Levada dos Cedros PR14 hike key facts
Before setting of for the Levada dos Cedros hike below some key facts!
Hike distance and duration: The total distance of the hike back and forth is about 12 kilometres with several points of interest along the way. Depending on the time you spend at the waterfalls, how often you take a break etc, you can do the Levada dos Cedros hike in about 3 – 4 hours.
Difficulty and incline: This hike is very flat if you take the same route back along the levada. But there is another option in which you include Fanal forest on your way back although you have to include 400 meters of incline on well maintained stairs. You can choose which one fits your program! We did the route via Fanal forest which was beautiful, but also heavy with the 400 meters of stairs. I wouldn’t really recommend this route, because you have to walk over the road for a long time. So you can better choose to do the out and back route on the same levada path.
How to get to the Levada dos Cedros hike
The Levada dos Cedros trail begins at the Regional Highway E.R. 209 on the Paúl da Serra plateau close to the well-known area of Fanal forest. You can park your car on the side of the road at one of the parking lots. Make sure to have made the decision beforehand if you are doing the circular route via Fanal or going out and back on the same route via the Levada dos Cedros. Because if you have access to two vehicles, you can park one at the end of the walk to make the return journey a bit quicker. Otherwise you have to walk along the road back to the car for some kilometres. But you can also call a local taxi agency or try hitchhiking back to your car!
You can easily combine the hike of Levada dos Cedros with sunrise at Seixal Beach, Ilheus da Janela rocks or a visit to the Porto Moniz natural swimming pools. They are all in the near area and when combining these things you’ll have a nice itinerary for a day in north west Madeira!
About Levada dos Cedros
Levada dos Cedros is one of the oldest watercourses built on the island, originated in the 17th century. During the Levada dos Cedros walk you will pass through the area of Madeira’s primitive forest until it reaches the parish of Ribeira da Janela. The beautiful Laurisilva forest is classified as World Nature Heritage by UNESCO in 1999 and is in a vibrant state of conservation and development. Mostly all the levada walks in Madeira and its surrounding forest are in great condition with well maintained paths which makes the levada walks in Madeira very enjoyable for all ages.
Best time to do the Levada dos Cedros hike
The whole way until the waterfalls of Levada dos Cedros, you walk in the forest with trees covering the path. This means that on a sunny hot day you will have enough shade of the hot sunshine. We did the Levada dos Cedros hike twice, once on a sunny day and once on a rainy, foggy day. Both give a completely different vibe, but we found the path less comfortable to walk on with the rainy weather. The levada seems to overflow quickly onto the path at some part which makes the hike more like a game of avoiding the puddles of water. So the best time to do the Levada dos Cedros is definitely on a dry, sunny day!
What to expect on the Levada dos Cedros hike
The Levada dos Cedros hike takes you on a unique and fascinating walk through the Laurissilva forest. This UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in the northwest part of the island and begins in Fanal. The trail follows the twisting and turning levada path until you reach the end point with a few waterfalls.
The whole hike is flat on a well maintained levada path. But only if you decide to add the walk with Fanal forest to the Levada dos Cedros hike, you have to conquer about 1180 steps up to get to the main road again. I would advice you to do the Levada dos Cedros hike out and back on the same route, because the part with the stairs and through Final forest doesn’t add that much as you walk along the road for a long part. You can easily visit the Fanal forest after, or before, the Levada dos Cedros hike and park your car right next to the entrance.
My face after taking all the stairs at the middle of the day…
The main points of interest
Back to the Levada dos Cedros hike. Just like all the levada walks in Madeira, this one also has a clear sign with a map next to the entrance. The whole path is straight forward and you can’t get lost on this levada walk.
There are three main points of interest on the Levada dos Cedros trail. The first one comes after about 4 kilometres into the hike and is a viewpoint. Here you can take some rest and eat your lunch or a snack with an incredible view on the valley around you. Here we sat down for about 10 minutes to enjoy the view before we continued the hike.
The second point of interest comes about halfway of the route. A stunning jungle bamboo bridge appears to let you continue the hike when crossing this little canyon. Here the levada path gets a bit narrower and you really have the feeling as if you’re in Madeira’s jungle.
The last point of interest is when you reach the end point of the trail where all the waterfalls can be found. First you will see this waterfall flowing down the rocks which is nice. But with every waterfall, there is a source! Or at least the option of more waterfalls around…
So we went exploring and found another, even bigger, waterfall nestled deeper in the jungle! This stunning multi-tiered waterfall was a huge surprise and was our playground for the next 30 minutes or so. The sunlight was peeking through the trees and gave us some beautiful light to take pictures and admire the incredible surroundings of this place.
Things to do near Levada dos Cedros
If you’re looking for a good combination of things to do in the north western tip of Madeira island, then below a summary of our other suggestions which you can combine on one day.
Watch sunrise at Seixal beach
You can start your day perfectly with a beautiful sunrise at Seixal beach. If you’re a morning person of course! Maybe you even decide to stay longer at Seixal after the sunrise because this beach just has the most incredible backdrop of green mountains and high cliffs. The black sand beach is a fun place to spend some time. In the far distance you can see the Bride Veil waterfall flowing into the ocean. Watching the sunrise at Seixal is a great way to start the day and get ready for the Levada dos Cedros hike!
Read everything about Seixal beach in this complete guide
Relax at the Porto Moniz natural swimming pools
Before, but maybe even better after the Levada dos Cedros hike it is a great idea to relax at the Porto Moniz swimming pools. These natural lava rock pools have the salty ocean water in them and are a great place to relax after a hike or during a day off. There are actually two areas of the natural pools. One is paid with lots of facilities and the other one is for free but with less infrastructure.
Read here everything about the Porto Moniz natural swimming pools
Stop at the viewpoint of Porto Moniz, Miradouro Santinha
If you’re coming via the ER101 road, you will pass the Miradouro Santinha which is a great viewpoint over Porto Moniz. From here you can see the beautiful coastal town with the natural pools and the little island in front of the natural pools.
Watch sunset at Ponta da Ladeira
This sunset viewpoint is one of our favorite in Madeira! And it’s very closely located to Porto Moniz. This beautiful coastal view along the high towering cliffs is must see if you’re close by. We were lucky to be here on an evening that the sky really popped with colors. It was breathtaking and we kept shooting!
Read here everything about Ponta da Ladeira viewpoint
What is a Levada?
If you’re coming to Madeira for the first time, you might question what the word ‘Levada’ actually means. This word is used a lot to specify the different Madeira hiking trails. But what is the origin of these Levadas and what is their purpose?
Levadas are little canals of water that wind through the mountains and translates as “carriageway”. These water canals are irrigation systems developed to distribute water from the wetter regions on the north of Madeira to the drier and sunnier areas of the south where lots of plantations are located. The levadas cover a total distance of about 2500 kilometer from the heart of the Laurissilva forest to the most rocky slopes.
The origin of the levadas dates back to the 15th century. The first levadas where then created to provide water to irrigate the sugarcane plantations. Back then sugar was also known as the “white gold” because it was considered as the main engine of Madeira’s economy in the 15th & 16th century. The narrow water canals have ever since the important task to deliver water along far distances. Mainly to banana plantations, vineyards, fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, as well as to hydro-electric power stations on the island.
But nowadays, the levadas are also a great way to discover Madeira’s stunning nature with landscapes and species of flora and fauna that are unique in the world.