We found this trail listed under two different names – Pedra do Galo and Discovering the Forest (Lilac Trail). Located in the hills behind the charming village of Barão de São Jão, finding the parking lot can be a lot of fun as well. At the western end of the village you follow the signs for the Centro Cultural and wind your way through a series of very narrow two way streets. There are a series of 4 mirrors to allow you to see if any vehicles are coming the other way as you cannot squeeze two cars through the narrow lanes.
The trail is located within a National Forest (Mata Nacional) from which timber for shipbuilding was supplied during the Age of Discovery. There is also a well known local picnic site Parque de Merenda. Apparently there is also a Paleolithic menhir (standing stone) in the area called Pedra do Galo but we were never able to find it.
You will find a large parking lot overlooking the village across from the Centro Cultural and there is a map of the trail at the starting point. Some lovely engravings sit aside the road and give you a little hint of what you can expect.
The 1st km is along a well used dirt road to the parking lot at a picnic area. The road winds through many eucalyptus trees and we spotted several bird species along this section. It was a bit busy and dusty so you could easily drive to the park, leave your car there and do a 4 km walk through the wooded portion of the path.
The next stage of the trail follows a small dirt road on the hillsides with a small brook and eucalyptus trees lining it. In the background on this day we could hear the fairly loud whooshing of the several windmills that are in the immediate vicinity which at times sounded like an airplane landing. There were many older growth trees in this area as well.
After about 1 km you emerge into an area of newer plantings of pine with a few olive trees, strawberry trees and many small bushes with which we were unfamiliar. The open areas were perfect for the many bright and varied wild flowers.
Emerging onto a dirt road at the highest point of elevation, we were dwarfed by the huge windmills. It was in this area of heavy pine plantings and windmills that we saw the greatest diversity of birds including our first crested tit and rock bunting. The roads lead gradually downhill until you pass close to the picnic area and rejoin the original uphill dirt road.
The total distance for this hike was 7.5 km and including a short picnic lunch we spent about 3 hours on this diverse and pleasant trail.