When I signed up for Mt. Manalmon and Mt. Gola day hike, I wasn’t aware that both mountains are located in Biak na Bato Nature Park, San Miguel, Bulacan. If it doesn’t ring a bell, it was one of the historical places where the Filipino revolutionaries secretly gathered during the Spanish regime. Nowadays, Biak na Bato is no longer the Katipunero’s hideout place but a playground for any outdoor enthusiast.
Although the two said mountains are located 2-3 hours away from Manila, we still hit the road at 2am for this day hike. According to the coordinator, the brutal heat of the midday sun was a common complaint of the hikers that he had brought there. He explained, the earlier we ascend the better.
Of course, it is a different story if you want to start a bit late. You can always opt to hike just one mountain or stay overnight there as there camping ground in the area.
Originally, I wanted to do a DIY hiking trip with friends. But as usual, everybody had their own plans over the weekend. It was either I do a DIY solo hike or just sign up for a joiner hike. According to my research, I will spend much or less around 1,300 pesos if I did it on my own. If you will do the hiking trip by yourself or with a group of friends, Pinay Explorer’s blog about it will be handy. Check the link of her blog: Mt. Gola and Mt. Manalmon Twin Hike. Since I found a joiner hike event that only cost 650/person in one of those FB group for budget travels, I ended with the more practical option.
Both are beginner friendly. Mt. Manalmon having an elevation level of 196 MASL and Mt. Gola with 192 MASL are considered 2/9 in terms of difficulty. Still, that doesn’t mean that it won’t make you sweat. It still does. It’s nice warm up if you are like me who haven’t done hiking for a long time.
How long does it take to reach each summit? Others only take 45 minutes to get to the peak of Mt. Manalmon and 1 1/2 hours for Mt. Gola.
The trail to Mt. Manalmon leads us to a slippery cave, charming bamboo grove, and a mountain gorge sliced by a streaming river. On the way up, the path is bordered by towering trees that provide temporary shade to hikers, and shrubs and bushes that you can hold on to if you think that you are sliding. Plus, there are protruding tree roots and half-buried rocks resembling a staircase that will make your life easier.
When we finally got to the top, we were rewarded with the verdant view of the tropical moist broadleaf forests of the nature park. When you are used to seeing a concrete jungle from above a building on a daily basis, it is certainly pleasing to the eyes and the refreshes to the weary mind to see this for a change.
The trail of Mt. Gola is opposite Mt. Manalmon. Though it is shorter, it is a bit challenging and it has fewer trees to protect you from the harsh sun rays. I heard that Mt. Gola used to be a lookout station for the Filpino guerillas during the Japanese occupation.
By noon, we were already having lunch at one those eateries near the registration area. You can buy a meal with coconut juice at 75 pesos. It was a good thing that we were early birds and the hike was short and chill. We still had the remainder of the day to go swimming at Madlum River, explore Bayukbok Cave and experience crossing the monkey bridge.
We were planning to do the spelunking at Bayukbok Cave but there was a possibility that it would rain that day. For safety reason, we just decided to do the Monkey bridge.
According to the guide, originally, the monkey bridge was used by the kids in the community to get to school when the river water is too high to cross it by feet. He said that the proper bridge didn’t exist only till 2014. We tried the same bridge using the harness but way back, those kids didn’t have those.
Lately, mountains in Batangas and Rizal have been becoming overcrowded to enjoy a weekend hike. For those who are living in Manila that are like me who are looking for a nature fix, Mt. Manalmon and Mt Gola might be the best solution for you.