Pilipil Red Soil Hike in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur

Last Updated on July 20, 2021 by Tina

Last Saturday, I had to wake up extra early (3:30 AM) to join the Hike for a Cause in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur organized by the SK Federation of Cervantes. It was a hike to the top of Pilipil Red Soil.`It was my first hike in the province of Ilocos Sur.

Cervantes is a 4th class municipality in Ilocos Sur and it is bordered on the southeast by Mankayan, Benguet.

The ticket says registration is 4:00 AM and departure from the starting point is 4:30 PM. But we left our camp in Colalo, Mankayan, Benguet which is a 10-15 minutes drive to the assembly area at 4:00 AM because my colleagues said they never start on time anyway. And they were right.

From the waiting shed in Brgy. Pilipil along Cervantes-Mankayan-Abatan Road, we had to go down and cross a 100-meter long cable suspension footbridge. It was a bit hard to cross the bridge because it was still dark.

Hanging bridge
The hanging bridge that we had to cross before getting to the assembly area.

The assembly area was at the school grounds of Pilipil Elementary School. After registering, we were asked to do a count-off. At 5:30 AM, we started the hike.

Hiking Pilipil Red Soil

From the school, we walked towards the rice fields. We walked on the embankment (pilapil) of the ricefields until we reached the stairs going up. From this point up, it was very tiring. The first few hundred meters of the trail is a stair made of stones. It was slippery because it rained the day before our hike. It was also a continuous ascent and quite steep.

Though we’ve had long hikes twice within the week prior to the hike, I still got exhausted and had to rest a few times. The first 2 kilometers of the trail are probably the hardest part. If I remember it correctly, many parts of the trail are shaded.

It took us two hours to reach the top, rests included and 1 hour 20 minutes going down. If I were to rate it, I’d say it’s 2 or 2.5/9. It is harder than Prayer Mountain in Mankayan, but it can be done even by beginners. The trail was well established. There is a shed and a spring water source halfway to the top.

The hike was more than 9 km long (back and forth) and the elevation of the summit is 980 meters. Because I have had some warm-up hikes prior to hiking Red Soil, I didn’t feel any pain the day after the hike. I was just very tired after the hike that I was so sleepy but that was it.

Pictures from the Trail of Pilipil Red Soil

The hike is really tiring, but halfway through the hike to the top, you are rewarded with scenic views. Here are some pictures from the trail.

When you reach this point, the trail to the top is not steep anymore.

When you see this, it means you are already very close to the finish line
Rest area/picnic area about 20 minutes away from the top.
Rest area/picnic area about 20 minutes away from the top.

View from the Top

As you approach the top, you will be rewarded with these views:

Red soil
Me as a scale.

Red soil up close

From the red soil, walk a few hundred meters more to reach the peak. From the peak, these are your views:

How do you get to the jump-off point of Pilipil Red Soil?

With the current situation, I am not sure if tourists are already allowed to hike here. In case you are able to do so, the jump-off point is near the Camay Border (Cervantes-Mankayan Border). But you need to go to the barangay hall of Brgy. Pilipil first and register. They will also provide a guide for you. I just don’t know how much is the guide fee.

Brgy. Pilipil in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur is a four-hour drive from Baguio City via the Halsema Highway then Cervantes-Mankayan-Abatan Road.

If you are taking public transportation, you can take a van bound to Lepanto at the van terminal located at the back of Baguio Center Mall (Baguio City Dangwa Station). Alight at the plaza of Mankayan and take a jeepney to Cervantes. There is also a van bound to Camay Border, but I do not know where is the van terminal in Baguio City.

From San Juan, La Union, it is a four-hour drive via Bessang Pass.

Tips When Doing the Pilipil Red Soil Hike

  • Start early so that it will still be cool. The hike might get more exhausting if you start late because it will be too hot already.
  • Bring lots of water to hydrate yourself and a face towel to wipe your perspiration.
  • Bring an umbrella, just in case it rains or when it gets too hot.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with good grip and thick socks. It is really important that your shoes have good traction because the trail is slippery when it’s wet.
  • Apply sunblock to protect your skin from getting sunburned and from harmful UV rays.
  • Leave no trace. Don’t leave your trash in the mountain. No one’s going to clean it up for you.
  • Exercise caution at all times.

The hike to Pilipil Red Soil was tiring but it was worth it because of the amazing views.

I hope you like the pictures from the hike. Do leave a message below for any inquiries or suggestions. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog yet, please do so you don’t miss any of my posts. More hiking posts coming soon. And please follow my Facebook page @iwentanyways and like my Instagram accounts @iwentanyways and @tnadeperalta for updates.

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