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The Lagos da Madeira is a circular hiking route in Rabacal that takes you to Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall and several other falls in the region. After tracking up and down the Ribeira do Lajeado the final attraction on the loop is the massive man-made reservoir.



  • Hike Distance: The total distance of the Lagos da Madeira hiking trail was an 8.7-kilometer circular route.
  • Hike Duration: The hike can be completed in about 3 hours depending on how long you relax and enjoy the waterfalls you find along the way.
  • Hike Difficulty: This trail was lacking some maintenance and was often very wild with thorny bushes crowding the trail. Long pants and sleeves will help you avoid lots of scratches. I think it is less popular than the other trails in Rabacal so the lack of traffic means the bushes have the opportunity to grow onto the trail and make it difficult for the hikers who do visit. There were no moments of danger on this popular route although slippery rocks near the pools and waterfall can be a hazard for some hikers. The trail is easy to navigate but not very smooth with a bumpy, rocky ride making it easy to make a false step. As always take care, hike slowly and you will be fine on this one!
  • Hike Incline: 160 meters.
  • My hiking guide: I did this hike with a local guide (also a great friend) called João. He’s lived in Madeira his whole life and knows all of the unique trails (not just the popular ones). This trail requires some local knowledge of the directions so I recommend a guide. Want to contact João to be your guide for this hike or any of the hikes I’ve done on Madeira? You can contact him on Instagram here: João Let’s Hike or by email: [email protected]


The trailhead for the Lagos da Madeira hike is actually at a bit of a busy spot. This is because the trailhead shares the same parking lot as the very popular 25 Fontes Waterfall Hike and several other trails in the Rabacal Valley region.

I have pinned the Google Map location for the parking lot and trailhead below. If you get there early in the morning you will have no problem getting a park but if you arrive at midday, you can expect a crowd and a busy parking lot.

The trail starts at the lower end of the parking lot and veers to the small trail on the right, not down the main driveway. Keep in mind this trail goes above the 25 Fontes waterfall hike so don’t get complacent and follow the crowd down the paved road.


a couple of people sitting in the trunk of a car.

When you book your Madeira Rental Car online, I personally recommend and always use Discover Cars. They search for both local and international companies, so you get the best deal! MUST Read: Guide to Renting a Car on Madeira


It’s always a great feeling to be the first and only car in the parking lot. This has never been more true than up at Rabacal where the parking lot overflows by midday as hundreds venture out onto the plethora of incredible trails in the region. 

The trail begins at the lower end of the parking lot but doesn’t follow the downhill, paved driveway. Instead, it veers right (still on the left-hand side of the main road) and seemingly into the bushes as you latch onto the levada, which will now guide the way. Expect a bit of a bumpy ride with plenty of stray rocks ready to trip you up if your mind strays too far from your footwork. Besides the trail, you can find lots of wildflowers and forest ferns.

Luckily, we avoided any mishaps on the trail as we bounded our way towards the waterfall with unbridled, early-morning enthusiasm. The trail winds up above the 25 Fontes route as it sends you deeper into the forest. My favorite part in the early moments of the trail was this very steep section of the levada that almost looked like a waterslide.

This trail is actually a continuation of the Levada do Alecrim hike, so all the way up until you reach Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall (final point of Levada do Alecrim), you are actually on the Levada do Alecrim trail. That trail goes out to the main waterfall and follows the same way back. The Lagos da Madeira route continues on alongside the Ribeira do Lajeado (Lajeado River) and comes back on the other side in a circular fashion. This means you don’t have to retrace your steps and hike back on the same path you came in on.

You will reach a red and yellow sign pointing you to continue on to Levada do Alecrim as you always keep the levada on your right. After a little more than three kilometers, you will reach the Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall area, which is where there are a number of beautiful waterfalls and natural pools. They seem to cascade all the way down the river, which eventually feeds into Lagoa do Vento.

You can actually do a canyoneering course all the way up these waterfalls because you can see the hooks drilled into the rocks for the ropes. Take care if you wander down to explore the pools as the slipper rocks are very, very good at catching people out for a fall.

Just a little further on from the first pools and you will reach the famous Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall, which pours into a circular pool at its base. I found this waterfall to be one of the prettiest on Madeira although not the biggest by any means. I was interested to see if it could be cliff-jumped but with dark murky waters, I wasn’t sure what type of rocks, logs, and debris were hiding below the surface. We sat here and had our morning snacks while taking in the waterfall.

If you continue on a little further, you can visit the top of Lagoa Dona Beja waterfall for a different perspective from the location.

At this point, you now continue on past the Levada do Alecrim trail and it’s officially the Lagos da Madeira trail outright. Coincidentally, this is where the trail begins to get a bit wild, thorny, and a little bit uncomfortable. While the blackberry bushes are incredibly annoying and will leave hundreds of scratches on you, they also provide an early breakfast with some tasty berries. We found some bushes loaded with berries right next to these little cascading falls.

The trail continues to be pretty wet and wild and we were now saturated from the wet bushes brushing into our clothes and we all had some bloody scratches on our legs. Stoke was high though.

At the halfway point of the trail, we reached a bit of a plateau before crossing over the Ribeira do Lajeado. Luckily the other side of the river had a much more defined levada system so we were in the clear from the thorns and prickly bushes.

Once you are on the other side of the river, the trail is much more straightforward but there is one main attraction. A little waterfall is tucked away on the left-hand side. Be sure to stop in there as it is a little oasis that can easily be missed.

The final stop on the Lagos da Madeira trail is the man-made reservoir. The reality is that it is interesting to see but not very beautiful. From the drone, it looked quite cool but at ground level, it was behind construction fences with trucks driving by. It definitely wasn’t the highlight of the trail but interesting nonetheless.

I combined this route with the Lagoa do Vento hike. Once you reach back to the meeting part where you found the red and yellow signs pointing to Levada do Alecrim, you can now visit Lagoa do Vento instead of heading straight back. Here is a look at what you can experience on that route if you choose to add it to your itinerary.

I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Lagos da Madeira hike in Rabacal, Madeira.


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!


Throughout my six months on Madeira Island, I stayed in multiple accommodations. My favorite regions to stay in were Funchal and Canico de Baixo. I’ve created several guides to help you find the right region for you and a great hotel or apartment.

an aerial view of a pool and a beach.


I spent six months exploring Madeira and the nearby island of Porto Santo. These are some of my most popular guides about the region that you may be interested in.