Mt. Sembrano

Friday, April 28, 2017

With a height of 745 masl, located just between Rizal and Laguna, is Mt. Sembrano. I first got to climb Mt. Sembrano during a trail race that I participated in back in 2014. However, the route didn't reach the summit so I can't say that I have fully climbed it. I only got to the first peak. 

Just recently, I was given another opportunity to climb Mt. Sembrano through another trail race. This time, I was assigned to cover the race as one of the official photographers. So after the gun start of the shortest distance category, I joined the runners in making their way from the jump off to the established trail going to the summit. 

With the jump off at Brgy. Malaya, the trail started on dirt surrounded by lush trees, providing just enough shade. It was a bit technical at first with some roots on the path every now and then. It can get really muddy and slippery had it rained the night before. After reaching the campsite, called Manggahan, the trail goes into a steep assault on huge rocks and dirt. At one point, I had to use my hands to climb up the rocks. Shortly, the trail continues on to a grassland with no shade whatsoever heading to the first peak. So if you started the climb when the sun is already up, it can get pretty hot. From the first peak to the summit, the trail continues on to a rolling path, gradually going uphill and downhill, surrounded by tall grasses left and right. If you're wearing shorts, you'd have to be careful not to get cut by the blades of grass.

The view at the summit is scenic. It will give you an eyeful of the Laguna Lake, Talim Island, the Sierra Madre mountain range, and Mt. Makiling. From a distance, you can also see Mt. Arayat.

Here are the photos that I took during the climb.
 geared up with Lagalag hydration bag
view from the summit
some of the sights on the trail during the descent

For the descent, you can take the same trail that you did on the ascent. Alternately, you can take another trail, left from summit, which has more grassland. Thus it can get very hot. However, the beautiful view compensates for it. It then continues to a steep trail, which can get slippery because it is of loose dirt and soil. The trail will then proceed to a jungle-like area surrounded by huge trees, which provided relief from the heat. Shortly, a small stream can be seen, after which will be a rough road lined with houses on both sides, followed by a cemented road which will bring you back to Brgy. Malaya.

Travel Notes:
How to get there:
  • Via public transportation: Take a jeepney or a van from EDSA Crossing to Tanay Market. Then take a tricycle or a jeepney from Tanay going to Pililia. Total travel time is around two hours.
  • Via private vehicle: Take the Manila East Road and follow it all the way to Pililia, and then go straight to Brgy. Malaya. Go to the barangay hall to register and ask the locals for the directions to the jump off.
Expenses:
  • public transportation - Php100 to Php120
  • registration - Php30
  • guide fees - Php500 for max of 10 persons (not required)
It was a fun climb. I enjoyed it a lot especially because I got to do it for free while on photographer duties. I had no guide, so I took it as an adventure. It was a first for me to go hiking without a guide, and definitely won't be the last. The trail can be really steep at some points and I had to endure a lot of heat, but the views compensated for it all. They were totally breathtaking. I would recommend going to Mt. Sembrano for a day hike. Just make sure to slather on lots of sunblock and bring more than enough hydration.

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