8 Challenging Hiking Trails in the Philippines

Philippine mountains do not measure to the likes of the great Mt. Everest (highest in the world - 8488masl), not even Kota Kinabalu (highest in Southeast Asia - 4,096masl). Primarily because, Philippines highest mountain - Mt. Apo reaches only to an elevation of 2,954masl. But what our mountains lack in elevation, it makes up for unique trail experiences to get to the summit. 

Here's a round-up of 8 awesome to challenging hiking trails in the Philippines. If you haven't been to any of these mountains yet, you haven't experienced real hiking in the country.

1. Sea of Cloud in MT. PULAG

Mt. Pulag hike
Mt. Pulag is one of the most scenic hiking destination in Luzon. It boasts a 360 degree view at the summit and a breathtaking sea of cloud at sunrise. Between December to February, the temperature significantly drops and frozen dew in the morning is a common sight. Take Ambangeg trail for an easy hike or the Akiki trail for a bit of challenge. 
(Photo Credit: Jeoff Tan)

2. Mining Trail of MT. TAPULAO

 Near the summit of Mt. Tapulao is an abandoned chromite mine. Gone were the days when big trucks navigate its trail to haul the metal piles which once nestled deep within the mountain. The trail is open, wide, hot and takes a freakishly long time to hike. The cool mountain weather at the campsite and the summit is the ultimate reward after a days' hike.

 3. Lahar Trail of MT. PINATUBO

The lahar trail of Mt. Pinatubo is the remnant of one of the biggest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. An eruption so grand, it dropped temperatures and promoted ozone depletion in a global scale. The earth has recovered from its greenhouse effects since its eruption in 1990, but its landscape will forever bear its disastrous history. Stroll the lahar trails of Mt. Pinatubo and you will discover a beautiful torquise crater lake at the end of it.

4. Tinangisan Trail of MT. MADJAAS

The word "tinangisan" or "tangis" roughly means to cry in agony or desperation. Indeed, climbers would be desperate to escape the sweltering heat of the sun on this trail. Itinerary usually require start of hike before daylight to get to the forest line before the sun gets too intense. Past the Tinangisan trail and deep into the forest, another experience unique to this mountain is the hike through a lush network of intertwined plant roots, but that's a story for another time.

5. Volcanic Slopes of  MT. MAYON

Climbing an active volcano is always dangerous. Period. On May 07, 2013, a phreatic eruption which lasted 73minutes, spewed rocks and ash to claim the lives of 5 climbers and injured 7 other. But when it is not spewing rocks, the challenge to the hike is the steep slope devoid of vegetation towards the volcano's crater. It is the price climbers have to pay to experience the beauty of the perfect cone that she is.

6. Ridge Trail of MT. HALCON

Another destination to experience the sea of clouds, but this is not the easy hike other mountains can be. It would usually take two days to get to the ridge trail. The trail is gradual to steep, but an extra challenge would be the thriving tiny leeches (limatiks) in the forest. Wake up to a stunning view of the Mindoro mountain range.

7. Knife Edge of MT. GUITING-GUITING


The Knife Edge of Mt. Guiting-Guiting is dubbed as the most technical climbing destination in the Philippines. I would let the photo speak for itself. 

8. Boulder Trails of MT. APO

Digos Trail via Kapatagan passes through a section on the southeast flank of Mt. Apo where huge lava boulders blankets the slope. Climbers have to take big steps and reach long to navigate this trail. Sounds manageable. However, the highlight of the trail are the solfatara and fumaroles along the boulder stretch which releases steam and volcanic gases. The signature rotten egg smell common to solfataras will make climbers desperately gasping for fresh air during the steep ascent.


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