I moved to Rio a year ago and shortly after I arrived I was told you could hike Corcovado, bottom to top, in about 1-2 hours. This is partly true. I will explain in full. I will add some notes for anyone needing a little more help.
Last Saturday a lady friend and I decided to do the hike. We arrived at Parque Lage around 11AM.
Note: Parque Lage (parkay lahjay) is located on the Zona Sul side of the Corcovado mountain or the side facing the Ipanema and the Atlantic Ocean. I would recommend taking a taxi or bus. A bus from Botafogo Metro Station is easy to find. Take any bus that includes Jardim Botanico on the windshield. $R2.50 fare.
The Parque Lage Mansion is easy to spot and is quite a treat. When you enter you are instantly breathless as the inside pool area is open to the air and you have a view straight up at the statue. Wow!
To find the trail you walk to the right side of the mansion. There were guards posted on the Saturday (not sure about weekdays) and they took our names before we set out. We both speak Portuguese but I feel English-only speakers will struggle at times and may not get the gist of the directions, etc.
Note: I did the hike in running shoes/sneakers and I was fine, but I think walking or hiking shoes would have been easier. Bring a light backpack with a liter or two of water and some chocolate bars. Don't forget your camera! My friend keeps saying he wants to bring his dog. Don't bring a dog.
The hike is easy at the bottom but gradually increases to a medium difficulty. Only at one point did I say there was an area where, for example, out-of-shape people would really struggle. About halfway up or so there is a rock incline and you pull yourself up with a chain. It looks a LOT worse than it really is.
Someone had marked the trail the day we hiked. There were yellow arrows at the bottom, but we did not even look for them after a while as the trail is well-defined after the first bit.
Note: At the bottom of the trail we got genuinely creeped out by a group of 30 people or so who were scattered over a large area. They were just standing there with their backs to the trees. We made Blair Witch jokes and finally asked a guide who said the people were "here to make the trail safe for us." We still don't know if that means channeling tree spirits or scaring the crap out of unwary undesirables (and tourists). Ha!
We were told to keep our eye out for the Bonde (bonjee) train tracks because that is where you leave the trail, take a right, and head up alongside the tracks. Alongside, not ON.
Just a few meters up and you have your first grand view of Zona Sul and if you look directly down you have a view of the mansion where you started! It gave us a feeling of accomplishment and that extra boost to keep going.
Keep walking a few more minutes until you see the road directly on your left hand side. Do not keep hiking up as you must get on the road. Now comes the not-so-funny part and the part that makes me shake my head: You have to walk DOWN the road at this point about a kilometer or maybe a mile until you see the ticketing area where you purchase your ticket for the train up to Christo.
Note 1: Be very careful of the vehicles heading up the road. They are like F1 drivers and there is no sidewalk.
Note 2: I will not add my thoughts about this. Oh, yes I will. Why the hell you can't purchase tickets online I do not know. Or why they don't allow hikers free access I do not know. It's Brasil man!
Note 3: We did not have time to head up to the statue and we found the cheapest way to the bottom, other than walking, was taking a van to Largo do Machado area and it cost $R10 each. The taxis are TOURIST RIP-OFF taxis up there so be forewarned. At the bottom there are plenty of buses to head to Largo do Machado metro station, or you can take a cab. Be aware you are now on the other side of the mountain from where you started.