PR 12 - Encumeada Royal Path
This trail begins at the Boca da Corrida belvedere and runs along elevations between 1340 and 940 metres, crossing part of the Central Mountainous Massif along the foot of the highest peaks of the island of Madeira.
It is an old Royal Path that was paved and served as one of the main routes for the movement of persons on the island. It was used by landed gentry on horseback whose wives reclined in hammocks carried by men. There are references to a grocery store that existed somewhere along this path that was likely a trading post in an area where travellers passed by as they crossed the island.
In the landscape that unfolds before you, you will be able to see Curral das Freiras in the valley below. In 1566, this small village surrounded by enormous mountains in the heart of the island became a refuge for nuns from the Santa Clara Convent, who brought with them the treasures of the convent when pirates attacked Funchal.
The waterways that cut through the mountains along this trail sustain the vegetation made up of Laurisilva species that abound here: the laurel (Laurus azorica), the Madeira mahogany (Persea indica), centuries-old Madeira laurels (Ocotea foetens), and Lily-of-the-Valley trees (Argyranthemum pinnatifidum).
Along this trail you may catch sight of some of the indigenous bird species such as the firecrest (Rugulus ignicapillus maderensis), the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs maderensis), the buzzard (Buteo buteo harterti), kestrel (Falco tinnunculus canariensis), the Madeira long-toed pigeon (Columba trocaz), or the grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea schmitzi).
As you go around Pico Grande, the settlement of Serra dÁgua and Encumeada will come into sight, as well as the large pipelines that carry water from the reservoir to run the Serra dÁgua Hydroelectric Plant, indicating that you are reaching the end of the trail at Boca da Encumeada.
Carry sufficient drinking water.