turn left and after about 100 m you will have Pico Gaspar on your right. Climb up and take a look at its crater rich in species found only in this location. Then return down Pico Gaspar and, continuing along the road for about 100 m, turn left and walk through the pastureland that comes to an end in Christmas Grotto. The course begins and finishes at the place where the Gruta do Natal is located, next to the Lagoa do Negro, and lasts about 2h30. The trail begins on a dirt road that ends at a gate, after which you enter a pasture and, following always ahead you will find a second wooden gate and only then you will enter a standing path. This path runs through a forest of cryptomeria, queiró (Caluna vulgaris), heath (Erica azorica) and cedar-jungle (Juniperus brevifolia), passing by the bank of the lagoon of Vale Fundo. Continuing the route, you will find a fork in which, turning to your right, you will enter a small detour that allows you to see the same lagoon from another perspective. Returning to the fork, and continuing straight ahead, the route continues through an area rich in endemic vegetation, such as cedar-mato, serra (Vaccinium cylindraceum), laurel (Laurus sp.), Leafy (Viburnum tinus ), holly (Ilex perado), tamujo (Myrsine retusa), among others. Passing this area you will find the "Black Mysteries", three domes formed by accumulations of recent lavas that are not yet provided with vegetation. The route passes between two of these mysteries through a very irregular floor that requires some care. After crossing this area, you will enter a dirt road, more accessible, which will take you soon after to a new path that crosses a forest of criptomérias. After crossing the forest, the trail follows a pasture zone and ends on a tar road where you should turn left and after about 100m you will find on your right the Gaspar Peak that you can climb to observe its crater rich in endemisms. Then you must descend Gaspar Peak and, continuing on the road, about 100m afterwards, you should turn left following along a pasture that ends in the Christmas Grotto.

hiking
muddy
rocky
4 months ago

Moderate difficulty mostly in the section just past half way. Not a dog walking trail, unless you have a very experienced trail dog. the lava rock section is very difficult for any others. Given that it rains pretty frequently here, expect lots of mud and slick roots. The scenery is beautiful.

running
muddy
rocky
4 months ago

Percorri o trilho na sua maioria em corrida para treino. Algumas zonas é mesmo impossível devido às rochas. Tem algumas raízes o que o torna um bocadinho perigoso em dia de chuva mas é um trilho muito bonito e técnico. Ótimo para uma caminhada de fim de semana.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful short circular walk through the centre of the island, with beautiful views of the landscape

hiking
10 months ago

Sehr sehr schöne, aber zwischendrin auch anspruchsvolle Wanderung. Verwunschene Wälder, rote Zedernwälder, Kraxeln über Lavafelsen. Sehr ungewöhnlich für die Azoren ist, dass es zwischendrin (also auf halber Strecke, wenn man tendenziell Pause machen möchte) keine richtige Picknickmöglichkeit (Bank o.ä.) gibt. Aber das ist nur eine Kleinigkeit und platztechnisch auch etwas schwierig umzusetzen.

hiking
11 months ago

What an adventure!! I loved the challenges the middle of this hike offered; the last stretch was dull but the exciting terrain made up for it. It took my husband I forever to complete the trail; we couldn’t stop looking at all the beautiful plants and rocks!

Thu Jun 06 2019

Es ist alles geschrieben. Einfach loswandern!

hiking
blowdown
muddy
off trail
rocky
Fri May 03 2019

This was probably the wildest track I’ve ever been to. Such an exciting hiking full of climbing, we felt like we were in the middle of a jungle. The day we chose to go was windy, foggy and it was raining (so not the best weather), but it didn’t ruin our experience at all, after all it’s Mistérios Negros! I highly recommend it!

hiking
Fri Feb 15 2019

We had read reviews stating this trail level was anywhere from easy to difficult. I would rate it moderate. It was however muddy and slow going in sections. Not sure if it same during summer but definitely in winter there were many sections trying to find non muddy steps. The trail is well marked and offers a lot of diversity. The beginning is a casual stroll on a dirt road that is well maintained. There are green posts along the way marking certain spots. The green number two post at the end of the road marks the beginning of the thinner trail through nature. You pass by 3 ponds or so that are small but lovely in the first section. There is also a 20 meter off shoot to a fourth pond that is also small but quaint. We liked this section except logs being lates along the trail to step on to avoid mud. They were annoying with the tree roots everywhere, and made a casual stroll where you could look around focusing into a careful stepping foot watching experience. Still.. we really did enjoy this section. I can’t remember if it was number 3 or 4 green post but the next section is the forest section. Lots of moss and ferns. It is pretty. Just watch you head and pack since the trees are short and there are head level branches over trail. Then I believe at green post 5 it changes from a hobbit forest to more a lava rock scramble up and around a small lava hill. This was not difficult scrambling and only had to use my hands in a few sections but it is still climbing up lava rocks in a rich forest like environment. It reminded me of hiking on Kauai in Hawaii at points. When you finish the scramble you reach a flat dirt trail. This is where I propose an alternate plan to the loop! I would turn around and go back next time. See all the awesome sections in reverse to experience the trail from a different vantage point. And here is why... The rest of the loop was either a flat boring dirt trail, walking the paved road (the end), or the worst part which was a muddy forest trail along private property fence lines that just offered nothing but mud in my opinion that took way to long to get through. There you have it :) 4 stars for the first parts and less for the second “half” but if we had turned back a four star hike to me.

Mon Jan 21 2019

A great hike to get you away from the coast. It feels like you're walking through Jurassic Park. With beautiful vegetation and moss covered trees contrasting the black lava rock, you feel like you're walking through another world. Leave the sandals at home.

Sat Jan 19 2019

Did this on December 18, weather was very foggy, but that didn't spoil a thing, maybe even enhanced the experience. Forest was magical with trees and patches of ground covered with mossy carpeting. Few beautiful small ponds with their water still and reflecting all shades of green, yellow and brown vegetation. Black vulcanic rocks contrasting the green and yellow transitioned to an incredibly beautiful forest of tall trees. This trail is like a kaleidoscope of colorful gems. Hiking boots highly recommended (lots of roots, mud). No trekking polls needed. Definitely moderate difficulty in places, but most is easy. Enjoy!

hiking
Wed Dec 19 2018

Well marked, no waterfall but there are a couple ponds. Good challenging climb through the woods, over some trees and around the black volcanic rocks.

hiking
Wed Sep 26 2018

Magical trail ! ( I don’t remember seeing a waterfall ?) We did it in 3 hours with a 9 months old baby in a backpack carrier. ( we had to stop to feed him) You definitely need to be fit - as there is some climbing involved halfway - and you have to go through a very dense laurisilva forest (30 min) which is the most mystical part. Trail shoes are necessary as it is slippery. Enjoy !

Tue Sep 04 2018

Wonderful hike even though midway I would rate this as moderately difficult climbing over the lava rocks. the forest is definitely mystical and leprechauns could have certainly made this their home! It rained but we still loved the hike!!

hiking
Mon Jun 09 2014

Hiked this route back in June of 2014 and LOVED it. Most of the trail is an easy enough track that goes through pretty green countryside, but the rocky section in the middle was very challenging. We underestimated the rocky section, but still really like this trail.

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

hiking
Mon Jul 01 2019

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Sun May 26 2019

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Tue Feb 26 2019

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Tue Jan 29 2019

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Sun Jan 27 2019

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