Tired of going to the mall or just craving for a little bit of adventure this Valentines? For whatever reason you have in mind, your resident Forester is here to guide you through some trail destinations you can take your date to without spending too much.
Of course I wouldn’t forget to put my bias in the list. Makiling, very well known for housing vast biodiversity, is located on the boundary of Batangas and Laguna. It is well known to hikers having two trails beginning at the University of the Philippines Los Baños which will take you 4-5 hours of trek to reach Peak 2 and Brgy. San Miguel, Santo Tomas which will take you 6-7 hours to reach the peak. The trail in UPLB includes a path that would lead you to Flat Rocks, and Mudspring, two stops that people usually visit while hiking on their way to the peak or before going back down. After a very tiring hike, you should yourselves a scrumptious Lety’s buko pie on your way home or a moist chocolate cake from Mer Nel’s that people line up for!
La Mesa Nature Reserve
I can still recall the memories La Mesa Nature Reserve gave me. This was actually where I had my first trail race. I was quite nervous since I didn’t know what to expect in trail running, but I was fortunate to have had my first here since it didn’t have such high elevation. Although muddy because of the thick forest litter from the dense canopy cover, the course was relatively flat. The reserve, located just in Quezon City, can also be a host to other activities like biking, birdwatching, tree watching, and tree planting with just a P200 fee for entrance.
Another great trail destination that is not too far from Manila is Mt. Balagbag of Rodriguez Rizal. A part of the Sierra Madre range that would give you views of Metro Manila and Ipo Watershed. Having a wide trail, this can also be perfect for couples who love to be more adventureous by biking. Unlike Mt. Makiling which is densely covered by trees, Mt. Balagbag is mostly barren and so an early hike would be more recommended, but since it has been a chilly February, you need not to fret about getting too exposed to the sun. Just bring your protection (sunscreen) with you!
Rizal houses several playgrounds for trail lovers and Timberland Heights is just one of them. A favorite location for event organizers since it only takes less than two hours to get here from Metro Manila. Besides the scenic views, it can offer you a variety of terrains, different slopes from relatively flat to rolling, and different surfaces from road to trail. Be ready to challenge yourselves with steep slopes and grass filled routes.
For those who want to travel a bit farther and do more than just what the trails can offer, I suggest you try taking your date to Mt. Nagsasa in Zambales where you can also have a swim or have a romantic stay overnight at Nagsasa Cove in your tent. Mt. Nagsasa is more commonly known as Mt. Bira-Bira by the locals and it is only a part of the Zambales Coastal Mountains and Coves. It is only a part of the range that includes other taller mountains that offer picturesque views of the coves that surround it. Take time trekking or running the trails of Nagsasa which has a waterfalls at the beginning for you to take a dip at and reward yourselves with a relaxing swim at the beach after your run.
Whether your’re both trying to hit new fitness goals this year or just want to add a little bit of adventure this Valentine’s, going outdoors and exploring nature is the best way to do. There are so many places near Manila that have rewarding views that will definitely sweep your feet away and make your date more romantic.