As a fan of the outdoors, I have been hiking with my daughter since she was 22 months old–sometimes just on our own. Often, I get asked, “How is that possible?”
The answer is simple: Choose a mountain that is easy enough for a child to hike. Brimming with magnificent landscapes, the Philippines has no shortage of child-friendly mountains.
Whether you're near the city or in the farther reaches of Visayas, there is always a mountain that is well-suited for you and your kids. Here are my top picks!
1. Mts. Tayawan and Kalugong
Location: Tawang, Benguet
Elevation: 1,525 meters above sea level
Estimate hiking time with a child: 1 hour
Add a little adventure to your usual Baguio family trip and drop by the mountainous community of Tawang for an early morning hike to Mts. Tayawan and Kalugong.
Accessible by a 45-minute cab or car ride from Baguio City, these mountains feature a breezy trail fringed with pine trees and an encompassing view of La Trinidad. Neighboring Mt. Yangbew can also be seen from Mt. Kalugong's summit, which is known for its unique rock formations.
Halfway to the top, you will pass by Mt. Tayawan, where a hut awaits hikers hungry for a rest. Don't miss the café at the summit that serves the best cakes and coffee on this side of Benguet!
2. Mt. Oro
Location: Rodriguez, Rizal
Elevation: 340+ meters above sea level
Estimate hiking time with a kid: 2 to 3 hours
Located only one to two hours away from Cubao, Mt. Oro, is an excellent hiking destination for families who don't want to stray too far away from the city.
Mt. Oro, which is translated to “gold”, is believed to have Yamashita's Treasure buried somewhere in the mountain.
Mt. Oro possesses the same open grasslands that many mountains in Rizal–such as Mt. Maynoba, Mt. Balagbag and Mt. Binutasan–have. At the summit, you will be rewarded with a larger-than-life view of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and nearby mountains including Sipit Ulang and Mt. Ayaas. Stop by Payaran Falls to cool down on your way back!
3. Mt. Manalmon
Location: San Miguel, Bulacan
Elevation: 196 meters above sea level
Estimate hiking time with a kid: 1.5 to 2 hours
Looking for an action-packed adventure? Mt. Manalmon will not disappoint. Before or after the hike, climbers can tread the monkey bridge over Madlum River or explore it aboard a bamboo raft.
The trail consists of several exciting sections, including a cave, river crossing and two peaks that afford a view of Mt. Arayat, Rizal and the Biak Na Bato National Park.
4. Gulugud Baboy/ Mt. Pinagbandirahan
Location: Mabini, Batangas
Elevation: 525+ meters above sea level
Estimate hiking time with a kid: 3 hours
Named for its shape resembling a pig's spine, Gulugud Baboy offers a gentle terrain that overlooks Maricaban Bay and the islands dotting it. Children will definitely love the cows grazing on its three peaks, as well as the diving resorts that await after scaling it. Boats can also be rented going to Sombrero Island.
5. Osmeña Peak (Dalaguete Trail)
Location: Dalaguete, Cebu
Elevation: 1,013 meters above sea level
Estimate hiking time with a kid: 30 to 45 minutes (combined with a habal-habal ride)
Osmeña Peak is Cebu's highest peak, but don't get intimidated! The mountain is also the easiest to trek on this list, entailing only a 30-minute walk on gentle slopes (without a kid, you can even finish it in 20) via the Dalaguete trail.
You will see livestock grazing on farms en route, culminating in a 360-degree view of the sea and craggy hills that form the Mantalongon mountain range. To go here, walk two hours from the public market or hop on a habal-habal that will bring you straight to the registration area.
6. Mt. Pinatubo (Sta. Juliana trail)
Location: Capas, Tarlac
Elevation: 1,486 meters above sea level
Estimate hiking time with a kid: 2.5 to 3 hours
Often called a beautiful disaster, Mt. Pinatubo's most popular feature is its crater lake, which was formed after the volcano's much publicized 1990 eruption.
From December to February, the lake is a vibrant cyan or turquoise. The rest of the year, it is brown to green. Accessible after a thrilling 4x4 ride from the registration area in Sta. Juliana, the hike going to the crater lake passes through a rocky lahar valley flanked by sand walls, giant boulders, and sharp peaks. Since Mt. Pinatubo is considered an active volcano, you'll occasionally find sulphuric streams running down the trail.
7. Mt. Samat
Location: Pilar, Bataan
Elevation: 553 meters above sea level
Estimate hiking time with a kid: 2.5 hours
Rediscover history and nature in one hike with Mt. Samat. The mountain's six-kilometer cemented trail is a famous jogging path for locals and a Sunday activity for non-residents.
Alternatively, you can take a tricycle from the mountain's base in Pilar and ask to be dropped off at the gate. From there, it's only one kilometer to the summit.
Snacks and souvenir shops can be found at the summit, as well as war cannons and an altar. But the most conspicuous part of the mountain is a huge cross at the summit called Dambana ng Kagitingan, whose base houses a World War II Museum. From the cross's lookout 600 meters above ground, hikers will enjoy an awe-inspiring vista of Mt. Mariveles, Mt. Natib and the vast plains of Central Luzon.
What other child-friendly hikes do you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below!
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