Metro Manila has waterfalls. Well, maybe they’re not exactly in Metro Manila itself. You will need to work a bit to reach these cascades. But if you’re a mountain biker, getting there is more than half the fun.
For a lot of people who grew up in Metro Manila, it can be almost hard to believe that there are waterfalls that are just an hour and a half away by car, or two and a half hours away by bike from the city. Waterfalls, after all, are part of mountain streams, which are in turn nurtured by forest watersheds. If you cut the trees in the forest, you eliminate the watershed, and you kill the waterfalls. Rampant deforestation in the municipalities and provinces around Metro Manila has probably eliminated a lot of these awesome nature spots. (This is what happened to Uugong Falls in Morong, Rizal.)
Still, the situation isn’t so bad yet. There are still a few waterfalls near Metro Manila, which means that there are still trees in the mountains to sustain them. And here are some of the waterfalls you can reach with your mountain bike.
This is a favorite destination for many mountain bikers. It’s near enough Metro Manila, and its waters are clear and refreshing. There are two routes to Puray: 1) the dry and punishing mountain route, and 2) the easier river route. However, it is not advisable to take the river route during the rainy season as the water level may sometimes get too high.
There are no accommodations or restaurants near Puray Falls, so bikers who plan to go here are advised to bring their own packed lunch, snacks, and water. You can ask the residents of the area if it’s okay to park your bikes in their yard. They usually say yes.
This is not exactly a newbie-friendly destination because even the easier river route requires lots of climbing, and deft bike handling. But at least there’s no entrance fee here yet.
View Welcome Rotonda to Puray Falls, Rodriguez, CALABARZON, Philippines in a larger map
This is a gem of a waterfalls right along the famous Marilaque Highway, also known as Marcos Highway, which runs from Cogeo in Antipolo to Tanay. The falls can be found within the Palo Alto Leisure and Residential Estates in Brgy. Pinugay, Baras, Rizal. Its waters are clean, and the place is very well maintained.
If you’re a newbie mountain biker, this is a good place to start collecting your waterfall selfies, because getting there is relatively easy. The route is paved and involves only moderate climbs. The scenic Marilaque highway is also a treat in itself.
To know more about Palo Alto, check out this great post in Travel Up.
This is perhaps, Tanay’s most famous tourist spot. To get here, you can either take the 1) long but scenic Marilaque highway which passes through the Sierra madre mountains, or 2) the shorter but less scenic route through Antipolo, Teresa and then the scenic Manila East Road. Since this place is quite popular, expect a lot of people when you get there. The water is clean and refreshing, and the swimming area is quite deep.
There’s a store in the area which sells refreshments, and even rents out “interyor na salbabida” if you want to go for a swim. There’s lots of good places to eat along both the Marilaque highway and the Manila East Road so you don’t need to bring pack lunch. The routes are mostly paved, so this should be friendly even to newbies.
Entrance fee is Php 20, or maybe Php 25. I’ve forgotten since it’s been a while since I last went here. Jolog trivia: there’s a scene in Joey De Leon’s landmark film “Starzan” which was supposedly filmed here. It’s actually a favorite location for TV and movie shoots.
Just a short 7-minute hike from Daranak is Batlag Falls. It’s just as picturesque as Daranak, and there’s usually fewer people here. Entrance fee when we last went here was around Php50, which probably explains why there are fewer people here than in Daranak.
Kinabuan Falls in Sta. Ines
This destination is best left for hardened veterans. To get here, you’ll need to go through the famed Marilaque highway, then turn left (if you’re coming from Manila) on the San Andres arch. This will take you through several river crossings which range from knee deep to waist deep. The terrain is very challenging, but the views are awesome.
There’s no entrance fee, but you will need to register at the Sta. Ines Barangay Hall. It’s also customary to give something in kind to the Dumagat chieftain. From the Dumagat village, it’s a short ten minute hike to the falls itself.
Depending on your level of fitness and how many picture stops you do along the way, the trip to Kinabuan Falls from the San Andres ark on the Marilaque highway can take from 2-4 hours. The return trip will take a lot longer as you’ll need to climb up a road that’s as difficult as Timberland’s The Wall.
You need to bring your own lunch pack, snacks and lots of water on this trip. Bring headlights, and blinkers too in case you need to pedal into the night. You can sleep in the Dumagat village if you have tents, or if the multipurpose hall isn’t being used.
If you have time, you can make a detour to Sangab Cave, which is just a seven minute bike ride from the Sta. Ines road. Unless you’re an experienced caver though, I wouldn’t recommend that you go into the cave as the entrance is under water.
Shotgun’s Beretta Falls
Yup, that other punishing road in Mt. Maarat also has a waterfalls. But it comes and goes with the rainy season. Check out this article to know more about it.
This was the original waterfall destination for Manileños. But according to people who recently visited the place, the falls has seen better days. People are no longer allowed to bathe in its waters because the falls is practically an open sewer. I haven’t visited it myself, but I plan to do so soon.
If you know of other waterfalls that can be biked from Metro Manila, feel free to post a comment here. I might just visit it in the coming days :)