Mount Bidawan / Ave Maria Shrine is a breath of fresh air with its scenic forested trails overlooking the mountains. It gets even better once you hit the shrine and explore the ridges.
The first time I was in Mount Bidawan was to recon a part of the Amihan 50 route in 2018. It felt like a difficult climb since we started in the spillway and had to endure a vertical kilometer (VK) before starting the climb approaching Mount Bidawan along the heat of the scorching sun. The second time around this year, it felt a lot easier. Well, at least I don’t have to endure the a VK before starting a climb.
My legs beg to differ on the easy part since prior to the climb to Mount Bidwan, I climbed Mount Ulap and also had a run at Yellow Trails in Camp John Hay. Well, that’s my norm now whenever I get to go home in Baguio… Trails and Climbs.
We started out early this time meeting before 6 am at Caltex near Victory Liner so I was hoping to catch lunch with my Family. The drive to Itogon was about 30-40 minutes to Sacred Heart High School in Poblacion, Itogon, which would be our starting point for the hike. My mindset was 4-5 Kilometers of climbing on tired weary legs for my 3rd straight day on trails. My goal was to go conservative on this one.
We started to descend from the school on to the river with bamboo planks to cross. Upon crossing the river, it was a series of climbs. Since my plan was to be conservative, I divided the climb into several segments with rest breaks after every 100 steps. The path was single track and a mixed of paved inclines and stairs. This climb lasted until about the first kilometer before a descent of about 500-600 meters heading to the hanging bridge.
After this bridge, it’s all uphill! The hanging bridge was a bit long and shaky so let’s add a tick box to exciting. This led to a single track climb leading to slightly open trails before switching to forested trails with slightly ascent on covered trails. This is about 2.5 kilometers from the starting point. This was also a scenic highlight as you can also see the mountains over the ridge.
Let’s recap the climbs, the lowest point is the river at around 690 meters, then you climb about 100 meters in the first kilometer before hitting the hanging bridge where it’s about 400 meters climb from that point over the next 2-3 kilometers.
From the ridge, you then follow rich forested dirt trails. Sometimes, it gets intimidating how long the climb is but for the next kilometer it was moderate ascent. I just kept on moving one step at a time. Since my heart rate and legs has been used to the climb already after all the initial climbs, climbing felt more natural. One trick for climbs is going at a pace you are comfortable. You get to enjoy the scenery and you don’t over exert yourself too.
Surprisingly, I was moving faster than I expected. I can feel the sting in my quads from all the climbing the past 3 days but the scenery was a great distraction. I was able to recover faster on rest breaks because I was able to pace myself well. After 3.5 kilometers, the climbs shift to be a steeper and this is the part I slowed down a bit but still kept moving with short rest breaks in between.
The higher you get, the view gets even better. Nothing like the green view of the mountains to keep your soul and eyes refreshed. Though a bit steeper than the usual ascent, the view kept me occupied to even think of the struggle. Around km 4, you can already see the Ave Maria Shrine. This made the climb even more tolerable knowing that your goal is up ahead.
It’s just a matter of time before reaching Ave Maria shrine and was able to reach it in less than two hours. The view was awesome at that vantage point. The Kotkot saddle is just a kilometer from here if you want a panoramic view of Mount Bidawan and Mount Kotkot. The descent was a breeze though you have to be a bit careful on some mossy surfaces, which can be slippery when wet.
BTW, I was able to be home for family lunch and was in Baguio at around 11 am.
Experience Mount Bidawan
Experience Mount Bidawan with On Running Philippines by scanning the QR code above or registering via event page: On A Trail Mission.
For more trail adventures, visit www.pinoytrails.com.