PR2SMA starts at the forest road in Pico Alto and goes through Barreiro da Faneca and the Cré Bay, before ending at Anjos. It begins on a tarmac road that climbs up to Pico Alto (591m), the highest peak of Santa Maria; this peak constitutes an excellent viewpoint from which one can see the island all around, and even the neighbouring island of São Miguel, in days of good visibility.
After visiting the Pico Alto viewpoint, turn back and follow the footpath in front of the viewpoint steps. This path goes downhill, initially along a cryptomeria forest, and will take you to a place called Chã de João Tomé.
In it you will be able to observe some of the plants which typically compose the Laurissilva forest: the “pau-branco”, the green heather, the mountain blueberry, the Cape myrtle and the laurel, among others. After approximately 2km you will reach a couple of abandoned houses that once belonged to the local Forest Services; from here on the trail goes along a dirt road that leads to the regional road, where you should turn left at the crossing.
Following the regional road, and after about 100m, you will meet a road, to your right, which you must follow. Continue straight ahead for 800m and turn right again, then proceed until you find the signs that will indicate you to turn left to the Barreiro da Faneca, a unique ecosystem in the whole Azores, composed of a reddish-coloured clayey soil.
Upon reaching this Barreiro da Faneca feature, also known as the “Azorean Red Desert”, you must contour it by the left; you will come to a very small inhabited zone, with just a few houses, and here you must turn right towards the Cré Bay.
In this part of the trail the landscape changes completely, showing only low bushes and scrub, where cactuses, fire trees, orange pittosporum and myrtles prevail.
The path then proceeds between the Ribeira do Lemos to your left and the Cré Bay to your right. A little further down you should take a short deviation to the right, in order to visit an old whale lookout from where you can see Anjos, the Ponta dos Frades, the Cré Bay and the Lagoinhas Islet. Once you have visited the lookout, return to the main path, which now follows along a small water line until reaching the creek called Ribeira do Lemos. Carefully cross the creek and take the trail that will lead you to the tarmac road.
At this point, if you feel tired, you may opt to turn right and descend directly to Anjos. Otherwise, follow the signs and turn left to a dirt road that will meander among the pastures, for about 2km, before reaching the final destination.
Along the pastures, hikers are kindly requested to carefully close all gates, to prevent livestock from escaping their enclosures. Once reaching Anjos, there is still the possibility to turn left along the coast and visit the Santana Cave.
This trail goes through areas of considerable dryness and therefore, in very hot days, it is advisable to drink a sufficient amount of water – get a good water supply before starting the walk.
Two reserved areas are crossed during this trail: the North Coast Protected Landscape of Regional Interest and the Anjos Bay Natural Reserve. It is our common responsibility to contribute to their protection, as well as to ensure their biodiversity through conservation of the natural habitat.