At 3 km long and around 2.5 km wide, ‘Lagoa de Fogo’ is one of the largest bodies of water in all nine islands in the Azores archipelago. The lake is located in the heart of the island of Sao Miguel, where it rests in the central caldera of the Água de Pau Massif, which is the youngest volcano on the island. Formed more than 15,000 years ago, the last recorded eruption of the Água de Pau Massif occurred back in the 1500s and has remained dormant ever since.
This is a popular spot for the experienced hiker to visit and explore the 11km trail that takes you to some of the most beautiful and breathtaking locations on the island, at an altitude of 300 feet overlooking the town of Vila Franca. The exotic vegetation, both native and endemic to the island, is quite remarkable, and you really can tell the importance of preservation for such a unique region. You can see many endemic species to the area, including many birds who enjoy using the dense forests and freshwater ravines as there base.
Today, the stunning lake is protected by the Portuguese government, which bans construction from unfolding around the lake to keep this historical volcanic lake untouched and pristine. On the island of São Miguel, it is possible to sport fish in some lakes, lagoons, and streams, particularly in Lagoa do Fogo.
The rainbow trout or Oncorhynchus mykiss is the species preferred by fishermen. It was introduced in the Azores more than 100 years ago. Its presence in Lagoa do Fogo is guaranteed by the periodic repopulation of stocks that have been raised or farmed in the nurseries administered by the Regional Directorate for Forest Resources. This entity, responsible for the management of fish species and for the regulation of fishing activities, oversees the annual production of approximately 15,000 rainbow trouts on the island of São Miguel, destined exclusively for the repopulation of the lakes, lagoons, and streams found on the island.
The fishing season of the Oncorhynchus mykiss at Lagoa do Fogo begins in May and ends in October. To guarantee that the ecological necessities of the species are assured and their habitats protected, there are rules concerning fishing in the lakes, lagoons, and streams, namely: where you can fish, periods in which fishing is suspended to enable replenishing stocks, minimum sizes of fishes, the maximum number of fishes to be captured, what kinds of baits and fishing practices can be used.
To find this trail take regional road 1-1 on the southern side of the island. In an area near the beach, you will see a bridge in the middle of a curve and a cemented road (Rua Caminho do Lugar da Praia) that ascends steeply. Walk up this road of 1,3 km, and you will find a fork and an information panel indicating the beginning of the trail. The hike takes on average 4 hours to complete the full 11kms, and it is one of the best scenic trails on the island. This is a nature reserve for the region, so you are sure to have a truly authentic experience. The night time has become increasingly popular for stargazers to come to this peaceful locale to observe the unobstructed night sky from such a serene spot.