June 2020 Update:Due to the pandemic and movement restrictions, hiking may not be allowed yet.
Mountain Hiking might be an activity foreign to many of us who live in this urban jungle called Metro Manila. Most of us couldn’t even hike up the stairs in our office, how much more a mountain near Metro Manila? But don’t say no to it yet, because while hiking is challenging, it is more enjoyable than you think!
Aside from its health benefits (hiking is great for burning calories and helps tone muscles), hiking is also a great social activity where you can meet fellow hikers or spend half a day or two with your friends or loved ones.
Climbers of Mt. Daraitan will be rewarded with the beauty of Sierra Madre and the clear Tinipak River.
Images: Left, @arniethinks; Right, @kvrting
Mt. Daraitan gained fame among many hikers because of its proximity to Manila. With an elevation of 739 meters above sea level (MASL), the mountain contains some challenging slopes going up but you’ll be rewarded with a scenic view of the Sierra Madre and a sea of clouds if you hike early.
Upon descending Mt. Daraitan, you’ll also pass by Tinipak River—a perfect ending after your hike. Here, you can swim and remove all the mud you’ve collected along the way before going home.
2. Mt. Balagbag at Rodriguez, Rizal
Hike or bike through Mt. Balagbag and get a good cardio workout.
Mt. Balagbag is a great mountain to climb if you’re just starting out as a hiker. The trail going to the mountain’s summit is wide and can be reached in around an hour or two even without a guide. Once you reach the top, you’ll have an amazing view of the Sierra Madre mountain range.
The trail going up to Mt. Balagbag’s summit doesn’t have many trees to cover you from the sun so it’s best to put on sunblock and wear appropriate clothes for protection. If you’re a biker, you’d find company here as many bike enthusiasts also enjoy the mountain’s challenging trail.
Who knew you could catch a sea of clouds near Manila?
Image: Benj Tupas
The trail of Mt. Cayabu and Mt. Maynoba just opened a couple of years ago to tourists but it has since gained popularity for giving hikers a chance to see a sea of clouds. You and your team need to start the hike early if you want to see this natural marvel.
If in case you miss the sea of clouds, the hike still offers a great view of the Sierra Madre and other nearby mountains. After hiking the summits of both mountains, you will pass by eight waterfalls on your descent where you can take a dip after a tiring hike.
Witness Taal Lake from above at Mt. Maculot’s Rockies.
Another challenging but very rewarding hike is Mt. Maculot. There are three popular spots in Mt. Maculot: the Rockies, the Summit, and the Grotto. The first stop is the Rockies where you have to climb some boulders to catch a gorgeous view of Taal Lake.
Some choose to end their climb once they reach the Rockies, but if you’re in for a challenge you can continue your hike and reach the mountain’s summit that also offers a view of Taal Lake and the town of Batangas. After reaching the summit, you can start your descent and pass by the Grotto before ending your hike.
5. Mt. Batulao at Nasugbu, Batangas
Witness this beauty when you hike Mt. Batulao.
Mt. Batulao has its own challenges to make your trip interesting and fun. There are two trails up the mountain, namely the Old trail and the New trail. You can go down the same way you went up or you can choose one trail going up and then take the other going down.
One of the most challenging parts of Mt. Batulao is the steep trail towards the summit. But once you overcome these slopes that range from 60 to 70 degrees, you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the city of Batangas plus an ice cream or halo-halo at the summit.
Thinking of Lord of the Rings? It’s actually in Mabini, Batangas!
Mt. Pinagbanderahan, more popularly known as Mt. Gulugod Baboy, is another hike perfect for beginners. Although the hike starts with a short but steep concrete trail, it eventually gets easier as you near the summit. Once you’re at the top of the mountain, you’ll get a great view of Batangas Bay and Balayan Bay.
After hiking Mt. Gulugod Baboy, you can extend your trip and visit the nearby beaches in the city. You and your group can visit Sombrero Island known for its white sand beach or you can also spend a day at Masasa Beach.
7. Mt. Manalmon at San Miguel, Bulacan
Overcoming Mt. Manalmon requires more than just hiking.
For those who are craving for an action-packed day, Mt. Manalmon would be a good destination as it offers more than just a climb. Aside from going on an enjoyable hike, you can also pass by Madlum Cave where the popular fantasy series Mulawin was shot and Bayukbok Cave 1 and Cave 2 where you can enjoy a spelunking adventure.
Upon descent, you can have some downtime at Madlum River to freshen up. You can also try crossing the Monkey Bridge if you’re still itching for more adventure. If you’re still game to hike, you can also do a twin hike and conquer the nearby Mt. Gola.
8. Mt. Bira-Bira aka Mt. Nagsasa at Subic, Zambales
Jaws will be dropping with this amazing view from Mt. Bira-Bira.
Image: Gerald Rago
Another great sea and summit trip is Mt. Bira-Bira with a side trip to Nagsasa Cove. Mt. Bira-Bira is found to be easier compared to most mountains as it has a low elevation and doesn’t have steep climbs. As you reach the summit, you’ll be able to see nearby mountains including Mt. Cinco Picos and Mt. Balingkilat, as well as a view of Nagsasa Cove.
The trail going to the summit consists mostly of a wide expanse of grasslands, a few brooks, and little to no trees, so it’s best to be prepared for the sun and heat. The trail ends at Nagsasa Cove, where you can take a much-needed swim after your hike.
9. Tarak Ridge at Mariveles, Bataan
Hardcore hikers can also enjoy a stimulating climb at Tarak Ridge.
If you’re looking for a challenging hike a few hours away from Manila, Tarak Ridge can be the perfect destination for you. The ridge is part of Mt. Mariveles’ numerous peaks which offers a challenging and moderate to hard difficulty. Be ready as there might be points when you’ll need to use both hands and feet to conquer the mountain.
Upon reaching the summit, you’ll see islands like Corregidor, Manila Bay, and Cavite. Although you can summit and descend Tarak Ridge in one day, you can also spend the night and witness a beautiful sunrise and sea of clouds early in the morning.
10. Mt. Pinatubo via Capas, Tarlac
The seven-kilometer trek is worth it once you reach Mt. Pinatubo’s crater.
Image: Joana Dalida-Rosellon
Probably one of the most famous hiking trails in the country is Mt. Pinatubo. The mountain is known for its eruption in 1991 that produced massive lahar floods and destroyed any living thing around it. Today, the mountain is a popular spot among hikers.
The seven-kilometer trek to Mount Pinatubo consists mostly of rugged terrain and a couple of river crossings before you reach the picturesque crater. The crater is famous for its ever-changing waters that transform from blue to green, and sometimes a mixture of both. Start as early as you can as no one is allowed by the tourism administration to go to the crater after 10:00 AM.
A reminder before you head to the mountains: be a responsible hiker. Follow the leave no trace (LNT) principle and respect the guidelines imposed by the local authorities in the area.
Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced climber, there’s a mountain near Manila that you can conquer.
Note:This article was originally published in Yoorekka on February 23, 2018
About Patricia Marie Prado
Patricia came from the field of business and accounting but is now pursuing her dreams of being a writer. She is a self-confessed introvert and is passionate about reading, travelling, writing, movies, coffee and God. When she's not writing, she loves discovering new coffee shops/cafe and doing TV-series marathons.
Disclaimer: All articles in the Consumers Magazine of Yoorekka are
for general information and entertainment purposes only. Although
careful research has been made in writing them, Yoorekka does not
make any warranty about the completeness and accuracy of all
information presented in our articles. Our content is not intended
to be used in place of legal, medical, or any professional advice.