Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mt. Balagbag - San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal - February 2013

“If we know exactly where we're going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we'll see along the way, we won't learn anything. ”  ― M. Scott Peck
Mt. Balabag is a mountain not too far from the city. The Helipad at 780MASL is what people refer to as its summit. It provides a view of Malabon, Manila's Port area, Ortigas and Makati's cityline and stretches as far as Manila's Baywalk, Paranaque and Cavite. Mountaineers, Mountain bikers as well as Motocrossers make this a frequent weekend escape to full fill their fixes. The trail is very established, heck-One can even take a 4x4 up until the summit.

Sitio Balabags trail, although closer to Quezon City via commute, is located in Barangay San Isidro and is family to Rodriguez Rizal.

To get there.
Take a bus to Tungko. Board off the Tungko Terminal and locate the Jeeps going to Licao Licao. Val decided to take their family van so we took the long route relying only on my phones Map and GPS. If you're a pack of Motorcycle guys, you'll love burning your balls via the Payatas route which is a long dirt road converging at the Licao Licao Junction.

At the Licao Licao Junction, fill up your supplies and load up on food at the Eatery at the corner. There are also other eatery's along the way. From here, if you arrived via commute, starts your hike. Possibly unconventional to some, but this mountain is generally populated, with a wide dirt road and a community almost up until the path going to the summit.

If you have a vehicle, you can thread all the way up passing by the Grotto, Veterans and the Viewdeck (Falls). After these landmarks, is the Balagbag Health Center. There is also an elementary school and a basketball court here and offers wider road sides -convenient for parking your ride.

Doing such, cuts your hike almost 50%. Thread further and the dirt road starts to incline. Houses also start to disappear. This is a quarry road. You will eventually be welcomed by a large red gate, pass by a house at the top right side, and be required to register at the hut further at the left side of a wide camp ground.

This after, and onwards, look vigilant and take the foot trail at the right side of the dirt road. This is your official mountaineer trail, as you have been hiking for almost 2hours on vehicle established path. Another 30minutes or so of gradual ascent eventually leads you to the Helipad. Walk further to meet the end of the dirt road and you will find a hut where you can call time out from the beating sun. One can also follow the dirt road trail which poses less challenge and mountain feel to hikers but joy to wheeled visitors.

Take note that this area is private property so they impose the rules here. The caretakers mention that they ask overnighters to pitch tents at the basecamp at the red gate instead of the summit as there are locals and violators that burn the grasses for clearing. 

Licao Licao Junction
Visitors haven, kainan sa kanto ng Licao.

We took the a different route, taking a left turn away from the wide dirt road.
What trail to expect in Balagbag.
Lost and crawling up unestablished trail.
You can easily see Arayat there somewhere.

That way already leads to Norzagarays Ipo Dam.
Still lost, but willing for shots.
Finally, the red gate.

Registration area.
Summit. Helipad.

Flattened mountain, paving way for so called development.

Right is the mountaineers trail, Left for the wheeled.
Thats the summit at the left.

Ramp made for Mountain Bikers.
Waterfalls side trip. Not ocho ocho falls.
Falls side trip, just at the left side of the road going up.

Viewdeck at thr falls.
This is a nice chill climb, suitable for beginners but not recommended- so as not to lower expectations on what mountain hiking is about. But if you're looking for a quick get away, Balagbags hike is chill enough as a fix. There are also other trails jumping off at Sitio Karahume that provides more challenge than the Licao Licao trail. Check out Akyatera Bundokeras post about it.
 Preparing at most P500- if you live within the metro, already is lax.

*All photos taken using a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
*For Concerns, email