Sugarloaf arguably provides some of the best views in Rio de Janeiro. A cable car can take you to the top at 396 m/1,299 ft. Sugarloaf consists of two mountains. The smaller is named Morro da Urca, while the larger is Pão de Açúcar. To get to the top of Sugarloaf you need to take a cable car, but if you wanted to get some exercise it is possible to hike Morro da Urca and see those amazing views.
There are a few buses that go to Sugarloaf. You can get the 511, 512, 107 or X which will drop you off near the base of Sugarloaf. Sugarloaf consists for two peaks with a cable car to each peak. However, this being a hiking guide, you can hike to the first peak for free. As for May 2014 there is no way to get from the first peak to the second peak without starting from the bottom. The views from the first peak are just as good so don’t feel like you are missing out. If anything you are saving R$62 for the cable car ride!
If you are facing directly in front of the cable car entrance do a complete 180 and head to the back right corner by the military post. Here will be a gated entrance, likely with a guard or two near by, that you can take. Soon after entering you will see a dirt path heading up the mountain. This is the path you will need to take to get to the top of the first mountain, Morro da Urca.
Short Detour: If you skip the dirt path and stay on the paved path you will reach a dead end after 1-2km. However, there are some small monkeys on this path so it might be worth taking a short detour for a picture or two.
The height of Morro da Urca is 220m and the path is somewhat steep. Its also not very well laid out so expect it to be slippery after heavy rain fall. Once you reach the top of the path continue left to get to the lookout point at the top. Here there are free toilets, water fountains, food stands and the other cable car to the higher Pão de Açúcar. Keep in mind, you won’t be able to take this without a ticket from the bottom.
Note: The path closes at 6pm so to get back down you will have to use the cable car. It is free though after 7pm, so time your hike appropriately. It does provide amazing views of the sunset, so it is worth staying at the top and waiting for the free ride down!