Hiking from Foz d’Égua to Piódão

After hiking 5.1 miles in the Penhas Douradas region of the Serra da Estrela Nature Park the previous day, we enjoyed a leisurely 5th day on our Mountain Travel Sobek hiking tour to historic villages in Portugal. Today, we visited the highest point in mainland Portugal, hiked from Foz d’Égua to Piódão, and dined in an old Palace in Lousã where we stayed for the evening.

Upon leaving Casa das Penhas Douradas, our driver maneuvered our Sprinter Van, complete with USB charging stations, along the winding mountain road.  We enjoyed the beautiful views, while he focused on the two-lane passage.

hikers on volta das penhas douradas trail

Hiking Volta das Penhas Douradas Trail

On our fourth day of our Hiking to Portuguese Historic Villages Tour with Mountain Travel Sobek, we spent the morning in Serra de Estrela Nature Park.  Via the Volta das Penhas Douradas Trail, we hiked a 5.1 mile loop to the lake of Vale do Rossime, rather than to a village. 

This was a very enjoyable hike which began from the Casa das Penhas Douradas, a 17-room mountain resort perched at 4,921 feet (1,500 meters). Interestingly, the modern hotel, decorated in natural, local resources, was once a sanatorium.

The sanatorium was constructed after expedition leader and scientist Dr. Sousa Martins determined that Serra de Estrela, with its high altitude and clean air, would be a good place to treat tuberculosis in the late 1800’s.


Hike from Idanha-a-Velha to Monsanto

As we continue our tour of hiking to historic villages in Portugal, today we started in Idanha-a-Velha and ended in Monsanto for a 5.5-mile one-way trek.  This picturesque hike was one of my favorites during our six-day adventure.  Photographic opportunities abound in this slice of paradise in Central Portugal.

Idanha-a-Velha is part of the 12 Historic Villages of Portugal Program which the Portuguese government launched in 1991 with the goal of restoring and promoting a series of ancient villages important to Portugal’s history. The villages, located in the Beira interior region of Portugal, include the following:

  • Almeida
  • Belmonte
  • Castelo Mendo
  • Castelo Novo
  • Castelo Rodrigo
  • Idanha-a-Velha
  • Linhares da Beira
  • Marialva
  • Monsanto
  • Piódão
  • Sortelha
  • Trancoso
view from rota dos abutres

Hiking in Salvaterra do Extremo

After a few days in the Oeste Region of Portugal touring Óbidos and Nazaré and 36 hours in Lisbon, we finally began our Historic Village Hiking Tour in Portugal with Mountain Travel Sobek.  We began our six-day hiking tour early on a September morning when Ricardo picked up our group of eight and two guides from our hotel in Lisbon.  We drove northeast for approximately three hours until we reached Salvaterra do Extremo.

History of Salvaterra do Extremo

Salvaterra do Extremo is located on the border of Spain and Portugal in Portugal’s central region.  The origins of the historic village date all the way back to the Romans and then later to the Moors.  It became part of the Portuguese Kingdom in the 12th Century.

Its first fortification was likely built when it received a charter from King Sancho II in 1229. Though after the signing of the Treaty of Alcañices establishing Portuguese-Castilian border in 1297, Salvaterra do Extremo was refortified. 

Being located on the border, Salvaterra do Extremo assumed strategic importance.  During the Restoration War in the 17th century, the medieval castle and surrounding town were enclosed with new walls and guarded by the citadel.  While the walls were mostly demolished after the Peninsular Wars, some remnants remain.


Wyoming Road Trip

Well, it is that time of year again.  Time to wrap up my summer of van life.  This summer I spent six weeks on the road, most of it in Wyoming.  I really love Wyoming.  It is such a hidden gem.  It’s hard to believe it has the lowest population of the 50 states.  That’s probably why I like it because you get to enjoy the solitude of nature!

Small Towns in Wyoming

I spent the majority of my time in Buffalo, Lovell, and Jackson Hole with a short stint in Red Lodge, Montana, a few days in Cody and Ten Sleep, a day near Pinedale, and a day near Saratoga.  I also enjoyed a brief bit in Denver seeing my family and friends. I drove nearly 5,00 miles, though probably only about half of that was in Wyoming.

I failed to snap my token state sign in costume, but that gives me a reason to go back.  I already have some places for next year as a pit stop to and from Canada.

Of the small towns I visited in Wyoming, I preferred Buffalo.  I loved its quaint downtown, colorful history, the size of the city, and the plethora of outdoor opportunities.  It really stood out above all the other towns except Red Lodge, Montana, which I have previously visited. 


Hiking Lakes Trail

Well, I left Wyoming with a bang!  I couldn’t be happier with my final hike of the summer.  Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is a hidden gem! I can’t believe I overlooked this place when I lived only 3 hours away in Denver.  The Lakes Trail is fantastic.

Towns Near Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest

The biggest city closest to Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is Laramie, Wyoming, approximately 45 miles east.  Fort Collins, Colorado is about 1.5 hours southeast and Denver 3 hours.  As a result, day trips are good options, though camping along with mountain cabins dot WY-130.

Additionally, two very small towns flank both side of the forest, Saratoga to the west and Centennial to the east.  Centennial is equipped with a small general store and a restaurant.  Saratoga is much bigger.  It has a gas station, some restaurants, hot springs, a museum, a grocery store, and a nice dog park. 

view on pole creek trail

Hiking Pole Creek Trail

Pole Creek Trail is located in the Bridger Wilderness near Pinedale, Wyoming.  It is the main starting point for popular backpacking loops in the wilderness.  As a result, there is a huge parking area, pit toilets, and a basic campground at the trailhead.

After two days of consistent rain, I wondered if hiking the Pole Creek Trail to Elklund Lake was worth it with the collection of people in the trailhead.  It might have been the most people I had seen preparing to hike during the entire month I have spent in Wyoming. That said, it is not like a Colorado 14er or any other popular hikes near Denver when you can’t even find a parking space after 7am.

Additionally, I got a later start than usual and I hiked on the weekend…two things I avoid to enjoy the solitude of nature. Anyway, most people in the parking area were loaded down with heavy packs and were definitely prepping for a backpacking trip.  Donning just a day pack for a long day hike to Elklund Lake, I was able to stay ahead of the traffic.


Beartooth Highway Scenic Drive

The Beartooth Highway was completed in 1936 and is one of the most scenic drives in America.  It connects Red Lodge, Montana to the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park while climbing to 10,947. 

The Beartooth Highway travels from lodge pole pine forest to alpine tundra as it winds through some of the most rugged areas in the lower 48 states.

With 20 peaks over 12,000 feet in the surrounding Beartooth Mountains, Beartooth Highway features spectacular views, hundreds of alpine lakes, magnificent wildflowers, and a plethora of wildlife.

lost lake

Hike to Lost Lake

The hike to Lost Lake is located in the Custer Gallatin National Forest very close to Red Lodge, Montana.  The paved trailhead with pit toilet, marked on AllTrails, is no longer the starting point.  The flood from a year ago has washed out the bridge, and it is difficult to cross the creek that feels more like a river at this location.  As a result, the once 10-mile hike is now 13 miles.