The underrated gem that is Rizal Province is quickly becoming a go-to destination in the Philippines. A mere two to three hour drive from Metro Manila, travellers are finally discovering its lush environment. Lying on the northeastern shore of Laguna de Bay and perched on the western slopes of the Sierra Madre mountain range, the province of Rizal has a lot of outdoorsy fun to offer. It’s also a great destination for quick trips and day hikes, and the best introduction is Mt. Pamitinan.
Mt. Pamitinan is located in Rodriguez Town (also known as Montalban colloquially) in the province of Rizal. This town is rich in many hiking destinations, all of which rewarding hikers with scenic panoramic views of the cities down below. It’s one of three favorites in the area, together with Mt. Binacayan and Hapunang Banoi. These karst mountains border Wawa Dam, which is a worthwhile sidetrip after the hike.
The peak of Mt. Pimitinan rises 426 meters above sea level. It’s made of limestone and can be tricky with sharp rocks and boulders, but it’s a good experience for beginner hikers.It’s rated a 3/9 difficulty and will take anywhere from one to three hours to climb to the peak, depending on your fitness level.
There are several ways to get here, but the easiest way is:
After completing registration and paying for the fees, you’ll be introduced to your guide (or introduce yourselves if you’ve pre-booked). A few steps away from the DENR office is a hanging bridge over Wawa River in Sitio Nino. Across this bridge is the jump-off point where you can do your last minute preparations before starting the climb.
The start of the hike consists of steep stone steps that end at a mountain stream. This initial part is already challenging, but the trail just gets steeper along the while. Past the stream begins muddy trails and boulders you’ll have to get through. This then transitions to very steep, almost vertical slopes that you need to climb. Footing is pretty easy to find because of the natural topography of the mountain, but rocks are sharp and rough.
There are three resting camps throughout the entire hike for you to catch your breath. These are just made of bamboo slats tied together to make seats and roofs made of grass. Again, there are no stores or any water sources here, so make sure you bring enough.
There are two summits at Mt. Pamitinan. Most beginners end at the first summit and stand at the very edge of the cliff. The second summit is a much more difficult assault. You’ll need to rappel your way up between two limestone boulders.
Wherever you decide to end your climb, you get a 360-degree view of the province. At the north is Hapunang Banoi, and Mt. Arayat in the distance, which is another popular mountain in a different province. To the northeast is the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, stretching all the way to the south. Much closer is the waters of Wawa Dam and Mt. Binacayan to the west. If you start early enough, you might even catch the sunrise among the sea of clouds at the summit.
After the summit, you can head straight down and make your way back to Manila, or enjoy some worthwhile side trips. Ask your guide to bring you to the Pamitinan and Binacayan Caves, or take a dip at Wawa Dam.
Head back to the DENR Office where a line of Jeepneys and tricycles will be waiting. Both vehicles will take passengers back to Eastwood. Ride a van or an FX back to Farmers Market. From here you can take a Grab or a taxi back to your hotel.
If you’re too tired to head back to Manila, there are several hotels in Rizal where you can stay for the night.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!