Day Hike to Mt. Pamitinan

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.

Sierra Madre Mountain Range

Sierra Madre Mountain Range. Photo by jojo nicdao on Foter.com / CC BY

About 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.

How to get to Mt. Pamitinan

There are several ways to get here, but the easiest way is:

  • Look for the Cubao UV Express Van station in front of Jollibee Farmers Market
  • Take a van headed for Montalban(Rodriguez)-Eastwood route
  • Alight at Eastwood Subdivision
  • Take a tricycle to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which is where you will register for your climb to Mt. Pamitinan

Before the hike

While the climb to the peak is fairly manageable, much care and focus is needed on this karst mountain. Here are some quick tips to remember:

  • Guides are required on the hike. Guides are assigned as you register, but there are only a few of them on rotation. Below are some of the numbers you may call directly to book your slot in advance:
    • Kuya Ronnie (Guide): +639072395042
    • Kuya Emman (Guide): +639493956589
    • Kuya Ogie (Guide): +639473868778
    • Kuya Richard (Guide): +639983266559
    • Kuya Joni (Barangay Wawa Official): +639295497211
    • Note: “Kuya” literally means “older brother”, but it’s a term used when referring to male strangers as a sign of respect
  • Things to bring:
    • At least 3 liters of water as there is no water source on Mt. Pamitinan
    • Gloves because you’ll be climbing boulders and rocks with sharp edges
    • Trail food and packed lunch. There are small stores at the start of the trail, but food here is rarely nutritious or enough to fill you through the hike
    • Toiletries and medicines as necessary
    • Garbage bag to keep the surroundings clean
    • Sunblock, especially if you’re not used to Philippine heat
  • Useful information:
    • The DENR Office opens at 4:30 AM, so plan the start of your trip accordingly
    • There are showers or toilets at the jump-off point
    • You might be tempted to wear sandals because of the hot climate of the Philippines, but do yourself a favor and wear thick-soled hiking shoes to avoid the risk of slicing your feet on the rocks
  • Summary of fees:
    • Registration: Php 30 (USD 0.60)
    • Guide Fee: Php 100 (USD 2) per person, but tipping is encouraged as these guides come from low-income families

Hiking on Mt. Pamitinan

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.

Going Home

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.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

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!

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