The Philippines has been blessed with majestic mountains that leave visitors in awe. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned mountaineer, there’s a summit waiting to be reached.
We list down the Philippine mountains every mountaineer should climb at least once.
At 2,956 meters above sea level, Mt. Apo (or “master” or “grandchild” in Filipino) is the highest mountain in the Philippines. Scale the summit and be rewarded with majestic views of Davao to the northeast, Digos City to the southeast, and Kidapawan City to the West.
Mt. Apo was declared a national park in 1934 by then President Manuel L. Quezon, and rightly so. Apart from lush forests, it is home to over 272 bird species, the most notable of which is the endangered Philippine eagle.
The second highest mountain the Philippines is home to the Talaandig tribe, who consider Mt. Dulang-Dulang a sacred place.
The tribes folk live side by side with an amazing variety of wildlife – deer, flying lemurs, monkeys, and bats, to name a few.
Start your journey on trails lined with pine trees and then navigate through jungles that take you back in time. Be rewarded with a view of Mt. Apo and the entire Kitanglad range at the peak.
Mt. Pulag is Luzon’s highest peak. This national park is home to the Ibalois, Kilanguya, Kankana-eys, Karao, Ifugaos, and the Ilocanos.
It is a popular destination among mountaineers for its amazing sea of clouds and views of the Milky Way galaxy right before the sun rises.
Due to a fire that destroyed more than 5 hectares of grassland, Mt. Pulag is closed to trekkers until further notice.
Legend has it that Mt. Kitanglad was named after a great flood submerged the land and only the mountain’s peak, which was the size of a blade of lemon grass (“tanglad” in Filipino) was visible.
Mountaineers might be surprised to learn that Mt. Kitanglad is a communications center. But don’t be put off by its seeming modernity. The challenging trails, beautiful views, and the richness of its biodiversity make the journey worth it.
Tabayoc, in the native tongue, means “basin”, which may refer to the four lakes surrounding it: Lake Tabeo, Ambulalakao, Iculus, and Detapnaco.
A significant portion of Mt. Tabayoc’s trail is known as the “Monkey Trail” – trekkers would have to climb over boulders, swing from one branch to another, and hang on to vines to move forward.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be in Tarzan’s shoes (or, um, loincloth), climbing the second highest mountain in Luzon would be your chance to find out.
Mt. Kalatungan (or “praying mantis eggs” in the native tongue) is classified as a potentially active volcano and is considered as one of the most challenging climbs in the country. In keeping with local traditions, mountaineers perform a ritual sacrifice prior to the climb.
Mt. Piapayungan remains to be one of Mindanao’s most elusive peaks.
Mt. Ragang, also known as the Blue Mountain, is the highest point in Lanao Del Sur. Emerge from the ethereal mossy forest and be rewarded with a view of Lake Lanao as well as towns of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Cotabato.
Mt. Maagnaw is the third highest peak in the Kitanglad range and the 8th highest mountain in the country. If you’ve conquered Mt. Dulang-Dulang and Mt. Kitanglad, this should also be on your list. The views at the summit are truly breathtaking.
If you’re on a mission to summit the 10 highest mountains in the Philippines, Mt. Timbak – the 9th on that list – is said to be the easiest to complete.
Get a glimpse of the local way of life along the way, and take photos of the three crosses at the summit. Mountaineers usually plan a day hike to Mt. Timbak from Baguio. Its environs are also a playground for trail runners.
With lush forests, crystal clear water from its rivers, and majestic views at the summit. Mt. Halcon is one of the must-climb peaks in the country. It is also one of the most difficult due to its steep slopes.
Make sure you’re up to the challenge – both physically and mentally – before embarking on this adventure. As the weather is critical to the success of the climb, it’s best to plan a trip during the summer months.
This active volcano is popular among avid climbers and is the main highlight of the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park.
Mountaineers can climb Mt. Kanlaon via two trails: Wasay and Guintubdan. The Wasay trail is considered as one of the longest and most demanding in the Visayas region; it could take two days before you reach the crater.
According to local folklore, Mt. Mayon or Mayon Volcano was named after the princess Daragang Magayon (which translates to “beautiful lady” in English).
Its perfect cone shape is a huge crowd-drawer; mountaineers and regular tourists brave a trip to see it even if the volcano continues to be restive.
Mt. Madjaas reigns supreme among the mountains in Panay. Its name means “tall” in the local dialect, but it could also refer to its grandeur, as it rewards climbers with sweeping vistas at the summit.
Palawan is synonymous to pristine beaches – but there are also highlands waiting to be explored, like Mt. Mantalingajan.
Locals refer to the highest point in Palawan as the “Mountain of God.”. It was once the home of the Tau’t Daram, known for their ferociousness and extraordinary agility.
It is also home to an amazing array of trees, plants, and flowers endemic to the area. Warning: it takes an average of 4 to 5 days to scale it!
Fondly referred to as G2 by enthusiasts, this mountain is the highest in the province of Romblon. Guiting-Guiting in the local dialect means “jagged” – this could refer to how challenging it is to scale it – the experience is said to be at par with Mt. Halcon and Mt. Mantalingajan. The mysticism surrounding the mountain adds to its allure.
Scale Mt. Ulap to get a feel of the Cordilleras: marvel at pine trees, grasslands, vast mountain ranges, quaint villages, burial caves, and hanging bridges along the way. It’s suitable for hikers of all levels.
Mt. Pinatubo made it to the world headlines with its massive eruption in 1991. Today it is one of the most popular day hikes near Manila; Mt. Pinatubo’s moon-like terrain, ash fields, rocky rivers, and renowned crater lake are huge crowd drawers.
Mt. Pinatubo is home to the Aetas, who continue to thrive in the area.
The highest point in the Eastern Visayas region, Alto Peak is at the heart of the stunning Lake Danao National Park in Ormoc, Leyte. Its climate and vegetation is reminiscent of the Cordilleras.
Another popular day hike near Manila, Tarak Ridge rewards trekkers with views of Bataan, Manila Bay, Corregidor, and Cavite. The craggy landscape and strong winds make Tarak Ridge an exciting, must-see destination.
Mt. Balingkilat (or “Mountain of Thunder” in the Aeta language) is one of the highest peaks in Zambales. Trekkers could scale this and the nearby Mt. Cinco Picos in one adventure-packed weekend.
Marvel at the South China Sea and beautiful coves like Anawangin, Taleisayen, Nagsasa, and Silanguin once you reach the summit.
With its rich flora and fauna, a trip to the mystical Mt. Makiling is a must among mountaineers, scientists, and tourists.
The mythical forest nymph Maria Makiling is said to be the mountain’s guardian. Mt. Makiling’s silhouette is said to be that of Maria in a reclining position.
The imposing Mt. Iraya is one of the 22 active volcanoes in the country. It is sacred to the Ivatans, the local people of Batanes – the elders believe that a ring of clouds forms around Mt. Iraya when a loved one departs.
The majestic Mt. Arayat is a regal presence amidst the plains of Central Luzon. Mt. Arayat is said to be the home of the goddess Mariang Sinukuan, which translates to “the end” or “she who others have surrendered to.”
The mountain’s name represents its 5 peaks, which one can scale within two days. The rolling slopes and fantastic views of Subic Bay, Mt. Balingkilat, and nearby beaches make the experience one for the books.
Mt. Maculot is among the popular summer destinations near Manila. Trekkers can explore the Rockies (which stand alongside the iconic Tall Lake), the summit, and the Grotto, all of which can be completed by a traverse day-hike.
If you’re tired of the urban jungle that is Manila, it will only take you 2 to 3 hours to get to Mt. Batulao. Escape and enjoy amazing rock formations, awe-inspiring grasslands, and a 360-degree view of Batangas.
With its rolling terrain, caves, rivers, and forest trails, Mt. Daraitan is the perfect playground not only for mountaineers but also for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Mt. Maynoba offers breathtaking views of the Sierra Madre mountain range as well as an interesting trail. A steep ascent under a canopy of tree leads to a grassy, open land. Descending through the woodland, one ends up in a series of refreshing waterfalls.
Mt. Pico De Loro is part of the Mt. Palay-Palay mountain range. Also known as the Parrot’s Peak, it’s the highest point in Cavite, rewarding trekkers with stunning views of the South China Sea. Get an adrenaline rush by climbing its iconic monolith.
Pico De Loro, however, has been indefinitely closed since October 2016.
Gulugod-Baboy actually refers to the hills that dot the Calumpan Peninsula in Mabini, Batangas. There are three peaks on the range: Gulugod-Baboy, Gitna, and Pinagbanderahan.
Look out to Janao Bay, Maribacan strait, Mindoro, Verde Island, and Batangas Bay from the summit. Cool off after the hike and take a side trip to Sumbrero Island.
Also known as Mt. Bira-Bira, Mt. Nagsasa boasts of the most picturesque views of Zambales. A crowd favorite, Mt. Nagsasa is doable enough for beginners but also delivers a fulfilling experience for the more advanced trekkers.
Mt. Nagsasa leads to the idyllic Nagsasa Cove, where one can relax and swim after a long and exhausting climb.
Although it will only take 1.5 to 2.5 hours to reach the summit, Mt. Pamitinan’s steep trails and rock formations will test one’s agility and endurance. It’s highly recommended for rock climbing and bouldering enthusiasts.
Bud Bongao in Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost tip of the Philippines, is a revered pilgrimage site for both Christians and Muslims. The mountain is home to one of the last remaining forests in the Sulu archipelago.
Taal Volcano is the smallest active volcano in the world. The gradually ascending trails make this one of the easiest climbs to complete.
What are you waiting for? Time to scale new heights and explore these mountains in the Philippines!
Be a strong independent traveler!