The Pico da Roda hike is a very adventurous, alternative path in Nun’s Valley with incredible views of the tallest peaks on the island of Madeira. The short but very steep course takes you up from the valley onto the ridge to find several unique rock formations such as Pico da Roda before descending along an overgrown trail back into the valley.
PICO DA RODA HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of my hike was 6 kilometers for the loop trail.
Hike Duration: The hike duration was 4.5 hours but only 2.5 hours of moving time. We had to clear many sections of the path so it was slow-going and there are a few technical parts. The downhill back to the valley is very steep and slippery so it is a slow section.
Hike Difficulty: This hike is one I would list as moderately difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly the incline is 602 meters, which is a pretty steep journey over just 6 kilometers. Secondly, the terrain is a mixture of rocky stairs, muddy tracks, and slippery descents. You are often on a very narrow path with a high level of exposure to a big drop below. You have to be prepared for it all. There are multiple moments of exposure and scrambling.
Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 602 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 for 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@example.com
The Pico da Roda hike begins deep within Nun’s Valley basically at the final part of the road there is a parking lot. You can find that on my map link above but because this route is very dependent on local knowledge, there isn’t a possibility to name every turn for you. I did this hike with Madeira Lés a Lés, which is a hiking group that does off-the-beaten-path adventures every Saturday. They led the way on this alternative loop hike in Nun’s Valley. The map below shows the approximate starting point.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE PICO DA RODA HIKE
The Pico da Roda hike is one of the shorter treks I’ve done on Madeira Island but it was steep and action-packed. I like to call this type of hike, ‘Bang for your buck’. You get incredible views, and great trail action without a long arduous journey.
The trek begins out of the neighborhood in the depths of Nun’s Valley, also known as Curral das Freiras. Winding through a few small farms and some curious rock dwellings, we made our way to the base of the climb.
The trail was thick, prickly, and overgrown as we scrambled our way up the ravine. Rockfall was a constant threat and a few small rocks tumbled down from the front members of the group as those at the back ducked and dodged. It’s the dangerous part about hiking on Madeira but something to always be aware of.
After the initial climb up the ravine, we emerged to look out over Nun’s Valley. The sun had just broke over the top peaks of the island to paint the valley with a blanket of golden light.
From this point on the trail careered along the side of the ridge. Often at times it was very narrow and there was a large drop-off although usually with an angled rock below not a direct drop. With constant views of Nun’s Valley, it was hard to keep my eyes focused on the path in front of me even though it required maximum concentration.
A final lookout over the valley provided a spectacular Lion King moment before the trail zig-zagged up through the rocky mountain and dropped us on the back-side of the ridge again.
Up on top of the ridge-line we not only found several unique rock formations but a great place for lunch. We had been blessed with sunny skies so we enjoyed a beautiful picnic while looking out over Nun’s Valley.
The descent now began as we passed underneath the incredible Pico da Roda. The unique part about this rock formation is that from directly in front it seems like a big hill or a mountain with serious depth. However, from the side it is evidently quite narrow, almost like the fin of a fish.
The final descent now begins with a rocky scramble, which leads into a direct drop-down into the valley. We pass by one huge tree, which can actually be spotted all the way from the other side of the valley. It is a good marker to know where the descent passes.
The trail dropped us all the way down to the stream at the base of the ridge, which we followed back to the parking lot where we began. Overall, this was an incredibly scenic trail with many parts that got the heart beating quite fast as we navigated the narrow trails of Nun’s Valley. I hope you enjoyed this guide about Pico da Roda!
HAVE YOU READ MY OTHER MADEIRA BLOGS?
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.
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Throughout my six months on Madeira, 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.