Hiking the Algarve – Percurso do Lagoão


São Marcos da Serra

Aptly named the Percurso do Lagoão trail, (roughly translated “the course of the lagoon”) follows the floodplain of the Ribeira da Odelouca near the small hill town of São Marcos da Serra. Located in the northern portion of the Algarve this trail will introduce you to a rural side of living as well as a mix of natural habitats.

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Shepherds are a common sight in many rural areas

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Ruins and old walls abound

Just off of the IC1, the start of the trail is easy to locate near the futebol pitch and fire station and there is ample parking. We walked the trail in early April and encountered no other hikers along the entire 10 km distance.


A common sight throughout the Algarve

You begin following the small river and will encounter a mixture of riparian habitats as well as mixed plantings on the hillside. Throughout the entire area were cork oaks which are actively harvested. The dirt road is open and affords great views across the river valley and to the hills beyond. We heard several birds in this area but they were mostly hidden in the thick vegetation along the banks of the river.

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What species was that?


A cork oak that has been stripped

We reached a crossing point in the river which the guide mentioned may be impassable during periods of heavy rain. The water level was just over the concrete roadway across the river so we had no problem and really enjoyed this area and delighted in the sound of water running and the play of the sunlight on the surface.


March brought 4x the usual rainfall in Portugal


Small multipurpose farms are common in this area


A small reservoir


Spring is wonderful with wild flowers everywhere

There are many modest homes and farms on this walk and we exchanged friendly greetings with the few people we encountered. These were not prosperous farms by any extent and it seemed from the mixture of activities that people made a living from a  variety of sources. Mixed livestock, geese, small plantings and orchards, and cork oak harvest would contribute to income of the families living here. Not surprisingly we saw no younger people and it is likely that the way of life has not changed much in the past 50 years or more.


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A pastoral scene in the hills

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Cork drying on the hillsides

As we have seen more and more of rural Algarve by foot we are really beginning to appreciate the different perspective this mode of travel provides. You absorb so much more of the natural surroundings as well as the way of life that is slowly disappearing. It also provides plenty of time for introspection.


Pines are common throughout the Algarve


No shepherd with this flock


I wonder what is around the next corner?


There were several small olive groves along this section

Leaving the hills behind the trail begins to wind its way back towards São Marco da Serra through more farmland and past small vineyards. In this open area we saw several species of birds feeding on insects and seeds. As always the people we encountered had time for a friendly wave and greeting.


The vines were just starting to show their leaves


A stretch along the highway looking back towards the hills we walked through


Entering São Marcos da Serra

This is a circular trail which brings you through the town and back across the river. These small towns feel quite different than the coastal towns. There is relatively no English spoken, no billboards, no tourist cafes just local pastelarias, shops and small squares with mostly older residents.


No fanfare as you enter town


Enjoying the warmth of the April sun

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Nearing the end of the trail you recross the river

This is a great trail to explore the rural side of the Algarve and apart from the occasional traffic noise from the nearby IC1 it is easy to peel away the years and enjoy the laid back understated beauty and ambiance of the Algarve hills.

About Tim & Anne Hall

We sold almost all of our belongings and left our home in Nova Scotia in April 2016 to experience as much of the world as we could. We spent over a year slow traveling in Latin America and Europe, and are now living happily in the Portuguese Algarve, Portimao to be specific. We are gradually chnging the focus of our site to feature images of Portugal. Stay tuned - its a work in progress.
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4 Responses to Hiking the Algarve – Percurso do Lagoão

  1. Joe says:

    I love the way you guys are getting off the beaten track and exploring rural Portugal. The pastoral scenery appears so bucolic and timeless. We had a marvelous (but much too short) visit to Lagos this past week. The weather was so great that we spent most of our time relaxing on the beach. We did rent a car for a day and explored Fortaleza de Sagres, Cabo de São Vicente, and Praia Da Bordeira. Of course, like all of the other tourists, we also took the boat trip into the fascinating grottos. We really enjoyed our short stay, and hope to return for a full month in the not-too-distant future.

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      Hi Joe. Glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit to Lagos. We must have missed that great weather as most of the spring has been quite cloudy and even since we’ve been back the wind has been cool. It sounds as if you had a good introduction to the area – hopefully the next time you’re here we will get a chance to meet. Take care, Tim & Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great photos and the wildflowers are so lovely. When you walk or drive through the rural countryside, it’s easy to picture yourself stepping back decades to a (seemingly?) simpler time. I enjoyed this walk with you two! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    • timannehall says:

      We really enjoyed this walk in particular. It took us to some back roads and through an area that we never would have found otherwise. The extended “spring” was cool but perfect for hiking.


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