Peak(s):  Pedra Grande - 3,314 feet
Date Posted:  09/08/2013
Modified:  09/09/2013
Date Climbed:   08/25/2013
Author:  Fisching

 Yay!!! Road Walking...  

Overview of Serra da Cantareira: The trails of the park can be broken up into three sections: The southwestern part where the majority of the visitors stay and includes its main attraction, Pedra Grande The northwestern part can be accessed via the gravel road and offers seclusion although lacks vistas. The trip report focuses on this portion of the park. The other portions are accessed by different entrances, and there is no connected roadway or hiking trail (at least that I know of yet) within the park to reach them. The middle portion of the park supposedly offers mountain bike trails as well as a waterfall. The eastern portion has some hiking trails and another waterfall. I don't know of public transit reaches those entrances (either from Sao Paulo or Guarulhos), but will update this when I find out.
Elaborate overview of the park on its trails

Given that Labor Day TR's are coming out, I fully expect this to be buried within minutes of 38 other trip reports on Greys/Torrey and Quandary. That's okay. To be honest, this is not the most exciting of reports as the Parque Serra da Cantareira/Pedra Grande are a bit underwhelming. Sidenote: This also has to be the worst "hooks" I've ever started an exposition with. "Hey, this is really boring, but you should keep reading!!!" Oh well, such is life... Besides, I already got your "hit" registered to make me feel better about my viewership. I mean, seriously, the report is titled "Road Walking" and you clicked on it. Is it really that slow of a day at work?

I digress... The real purpose behind writing this, as well as the Pico do Jaraguá TR, is to provide information on what's available for hikers in the immediate vicinity of Sao Paulo in English. It took a while for me to locate information, even in Portuguese. Like Jaraguá, it's easily accessible from the city requiring a quick trip north on the Metro line and a bus ride. The final point of the bus route is at the entrance gate for Parque Horto Floristal; the entrance to the Parque Serra da Cantareira, which borders Parque Horto Floristal, is off the road veering to the right and requires a short 5 minute walk up until it dead-ends into the park's entrance. I didn't know this because I resorted to an old planning method - winging it - so I ended up up walking around Parque Horto Floristal for a good 45 minutes to explore it. I even came across some guys on an unmaintained trail in the backwoods smoking pot... It''s like I never left Colorado!

Photo Gallery of Parque Horto Floristal
Lake in the Park

Brazil clearly likes to have turtles in their city parks.

Workout area made entirely with wood. Wooden dumbells.

Trash in the backwoods. Cultural LNT principles need a lot of work (and you thought I was going for a recent event reference)

The Parque Serra da Cantareira has a $R 9 (~$4 USD) cash only fee to get into the park. The entrance area of the park offers trail options in any direction. Since I had plenty of time available, I went about hitting each one before going farther into the park to visit Pedra Grande. The trails off the main entrance area are (thankfully) not paved and offer more solitude than the road leading up to Pedra Grande. Similar to Pico do Jaraguá, the park's goal is to preserve a small portion of the once massive Atlantic Forest. The side trails offer hikers better nature experiences, if that's what they're looking for, than the Pedra Grande trail and the chance to not only view the flora of the Atlantic Forest, but the surprisingly abundant wildlife as well.
Serra da Cantareira park entrance

Trail Sign overviewing the park westernmost trails

Worthless Trivia Time: Did you know that Brazil has more land area than the lower 48 states of the US by 235,000 mi˛? That difference is more than the combined size of Colorado, New Mexico, and Maryland. And that's the more you know. But seriously, the country is huge.

The forest encompassed an area the size of California, Texas, and Oregon when the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. Now it occupies less land than Delaware.

Each of the minor trails, except one, forms a loop so no backtracking of steps is requires and they're all easy to locate given the simplicity of the park. The first trail I did, the 1.5km Trilha da Bica, according to the park "forms a circular route and shows the forest for different angles, due to the angles and slopes of the route. The sound of the waters present in some trenches culminates in a spring." The description is the translation of the park's sign. So I'm a little lazy. Deal with it.
Trilha da Bica

Bambo Grove

The other trail nearby the park entrance, Trilha da Figueira, is a short trail of 1km. There's a few "steep" spots according to the park, but that's a relative term. I'm also fat compared to my wife. The best part of the trail were the gigantic boulders to scramble up for no reason whatsoever.
Take some rest breaks, Hercules, it's "steep"
Giant scrambling boulders covered in moss.

The real goal of the trip, outside of spending some quiet, reflective time, was to reach Pedra Grande. Sadly, it was something of a let-down as I didn't expect it to be a 10km roundtrip "hike" on a paved "paradise." Also, as with anything in Sao Paulo, especially on a weekend, there are people EVERYWHERE. Sigh...I've heard the park is only open on the weekends and holidays, but I need to verify that fact. However, if that's the case, good luck trying to find an opportunity to avoid the weekend crowd. I'm thinking now would be an appropriate time to link a youtube video with one of my all-time favorite trombone solos.
Road Walking!!! I almost got a shot with no people in it. Almost.

(I figured I'd make this all-Brazilian and take the live version from their concert on Copacabana)

Back to the road walking...

Even along the road, it's possible to see some wildlife. An Australian couple pointed out a group of monkeys in a tree. Aand seriously, who doesn't stop to see monkeys?
They were reluctant to come out of the tree

The most complicated part of the 5km hike is the turnoff. I don't even think the pink font emphasizes my level of sarcasticness. To reach Pedra Grande can be done in two ways: either turning left on the first paved road which loops below the summit rock, or continue straight until the road becomes gravel at which point the paved road turns sharply left and heads towards Pedra Grande. Honestly, it doesn't matter; I didn't even take pictures of the variations because it's completely insignificant. If you manage to get lost, I have an elevator pass to sell you for my hometown's single-story high school. Heck, make a loop out of it and call it "the full experience."

Anyways, the summit is a huge rock overlooking the city. Huge might even be an understatement of the enormity of this slab.
Pedra Grande Summit Rock
Sao Paulo overview looking South. A smog dome can clearly be seen. (Is clearly the right word here?)

Pico do Jaraguá in the distance.
Brazil is not shy about affection whether it be gay or straight.

It's also very easy to tell who are the Brazilian women in a group. Their choice of footwear, regardless of what the situation is, always is in favor of fashion. On Jaraguá, I even passed a woman going up the trail in heels, and no, it wasn't trainerkeri.

Since completing all the various routes took so little time, I figured I'd keep going on the gravel road from where I turned off for Pedra Grande since I knew there were more trails that way. There were also less people in that direction since trailhead access, especially to the city, is a little harder to reach from that direction. Personally, I think the better trails are in that direction since the Serra da Cantareira surprisingly swallows the noise of the city better than expected.

One of the offshoot trails, the Trilhas das Aguas, is very short but offers some of the best seclusion the park has to offer. It's also a popular make-out spot of Paulistanos - the couple I came upon had expressions of a "that was close" call from doing the get-clothes-back-on-as-fast-as-possible routine. It's also a nice spot to take off your shoes and put your feet into the water (how's that for a piss-poor segue between thoughts?).
Simulated Conversation: "Oh Look! A pretty mountain steam. Now let's get undressed."

If you're fooling around in the backwoods, I suggest minding your surroundings. Although God does enjoy some slapstick humor, too.

Continuing to follow the gravel road will end at the other entrance of the western part of the park. It's also the municipal boundary line for Sao Paulo, and because it's at the top of the mountain pass (and there are no homes/businesses up here), there is no bus stop at this entrance. Instead of backtracking all of my steps, I decided to leave the park here and hike down the Cantareira mountain pass road. There is not much of a shoulder and a decent amount of traffic passes the area, so be careful. The hike down to the city/bus stop isn't too long and there are a few vistas, which are noticeably absent after departing Pedra Grande, so I didn't regret not going back to the main entrance.
Finally. I'm out of the city!!!

Not leaving the city boundaries till now had me feeling like this:

Looking SW
Looking South

If I had to offer a blanket recommendation for visitors choosing between either Pico do Jaraguá and Serra da Cantareira on a quick trip to Sao Paulo, my overall suggestion would be for Jaraguá as it offers the best overall experience. If looking for a better vista of the city, then Pedra Grande in the Serra da Cantareira would be better, although it's a negligible difference. The Serra da Cantareira does offer more of a chance to log a GeoJed endorsed "big day" (see map).
There's really no reason for a map other than to illustrate the random route.

If you somehow got through to the end of this, that's impressive. I will reward you with a Brazilian beer.*

*Don't get excited about that. There's a reason why you've never drank beer from Brazil

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

You owe me
09/09/2013 16:51
One Brazilian Beer. Nice to see you're not just getting fat down there.

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