Solo Hike to Mt. Balagbag

Three years ago, I was going through a somewhat low phase in life. I’m not the type of person who would stay in bed all day and sulk when going through stuff like this. I prefer keeping myself busy. One of the things that helped me cope was hiking. And not having someone to do it with didn’t stop me. All I needed to do was look for a mountain near Metro Manila that is suitable for a solo hike. Mt. Balagbag fits my requirement.

The week following my hike to Mt. Balagbag, I was scheduled to go on 32-day fieldwork in the mine site. I wanted so badly to go hiking before leaving for fieldwork. Unfortunately, no one’s available to accompany me in my hike so I did it alone. (What’s new?)

Mt. Balagbag is located in Rodriguez, Rizal. It is part of the Sierra Madre range. With an elevation of over 700 MASL, it offers views of Ortigas and Makati’s skyline and some parts of Metro Manila. The trail is easy, wide and very straightforward. Even if you don’t get a guide you won’t get lost. The only challenge when hiking, especially if you start close to midday is that it’s going to be so hot. The trail is barren; there are no trees at all.

How the trail of Mt. Balagbag looks like- wide and easy. It’s like this all the way up.

View from the trail

How to Get There

From Metro Manila: Board a bus or van bound for Tungko in Cubao or Philcoa. Alight in Jollibee or BDO Tungko. Ride a jeep bound to Licao-Licao. Once you reach Licao-Licao, you can ride a tricycle going to the registration office or you can hike your way there.

This is where you register prior to hiking.

The Hike

Mt. Balagbag is one of the easiest mountains I hiked. The hike to the summit takes less than an hour. Although a guide is not required, along the way I got bored. I met a young boy on the trail who offered to guide me. He told me his family needs money to buy rice. As a way of helping him and so that I will have someone to talk to, I decided to hire him.

My guide

There are a few stores along the trail and one close to the summit. The summit serves as a campsite. There is a hut where one could take a rest and enjoy the cool breeze of the mountain.

With Mang Ric Yusi, a senior citizen I met at the summit. He hikes during weekends and with him are his neighbors.

At the summit

Not a very good shot but this is the view from the summit. The Ortigas and Makati skyscrapers are not so clear in this picture.

Overall, my hike to Mt. Balagbag was a good one. The locals were very friendly. During the time that I hiked it, I felt that it is very safe even for solo hikers. However, last year or two years ago there were reports of hold-up along the trail. So for safety reasons, it is best to hike in big groups of 5-10 members. Avoid hiking alone or in small groups especially in the late hours of the night or the early hours of the dawn.

Tips:

  • If you can, try to start early so that the climb won’t be too exhausting.
  • Bring lots of water.
  • Slather on sunblock to protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
  • Bring an umbrella. You’ll be needing it if you start past 9 am.
  • Bring face towel as you’ll be perspiring a lot.
  • Leave no trace. Don’t leave your trash anywhere in the mountain.
  • Exercise caution at all times.

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