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The colonial town of Petropolis, a living museum to the 19th-century Brazilian emperors, lies just 68 kilometers (42 miles) from Rio de Janeiro city and is famed for its imperial architecture, beer factory, and series of hiking trails. Surrounding the town is the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range, home to some of the highest peaks in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Here are some of the best hiking trails in Petropolis.
The best-known of all the hiking trails is the three-day trek between Petropolis and neighboring town, Teresopolis. The trek cuts through the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range and passes famous natural landmarks such as Dedo de Deus (God’s finger), so called as it resembles a large index finger pointing to the sky. It’s a challenging hike and you will need to take food, water, and camping equipment to sleep at the designated campsites along the way but the rewards of endless views and rocky landscapes are worth it.
This trail is considered one of the easiest in Petropolis yet still highly rewarding with views of the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range and over to the Tijuca Forest in Rio de Janeiro and the Guanabara Bay. The path isn’t well signposted so plan your route carefully before leaving. Stick to the main trail which will lead you through a forest and to the top of the hill. The whole hike takes about 45 minutes to reach the top and a lot of the path is exposed to the sun, so it’s advisable to wear plenty sunscreen.
The Circuito das Bromelias path takes just 30 minutes – one of the lightest and easiest in Petropolis – yet it’s packed with stunning attractions such as Poços Paraíso, Bromélias, and Primatas natural pools which you can bathe and swim in. The most famous out of the three is the Paraíso pool (literally translates to Paradise Pool) which is large enough to swim in its crystal clear water and is surrounded by sun-dappled boulders and thick vegetation.
The Véu da Noiva trail takes you to one of the region’s most famous and largest waterfalls with a 32-meter high cascade. The hike is about three kilometers from the entrance of the Serra dos Órgãos national park and is well-signposted and easy to follow. Take extra care on the trek when it’s raining as part of the path crosses over two small rivers which need to be crossed by stepping over stones. On the way to the Véu da Noiva waterfall is the Gruta do Presidente, which is a pleasant point to take a rest and enjoy the surrounding scenery.
Although this hike is just 2.5 kilometers long, it has parts which are extremely steep so it can be demanding and requires some experience of hiking or a moderate level of physical fitness. The unrivaled views across mile upon mile of rolling mountains and deep valleys is immensely rewarding and Pedra de Itaipava is arguably one of the most beautiful hikes in Petropolis. The hike isn’t well-known outside of the hiking community which means the path and surroundings remain wild and untouched, which although provides beautiful backdrops, it’s a good idea to wear clothes that cover your legs to avoid getting scratched by the long grass.
At 12 kilometers long, the Travessia Cuiabá x Brejal trail is among the longest in Petropolis yet it is also considered an easy one as the path almost always sticks to rural paths and dirt tracks. The trek starts at Cuiabá, a small village near to Petropolis and ends at a neighboring village known as Brejal. The trek follows roads and so sometimes you may end up sharing with people practicing motocross, but the surroundings are so rural and wild that you will still feel in the middle of nature.
Located in the heart of Serra dos Órgãos national park, Morro do Alicate is a peak that is easily accessible and provides a stunning viewpoint for panoramic vistas of the park. The path is peppered with waterfalls and natural pools that are ideal to bathe in on the way back down. The view from the top overlooks mountain peaks and valleys and the best part is it’s a hike that is rarely visited so you’ll probably have the viewpoint all to yourself.