If you’re looking to climb a beginner mountain near Manila, Mt. Mapalad in Tanay, Rizal is becoming a popular day hike for IG-worthy pictures.
Another Rizal mountain? You betcha!
Mt. Mapalad is popular recently because of the summit that features wooden hands holding hikers up against the mountainous landscape. But if you think this is a chill climb just worthy of photos, then you’re wrong.
I actually assumed it’s super easy but I huffed and puffed before I even got to the Instagrammable spot. What I was delighted to find out is that beyond the man-made landmark, Mt. Mapalad features beautiful slopes and diverse flora and fauna that are usually not shown in photos.
Read more of my DIY Mt. Mapalad dayhike itinerary for your next trip.
Our Mt. Mapalad story
It’s officially the season for summer outings and our birthdays. A few weeks ago, Josh and I received a lot of greetings from friends from our “past life” of organizing tours and climbing mountains weekly. One of the messages came from Noel, whom we met during our Couchsurfing food trips.
I’ve always wanted to climb Mt. Mapalad because it’s near Manila and it looked so easy. Add to the fact that it’s almost term break, I nonchalantly invited my officemates and Noel to climb Mt. Mapalad. Surprisingly, they said yes!
I was actually expecting all of them to back out the last minute (lol “drawing” trust issues). But despite the poor cell signal which disabled me from sending messages and the early 3AM call time, all eight of them came on time!
My first mistake was thinking the Mt. Mapalad hike was easy. It was hella difficult that two of our climb-mates stayed behind along the way. But overall, it was a fun experience despite the tough trail and the sweltering heat. We are thankful it was mostly cloudy and it drizzled during the hike!
What I learned from this trip is that I will always love mountain climbing no matter how many months of absence go by. Despite being sore the next day, the sweaty adventure truly is a great way to bond with old friends and make new ones.
Mt. Mapalad MASL, location, and trails
Mt. Mapalad has one of the nicest name for a mountain. In Filipino, it translates to “lucky” or “fortunate”. At the same time, “palad” means palm of the hands, which is why the locals built a wooden hand figure that it became known for. In reality, though, Mt. Mapalad was named after a plant whose leaves looked like outstretched fingers.
Located in Tanay, Rizal, Mt. Mapalad stands at 750 MASL (meters above sea level). It’s a good beginner mountain considering the small height. However, the trail itself is around 4 kilometers long. The hike usually takes 2-3 hours long depending on the speed of your ascent and the length of the breaks you take. Overall, you’ll find steep slopes, water streams, and young bamboos here.
Hikers usually begin the climb at 3 or 4AM in order to make it before sunrise and potentially catch a “sea of clouds”. That means walking in the dark before two roads diverge, the one with a store selling refreshment and snacks. After that, there are two trails leading to the summit — the short trail and the long trail.
The short trail features very steep assaults that almost looks like rock climbing. It’s shorter and the views are limited to forest and small streams, but it has its beauty. The short trail is usually recommended during ascents when hikers are rushing to get to the peak before sunrise. It’s more challenging, but it’s shorter!
The long trail features rolling hills, mountain views, and grasslands. Hikers usually pass by the long trail during descent, because the slopes are more relaxed and chill. Since parts of the Mt. Mapalad long trail are privately owned, it is usually closed from the public on Saturdays. This is sad because the views are extremely beautiful — you’ll wonder why this is not the one highlighted on Instagram.
I echo our guides’ recommendations to take the short trail on the ascent and the long trail on the descent. This way, you make the most out of your Mt. Mapalad hike.
Mt. Mapalad Dayhike Difficulty
Mountain climbers may be attracted by the famous wooden hands, but beginners better take note that it’s not that easy!
Two of our comrades stayed behind during the ascent because of the difficulty of climbing Mt. Mapalad. Our group of beginners made it to the summit after 3 hours. We took frequent breaks especially on the short trail to catch our breath and rest our legs.
Mt. Mapalad is also an open trail, meaning there are no big trees to serve as shade from the sun. This is challenging for late or noontime hikers who will need to take long walks under the heat. It really is better to hike early.
At the summit, there are two famous Mt. Mapalad view decks: Palad 1 and Palad 2. Palad 1 is bigger and better for group shots. But Palad 2 is more Instagrammable because the backdrop is the Sierra Madre mountain range and potentially a sea of clouds. Due to its popularity, you will need to line up just to take photos here.
What’s great is that the local government made efforts to put bamboo railings and mud steps on the steeper parts of the trek, making it easier and safer. They also have clear rotations on the local guides, some of whom belong to the Dumagat tribe and are tourist guides full-time.
Oh, and along the trail, we saw some strange fruits and flowers — even a tiny scorpion!
Mt. Mapalad DIY Itinerary
For your next trip, here is a sample itinerary for a DIY Mt. Mapalad dayhike:
|1:00 AM||ETD going to Brgy. San Andres jump-off point|
|2:30 AM||ETA Brgy. San Andres jump-off point|
|3:00 AM||Registration, Orientation, Start Ascent|
|5:30 AM||ETA Mt. Mapalad summit|
|6:00 AM||Photo ops, breakfast at view deck|
|7:00 AM||Start Descent|
|9:30 AM||ETA Brgy. San Andres jump-off point|
|10:00 AM||Freshen up, rest, prepare to leave|
|12:00 PM||ETD Manila|
|3:00 PM||ETA Manila|
Here are some important information about your budget for a Mt. Mapalad climb:
Camping. Staying overnight in Mt. Mapalad is allowable. You can bring your own tent or rent a tent for PHP 200 – 300 depending on the size. Not many people go camping, though.
Rates. Guides are mandatory in Mt. Mapalad. You will have to pay for Registration fees at PHP 100 per person and guides for PHP 500 for a group of five. Beyond five pax, it’s essentially PHP 100 per person. Parking fee is at PHP 50 per vehicle. If you’re staying overnight, the guide fee is at PHP 1250.
Shower. The jump-off point has 6 cubicles of clean toilet and showers. You can pay PHP 20 to take a shower, the other businesses are free.
Things to know about your Mt. Mapalad trip
- Recommended tour organizer. If you want to know the cheap budget tour organizer for Mt. Mapalad, send me a message.
- How to go to Mt. Mapalad. From Cubao, take a jeep going to Cogeo Gate 2 or Cogeo Public Market. At Gate 2, ride a jeepney going to Sampaloc and get off at Brgy. San Andres. Tell the driver to drop you off at Mt. Mapalad or Mt. Batolusong jump-off point. Then, ride a tricycle going to the jump-off point. Note that last trips are usually at 5 – 6PM.
- Best time to travel. I advise you to begin the hike at 3 AM latest to make it to the summit before sunrise. If you’re staying overnight, feel free to go anytime — there aren’t many campers here. If you’re looking to catch the sea of clouds, don’t get your hopes up. But try climbing from March to June to increase your chances. Be careful during monsoon periods where inclined and zigzag roads turn slippery and dangerous.
- Total ride time. Driving at dawn means quick traffic flow, maybe around 2 hours from Manila. If you’re driving in the regular hours, expect some build-up in Marikina and Antipolo area.
- Accessibility. Be sure to fuel up and finish your business before going to Marilaque Highway (Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon or simply Marikina-Infanta road) because there are very few gas stations there, none of which are major brands too and are closed at dawn. Keep in mind that there are no cell sites around Mt. Mapalad.
- Where to eat. There are many fast food restaurants and malls along Marcos Highway open from
10AMto 9PMwhere you can grab early breakfasts or dinners. In Mt. Mapalad area itself, there are eateries selling silogmeals at PHP 45 open at dawn. On the middle part of the trail, there is a store selling refreshment and snacks.
- What to wear. Light clothing, sandals or closed shoes, and track pants or cargo pants are good combinations. Since there are some very steep assaults and open trails try to cover up your skin.
- Things to bring. Bring sun protection because this is an open trail, which means hotter descents after sunrise. You’ll also save money if you bring sufficient food and water.
- Mt. Mapalad contact number. Please comment below or LIKE and message me via
- Things to do in Mt. Mapalad. Savor the view, breathe in the fresh air, and take photos on the summit and the famous wooden hands. You can also do side trips in Kinabuan Falls.
More Rizal attractions
- Rizal Resorts
- Treasure Mountain
- Mt. Ayngat
- Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens & Spa
- Mount Purro Nature Reserve
- Mt. Mapalad
- Masungi Georeserve
- Mt. Daraitan
I personally loved Mt. Mapalad because it was the right challenge with a good proximity in Manila. It was an awesome way to kick-off the summer season with friends.