The Levada dos Cedros hike follows a levada through one of the most beautiful forest sections on Madeira until you finally reach an incredible waterfall! This shady, forest hike winds through lush greenery for 6-kilometers before you will discover a multi-tiered waterfall for a refreshing dip.
LEVADA DOS CEDROS WATERFALL HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 11.5km out and back (return trip) OR 11km if you do a circular loop passing through Fanal forest instead of going out and back along the Levada. I’ll discuss both options later in the blog post.
Hike Duration: The hike can be completed in about 3-4 hours depending on how long you relax and enjoy the waterfall at the halfway point.
Hike Difficulty: The trail is fairly straightforward with no moments of danger. You have safety railing whenever there is a drop-off. The path is always following the levada so the route is clear but often the trail is rocky or muddy but nothing to worry about. If you take the return route via Fanal, you will have to endure 400m of an incline up the steep stairs. I’ll discuss the options of the return route later in the blog post.
Hike Incline: 400 meters if you return via Fanal. 100 meters if you do an out and back to the waterfall following Levada dos Cedros only.
HOW TO GET TO LEVADA DOS CEDROS
The trailhead is in a bit of an interesting area because as you drive down the road looking for the starting point, there are so many other hiking trailheads. The hike is in the northwestern corner of Madeira and is about a one-hour drive from Funchal, which is 48 kilometers away. There is parking right near the trailhead on the side of the road.
I suggest combining this hike with sunrise at Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela rock formations, which as what we did. Another option is to first watch the sunrise and have a swim at Seixal Beach or Seixal Natural Pools. before the hike. Finally, after the hike, you might want to relax at the nearby Porto Moniz Natural Swimming Pools. Just some suggestions of nearby things to do on while you are in the north-west region of Madeira.
I’ve attached a map with the exact pin of the starting point below and there is a very clear sign at the trailhead so if you follow those you will be set.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE LEVADA DOS CEDROS WATERFALL HIKE
After an epic morning down at Ilheus da Ribeira da Janela rock formations, we ventured back inland to get out onto the trails. The route I planned to take was the PR14 Levada dos Cedra to Fanal route, which is an 11.5km circular route. I ended up following through with the route but would probably recommend people to do an out and back from the parking lot rather than looping through Fanal. While Fanal is a nice spot to visit, combining it with the Levada dos Cedros meant we had to walk on the road for almost 3-kilometers. That was the official route of the Madeira Map. If you just simply go along the Levada dos Cedros, reach the waterfall and then return the same way you will be in nature the whole way. You can easily stop off for a look at the Fanal forest after the hike as well.
There is a handy little parking lot next to the side of the road right before the trailhead so we gathered our things, found the white PR14 sign with the map, and headed off into the shade of the forest-trail.
One of the great parts about this trail was how shady it was. This can be incredibly helpful on a hot Madeira day. It can be scorching and hard to hike when the sun is in full force but this trail is really cool even during the middle of the day when we hiked.
Like many levada trails on Madeira, this one began slowly. However, as we hiked further and further into the forest the scenery became increasingly impressive. Branches intertwined with disregard for which tree they actually belonged to as they hung over the trail creating a tunnel for the curious hikers. Lush greens burst through the undergrowth with tropical plants lining the sides of the rugged path. There was always something to marvel at along the Levada dos Cedros waterfall hike.
There are two main points of interest on this trail. The first one comes after about four kilometers of hiking and is a viewpoint, which looks out over the valley to the mountain ridges in the distance. During golden hour this is a beautiful spot to see the light filter in.
The second main point of interest and the highlight of the trail comes at the halfway point of the route. You will reach a small canyon, where the river seems to flow down from. A well-worn but rugged and rocky trail leads you up to several small waterfalls.
We had a quick look at this smaller waterfall and cascade but realized there must be something bigger and better around the corner.
Our intuition led us to an incredible multi-tiered waterfall that was nestled amongst unruly vines, moss, and tropical trees. It was a magical oasis amidst the thick forest and I definitely took advantage of this by having a refreshing dip underneath the waterfall. On a sunny day when the light filters into this incredible little spot, it’s another world and truly one of my favorite spots on Madeira.
At this point, you have a couple of options. You can return the same way you came, which will mean enjoying the forest scenery beside the levada. The other option is to head up the stairs at the sign that says ‘Fanal’. This is the official map route on the Madeira App for the Levada dos Cedros to Fanal Hike. This route leads you up an aggressive section of well-maintained but very steep stairs. In this section of the hike, it became incredibly humid and the air was so hot and thick it made the stairs even harder.
When you finally reach the top of the stairs you will walk along the road for a kilometer until you turn off and do a scenic route through the Fanal area, which is famous for its moody trees and foggy scenes. You will then re-emerge onto the road and have to walk a few kilometers on the road back to the car. There is no footpath and nothing to look at so it felt a bit weird doing ‘hiking’ on the road as part of an official hike, which is why I recommend this hike as an out and back rather than adding Fanal into the loop. We had fun, either way, that’s just a tip for those looking for the best possible experience.
ADVENTURE BAG FROM THE LEVADA DOS CEDROS HIKE
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 Levada dos Cedros hike on Madeira Island.