The Bica da Cana Pinaculo hike is one of the less popular trails on Madeira Island but it offers some incredible views. After enjoying the Bica da Cana viewpoint with scenes of the cloud-filled valley below and views out to Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro, you can then head off on the 4.7km loop trail. The hike takes you to the base of the Pinnacle, a striking rock formation that most people admire from the ground but I decided to free-climb the pinnacle to the top.
BICA DA CANA PINACHULO HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 4.5km out and back (return trip). It is a loop trail with a bit of a tail that takes you to the pinnacle.
Hike Duration: The 4.5km round-trip will take you about 1.5 hours in total as the terrain is a bit rocky and can be slippery at times.
Hike Difficulty: This trail is quite easy as it is only 150m of incline and there are no real moments of danger. However, make sure to wear long pants as the rogue, thorny bushes are overgrown and are very painful when they continuously scrape your legs.
Hike Incline: 150 meters of incline (not including summiting the pinnacle)
HOW TO GET TO BICA DA CANA PINACHULO HIKE TRAILHEAD
Bica da Cana Pinaculo hike trailhead is located in Canhas parish village of Ponta do Sol, which is basically in the center of Madeira Island. The exact location of the parking lot is pinned on the map below. The parking lot only fits a few cars, but it isn’t the most popular trail. Before you start the hike you might want to walk for five minutes along the dirt track to the Bica da Cana viewpoint. We watched the sunrise at the viewpoint and then walked back to the car and started the hike. This is a great sunrise spot if you are staying in Calheta like I was, as it is just a 20-minute drive from the town so you don’t have a long journey early in the morning to other viewpoints like Pico Ruivo or Pico do Arieiro.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE BICA DA CANA PINACULO HIKE
The trail begins directly from the parking lot where you fill find the trailhead sign. Head off down the dirt path and you will become immediately immersed in the dense shrubbery and forest that flows over onto the trail. You’ll be passing nearby the wind turbines, which make for an interesting backdrop to the photos in the early parts of the trail
The trail is well marked out on the online maps but the signs on the trail don’t actually reference Bica da Cana. That’s just something to be aware of. It’s pretty straightforward and we followed the red and yellow sign labeled Lombo do Mouro, which led us to the Pinnacle.
The trail itself isn’t quite as smooth as many of the well-maintained levadas you will encounter on Madeira Island. However, aside from a few muddy and rocky sections, the route is quite easy to navigate on the way to the pinnacle. The overgrown nature of the trail ends up creating an adventurous atmosphere with wildflowers, butterflies, bees, lizards and ferns all part of the experience.
The trail follows the levada as it winds along the edge of the cliff. Every now and again the trees clear away and you have views into the valley below where the sea of clouds continue to create an incredible scene.
There’s a fun little section on this trail where you actually have to rush underneath a couple of waterfalls that pour over the edge of the cliff onto the trail below. You don’t get too wet but maybe during the rainy season they are flowing a bit harder and you might need a dry bag, rain jacket or backpack cover. We were okay just hiding our cameras under our shirts.
After a few kilometers, you will reach the base of the pinnacle. This is the halfway point of the hike and a great spot to grab a snack and a drink while sitting on the benches provided. However, I saw an overgrown trail that led to the pinnacle rock formation and decided to explore it. This is what I do.
The trail led to the cliff wall of the pinnacle and then that was it. It didn’t go around the sides. It was up or nothing. I decided to go up a few meters and see if I could continue. I did that twice and then I just went for it, hoping I would continue to find good footholds and handgrips as I climbed my way up the wall. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t an experienced climber. The rocks were a little loose in parts and there was no defined route. I even found old ropes and carabiners tied to trees but the ropes looked like they had been cut years ago.
After about twenty minutes, I managed to see some sunlight from deep in the trees and realized I was close to the summit. Near the top, trees and bushes made it easier to climb up off the wall and I eventually stepped foot on top of the pinnacle. The views were beyond worth it. I had front row seats to the heart of Madeira Island.
After you finish up at the base of the pinnacle, the trail heads back in the same direction. However, about halfway back, the map takes you on a different route returning to the parking lot. It was nice to see a different section of trail but it was very overgrown and the thorny bushes of Madeira attacked our legs relentlessly. I’m not sure if this trail is lacking some maintenance or it’s just not frequented often but definitely bring pants if you want to head back that way.
BICA DA CANA VIEWPOINT FOR SUNRISE
Most people who are doing the Bica da Cana hike will also visit the viewpoint. Therefore, I have added my photos and experience from the viewpoint for your reference. For this viewpoint, I think it is a great idea to arrive forty minutes before the scheduled sunrise and then you have a 10-minute walk. That way, you will be at the viewpoint thirty minutes before the sun actually rises and can enjoy the pre-sunrise sky show if you are lucky.
When we arrived at the viewpoint, we already knew we were going to have an epic morning. On the drive, as we passed the huge wind turbines, we could see the thick layer of clouds in the valley below. The sky was also starting to glow with the edges of the clouds tinged with orange, promising to ignite within minutes.
The viewpoint was very easy to find and we just followed the path straight from the parking lot. When we arrived, we found a small bench with seats and a nice viewing platform. The viewpoint actually looks out towards the east of the island. This means you look directly towards the famous Pico Ruivo, which is the highest point on Madeira Island. Next to that, you can see the weather station (giant ball) of Pico do Arieiro. Both of those peaks are incredible sunrise spots in their own right.
Despite the giant peaks in the backdrop, it’s what is right in front of you that becomes the focal point. If you have the right conditions, a sea of clouds will fill the valley below. The elegant white mass slowly pours down into the lower valleys towards the east, creating an incredible waterfall of clouds. It’s beyond magical and something so unique to witness. I found myself taking in the landscape and thinking to myself, where else in the world could you see something just like this?
The sun finally crept over the peaks in the distance and began to light up the scene. For sunrise, you will have quite black cliffs and peaks as the light is coming from directly behind them. However, at sunset, the roles are reversed and while you won’t see the sun actually set, the cliffs will be glowing golden. I like the sunrise here though as it’s pretty epic to watch the sunburst over the biggest peaks on the island. If you wait an hour or so, the ridges and mountain faces begin to light up enough to offer some definition to those on the Bica da Cana viewpoint.
I actually blazed my own trail down to some of the rocks below the viewpoint. I don’t recommend this at all because the bushes are so sharp I had quite a few cuts. However, I did end up with the best seat in the house where I had unobstructed views down into the valley from my own private rock!
ADVENTURE BAG FROM BICA DA CANA
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike, or the beach. Adventure hard!
Tag your Adventure Bag on Instagram and mention @adventurebagcrew in your Instagram stories and we will repost your Adventure Bag photo to help inspire your friends, family, and followers to join the movement!
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Bica da Cana Pinaculo hike to the ominous pinnacle on Madeira Island.