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#TaleOfTheTrail Mount Manalmon (San Miguel, Bulacan)

Posted by on 7. November 2016

Mount Manalmon Summit

Mount Manalmon was an all-in-one adventure destination.  You have a feel good climb, a cave exploration, river crossings, swimming and even a crazy monkey bridge crossing. 

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Tale Of The Trail

Madlum Cave

I’ve been on off season mode for over a month now to allow my body to heal after all the rigorous running for the past 6 years. Day hikes like Mount Manalmon is an exception because it goes at a more relaxed pace and still gives that extra challenge with the climb.  The tour was organized by Wanderbee Travel and Tours so all I had to worry about was making sure I get to the meet up point on time and bring just a bit of supplies.  This is a short and sweet climb with the max elevation just 196 MASL. It’s really nice to do the easier climbs and just enjoy the views and the climb.

Map and Elevation

Map and Elevation Powered by Suunto Ambit 3 Sports

The route starts at the jump off point at Biak-na-Bato Park at Madlum River.  It’s a rolling course heading to Madlum River on the first kilometer before the trail gradually ascends to the top of Mount Manalmon at around 2.5 kilometers.  It goes back to Madlum Cave for a more extensive caving and then goes back to the jump off point.

Trekking Mount Manalmon

From our meet up point at 5:30 am in Eton Centris, it took us more than 2 hours to get to the jump off point.  It was overcast along the way so I expected a really cool climb but upon arriving at Biak na Bato National Park, it was really hot. So be it, hot trails it is. At least, the views would be more prominent.  After crossing the bridge at Madlum River, we got a briefing from our guide at the Jump off point.  Madlum Cave was just a few steps away from the jump off point.

Madlum Cave has a lot of heritage attached to its walls.  This was also the site where they found a golden statue of Saint Michael (San Miguel, which is now the name of the town).  The statue was said to be hidden in the cave during the Spanish Era.  The cave also had a share of battles in the wars that followed.  It was a short stop at the cave, but we’ll take the longer tour of the cave when we get back.

Madlum River

The cave had technical rocky surfaces and you also had to watch your head from hitting the rock formations at the top.  The exit of the cave led to the Madlum River which was a beautiful site as the river came with a lot of rock formation surrounding it.  We took some time enjoying all the photo opportunities here.  It was starting to get hot so we had to continue.

River Crossing

Up next was crossing the Madlum River to go to the other side of the trail.  Madlum River came with strong currents and uneven stone surfaces.  You just have to watch your step and try to use the bigger stones for leverage.  It was fun getting wet on the river.

Run the trails

The trails shifted to fields and forest trails.  It had a gradual ascent over the next 500 meters.  Bulk of the trail was a bit shaded though there were some open areas where you’d definitely the sun’s heat.  I was at the lead pack and I set a consistent pace.  We would rest on the views and the shaded part.

To Mount Manalmon

Once you get to see this sign, it means the climbs gets a bit tougher. It’s a short stretch though since the max elevation is less than 200 MASL.  The climb goes a bit technical a bit with single track trails with big uneven steps.  It was one push after another then we saw one big boulder above.

All alone in the middle of the rock.

Upon seeing the rock, the guide told me to go there first so he can take my picture.  I then asked the guide if I should go back down after my shot.  The guide laughed and told me that no need since the rest of the group would follow me to the rock.  It was a steep climb and I may have climbed this stretch a bit fast as I ended up huffing and puffing when I reached the rock.  I then positioned myself at the edge of the rock for that photo.

The view of the river and the nearby mountains.

This is still around 30-40 meters before the summit but it had a beautiful view as you can see the river and the large track of greenery surrounding the place.  We took some time here to rest and enjoy the scenery.


We then proceeded to the summit. It was just about 200-300 meters away from the big rock.  It was just a short climb and there were areas where people would rest and eat after their visit at the summit.

Off to the summit.

The summit was another big rock with a lower end with a view of the river and the higher end with a view of both sides of the river.  It was another impressive view. We also got a story that there are some enchanted spirits in the river below.  There were stories of a taong-itim (black man) and a taong bwaya (crocodile man).  I guess, the place has just a rich heritage from the historical to the supernatural.

The Summit

The rock at the summit was a lot smaller than the rock we visited before this but it had a higher perspective.  It’s just a visual delight when you see all the greens surrounding you.  After our visit to the summit, we had our lunch at the area beside the summit before heading back.

It was really hot. Thanks a lot to lightwater.

It was a quicker descent on the way back.  We went at a consistent pace heading down to the river, which was about a kilometer away.  We then rested in the river and I did get my feet wet again in the river.

This is the only way I know on how to wash my shoes. That’s the Brooks Mazama, which is the latest and among the lightest trail shoes available now.

The water in the river was really clear and clean.  The Brooks Mazama allows water to just flow in and out of the shoes, which makes it less uncomfortable even when you resume on dry grounds.  It’s also quick dry with its mesh type upper.  I also had ahon socks, which is tailor-made for trail running with seamless finish to avoid discomfort even when your socks get wet.

Enjoying the Madlum River

After the Madlum River, it was time to revisit the Madlum Cave.  Aside from the rich history of Madlum Cave, the cave had a lot of rock formation.  There were the different rock formation, which was formed over millions of year with the interaction of natural forces.  There were the some stones that glistens in the dark with the crystallized formations around it.  There was a replica of the statue of San Miguel.  It’s just exciting going over narrow passages, which includes one where you had to crawl out of the cave.

Crawling out of the cave.

After crawling out of the cave, it was a short walk back to the jump-off point.  We also got to try the monkey bridge, which is free for the brave souls to try.  It was scary especially that the wires get to be extra shaky when you move but if you’ve seen the view around it, it’s worth a try.  You get the rocky formation surrounding the Madlum River as your backdrop.

Call me crazy but this was fun.

One thing that gave me confidence to try this one was that I tried the aerial walk in Camp N in Nuvali so this should similar to that.  It’s about the same experience except that the wires get extra shaky as you pull your harness as you move along the bridge.  The first 3 steps is the toughest and becomes routine once you get the hang of it.  One crazy adventure added to the bucket list.  We also had a swim around the Madlum river before calling it a day.

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