One of the things that make Rio special is its proximity to nature. There are numerous national parks, hills and mountains within easy reach which are well suited for hiking. This article will introduce you to 3 short hikes that you easily can do on your own and that will only take between 20 and 30 minutes one way.
1. Parque da Catacumba
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 with great views of 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 and you will probably make it in about 20 minutes. Inside the park just follow a sign that says “Mirante” which means lookout point. The entrance to the park is at Avenida Epitácio Pessoa, 3000 opposite a Petrobras gas station and the park is open from Tuesday to Sunday.
2. Morro da Urca
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.
This trail is easy both in difficulty and in length, it is common to see children doing this hike. The trail starts between Sugarloaf and the little beach Praia Vermelha. You follow a paved path along the coast for about 1 km until there is an opening on your left. This is where the hike starts. Once you have found the entrance the trail is quite straight forward. You only need to choose direction once, which is when you reach a kind of plateau where you need to go to the left (after going to the right a few minutes you will notice that you are wrong). On this hike you will be likely to see Marmosets (small monkeys), birds and colorful butterflies.
3. Morro do Leme
Morro do Leme is the hill at the end of Leme which is the end piece of Copacabana. It 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).