Hiking in Rio de Janeiro - Easy
Parque da Catacumba (Easy – 20 min one way)
Next to the lagoon (Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas) there is a park called Parque da Catacumba. Until the 1970’s this area was a favela but it was removed by the government. Inside the park there is a trail leading to two lookout points over the lagoon. One faces the Leblon direction and the other faces Corcovado. The trail is at times a bit steep but the short distance still makes it relatively easy. Inside the park just follow a sign that says “Mirante”. The entrance to the park is opposite a Petrobras gas station, the park is open from Tuesday to Sunday and it’s free. Exact location can be seen in this map.
Morro da Urca (Easy – 20 min one way)
Morro da Urca is the first hump leading to Sugarloaf and where the cable car makes its first stop. The name means Hill of Urca, Urca being the name of the neighborhood in which Sugarloaf is located. If you don’t want to take the cable car you can hike to the top of Morro da Urca for free. And if you wish to continue to the top of Sugarloaf you can pay for the second part of the cable car at a reduced price.
For the descent keep in mind that the trail closes at 18.00 / 6pm. But don’t worry if you want to stay longer to see the sunset, you can descend by cable car after buying a oneway ticket.
Morro do Leme (Easy – 20 min one way)
Morro do Leme is the hill at the end of Leme (the end piece of Copacabana) and is a military area housing the Forte Duque de Caxias on top of the hill. (Not to be confused with the Forte de Copacabana, if you ask people about the Forte they may send you to the wrong side of Copacabana).
There is a relatively easy trail following a cobble stone road to the top which gives you a great view of Copacabana. The trail starts at the bottom of the hill inside the military area, soldiers in the area will point you in the right direction. The trail is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 to 16:30. On Tuesdays entrance is free and on other days it is cheap (at time of writing 4 Reais).
For updated information visit www.cep.ensino.eb.br/visitacao
Morro da Babilônia (Easy)
Next to the Morro do Leme is Morro da Babilônia. There is a favela in this area but since the placement of police units in the favela more and more people hike to the top of the hill which has views to Copacabana, Botafogo and Sugarloaf. Even with the pacifying police units I would recommend going with someone who knows the route because the trail is very close to the favela. The site Couchsurfing has a group for Rio de Janeiro where you can find locals that do the hike and are happy to bring along visitors.
Parque Penhasco Dois Irmãos (Easy - 20 min one way)
Parque Penhasco Dois Irmãos is a park partially up the Pico Dois Irmãos mountain at the end of Leblon. It has several lookout points over the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon as well as Lagoa and Corcovado. Considering the great views over these famous spots it is surprising how few people are aware of this park.
The area is well kept and has a memorial of the Air France flight that crashed in 2009 after leaving Rio de Janeiro for Paris. The area is close to the Chácara do Céu favela but there are plenty of police units in the area keeping it safe. The park can be reached either by car or by an inclined hike. Walking directly would take you roughly 20 minutes, but considering the various viewing decks to stop and enjoy the view it will most likely take you longer. Just follow the street Rua Aperana and it will take you straight to the park.
If you want to go one step further you can also hike to the summit of the Dois Irmãos.