When in Manila and in need of a truly challenging day hike, the options are somewhat limited. The popular destinations are often too short for serious hikers, taking under five hours to finish a back trail. Many are crowded, and polluted with noise and trash. However, there are still gems of trails out there.
Philippine Day Hike Adventure – Mt. Makiling with Trail Adventours
What if there was a trail that offered both convenience and a physical test? What if there was a trail that was legally protected and open to public access? It’s a good thing that such a trail exists: Mt. Makiling, in Los Banos, Laguna.
At 1090 meters above sea level, Mt. Makiling is hardly a contender for lofty summits to add to one’s peak bagging list. However, height is often not the primary purpose of hiking up Mt. Makiling, especially on the version that we did, a full traverse.
The mountain sits at the heart of the Makiling Forest Reserve, in the province of Laguna, just a few hours south of Metro Manila. The Makiling Traverse, “MakTrav”, begins at the community of Barangay San Miguel, and ends at the College of Forestry, University of the Philippines – Los Banos (UPLB). The trail is lush, thick, and pristine – owing to its protected nature.
My friend and professional guide Jeric Tugaff, an experienced guide with Trail Adventours, led the hike (who I hiked with during the Nagsasa Cove day hike adventure). He gave us a quick warm-up session at the trailhead, and reminded us of the “Leave No Trace” principle, especially important in a protected nature reserve like Makiling’s.
We began the hike along community trails, and passed by evidences of scientific research. Trees had markers, and there were small cordoned-off sites, presumably for forestry research. Birds were quite loud on most parts of the trail, testament to the rich flora and fauna in this hiking destination.
The trail was reasonably challenging, especially for our team members who have never done a major day hike before. After just a couple of hours, the intense humidity of the trails were getting to us; we were sweating buckets and going through trail snacks at a rate faster than we wanted. We had to conserve water though, as there was only one water source along the whole hike.