Tired of navigating the concrete jungles of Manila? Now’s the time to pack your bags, ready your gears and must-have travel gadgets, and experience hiking in the Philippines!
Hiking outdoors is a natural stress reliever. “There’s a real sense of peace and composure you get from being outside and away from everything,” according to Dr. Aaron Baggish, associate director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. With that being said, file that well deserved vacation leave and explore the Philippine islands by exploring these 15 picturesque but challenging mountains:
1. Mt. Daraitan
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Located in Tanay, Rizal, Mount Daraitan can be easily accessed from Manila. It takes three to four hours to reach its summit where one can see the Sierra Madre mountain range. Once you are done enjoying the view, head down to a different trail that leads to the famous Tinipak River and its limestone boulders, white marbled rocks, caves, and natural pools where you can swim or try river rafting. Trail difficulty is easy, making it one of the favorite hike locations for beginners.
2. Mt. Pamitinan
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Found in Rodriguez, Rizal, this mountain is 426 meters above sea level. It has two summits, the first being famous for people taking “buwis-buhay” (life-threatening) photos as they stand at the edge of a cliff for the perfect shot. To reach the second summit, you need to rappel your way up sandwiched between two limestone boulders.
On certain occasions, you can even take a glimpse of eagles flying over the mountains. This nature hike can be a bit difficult for first-time hikers because of the steep and inclined slopes at the beginning of the trail which ends up in a muddy landscape. You can also take a side trip to Pamitinan and Binacayan caves; the latter being one of the hiding places of the Katipuneros during the revolution and then take a dip at Wawa Dam to relax.
3. Mt. Maynoba
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Also located in Tanay, Rizal, this mountain is the best location for both hiking and swimming. If you reach the summit early in the morning, you’ll get to enjoy the sea of clouds right after the sunrise. When you traverse to the nearby Mount Cayabu, you will pass by the Eight Wonderfalls: Catmon Falls, Gintuan Falls, Gugulong na Bato Falls, Lantay Falls, Pantay Falls, Mangganiso Falls, Maynoba Falls, and the highest among them, the Natatagong Paraiso Falls. The trail is beginner-friendly.
4. Mt. Batulao
Located in Nasugbu, Batangas, Mount Batulao’s summit offers a 360-degree view of rocky landscapes, mountains, and plains of Batangas and Cavite. Before reaching the summit, one can see the mountain’s gorilla-shaped ridgeline. This is one of the best day hikes in the Philippines and is suited for beginners as well.
5. Mt. Maculot
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Situated in Cuenca, Batangas, Mount Maculot is famous for the Rockies, one of the three destinations when you traverse this mountain. It has one of the best views of Taal lake and volcano. The other two destinations are the Summit and Grotto, which have their own charming landscape. Because of its steep incline wherein ropes are even needed to prevent one from slipping, hiking in this mountain is more suited for second- to third-time hikers.
6. Mt. Talamitam
Mount Talamitam is located in Nasugbu, Batangas. It will only take roughly two hours to reach its summit that reveals a panoramic view of Mount Batulao, Taal Lake, Tagaytay City, and other nearby cities. The mountain has a lot of Talamitam trees. While it is considered to be one of the best hiking locations for beginners in the Philippines, the 60-degree assault to the summit may pose a challenge but is not impossible to overcome.
7. Mt. Daguldol
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Because Mount Daguldol is situated in San Juan, Batangas, there is a nearby beach at the foot of the mountain. You can both hike and swim in one day and get to enjoy a hot bulalo if you’re still in the mood to head to Tagaytay post-hike. It takes three to four hours to reach its grassy slope summit where you can see Mt. Nanguiling, Mt. Lobo, Mt. Banoi, parts of Mt. Maculot, and the beach below. There are also streams and waterfalls along the trail. This is one of the best locations for beginners to hike in the Philippines.
8. Taal Volcano
Before starting your 40-minute hike to Taal Volcano, you must first take a 25-minute boat ride. Upon reaching its summit, you will see the famous Vulcan Point, a huge rock or tiny islet where vegetation grows. To get an unobstructed view of its crater lake, go to the Red Lave were its red crimson earth vis-a-vis the emerald green waters. This nature hike in the Philippines is best for beginners.
9. Mt. Pinatubo
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Located in Capas, Tarlac, Mt. Pinatubo is famous for its clear water that changes from green to blue depending on the weather. Hiking Pinatubo is sure to be a fun adventure as one will have to take a 1.5-hour 4x4 jeep ride through the white dusty desert, rock gardens, and streams.
Other nature hikes in the Philippines offer a view of lush trees, but hiking in Mt. Pinatubo is special on its own as hikers will only see a landscape straight out of a Mad Max movie: long stretches of sand, ash, and white gray formations. This is also a great destination for first-time hikers.
10. Mt. Ulap
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Located in Itogon, Benguet, a three-hour hike to the summit of Mount Ulap will reveal a view of the Cordilleras. This nature hike is also a good way to learn about the Igorot culture as you pass by burial caves and hanging bridges.
When hiking on good weather where the clouds are clear, you can see Mt. Ugo and Mt. Pulag from afar. If you’re an experienced hiker, then Mt. Ulap shouldn’t be that hard to climb; however, it might be tedious for beginners. So exercise, do cardio and condition your mind and body before ascending Mount Ulap.
11. Mt. Pulag
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Also located in Benguet, Mt. Pulag is the third highest mountain in the country and is 2,992 meters above sea level. It takes three days to conquer this mountain with four available trails to the summit: Ambangeg, Akiki, Tawangan, and Ambaguio (with its jump-off point at Nueva Vizcaya).
The Ambangeg trail is easier and more friendly to beginners taking only four to five hours to reach the summit. If you’re looking for a challenge, you can take the Tawangan trail and spend ten to eleven hours before reaching the summit. The Akiki trail was recently closed after the forest fire that occurred there.
Since Mt. Pulag is considered to be sacred ground, hikers are expected to follow a few rules when hiking. Mt. Pulag is a favorite hiking destination in the Philippines because of the exquisite views of the sea of clouds and the Milky Way Galaxy. It is also the home of the dwarf bamboo found only in Mt. Pulag and Mt. Halcon in Oriental Mindoro. If you’re interested to climb this sacred mountain, be ready to combat the cold. This hike is more suitable for experienced hikers.
12. Mt. Halcon
Mt. Halcon is 2,586 meters above sea level and is located in Oriental Mindoro. It is considered one of the hardest mountains to hike in the Philippines. Hiking season in this mountain is from mid-January to the end of May. A hiking permit is required before being allowed to hike.
It takes four days to reach the summit with trails having steep slopes and mossy rocks, and rivers to cross. If you’re fortunate, you can even catch sight of a wild boar wandering around. The summit of Mount Halcon offers a breathtaking view of the sea of clouds. This mountain is for experienced hikers as a slight change in the weather can bring about significant changes in the trails.
13. Angol Point to Mt. Luho
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While Boracay is famous for its white-sand beaches, it is also one of the best hiking destinations in the Visayas. Hiking from Angol Point to Mt. Luho in Barangay Bulabog is sure to be a fun adventure to remember. Upon reaching the summit of Mt. Luho, there are four viewing decks that offer a 360-degree panoramic view of the island. There are even ziplines and cable cars available in Happy Planet view deck. If you want to hike the easy way, rides are available to and from the base, making it one of the best hiking destinations for anyone who loves to see a picturesque view. While you’re at Boracay, you can rest Alta Vista de Boracay for a relaxing and enjoyable stay.
14. Mt. Apo
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Known as the “Grandfather of all Philippine mountains,” Mount Apo stands 2,954 meters above sea level in Davao del Sur. This mountain has three major summits and its crater is home to the famous crystal clear Lake Venado as well as 270 bird species, 100 of which are endemic.
It takes approximately three days to conquer its steep trails, passing through thick mossy forests and giant boulders. It is important to exercise well when preparing to ascend Mt. Apo. Be sure to be with a group of well-experienced and easy-to-get-along adventure buddies when hiking.
15. Mt. Hamiguitan
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Located in Davao Oriental, Mt. Hamiguitan home to a mossy-pygmy forest ecosystem, and stands 1,620 meters above sea level. The Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the home of more than 1,400 flora and fauna species. There are 1,380 species of animals, 341 of which are found only in the Philippines, and 12 can only be found in Mt. Hamiguitan.
It takes one to two days to reach its summit. Near its summit, you will find the Tinagong Dagat, a lake known for its mystical low and high tides, and the Twin Falls. Complete your fun adventure by taking a swim at the Cawa-Cawa Pool. This hike is considered a major climb and is more suitable for experienced hikers hungry for knowledge about the Philippines’ flora and fauna.
The Philippines’ islands are rich with mountains to hike. Take a higher perspective of things, test your endurance and skills, and push your limits. Explore the Philippines by hiking one mountain at a time.