Pico Mountain, or Mount Pico, is the highest peak in Portugal, standing at approximately 2,351 meters (7,713 feet) above sea level. It is an imposing stratovolcano and is classified as an active volcano, although there have been no recent eruptions.
Their steep slopes and symmetrical shape characterize these types of volcanoes. They are formed by alternating layers of solidified lava, volcanic ash, and other volcanic materials.
The mountain is known for being covered in clouds for more than 200 days a year, so if you're planning on hiking Mount Pico, you're certainly going to want to plan ahead. Even then, though, you should be prepared to have nothing but clouds to greet you at the top!
The mountain is on Pico Island, part of the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal. The Azores are known for their stunning natural landscapes and volcanic features, and Pico Mountain is one of the main attractions in the region.
Due to its ecological and geological significance, Pico Mountain is a protected area, and visitors are encouraged to respect the natural environment and adhere to the regulations in place to preserve the unique ecosystem.
Pico Mountain: At a Glance
Location: Pico Island, Azores, Portugal
Height: 7,713 ft (2,351 m)
Prominence: 7,713 ft (2,351 m)
Mountain Type: Stratovolcano
Last Eruption: 1720
Interesting Fact: Mount Pico is the tallest mountain in Portugal.
Mount Pico Location
Pico Island is located in the North Atlantic Ocean and is part of the Azores archipelago, which is an autonomous region of Portugal. The island is situated roughly midway between Europe and North America, about 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) west of Portugal's mainland.
Geographically, Pico Island is part of the Central Group of islands within the Azores and the second-largest island in the archipelago. The island is approximately 46 kilometers (29 miles) long and 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide.
The island of Pico is known for its volcanic landscapes, including the prominent Pico Mountain (Montanha do Pico), the highest point in Portugal. The island's volcanic heritage, vineyards, and unique natural beauty make it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and travelers seeking adventure and outdoor activities.
Mount Pico Hike
Hiking Mount Pico requires a moderate to advanced level of physical fitness. The trail to the summit is challenging, involving steep inclines, rocky terrain, and a significant elevation gain. It's essential to be in good shape and prepared for a strenuous hike.
The weather on Mount Pico can be unpredictable and change rapidly, so it's crucial to check the weather forecast and be prepared for various conditions. Fog, rain, and strong winds are common, especially at higher elevations. Dress in layers and bring appropriate rain gear and sturdy hiking boots.
While it is possible to hike Mount Pico independently, many visitors opt for guided tours. Local guides are familiar with the trail, weather conditions, and safety measures. They can provide valuable insights into the island's geology, flora, and fauna during the hike. Additionally, guided tours often include transportation to the trailhead.
Mount Pico Trail
The trail starts at Mountain's House and takes about 4.7 miles, or 7.5 km, to make it to the summit and back.
The Mountain House starting point begins at around 4,038' (1,231m), and the trail climbs 3,675' (1,120m) to the summit. As you climb, you'll follow poles that have been placed strategically along the route (there are 47 of them) that will guide you in the right direction.
Most people take between 6 and 8 hours to get to the summit, usually about 4 hours up and 3 or so hours to get back down.
You'll also want to check on the trail's status to see if it's open or closed. The island will close down the trail during some parts of the winter in order to keep people off the mountains' dangerously steep slopes when there's snow.
To climb to the top of the mountain, you'll need to pay a fee of 25 Euros. It's less if you want to go up to the crater (only 15 Euros) and a bit more if you want to camp (add 10 Euros).
It's also important to note that there is a limit to the number of people allowed on the mountain at one time. For example, there is a maximum number of 320 people per day, but only 160 can be on the mountain at once.
Luckily, you can reserve your hiking spot ahead of time so you know you'll be able to start when you get there.
The Azores are a group of nine volcanic islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean and are an autonomous region of Portugal. Each island has its own distinct landscapes and geological features, including mountains.
The Azores Mountains were formed by volcanic activity resulting from the movement of tectonic plates. The islands are located along the boundary of the North American and Eurasian plates, making them a hotspot for volcanic activity.
Mount Pico Weather
Like other mountainous regions, the weather on Mount Pico can be quite unpredictable and change rapidly. It is influenced by the island's microclimates and the general weather patterns of the Azores archipelago.
The temperature on Mount Pico generally remains mild, with average highs ranging from 18°C to 24°C (64°F to 75°F) in the summer months (June to September) and average lows ranging from 12°C to 16°C (54°F to 61°F). In the winter months (December to February), the temperatures are slightly cooler, with average highs ranging from 14°C to 18°C (57°F to 64°F) and average lows ranging from 9°C to 13°C (48°F to 55°F).
Mount Pico Geology
The geology of Pico Island and Pico Mountain is fascinating due to its volcanic origin. The entire Azores archipelago was formed by volcanic activity associated with the movement of tectonic plates.
The island was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions over millions of years. The volcanism in the Azores is related to the movement of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
The slopes of Pico Mountain and the surrounding areas are covered with lava flows, which result from past volcanic eruptions. These solidified lava flows create unique landscapes with rugged textures and interesting rock formations.
Due to its unique geology and ecological importance, Pico Island, including Pico Mountain, has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This designation helps to protect and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
Climbers on the summit of Mount Pico and Pico Mountain in the clouds.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Mount Pico:
How long does it take to hike Mount Pico?
Depending on your fitness, it can take between 6-8 hours to climb Mount Pico. It's ideal to start early in the morning to avoid the day's heat.
What is the most technically difficult mountain to climb?
This title goes to different mountains, depending on who you ask. Some might go with a popular answer like K2, the second tallest mountain in the world, but there are many other smaller peaks that require even more technical skills. For example, Annapurna is commonly regarded as one of the most dangerous and difficult mountains to climb in the world. Baintha Brakk, in Pakistan, is another good answer to this question.
How hard is Mount Pico to climb?
The mountain is very steep and can be quite difficult to climb. It's not a simple hike but will instead require you to be familiar with map reading and navigating on difficult, loose terrain.
Is Mount Pico still active?
No, Mount Pico is a quiescent stratovolcano, meaning that while not active, there is still some seismic activity. It's when this activity ceases that the mountain can be classified as dormant.
Has Mount Pico ever erupted?
Yes, the last time Mount Picture erupted was in 1720.