Day Hike to Mt. Balagbag

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Yesterday, we went a for a quick day hike to Mt. Balagbag, a 777masl Sierra Madre peak situated between Rizal and Bulacan. Its proximity to Metro Manila (just an hour or so from Novaliches) and wide, easy trail make it perfect for a half-day itinerary when you just want to make a quick escape for the weekend.

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Most people would pair a Balagbag hike with a climb to another peak, or a visit to one of many nearby waterfalls in the area. However, we only wanted to visit Maranat Falls, and it was closed because of a recent holdup incident in the area. Nevertheless, our trip was not a waste as Balagbag is still a beautiful trail that is worth exploring on its own.

Many hikers follow an itinerary that starts from the Rodriguez, Rizal jumpoff, but since most people in our group live in Fairview and had cars, we headed to nearer Licao Licao in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan to start our trek. After buying additional snacks / putting on gear and sunscreen, we started at around 8 am from Licao-Licao, only paying for the registration (P10 or P20, I don’t remember) when we reached Balagbag elementary school along the trail.

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Madre Cacao
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Registration at the Balagbag center

The assault, as mentioned, is very easy, with a mild incline and a wide-open dirt trail. There are also lots of stores and houses (even resorts!) that dot the first third or half of the trail, which is also being used by locals who are on their way to pick vegetables or sell refreshments to tourists. It actually feels more like a leisurely walk than a full-on rugged adventure.

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Photo by Ranie

Apparently, Balagbag is also a favorite destination for bikers and 4-wheel drive enthusiasts, and we actually saw a lot of them headed for the summit, too.

We reached the summit in about 1-2 hours (and this was because we took quite a few stops for pictures and rest! I think if we had less pauses, we would’ve reached the summit faster). Balagbag’s helipad-like summit is a wide, flat spot that is also popular for camping. From the top, you get a good view of the Sierra Madre, Metro Manila, and nearby Ipo watershed. The locals told us that the night view is actually better, when Ortigas and other nearby cities lit up below the stars.

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The view from the summit

We opted to have an early lunch at the summit’s clearing, and after that, it was a quick descent (it was very hot, the midday sun was beating down on us and I was glad that I wore a long-sleeved shirt), to see parts of the trail we might have overlooked earlier.

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We don’t know why this bathtub was in the middle of nowhere
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There are lots of medium-sized rocks on one part of the trail that are perfect for photo-ops and getting a nice view of the city

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So I guess the next question is – which mountain should I head to next? 🙂

All photos taken on a Samsung Note 5 and post-processed on Lightroom

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