Tucked away in Faial da Terra on the southeastern edge of Sao Miguel Island is a wonderful, easygoing 4-4.5km hike (round trip) to the powerful waterfall Salto do Prego. The trailhead is near a bus stop at the edge of town. Drive through the village inland along the river there (the river will be on your right) until you reach the end of the road. There isn't really much designated parking, so make sure you're considerate of the residents and park in a place that doesn't block anything.
You should see the start of the trail up ahead, still on the left side of the river. You'll journey alongside the river for a while through lush vegetation. You'll pass by bits of farmland and homesteads, too; please be respectful - stay on the trail at all times, and don't take any fruit from the area.
While exploring the island on horseback at a separate time, the guide I was with joked how the Azores were like Hawaii but without so many dangerous animals. I could see why! It also made me wonder how my ancestors must have felt - they immigrated to the states from the Azores via Hawaii, working for a time as laborers on sugar plantations there. Did it seem like they had gotten off the boat right where they'd gotten on? To be sure, the Azores and Hawaii both have their own distinctive personalities still, but the similarities were more than I expected.
After a little while navigating the softly undulating trail through the forest, the path curves and crosses over a contributing stream on a neat, simple wooden walkway. From there, the trail bends more steeply upward for a while. There are still traces of cobblestones on certain sections of the path (this also was a way to access the now abandoned village Sanguinho, "The Lost Village," which you can still visit as well). I saw only maybe 2 other people on the trail the entirety of my time there, and it felt very private.
These cobblestones add a wonderful, somewhat mystifying touch to the trail, but they can be *very* slippery in damp conditions, so do exercise caution.
I found myself thinking a lot about those who had walked the path before me. So many of us are so used to trails for "going on a hike," that it's interesting to remind ourselves this used to just be the way to travel (and still is, in many places). I wondered if I was walking in the footsteps of relatives; somehow still forging a type of physical connection through the mysteries and distance of time and space.
The trail evens out a bit again as you get close to the end, opening up to more sky in places, too. you'll come to a fork in the road with a sign that indicates Salto do Prego is only about 230m off. Head right at the fork following the sign. (The other way takes you to Sanguinho.)
I actually went above the waterfall first. I got more distracted than I expected there just watching the smooth water move by beneath the trees. Finally, I dragged myself away and went back down to the turnoff. The path to the waterfall dips down through the vegetation slightly and curves around to open before a spacious area below with a strong waterfall pouring into a pool. I don't think I realized how large the waterfall actually was until I saw a person next to it!