Mt. Balagbag-Maranat Falls Traverse, Rodriguez, Rizal
Climbing is not just about the summit, it's the climb itself. Almost a month ago, I went on a quick climb to Mt. Balagbag with a traverse to Mt. Maranat/Maranat Falls in Rodriguez, Rizal. According to friends, Mt. Balagbag is an easy climb since it's relatively flat as compared to other mountains near the area where everything is almost assault. However a day before our climb, it rained heavily and as expected, it was one wet and muddy adventure (I actually consider this as one of my hardest climb!). Anyways, total budget for this climb is just Php 200. This is why I love Rizal! You get to enjoy the best of nature at such a low price.
Here's a quick info about Mt. Balagbag and Mt.Maranat/Maranat Falls.
First jumpoff: Sitio Karahume, Brgy. Macabud, Rodriguez
second jumpoff: Sitio Balagbag, Brgy. San Isidro, Rodriguez
LLA: 777 MASL (unverified)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 1-2 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-2
A hiking destination favored for its proximity to Metro Manila is Mt. Balagbag, located in Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal. This mountain is part of the Sierra Madre range as it transitions into the plains of Central and Southern Luzon. At over 700 MASL, it is of sufficient elevation to offer views of Ortigas and some parts of Metro Manila, as well as the Ipo Watershed.
En Route to Rizal
The road to Rodriguez, Rizal was easy. It's very accessible. From Cubao, just ride a bus going to Tungko and drop off at Jollibee Tungko. Fare is Php 38. From there, ride a jeep going to Licao-Licao. Fare is Php 28. Once you drop off at the terminal station, you can have your breakfast at the carinderias in the area. There are also sari-sari stores where you can buy snacks.
Note: the last trip going back to Tungko is 6pm so make sure you adhere to your itinerary.
The March to the Mountain
The trail was easy because I've mentioned, it's relatively flat. But since it was raining, it was covered in mud and the difficulty went up by like 900%! No kidding! Mt. Balagbag's trail also features mini rivers and falls. Lots of it. Everything is picturesque actually and I just really love the water features.
Along the way, there's a mini-stop where you can buy snacks and take a rest. You'll be greeted by this cute dog (which we named Henry).
River Crossing in Style
In order to get to the other side which is Mt. Maranat, you have to cross the river. And since it was raining heavily, the current was too strong that we were not allowed to just walk through (I'm not sure if crossing the river using ropes is required on a normal day). Instead, we had to do some rappelling. There are two options actually: to do rappelling above the river or to cross it while attached to a rope. We did the first one on our way to Maranat Falls and the latter on our way back.
Braving Maranat Falls
After hours of trekking, we finally made it to Maranat Falls. While the weather condition may be bad, it still didn't disappoint by showing us such beauty. We spent around 30 minutes bathing in the area. We actually wanted to stay longer but our guide told us to get moving since the weather is getting worse by the minute.
Note: there's a place right after the river crossing and before Maranat Falls where you can stay and have your lunch.
The Muddy Trail
0500 - Arrival to Tungko. Take jeep to Licao-Licao.
0600 - Start trek to Mt. Balagbag
0700 - Break at mini stop
0800 - River Crossing
1000 - Lunch
1100 - Start trek to Maranat Falls
1200 - Swimming
1400 - Start trek back to Mt. Balagbag
1500 - Back at Licao-Licao. Jeep back to Tungko
1700 - Departure from Tungko to Cubao
Note: this was our ideal itinerary. Unfortuntely, due to the bad weather, it took us longer and we had to adjust everything by almost an hour or two. We ended back in Tungko at around 2100. And since there's no longer a trip back, we decided to just rent one instead and paid Php 40 each.