Hiking trail recommended route

PR 1 AGN - Benfeita Schist trail - The freshness of waterfalls

· 4 reviews · Hiking trail · Open
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Aldeias do Xisto Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Fraga da Pena waterfall
    Fraga da Pena waterfall
    Photo: Aldeias do Xisto, Aldeias do Xisto
m 700 600 500 400 300 200 10 8 6 4 2 km Quinta da … Spa
Circular route that begins and ends in the Aldeia do Xisto of Benfeita, passing through trails of rare, natural beauty and by fantastic waterfalls.
Distance 10.3 km
5:00 h
576 m
576 m
598 m
299 m
This Schist trail is a circular route that starts and ends in the village of Benfeita. It follows farm tracks along irrigation canals and across steep terrain, which means there are great waterfalls along the way. After Sardal, the route drops down towards the cliffs of Pena taking narrow but clearly defined paths and carries on to Pardieiros over a trail of exceptional natural beauty. This section of the route follows the Institute of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNB) route, but has its own sign posts. To return to Benfeita the route follows the Mata stream, through farmlands still cultivated today.

Author’s recommendation

Admire the stunning view over the valley at the top of the rocky ridge. Climb down to Fraga da Pena and discover an area with impressive waterfalls.

Book your stay, experience or meal at Book in Xisto.


Responsible Trails Criteria:

(last audit by RT at May 2020)


Direcional signing - 4- it has all the needed marks and signs to navigate without support

Path conditions - 3- Some degradation that can increase the difficulty of the trail.

General conservation (enviroment) - 4- There aren’t any specific degraded areas identified.

Head boards and aditional signs - 3- Reasonably maintained and with interest

Other boards informations - n.a.

Safety structures - 4- Well-maintained essential structures

Interaction with local comunitiy - 4- Encourages integration / contacts with the community

Landscape integration - 5- Perfectly integrated into the landscape, exploring relevant points of interest

General Safety - 4- Has occasional low-risk situations

Profile picture of Aldeias do Xisto
Aldeias do Xisto
Update: January 27, 2023
Highest point
598 m
Lowest point
299 m
Best time of year

Track types

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Rest stops

Benfeita River Beach
Casa do Rosmaninho

Safety information

Temperatures can be high in the summer and the terrain may be slippery in the winter.

Useful Contacts:

SOS Emergency : 112

SOS Forest Fires: 117

Arganil Police: 235 20 05 20

Schist Village Network - ADXTUR: 275 647 700; 960 10 18 73

Tips and hints

The route fits into the Protected Landscape Area of the Serra do Açor, with a great diversity of fauna and flora, such as the Lusitanian-salamander, the orange-colored merman, the goshawk and the owl-do-nabal , and also the oaks, the chestnut trees and the laurel trees.

Here, it crosses also the Forest of Margaraça, classified as Biogenetic Reserve, one of the few remaining examples of the primitive Portuguese vegetation in the Schist slopes of the Central region of Portugal. Besides tree species such as oak, chestnut, Portuguese laurel, cherry and elm, there are also numerous endemic vascular plants of significant scientific interest in this forest, including Solomon's seal and the Martagon lily.

The cliffs of Pena is a leisure and recreation area, with its waterfalls, also has an extremely interesting variety of unique plants which make the area quite special.

The village of Benfeita has many unique and interesting places and buildings such as:

- Torre da Paz (Peace Tower)

- Parish Church

- Traditional narrow streets and the river beach;

- The Schist Villages Shop

- Simões Dias House Museum

- The small museum in Pardieiros



- “Chanfana” lamb or goat stew

- Kid, Stuffed craw

- Egg pudding

- Rice pudding

- Pumpkin pastries

- Honey


Ameal's Square, Benfeita (312 m)
40.228520, -7.944790
40°13'42.7"N 7°56'41.2"W
29T 589772 4453655
Show on Map


Ameal's Square, Benfeita

Turn-by-turn directions

The Schist trail of Benfeita is a circular route that starts in the centre of thevillage. The route is best followed in an anti-clockwise direction, initiallyheading towards the valley of the Carcavão stream. We follow a narrow path,on the banks of the stream, which tumbles down small but stunningwaterfalls, and the landscape changes around us, showing the signs of Man'sactivity over the years. Given how steep this area is, the route leaves thestream and climbs by ancient rural paths with countless stone steps. You needto be especially careful in this section. We reach the top of the climb shortlyafter a section of the stream where the water seems to have literally carvedits way through the rocks. From the top of the rocky ridge there are spectacularviews over the whole valley. The route crosses a paved road beforereaching the village of Sardal on a gentle path that contours the hill. Aftercrossing through the centre of the village, where we can stop to recharge ourbatteries, we begin to descend, using narrow paths and irrigation canals, butthat are clearly visible. We are already in the heart of the Protected Landscapeof the Açor Mountains. There is an (optional) short cut here that descendsstraight to the cliffs of Pena, and the impressive waterfalls. The main routecarries on until the village of Pardieiros, where there are various amenities. Avisit to the Rural themed small museum is well worth a visit. From here wedrop back down to Benfeita following the Mata stream again, crossingfarmlands that are still in active use today.


all notes on protected areas


40.228520, -7.944790
40°13'42.7"N 7°56'41.2"W
29T 589772 4453655
Show on Map
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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Rui Lobo
May 02, 2021 · Community
simplesmente fantástico
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When did you do this route? April 28, 2021
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10.3 km
5:00 h
576 m
576 m
Highest point
598 m
Lowest point
299 m
Cultural/historical interest Flora


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