With the opening of several mountain trails in Rizal, a neighboring province of Metro Manila, it is now becoming a frequented destination among outdoor enthusiasts from the city who have limited time to travel.
The characteristics of these hiking destinations feature beautifully forested trails and limestone rock formations at its peaks. One such new addition, which was opened to hikers in 2015, is Mt. Lubog in the municipality of Rodriguez.
The trailhead is in a remote community in the mountains located at 600 MASL (Meters Above Sea Level). To get here, hikers are picked up at Barangay San Rafael by drivers using customized motorcycles with a sidecar that has no walls, no roofs, and has wooden planks for seats. These powerful modes of transportation that can tolerate the harsh, mountainous terrain, can seat more than two persons and are commonly referred to as habal-habal.
The ride to the jump-off is equally exciting as the hike itself. It goes around a mountain, passing an off-road trail. This trail is a combination of rocks and soil, or mud when it rains. While traveling, you’ll sway hard, cling for your dear life, and occasionally your butt will fly off your seat. To describe it as a bumpy ride is downplaying it.
The habal-habal ride takes approximately two to three hours and is actually more physically demanding than the actual hike itself.
The trail to the peak of Mt. Lubog is not technical but can get muddy especially after a downpour. By taking careful steps and watching out for roots and sharp rocks on the ground, it is very manageable especially to those who are just getting started with mountain hikes. Along the trail, you will be welcomed by gigantic trees and enormous rock formations — a joyful sight for tree huggers and nature lovers.
A 90-minute hike at a relaxed pace will get you to its limestone peak, situated at 955+ MASL (Meters Above Sea Level). While there is no wide flat space, it has numerous rock formations that are good vantage points to view Sierra Madre, the Philippines’ longest mountain range that extends from the province of Quezon to Cagayan Valley.
It is a short hike that can be maximized by taking side trips to Lubog Cave (its entrance is just along the trail to the summit) and a dip at the nearby Panintingan Falls.
Other mountains in Rizal that have the same kind of rocky peaks are Mt. Daraitan, Mt. Pamitinan, Mt. Binacayan, Mt. Irid, and Masungi Georeserve. For a more challenging experience, combine it with a hike to a neighboring mountain, Mt. Balagbag.
How to make this happen?
Get in touch with Kagawad Peter at Barangay Puray at +63 928 464 7447. He will also make arrangements for the motorbike pick-up at Barangay San Rafael. Cellphone reception in the area is weak so exercise a little patience in your correspondence. For additional information on Mt. Lubog, check out Pinoy Mountaineer, an online guide to hiking in the Philippines.
loHow to get to the jump-off?
At Farmer’s Market in Cubao (Quezon City), take an *FX bound for Rodriguez (previously named but still commonly referred to as Montalban) in the province of Rizal. Travel time is approximately 90 minutes.
Alight at Total Gas Station in Rodriguez. It is also possible to bring a private vehicle up to Barangay San Rafael and park it beside the barangay hall. Meet with your habal-habal driver and take the motorcycle ride to Sitio Puray, Barangay Lubog where you will have to register and meet with your guides. Ride will take about two to three hours.
*FX is a public vehicle named after the Toyota Tamaraw FX model.
|Habal-Habal Ride||₱1,000 for 3-5 persons|
|Guide Fee||₱500 per group of 5|
Hiking Preparation for First-Timers
To enjoy your time in the mountains, it is recommended that you do cardiovascular exercises prior to hiking. For a minor hike, working out three times a week for at least 30 minutes one month before the hike should be sufficient. Some helpful exercises include swimming, running, climbing up the stairs or using an elliptical machine. You will be relying on your thighs and heart during steep sections, and your knees when going down a mountain.
Those with medical conditions or unsure of their health should consult with their doctor prior to hiking.
What to bring during the hike?
Food and hydration
Food which will prevent leg cramps include those that contain Sodium (salty food like nuts), Potassium (banana, melon, fish, milk, avocados), Calcium (almond, cheese), Magnesium (whole grains, dark leafy vegetables) and electrolytes (sports drinks). More here.
For a hike to Mt. Lubog, bring 1.5 liters of fluids for hydration. It can be a combination of sports drinks and water. Bring more if you easily get thirsty. There are also stores in the area where you can buy drinks but options may be limited.
First aid kit, garbage bag, flashlight or headlamp (even if you’re just hiking for a few hours), whistle (to call out for emergencies), protection from heat and rain like cap, waterproof jacket. For a more comprehensive list, check out this Day Hiking Checklist from REI.
Responsible Hiking Tips
Bring your own trash bag and dispose of your garbage in a proper location outside the mountain. You may see trash bags at the rest areas along the trail but avoid using these and just bring your own garbage down to avoid contributing to litter. To help preserve the beauty of the mountain, do not write on the rock formations or tree trunks.
For more information on how to reduce your impact in the trails, read this guide from Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
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