The trail follows the outline of the coast between the Praia do Molhe, near the mouth of the river Arade, and the beach of Paraíso. To the east of Ponta do Altar, a series of promontories alternate with inlets which shelter small stretches of sand.
The Ponta do Altar advances 260m inland, bounding the mouth of the Arade to the east. These cliffs are Miocene limestone, easily carved by the sweet and salty waters, creating a so-called karst landscape. In Ponta do Altar there are coves and inlets, geoforms resulting from the subterranean circulation of fresh water.
Leixão da Gaivota is one of the many prominent cliffs along this stretch of coast. Despite its modest size, it is an important breeding ground for herons, and it also shelters colonies of little egret and cattle egret.
Limestone cliffs, heavily fissured and inaccessible to terrestrial predators, offer refuges for the rock dove, yellow-legged gull, common kestrel or the peregrine falcon.
The Torre da Lapa was built in the 17th century, in stone and mortar. It was used to watch the sea, especially the mouth of the Arade. In case of danger, torch bearers would make smoke during the day and light fires at night, alerting the populations and other fortifications in the region.
Here there are vestiges of the reservoir of Presa da Moura, of Roman origin. This dam was part of a manufacturing unit for salting and preserving fish, now disappeared as a result of the receding coastline.
The scrublands that colonise these limestone beds are dominated by juniper bushes and kermes oak, accompanied by plants typical of the Barrocal, like the Mediterranean dwarf palm and mastic trees. Along the edge of the cliffs, there are plants like the Mediterranean saltbush, which have adapted to the maritime influence.
Location: coastal strip between the Praia do Molhe and Carvoeiro
Circular trail: no
Distance: 6 km (12 km there and back)
Average duration: 3h (6h there and back)
Cumulative elevation gain: 365 metres D+ (starting at Praia do Molhe) and 340 metres D+ (starting in Ferragudo)
Type of path: somewhat rocky dirt paths
Start of the trail: 1 – 37º 06' 34.69 N 8º 31' 09.60'' W / 1a – 37º 05' 49.04'' N 8º 28' 29.61'' W