Rio de Janeiro is known for its beautiful beaches and chill vibe, but one of its other, and many times overlooked highlights, is the lush green rainforest which covers the mountains in the city. Visiting Rio without doing a hike through the forest and, as a reward enjoying amazing views from the top of a mountain, would be a real shame.
Don’t worry, even if you’re not very much into hiking, it is possible to find trails of relative ease. One of them is the Pedra Bonita (meaning “Beautiful Rock”) trail, leading to a summit, a granite monolith, with breathtaking views. It is located in the Tijuca forest, close to the city’s paraglider/hang glider launch ramp.
It’s a great hike, also for travelers with tight itineraries: the trail takes about 30 to 40 minutes up, and less down. For travelers with children of 6 years and older, the hike is doable as well. Not very steep, and not too difficult.
To get to the Pedra Bonita trail you need to go to São Conrado, the neighborhood that comes after Leblon. The easiest way to arrive at the trailhead is to take a taxi or an Uber, in the direction of Estrada das Canoas, where you find a turnoff that leads to the trailhead map. It will have signs with information.
There you’ll need to walk up a steep road for about 10 minutes, the same road that is also used by hang glider instructors to get to the ramp. At one point you’ll see a cabin with a park guard. There you need to write down your names and phone numbers and an emergency number in case of some emergency.
The trail starts next to the cabin. In the beginning, it is a path of stones, that soon will turn to dirt/sand. It is a beautiful walk up, with thick vegetation around you. On hot days it will feel fresher here and you’ll be protected from the sun, as you hike in the shade.
The higher you get, especially once getting close to the summit, the lower the plants and trees seem to be. At the top (693 meter or 2,274 feet), you’ll reach an open space, a big area, that can host a crowd. Here the use of some sunblock would be recommendable, as you’ll find yourself exposed to the blistering sun if you here during summer time.
Different parts of Rio can be spotted from here. It’s a good location to see Western Rio, the region where the Olympic games were held in 2016. You can see the vastness of the neighborhood of Barra de Tijuca, with its lakes and long stretches of beach.
Closer by you’ll find Pedra da Gávea, another landmark of the city, a higher and steeper mountain, and a destination for the more adventurous hikers. Of course, you also we’ll be able to see to the beaches of São Conrado and Ipanema. All in all the views are spectacular from Pedra Bonita.
It might a good thing to choose the right moment to go. On weekends it can get very crowded on the trail, with lots of locals hiking up, to relax on top of the summit and enjoy the views. Either you go early morning, or on weekdays.
If you came by taxi, you might arrange for the taxi to wait for you, since there are not a lot of taxis passing by on the main road, the Estrada das Canoas.