One of the things that make Cebu a great trekking destination is how our beautiful mountains are just a few hours away from civilization. There’s no need to travel for several hours or make use of multiple modes of transportation just to reach the jump-off points, which is usually the case for the other mountains in the country.
Another great thing about the mountains in Cebu is that they’re not as high as those in other places in the Philippines, which means you can spend half of the day trekking and be back home in time to do your school work or have dinner with your family.
Embark on a fun weekend adventure by trekking any of these peaks in beautiful Cebu.
1. Osmeña Peak, Dalaguete
Osmeña Peak straddles the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian. At 1,013 meters, it is the tallest peak in Cebu. Surprisingly, it is also one of the easiest to climb. Just take a bus to the Mantalongon Public Market and hike across the lush vegetable farms for an hour. If that is too tedious for you, you can ride a motorcycle for hire that will take you to the base of the mountain itself.
At the top of the peak, you will witness one of the most stunning vistas in all of Cebu, with numerous karst formations that look like Bohol’s Peanut Kisses surrounding you. And beyond that range is the cerulean channel of Tañon Strait and the blue mountains of Negros.
If that’s not challenging enough for you, you can traverse hike to Kawasan Falls in Badian, which usually takes 5 to 7 hours to complete.
2. Candongao Peak, Badian
The ease of climbing Osmeña Peak makes it a trekker’s favorite, which, understandably, also makes it overcrowded. If you don’t like large crowds, you can visit an alternative peak in the vicinity. Candongao Peak is a rocky promontory that offers a spectacular karst scenery of Badian. From the top, you can see limestone hills, checkered farms, and small but bustling communities, all in symphony with the fresh, mountain air.
You can either do a short but steep climb from Dalaguete, or an arduous but scenic trek from Badian to get to Candongao Peak.
3. Mt. Manunggal, Balamban
Mt. Manunggal in Balamban is an important mountain. Do you know why? This is the very mountain where President Ramon Magsaysay, the People’s President, perished when his plane crashed in March 17, 1957. Aside from its historical significance, it’s also the perfect mountain for newbie mountaineers, with its evergreen trees, easy trails, complete facilities, and sari-sari stores. While you are up here, make sure to visit the Pinatubo engine memorial and the former President’s monument.
You can get to Mt. Manunggal from Gaas Road, which leads directly to the campsite. For a more challenging trek, use the Tabunan trail which follows the slope of the mountain.
4. Sirao Peak, Busay
Climbing Sirao Peak is an all-in-one adventure. You start by following the Budlaan River in Talamban and you then refresh yourself with the clear, cool waters of Kabang Falls, the main highlight of Budlaan River. After a filling lunch, scramble up large boulders, navigate your way through winding trails, and enter a thick jungle. After exiting the woods, you then enter a field of grasslands and strange, indigenous trees which will make you feel like you’re in Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings. Make a final push to the summit through an expansive, rocky slope of sharp cogon grass.
A breathtaking view of Metro Cebu becomes your reward for all that hard work. Many trekkers opt to camp at the peak. That’s because the view becomes more magical when the city lights come to life.
5. Mt. Babag, Guadalupe
Mt. Babag is a favorite among trekkers who don’t have much time to spare. Located just right at the edge of the city where the mountain range begins, it is easy to get to the jump-off point. And due to its unforgiving and steep 45 to 70-degree ascents, Mt. Babag has also become a training ground for trekkers who want to climb higher mountains in the Philippines.
Colorful flower farms, quiet pockets of civilization, green jungles, and a dazzling view of Cebu City at the peak all await the trekkers who wish to climb Mt. Babag.
6. Mt. Hambubuyog, Ginatilan
A trek up Mt. Hambubuyog begins with a refreshing dip in Inambakan Falls, one of Cebu’s most majestic waterfalls. The climb is straightforward but long and arduous, following a gradually ascending trail to the peak that passes through farmlands, jungles, and communities. Moreover, the trail is fully exposed to the sun, which makes it extra challenging.
The summit of Mt. Hambubuyog is a grassy hill. Here, you can enjoy a great view of Tañon Strait and neighboring Negros Island.
7. Mt. Lanaya, Alegria
The imposing Mt. Lanaya looms over the municipality of Alegria like an eternal sentinel. The climb to its summit is no easy feat as you’d have to scramble up a 60-degree slope that is made up of loose rocks. Ropes are highly recommended to help you climb. But the hardest part is that there are virtually no trees to provide shade, nor will you find a water source along the way. You will have to carefully conserve your water for the duration of the trek.
The final obstacle to Kalo-Kalo Peak, its summit, is a 15-foot high cliff. But once you’re over that, you will be mesmerized at the 360-degree view of southern Cebu’s beauty.
8. Mt. Kapayas, Catmon
Mt. Kapayas is located at the northern municipality of Catmon and getting to the foot of the mountain is a tricky two-hour challenge. Why? Well, you need to ride a motorcycle on muddy dirt roads and, depending on how you are going to approach the mountain, you may need to ride on a riverbed!
From the jump-off point, you hike to a friendly community and walk on an easy but rocky trail that crosses hills and jungles. Wear a hat, the sun bakes the mountain with utmost ferocity.
The final push to the summit is the most exciting – and the most dangerous – part. You need to climb unaided up a cliff-like rock! But when you do reach the bouldery summit, you’ll be rewarded with a cool view of lush mountain ranges and beautiful valleys.
9. Mt. KM 28, Toledo
A new trekking destination, Mt. KM 28 is the perfect mountain for an overnight stay. Being far from the city, the air up here is totally refreshing. But the best thing about Mt. KM 28 is how the trail traverses varied terrain.
You pass over green hills, corn and vegetable farms, and grassy glens. Best of all, the exit trail passess through an old man-made forest. You will definitely feel small beneath the thick canopies and the humongous trunks of decade-old trees.
10. Cebu Highlands Trail
To truly test your limits, try out the Cebu Highlands Trail, the Visayas’ first long-distance hiking trail. Mapped and explored for 6 years and established by bushcrafter, survivalist, and Warrior Pilgrimage by Pinoy Apache blogger Mr. Jing Laviles, the mountain trail follows the entire length of Cebu. Considering the bends, turns, and changes in altitude, the CHT is over 400 kilometers long. That’s a month-long hike in the wilderness and mountains of Cebu. Mr. Laviles is supported by various entities such as Camp Red, the provincial tourism board of Cebu, and other private organizations.
Hiking the entire CHT requires an immense amount of physical and mental preparation. You also need to plan out logistics and resupply points.
But if that is not possible due to work, physical limitations, or whatever reason, you can still hike the CHT by segment. Simply allot a few days to conquer a segment, and make a promise to yourself to add another segment in the future. Sooner or later, you will complete the CHT.
So what are you waiting for? Challenge yourself and experience the lovely mountains and hiking trails of tropical Cebu!