Mt. Balagbag has always been a favorite among my trail-runner friends for reasons I do not know. After having a taste of trail run again after a year of hiatus, I was beginning to get curious. As luck and perfect timing would have it, one of my friends from work, who's also a trail-runner, scheduled a day hike on Mt. Balagbag. I immediately cleared one of my Saturday mornings for it.
Since the rest of the squad, who's joining the hike, are also from work, we scheduled our day hike after shift. We left the office at a little past 7am, boarded the bus going to Tungko, and rode a jeep to Licao-Licao. In between transportation transfers, we bought food so we could have lunch at the summit. We arrived at Licao-Licao at around 10am. We made quick stop at a local souvenir store there, owned by a trail-runner whom I've met once at a running event. He had some friends hanging out at the shop, and we had a brief chit chat. We started the hike around 10:30am.
The trail going up Mt. Balagbag was very straight-forward that there was no need for a guide. It was also wide, that it appeared to be a favorite among mountain-bikers. Since the sun was fully up when we started, it was already hot by then, but I did not mind. I was used to the sun after all. So there I was, walking on the uphill road. I looked back and saw my friends lagging behind. That was when I got the go-signal from them to go ahead. So I did, and I did it running because the assault was very gradual. I had quite an adrenaline rush there. A bit later, I was joined by Aries, one of the trail-runners that I've met at the shop. He started pacing me up the trail.
Along the way, there were a couple of stops where we needed to pay registration fees. The first one was at the barangay hall of Sito Balagbag. After that, the real trek begins. That was when the assault starts to get steep, and for the first time that day, I felt my calves burn and I felt a little bit out of breath. We took a quick rest at one of the stores, and resumed the trek shortly. Along the route, I had a good view of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges and it was breath-taking. The second registration area was at the last store along the trail. From there, the guard told us that it would be forty minutes going to the helipad, but since we were running, it should take us about only fifteen to twenty minutes.
We got to the "stone hedge" shortly, where we waited for the rest of the gang. But since it was taking them too long and I was starting to get bored, we decided to continue up the trail to get to the helipad. It took us less than fifteen minutes from that point.
trail from the stone hedge to the helipad
view from the helipad
I met a few other hikers at the helipad, while waiting for the rest of the group. When they finally arrived, we had lunch and took more photos.
with some local "wildlife", don't worry though because they're very friendly
It rained that day so we had to wait about an hour before we could start the descent. Since it was downhill, I was raring to run again. While the trail was wet, there was very little mud so I managed to run all the way down without slipping (thank goodness). I made it back to the starting point in around forty five minutes.
- bus fare to Tungko - Php55-75 (depends on where you're coming from)
- jeep from Tungko to Licao-Licao - Php28
- registration fees - Php30
- food - Php200
Overall, it was an all-fun and no-frills day trip. What was meant to be a day hike became a trail run for me, which made it all the more enjoyable. Mt. Balagbag is one of your best bets if you're looking to go hiking without having to spend too much. For me, this is a great place to do some trail-running, without having to travel too far away from the city. I'm looking forward to coming back soon!