Not the Ordinary – Mt. Balagbag

I’ve been to Mt. Balagbag a couple of times, it is one of the minor hiking destination in Rodriguez, Rizal popular for its cat – yes, a cat living on its campground – named Garfield. It is also a “playground” to trail runners, mountain bikers, and even motorcross racers with its close proximity to the Metro, its uphills, and different trail routes going to other places in Rizal and Bulacan. In its campsite/viewdeck or also known as the “Helipad” peak, a fascinating view of the cityscape can be seen as well as part of Sierra Madre mountain range including Wawa’s Mts. Pamitinan and Hapunang Banoi, Ayaas, and Parawagan (Wawa Superloop trail). 

(Left to right: Mts. Ayaas, Hapunang Banoi, Pamitinan, and Paruwagan.
Overlooking Wawa mountains

For this dayhike, we chose to venture to the trail popularly known to trail runners – the Deadman’s trail and the Don’t Look Back trail – aided only with our offline maps and GPS data, we started on to our hike that early Sunday morning.

We started at the Licao-Licao junction going to Mt. Balagbag. The trail was wide and pretty straightforward. We passed by several stores, resorts, and local houses before we reached the Brgy. Hall for registration (P20.00).

After paying for the corresponding fees, we proceeded on to our hike with the Helipad in mind. The trail going to the first junction doesn’t feel like one because of the community. On the positive note, it’s easier to grab something cold to drink because of the sari-sari stores along the way. Before reaching the said junction, we have yet to pay another registration fee (P20.00). 

Before reaching the Helipad peak, we passed by a cross that was not there before (or should I say last year 2016). I’m not sure about the purpose of the cross but it is a common marker in other mountains like Mt. Manabu and Mt. Timbak indicating the summit. In Mt. Balagbag, however, the location of the cross is not as a summit marker. 

When we finally reached the Helipad peak, I quickly looked for Garfield and found him resting in one of the tents pitched in the area. He’s so fluffy and huggable! Kagigil!

Sorry, Dear. I had to trick you for you to come out of the tent. I love food too. Lol
Ms. Nica and Garfield.

After our rest stop at the Helipad, we proceeded on to our hike. We turn right from the trail traversing Maranat and have taken the mostly descent, wide, open route to the Lubog junction. Our target route is the Deadman’s Trail (DMT) going to Don’t Look Back Trail (DLBT) and back to Sitio Balagbag (I call it the Balagbag Madness, loljk). However, we missed the DMT junction and almost made it to the road going to Mascap. We spent half an hour looking for the trailhead going to DMT. Upon reaching it, we were welcomed by tall cogon grass and almost unestablished trail which later on we learned that its been 2 weeks since the last group of trail runners passed by the area. 

The trail is mostly slopes and rollings with few major assaults. If not only under the scorching heat of the sun, it would’ve been easy hiking. Good thing I brought my umbrella for this hike. I learned my lesson well from the previous Undecalogy hike in Brgy. Wawa (Rodriguez, Rizal). For other female hikers, I suggest wearing leggings instead of shorts to avoid cuts from the cogon grass. The downside to it is that, it’ll feel hotter because it is fitted to your legs. But I guess it’s much better than enduring the pain and itchiness for days caused by grass cuts. 

We passed by one or two houses where we asked for directions and some water to quench our thirst before reaching the community at the end of DMT. We had our fill of cold soda and water for the next leg of our hike. We passed by the river and continued. Little did we know that we were on the wrong trail and it’s not the Don’t Look Back Trail that we’re taking. We asked few locals regarding the direction back to Balagbag and we did reach Sitio Balagbag by 4pm. The trail going back is not that hard – rollings, few assaults, but the heat made the whole trek more taxing. 

Along the trail back to Sitio Balagbag’s main route to Licao-Licao, we’ve met some locals who asks us regarding our run – the difficulty of our run, the time it took for us to finish, and such. I guess they are not new to seeing people taking the trail there. I bet they’ll be more surprised if we told them that we hiked rather than running on the trail route of DMT and supposed-to-be DLBT.

We have plans going back taking the right route. For now,  I should put more efforts into training so that I can keep up with our group’s pace. This is one budget-friendly hike for those who are looking for an extra-challenge day with a total of 22km, perfect for heat training, and near the metro.

Hiking Notes for actual itinerary and expenses.