The trail starts next to the São Romão main church (“Igreja Matriz”), in the center of Alferce, and for about 3.5 kms goes together with Connection 10 of the GR13 – Via Algarviana, that heads in the opposite direction to the recommended one.
The trail heads northwards, crossing various agricultural fields and a beautiful cork-oak forest, goes down a long descent until it reaches the National Road (EN) 267. It turns right and follows the road for 50 m, and then turns left into a riverside valley where there is a small group of houses, on the right, which quickly falls behind. The trail follows a beautiful forest path, always close to the Monchique stream. It is an easy route, slightly downhill, parallel to the northern bank of the river. However, it will soon be necessary to cross this watercourse. If the water level is high, you will have to get your feet wet.
The trail now follows a narrow path, often used by forest owners, keeping alongside the river and the dense riverside woodland. Alongside this watercourse, ash trees (Franxinus angustifoliaı), willows (Salix alba) and alder trees (Alnus glutinosa) abound.
Here the two routes diverge: Connection 10 goes straight ahead and PR8 MCQ turns left. Now the trail begins a long zigzag climb to the farm fields adjacent to the village of Umbria. Once again we arrive at a traditional agricultural site, with small vegetable gardens dotting the mountain landscape. The route goes through the narrow streets of the village and starts to climb up to EN 254, where it turns right and, after 50 m, turns left.
The climb is now made using an old medieval track, parts of the pavement being still cobbled, which the elders claim was once the main route between Monchique and Alferce. It is a very beautiful trail that runs through dense woods of quercine trees, in which there is an abundance of cork oaks (Quercus suber), strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo), heather (Erica sp.), rockroses (Cistus sp.), laurestine (Viburnum tinus), undergrowth of gall oaks (Quercus lusitanica), ferns and many other plants. Birds are also abundant, with a strong presence of creepers, tits, woodpeckers and warblers.
From Monte da Serra, the trail continues to Alto de Baixo, with its traditional agricultural fields along an ancient path flanked by a wall of syenite rock - in Portugal, it exists only in Serra de Monchique. On this beautiful trail, it is possible to find several slabs of syenite, which show how special the geology of this region is.
At the entrance to Alto de Baixo, the route turns left and joins, up to Alferce, the PR9 MCQ – Between the Valley and the Castle and Connection 11 of GR13 - Via Algarviana in the opposite direction to the recommended one. From there it goes down and at the crossroads turns left until it reaches the Municipal Road (EM) 1073, where it turns right until you reach
Throughout the trail, you can mainly observe the geological aspects associated with the Monchique massif, namely the nepheline syenite, hydrological erosion phenomena, water sources and examples of the use and application of local rocks.
The village is surrounded by dense woods of cork oaks. In these woods, we can also see the Portuguese oak (Quercus faginea), low thickets gall oak (Quercus lusitanica), mixed with chestnut trees (Castanea sativa), strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo), heather (Erica sp.) and laurestine (Viburnum tinus). Toward Alferce, on the EN 267, you can see a magnificent specimen of Algerian oak (Quercus canariensis), a species considered rare in Portugal and which is part of the Monumental Trees Route. This 25 m-high specimen (last measurement in 2006) is estimated to be approximately 150 years old. In the adjacent valleys, the riverside vegetation is particularly splendid, with dense woods of alder (Alnus glutinosa) and ash (Fraxinus angustifolia), interspersed with silver poplars (Populus sp.) and shrubs such as oleander (Nerium oleander), elmleaf blackberry (Rubus ulmifolius) or Italian buckthorn (Rammhus alaternus).
The rich vegetation, the abundance of water and the geographical situation make this place a small oasis of animal life, with special emphasis on the diversity of birds. As regards birds of prey, it is worth noting the rare and discreet occurrence of the Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata), the common buzzard (Buteo buteo) and, in spring, the short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus). Among the summer migrants, it is worth mentioning several warblers, such as the Iberian chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus) (2) or the melodious warbler (Hippolais polyglotta) and others such as the common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), the Eurasian golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus) or the common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus). Among the resident species, note should be taken of the numerous forest birds, such as the robin redbreast (Erithacus rubecula), the Eurasian nuthatch (Sitta europaea), the European crested tit (Laphophales cristatus), the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius) or the Eurasian sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus). On the edges of woods, agricultural fields and scrubland areas, the presence of the Sardinian warbler (Sylvia melanocephala), the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius), the rock bunting (Emberiza cia) and the cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus) stands out.
More information: Vamus Algarve