Morro da Urca Trail (and Sugarloaf Cable Car): where it is and how to get there



Get to know all the details of the trail of Morro da Urca, how to get to it through Pista Cláudio Coutinho and how to get off the cable car for free!

For those who enjoy the trail and have little time or the shape is no longer the same as in the past, the morro da urca‌ trail is the right choice. Here you have all the best, easy access, fast and very light trail, no need for mountaineering equipment or a good physical preparation, beautiful view of Rio de Janeiro and, if you want and know the tricks, you can still go down the trail by cable car Sugarloaf Mountain for free.

Resume:

  • Average trail time - 30 minutes
  • Distance - 1100m
  • Height: 224m
  • Route - Track Cláudio Coutinho to Morro da Urca
  • Difficulty - Easy
  • Best time to climb - between 4pm and 5pm depending on daylight saving time

Read the post to the end to stay on top of all the details of the morro da urca‌ trail and my tricks for you to ride the cable car for free. To begin, see a general map that will help you understand a little more than what to do.

First step - How to get there

The entrance to the morro da urca‌ trail is at Pista Cláudio Coutinho (open daily from 7 am to 6 pm), at Praia Vermelha. You have easy access by car, bus or metro (+ express). To get there the main options are:

  • Bus: 511, 512, 107 (need to get off at the last stop on Avendia Pasteur)
  • Metro: Just get off at Botafogo Station (take the Voluntários exit) and take the Express bus to Urca (need to get off at the last stop on Avendia Pasteur)
  • Car - There is parking at Praia Vermelha, but it is busy, anything you can get into Urca and try to get a place there

Morro da Urca Trail

You will invariably need to go to the end of Avenida Pasteur (passing through UFRJ and UNIRIO) to reach Praia Vermelha. Now just go to the left corner of the beach, where there is the entrance to the Cláudio Coutinho track. Rest assured that the signage is good and doesn't have much mystery, look there:

The trail starts at the Cláudio Coutinho track, there in the left corner of Praia Vermelha. She is also known as Caminho do Bem Te Vi and Blog Viagem has a series of cool photos of her. For those who enjoy a good walk, the trail is excellent and the view you have of the red beach, the Sugarloaf Mountain and the islands right at the entrance to Rio are very cool. If this is your first time, I recommend that you go to the end of the trail (it is about 2km along the red beach) before going up the trail, it is short and nice to do. Another good option is to take a dip in the red beach (before or after the trail depending on the time you are going up).

I will make a parenthesis for those who enjoy climbing. Along the track you have several boulders in which you can have a good game, not all of them are fully exposed, so sometimes you need to take a look at some entry points into the forest. Just don't forget your sneaker and the minimum protective equipment that fun is guaranteed.

But since what we want is a trail, let's get down to business. In the middle of the track Cláudio Coutinho more or less you have the entrance to the morro da urca‌ trail. It is very difficult to pass directly (there is even a sign indicating), but if you are in doubt, just ask anyone who is walking there the chance is great that they know how to tell you exactly where the entrance is. To help you out a little more, this is the entrance to the beginning of the trail.

After entering the morro da urca‌ trail there is not much mystery, it is well signposted. It will be about 20 minutes (on average) going up until you reach the first stop (the view here is still not very good because there are a lot of trees in front), but you can already see a little bit of Botafogo inlet. At this point, you need to take the left path and head towards the first morro da urca‌ station. From that first stop it will be a short while. When the stone path turns to cobblestones it is a sign that you are coming. When you see an entrance gate it is a sign that you have arrived:

Now it's just joy, arriving at morro da urca‌ the coolest thing (and I think the goal of the climb) is to enjoy the view. You get a few points to enjoy the beauty of Rio de Janeiro from different angles and, if you're lucky, you can still lie on a deck chair or wooden chair to relax. As soon as you arrive from the trail, there is a very nice space that you can enjoy (facing) Praia Vermelha and the cable car going up.

Other very cool angles are from Botafogo Bay, Guanabara Bay with the Bridge, Urca and Pão de Açúcar even with the cable car going up. This is a panoramic photo from up there:

Taking advantage of the space, you can learn a little more about the history of the Sugarloaf Mountain and its famous cable cars passing by the Centro Cultural Cocuruto or even going to Praça dos Bondes to see what the first visitors ventured into. Would you have the courage to walk in this yellowness here?


In addition, you still have some options of food bars / kiosks located in the Baída de Guanabara (EBG) space such as the Bar Blessed, Rei do Mate, República da Fruta and Pão de Açúcar Gourmet. As you can imagine, the price here is a little inflated, so if you can bring a sandwich or a biscuit, it can be a good option to save money.

Up there, you can even do some more touristy programs, like taking a helicopter ride, buying a jewel at H.Stern, or buying a photo with a slightly rough assembly of the cable car.

I think you already enjoyed everything. If you don't mind spending money, you can pay the price of the cable car (R $ 62) to go up to the last station, right there at Pão de Açúcar (unfortunately, you can only get there by cable car or climbing). If you don't want to spend that money (and particularly I only recommend it for those who have never been), you can take a walk on the green road (small path through the trees) that will take you to the beginning of the descent trail. This is if you want to go down on foot, because it is possible to go down for free by the Cable Car, but there are some details that you need to be aware of.

Rafa's tricks

I was leaving the best for last. There are 2 essential tips that I like to share with anyone who asks me about the morro da urca‌ trail. The first is for you to go in the late afternoon, around 4pm or 5pm depending on summer time. If the day is beautiful you can see a beautiful sunset and, regardless of the weather, from 7pm you can go down the cable car for free.

It is worth watching, because recently (August / 15) they created a new rule for weekends and holidays charging R $ 20 (which can only be paid by credit and debit card) for anyone who wants to get off the cable car.

This happens, because the morro da urca‌ trail closes when it gets dark and you only find this information on trail sites, because the cable car site itself does not inform much about it (I think because it is not in their interest).

Information and a little history

Now it is a little bit of my tourism side and lover of the history of Rio and our attractions talking. If you just wanted to know about the track, I don't think you need to read those last few paragraphs, but if like me, you enjoy understanding where you're going, it's worth staying with me until the end.

The beginning of the history of the Pão de Açúcar cable car dates back to 1908, when the engineer Augusto Ferreira Ramos had the idea of ​​creating an “air route” linking the Urca hill to the Pão de Açúcar to leverage tourism in Rio de Janeiro. The works started in 1910 after obtaining money from the government and founding the Airline of Pão de Açúcar, a company that manages the cable car until today.

It is worth mentioning that at the time there were only 2 cable cars in the world (one in Switzerland and another in Spain), so it was a bold project. There were 2 years of complicated works, since, as there were no helicopters, the entire construction involved trained climbers who carried the parts on their backs. Thus, in 1912 the stretch from Praia Vermelha to morro da urca‌ was inaugurated and, a year later, the stretch that led from morro da urca‌ to the summit of Pão de Açúcar. The original cable car remained in operation until 1972, when it was modified to increase capacity (which increased by 10 times). Only recently have modifications been made to the cable cars to modernize them.

Another interesting curiosity is about the name Pão de Açúcar. For those who do not know, it was the Portuguese who gave this name because they believed that the shape of the carioca cliff was very similar to the sugar blocks called sugar bread that went from the cane plantations to Europe.




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