There’s no doubting the thrill of a hike – discovering new trails, taking in scenic views, and the exhilarating feeling of being hundreds of meters above sea level.

Although typically known for its pristine beaches, the Philippines is also home to many majestic mountains – an ideal spot to start hiking.  But where do you start? For those who want to escape the city life or for those who are in it for the thrill, we have listed six hiking trails to consider ascending in order of difficulty:

1. Mount Daraitan (Rizal)

Hiking philippines_Mount Daraitan
Photo Credit: Backpacking Pinoy Couple

Located in the border of Quezon Province (Rizal area), Mt. Daraitan’s claim to fame is its forest trails, caves, grasslands, and great scenery. Adventurers experience all sorts of activities, including camping and spelunking! Upon reaching the top, hikers are welcomed with a stunning view of the Sierra Madre and Rizal Province.

Mt. Daraitan is home to one of the cleanest, free-flowing rivers in the Philippines: the Tinipak River. With its large marble boulders and crystal clear waters, the river offers awe-inspiring scenery that’s rare to come by.

Another plus point: it’s near the Metro, so travel time won’t take long.

2. Mount Pico de Loro (Cavite)

Hiking philippines_Photo Credit: Geejay Travel Log
Photo Credit: Geejay Travel Log

One of the most popular spots for weekend adventurers, Mt. Pico de Loro got its name from its summit which resembles a parrot’s beak.  This mountain is around 664 meters above sea level at Maragondon, Cavite, and 85 kilometers southwest of Manila. With its view of luscious forests, beaches, and volcanoes, Pico de Loro is the ideal training ground for rookies or those who wish to prepare for tougher trails. The terrains aren’t too steep, but climbers have to be wary of possible strong winds. When climbers complete this trail, a spectacular view (and sense of accomplishment) awaits.

3. Mount Pinatubo (Zambales)

Hiking philippines_Photo Credit: Janddy Tours Inc.
Photo Credit: Janddy Tours Inc.

The Philippines experienced the wrath of Mt. Pinatubo in June 1991 when it produced the second largest eruption of the 20th century – an eruption which destroyed some parts of the original summit. It now stands at 1,486 meters (from 1,745) above sea level.

Located near the tripoint of Zambales, Pampanga, and Tarlac, Mt. Pinatubo is another popular trekking destination. Apart from its historical reputation, the mountain is also known for its long stretches of sand and Alpine-like landscape. At the caldera or crater, explorers are greeted by a gorgeous view of the lake. Although the water looks a bit murky and mildly sulfuric, the scenery is breathtaking. Though Mt. Pinatubo was once referred to as a destructive body of terror, it’s evident that life still progresses around it!

4. Mount Pulag (Benguet)

Hiking philippines_Photo Credit: Mount Pulag Adventures
Photo Credit: Mount Pulag Adventures

Standing 2,922 meters above sea level, Mt. Pulag is the highest summit in Luzon and ranks third in the whole country. Aside from that, the Ambangeg Trail going to the peak is host to a wide variety of flora and fauna which adventurers encounter as they ascend. Due to its high elevation, hikers can enjoy viewing the sea of clouds from the mountaintop as well as spectacular sunsets and sunrises there—a great reward after all the hard work.

However, due to the influx of hikers visiting Mt Pulag, with their sights set on ascending to the summit, national park officials are worried it is damaging the trail. Officials are considering temporarily banning climbers from ascending the mountain.

5. Mount Kanla-on (Negros Occidental + Negros Oriental)

Hiking philippines_Photo Credit: Trip Advisor
Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

Considered one of the most majestic mountains in the country, Mt. Kanla-on straddles the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. Standing 2,465 meters above sea level, it’s one of the highest mountains and most active volcanoes in Visayas. Since November last year, Kanla-on has entered a period of unrest according to PHIVOLCS so it is currently closed to mountaineers until further notice. But it in the past, it has frequently been reopened  as conditions improve.

Though climbing an active volcano sounds terrifying, many forget the challenging climb once they take a glimpse of the grand crater. It’s pretty steep (400 meters deep, 100 meters wide), but expect to see sulphuric vents, caves, luscious forests, and springs along the way to the summit. Mt. Kanla-on is perfect for those who really want to challenge themselves as it takes around three days to reach the summit. The locals also believe it is inhabited by spirits!

Mountaineers need proper training and preparation to tackle this beast, but it really is worth the climb. From the top, you’ll have a (more or less) 360 view of the whole Visayan region, with clouds seemingly within your reach. .

Make sure to check for the latest news about Kanla-on before making any plans. After all, Mount Kanla-on has errupted over 25 times since 1919. You can also coordinate with the local DENR monitoring the mountain. Remember, safety comes first.

6. Mount Banahaw (Quezon)

Hiking philippines_Photo Credit: Vigattin Touris
Photo Credit: Vigattin Tourism

Mt. Banahaw seems to be the most mythical mountain in the Philippines thanks to the bizarre tales and legends surrounding it. Some say that all kinds of supernatural creatures have made themselves a home there, such as ghosts, fairies, aswangs, and even aliens. It’s a difficult climb but many people go there not just for the love of mountaineering, but also for the possibility of encountering something out of the ordinary. During Holy Week, devotees visit the mountain hoping to witness divine apparitions and miracles. While some zones are still open, the peak has been closed to hikers since 2004 but is expected to open once again this February. This trail is the toughest trail on our list, so we suggest you try out the previous summits before attempting to ascend Banahaw!

With mountaineering, you don’t just maintain an active lifestyle, but you also get to discover our beautiful home! Have you climbed any of these mountains? Share your experience below!