Pico Ruivo is the highest point on Madeira Island, reaching 1,862 meters above sea-level. Towering above the ridges and valleys of the rugged island, Pico Ruivo is a great place to watch the sunset and sunrise. While there are many different routes to the Pico Ruivo summit, the easiest and quickest is the Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike, which is just a 6-kilometer round-trip. The route isn’t too steep with just 260-meters of incline for the whole hike and the path is well maintained making it easy to hike in the dark before sunrise or after sunset.
ACHADA DO TEIXEIRA TO PICO RUIVO HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike was 6 kilometers.
Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 1.5 hours of moving time and then of course the time you spend at the summit enjoying the sunrise, sunset, or just the panoramic view!
Hike Difficulty: There are only a couple hundred meters of incline on this out and back trail and the path is very clear and well maintained. It is made of large stones cemented together in traditional Madeira fashion so it’s pretty straightforward walking. It’s well signed and suitable for older hikers, families, and dogs.
Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 260 meters.
HOW TO GET TO THE ACHADA DO TEIXEIRA TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
The Achada do Teixeira route is located on the north/central part of the island of Madeira. You need to drive up and around the center of the island with no direct route from Funchal. This means it takes a little longer than the other side of the valley such as Pico do Arieiro, which can be accessed directly from Funchal. I’ve added the pin location for the Achada do Teixeira trailhead below, which takes about one hour to reach from Funchal.
BEST TIME FOR THE ACHADA DO TEIXEIRA TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
Achada do Teixeira is the perfect, short route to reach Pico Ruivo. The other options are from Encumeada (long), Ilha (long) or Pico do Arieiro (also long). While the other hikes are beautiful and well worth checking out, they aren’t for everyone. The Achada do Teixeira route is just 3-kilometers each way and only a slight, gradual incline for most of the way. It makes it the perfect sunrise and sunset summit due to it’s easy to access.
If you want to view sunrise at Pico Ruivo, then I suggest beginning the hike 1.5 hours before the scheduled sunrise time. That way you can take about 45-minutes to 1 hour to reach the summit and be there for the morning glow before the sun rises.
For the sunset, the idea is the same. Leave about two hours before the sunset time and then you will have nice golden light on the hike up and enjoy the sunset from the summit. You will need a headlamp for the hike back but it is a pretty easy trail to walk on so I found it okay to head back in the dark. Below is a video I took during sunset from Pico Ruivo.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE ACHADA DO TEIXEIRA TO PICO RUIVO HIKE
The drive up to Achada do Teixeira is pretty windy but overall it was a manageable drive with good roads. At the parking lot, there is plenty of space and even a restaurant/cafe called Abrigo da Heidi. You can get a coffee before the hike and they serve some Austrian style food as well as the local favorites.
The hike begins from the far corner of the parking lot next to the big trailhead sign. You can’t miss it. The early parts of the trail are man-made with a cemented/paved path leading you towards Pico Ruivo. Often this area can be completely covered in clouds even if the summit is clear. Therefore, don’t be disheartened if it is cloudy because you have to climb 260-meters, which might mean you are above the clouds and it’s perfect. You can always check the webcam at Pico do Arieiro, which is the next peak over and is only 60-meters lower in height. Often if it is clear, Ruivo is also in pretty good cloud conditions. You can check the live webcam here.
On this day, I knew we were in for some awesome conditions. The clouds were just a hundred meters or so below us and floating around the valleys below us. It felt like we were on top of the world as we continued our way towards Pico Ruivo. The route is very scenic and you have peaks in all directions to observe as you are walking. Even on a cloudy day like this you can still catch lots of peaks but on a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean.
My favorite part of the hike from Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo was the section with the dead trees. They really stand out in contrast to the free-flowing clouds below and the bright green foliage that has renewed the color in the scene. We had some perfect lighting during these moments and I really enjoyed this shot below.
After 2.3 kilometers, you will reach the mountain hut, which is at the base of the Pico Ruivo summit. From there you just have 500-meters of climbing to reach the summit and while it is the steepest part of the trail, it is still quite manageable for most hikers.
The name of the mountain hut is Casa de Abrigo Pico Ruivo, and the sign on the front of the mountain hut said it was constructed in 1939. It now offers basic facilities such as free clean drinking water, toilets, and a functioning bar where you can purchase drinks. By all reports, you cannot sleep in the mountain hut, which was newly re-opened in 2019 although camping nearby is permitted.
Once you reach the mountain hut the summit of Pico Ruivo is within touching distance. Just another 5-10 minutes on the trail, which winds up around the side of Ruivo and eventually leads you up to the mighty summit, which is the highest point on Madeira island at 1,862m above sea-level. The best part about Pico Ruivo is that you have panoramic views, which means you can really get a sense of the island.
At the summit you have a few different viewpoints facing in different directions. On this night, there was no bad place to be. The clouds were going wild, floating through the valleys and pouring down the ridges like fluffy waterfalls. It’s the conditions you dream of and after six attempts to the summit, I finally got lucky with the cloud conditions. These are some shots from the final moments of the sunset as the clouds poured into the valley.
Below you can see a couple of photos of the summit from when I made it to the top on a day without the cloud cover. On this day I did the Pico do Arieiro to Pico Ruivo return hike.
The hike back is 3 kilometers and you will need your headlamp, at least for the last couple of kilometers. Because the path is well defined and there aren’t huge drop-offs, it is safe to do in the dark with a torch or a headlamp. It should take just 45-minutes to get back to the parking lot as you won’t be stopping for pictures or to take in the views in the dark. That is how you get to the highest peak on Madeira with the least effort possible!
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruivo hike on Madeira Island. Happy hiking and good luck with the clouds.