San Pablo is known for its lakes. One of its twin lakes, Pandin and Yambo is an access point to Mount Mabilog. Mount Mabilog is a perfect newbie-friendly trek with mostly moderate ascents except for the steep part approaching the summit.
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After the Mount Maculot hike in June, we were on the lookout for newbie friendly trek. We then found Mount Mabilog, which was located in Barangay San Lorenzo, San Pablo City. My friend Inja then arranged all the tour details via her Wanderbee Travel and Tours. The unique part of Mount Mabilog is one of its starting points is Lake Pandin and Lake Yambo, which are twin lakes. The place is a tourist hub because it packages a feel-good climb with a really nice swim at Lake Pandin.
Map and Elevation
The climb starts at Pandin lake and goes on a moderate ascent for the first two kilometers. The course goes steeper as you ascend the summit going into the third kilometer. The route heads back to the lake.
Trekking Mount Mabilog
We left Manila around 5 AM for an early start of the ride heading to San Pablo. The last time I was in San Pablo was more than a decade ago so I expected a long travel time here so I was surprised that we were in San Pablo by 7 am. That’s thanks a lot to the connectivity between SLEX and Star Tollway. We waited for our guide to the trail starting point and proceeded to the parking area. It’s about 10-15 minutes walk from the parking to Lake Pandin.
Lake Pandin was impressive. The lake was huge and really scenic. We’ll have to hike first then we’ll be having lunch on a floating raft in the lake. Lake Pandin is one access point to Mount Mabilog. We had two guides, one at the lead pack and one at the tail end. I positioned myself in the lead pack so I was able to chat with the guide. I got a history of the place and how the trail is getting longer because some properties have been privatized already. The paths are purely single track with a lot bushes and plantation. The ascent is moderate so you can just walk it without over exhausting yourself.
The first kilometer would give you peeks of Yambo Lake just beside Pandin Lake. We went on a consistent pace and would only stop to wait for the others in the climb. It was a cool morning and the trails are mostly covered. It had a rural forest feel with different trees and plants around the area. The next kilometer was smooth except for the stretch where there was a short descent and a steep climb. Just for the fun of it, I ran this part and was able to climb much faster. Knowing it is just a short climb, I knew I can go away with a few runs on the climb.
After two kilometers, the trail opens up and you get the large green view from the top. You also notice that the climbs get to be steeper. We took a break on the flat stretch before resuming the climb so when you take a break, it’s time to take pictures.
The Trails Goes Steep
It’s just impressive being in a lush green surroundings even if it was a bit foggy. It could have been a better view if it was not foggy but at least, it was not hot. If it were a hot trail, we would be moving slower because the heat can really take out your energy. We took more breaks this time as the trail goes steeper.
We took a break at the Kubo nearby since with the steepness starting to become a challenge. We also had a few snacks before we gave it one final push. It was less than 500 meters to the top so we took it one step at a time. Even a short climb gets challenging when the steps become longer and the incline gets steeper. Usually I try to slow down on this stretch but seeing that we were just about a few meters away, I just had to endure the struggle until we reached the summit.
The summit had a view of the lake though with an overcast weather, it was less visible. It’s always a feat reaching a summit. Mount Mabilog is about 441 meters above sea level and gives you a view of the lakes and the nearby mountains in San Pablo, Laguna. There were also some plantations in the summit. The locals are self sufficient here with the plantations within the route and the summit.
We took our snacks at the summit and had several photos too. It was fun taking group jump shots while appreciating the scenery. We were also hoping that the foggy backdrop would clear out a bit for a better view of the lake. It did clear out a bit before we started our descent.
Time to Descend
We then headed back down. We met another group on their ascent. It took us about 1:30 minutes climbing Mount Mabilog, I wanted the descent to be in less than an hour. Since I was in the front, I started speeding up to set the pace for the group. The rest also went with the pace except on the steep descent part.
Even if it were a short climb, I wanted it to be a good workout. I was having fun speeding down the trails. The guide later joined me after about a kilometer. There are some turns in the route that can lead you into a totally different locale in San Pablo and Laguna. It’s always safe to follow your guide as there’s a huge chance of getting lost especially when you take the wrong turn. We brisk walked our way out of the trail since it was mostly flats and descents.
The highlight of the tour was lunch at Lake Pandin. We entered a floating raft in Lake Pandin and explored the lake as we were having lunch. We had fish, shrimps and veggies and it was delicious. All of our food were taken from the lake and the nearby plantation. The view was really refreshing with the green lake waters surrounded by the mountains.
After lunch, we took a short trek to the other side, which was Lake Yambu. Yambu and Pandin are twin lakes. It also shows that calm serene feel like Pandin offers. We then went back to Pandin lake to join the rest for a swim. The lake was really deep so you really have to wear life vest.
It was fun swimming at the late. The water was fresh and cold. Forget that the lake is about 63 meters deep and just enjoy the waters. It was just a real challenge going back to the raft but we do find ways to get back at the raft. I also enjoyed the swing in the middle of the lake.
After our time at the swing, it was our time to head back early afternoon. We were back in Manila by 6 pm to end a packed day and an all around adventure.