Standing 1,418 meters high, the mountain of Pedra Grande is famous for its views across São Paulo. It also forms the centerpiece of the world’s largest native urban forest—Cantareira State Park (Parque Estadual da Cantareira).
In the north of the city, Pedra Grande (which translates to “Big Rock”) is a playground for hang gliding, paragliding, climbing, camping, hiking, motocross, BMX, and ATVing. Due to high quartz levels, it’s also a hotspot for dowsers and crystal healing enthusiasts.
Visitors can walk to the top of the Pedra Grande via one of several short trails between 1.5 and 3 kilometers. This is a popular way to spot some of Brazil’s exotic wildlife including harpy eagles, red-tailed Amazon, black-fronted piping guan, and the ubiquitous howler monkey. And the longest trail runs 9.5 km, which is an old paved road with benches to rest at along the way.
At the Big Rock entrance to the park there’s visitor center with a kiosk, toilets, theater, museum, picnic areas, and nature interpretation trails, where visitors can find more information about hiking and camping on Pedra Grande. Big Rock is a particularly popular attraction on Brazilian holidays, especially the first of May, so visitors seeking tranquility should go early or pick another date to visit.
In the north end of São Paulo, Pedra Grande can be reached from downtown via bus, car, or private guided tour. The closest metro station is Tucuruvi.