Mountain biking has become one of the most popular outdoor sports in the country and it’s not hard to understand why. Unlike spinning in the gym, here you actually get to go places while getting fit. And unlike road cycling, mountain biking gets you closer to the sky and Mother Nature.
If you’ve done the more popular biking destinations like Timberland and Nuvali, and you think you’re ready for something different, here are a few suggestions on where to take your bike next.
Mayon volcano already inspires wide-eyed wonder and awe from afar. Now, try bringing your mountain bike to it.
As a backdrop for an Instagram mountain biking photo, Mt. Mayon is pretty much unrivalled. You can almost imagine Godzilla himself coming out of that smoking crater while you bust your lungs on the ascent. Thankfully, it’s also one of the easiest to get to. You can just take a bus to Legazpi City and book a guide from the Motoragon shop downtown. I wouldn’t suggest that you do this on your own sans guide if you are not familiar with the place as you could get lost.
What to expect at Mayon? The lava trail is an interesting exercise in suffering. The soft lahar will suck the power from your wheels and make you feel like you’re carrying a hundred kilo load on your wheels, but the rewards are more than worth it. Just look at the darn mountain.
The Cordilleras are where real mountain bikers test their mettle. There are dozens of trail systems here that wind through some truly spectacular scenery. One of these trail systems is the Bobok-Bisal trail in the town of Bokod Benguet.
If you feel like you’re ready for the gnarlier stuff, this is where you bring your bike. The climbs are killer, and unless you are a Class A Supermamaw, you will probably be pushing your bike up its evil climbs. But the cool, pine-scented Cordillera air and the scenery will be worth it.
But the real treat is in the downhill ride. Drop your seat, put your heels down, and get ready for a wild fast descent. I wouldn’t recommend this for newbies, or even for those with intermediate skills. The downhill ride will send you flying over steep cliffs and crashing hundreds of feet below if you don’t know your shit. But if you do, the downhill ride is just beautiful.
Equally as beautiful is the trail which takes you back to Ambuklao. You will get to bike through rice terraces, and cross several hanging bridges that will make you feel like Indiana Jones. *Cue Indy theme*
Bataan Killer Loop
Closer to Metro Manila is the infamous Bataan Killer Loop. True to its name, this MTB route in Pilar, Bataan will try to kill you in the climbs.
It starts at the foot of Mt. Samat and circles this icon of Bataan before spitting you out in a high speed fashion around 30 kilometers later. Besides constant views of the cross on Mt. Samat, the KIller Loop also gives you grand vistas that recall the first part of the journey of LOTR’s Fellowship of the Ring. Yes, it has a segment that’s been aptly named Middle-earth because the landscape is just so Tolkiensque.
Again, this bike destination isn’t for newbies or those with intermediate skills. The climbs are technical, and the descents are fast and equally demanding. But if your fitness and skill levels are up to par, the Killer Loop is easily one hell of a fun biking trip. Past the last climb, the trails just flow and flow.
Even closer to Metro Manila are the mountains of Tanay. This is my favorite destination, not just because of its proximity to Manila, but because of its awesome views of the Sierra Madre and the many river crossings en route to your destination.
You can visit Kinabuan Falls, which is in a Dumagat village. On the way there you’ll be crossing some of the cleanest streams anywhere near Manila. You can get off your bike, take a dip and get refreshed after hours of pedaling. It’s almost hard to believe that this place is just an hour and a half (when traffic is light) from the polluted concrete jungle of Manila.
You can also go down to Brgy. Laiban, do even more river crossings, and visit a massive abandoned structure that was supposed to form part of a dam system during the Marcos era. You can also visit Daraitan and its magnificent Tinipak River and cave. If you’re a Tolkien fan, this may remind you of another place from Middle-earth: the river Anduin. The place just radiates magic.
A lot of people are calling Tanay as the next great outdoor destination, or the next Tagaytay. IMO, Tanay is already it.
Still a bit closer to Metro Manila is Mt. Balagbag in Rodriguez Rizal. Thanks to its relatively accessible dirt road, this popular mountain biking destination is also frequented by trail runners, hikers, off-road motorcyclists and 4X4 enthusiasts during the weekends.
The dirt road and double track to the peak are tests of leg power and endurance – the price for the rewards at the top. At the summit you get a great view of Metro Manila and the Sierra Madre mountains. If you need to a quick mountain biking fix on a weekend, you can’t go wrong with Balagbag.
So far, all the places I’ve visited are in Luzon. But I heard that there’s also lots of spectacularly scenic trails in Samar, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao. Hopefully, I’ll get to tick them off my bucket list soon.
Got any scenic bike trail suggestions? Let us know below!