Travel Adventure Exploring Hydroelectricity Through Hiking On São Miguel In The Azores [Photo Essay]

by lhgqz

If you enjoy the outdoors, it’s recommended to do at least one, even if you only have a little bit of time. This was the case for me.

Plus, I was staying in Ponta Delgada, the capital, where there weren’t many trail options — if I went back I’d stay in Furnas near the hot springs and nature — and I only had the morning.

Where the hike begins in Caldeiras
Veering a bit off the main trail
The view and hot springs along the trail.

The local tourism board recommended I opt for Salto do Cabrito, a 3.5-kilometer (2.2-mile) trail that takes about one hour.

You begin this fun hike at the Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande, a small hot springs parish, where orange and red-dashed blazes are near the traditional restaurant. These lead to a dirt road path going toward Lombadas and Monte Escuro, and when you get to a giant water pipe with the trail markets going right, you go left instead.

Once over a small “bridge” in the road, you can hop a small wire string fence on the right and walk down a quiet path lined with ginger lilies, ferns, and the water of the Ribeira Grande.

If this doesn’t sound idyllic enough, and mix of endemic and migrating birds on their way to Africa sing an uplifting forest song. The small detour ended at the Fajã do Redondo Dam, which you can walk across for great nature and waterfall photos.

Natural beauty on São Miguel Island.
Dam on the Salto do Cabrito trail
Standing on the dam

So much beauty.

From there, you’ll head back the way you came from and get back on the correct path, continuing through a forest of towering eucalyptus, acacia and Japanese red cedar that feel as though they’re eating you up. At times, the trail is eery, smoke drifting out of the mountain sides.

While you may think you’re entering Satan’s lair — anyone else read the book Horns? — it’s actually caused by the island’s volcanic activity underground. This smokey steam is processed on the Geothermic Central of Pico Vermelho power plant.

At this point, I just about thought I was entering Satan’s lair. Nope, just naturally occurring geothermal heat.
Smoke and hydroelectricity meet on the hiking trail.
Electricity museum in the forest.
A look at the blaze you’ll be following during the trail
This section of the hike might make your stomach flip a bit.
A unique hiking trail feature.
View from the catwalk. Very pretty!
Some sections force you to get close to the rocks.
Walking the low catwalk.
Peering at a small waterfall from behind a large pipe on the trail.
A beautiful ending to my scenic hike.
Salto do Cabrito hiking map

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