Last updated: 7th July 2020
One of the reasons why I hike is to get away from the busy life in the Metro. Being lost in the mountains (well, not literally) gives me peace of mind. I want to avoid the crowd so I consider the time, date, and even the mountain’s popularity before planning a hike.
Then Mt. Sembrano came. Upon browsing the web and a few hiking groups on Facebook, this mountain in Rizal caught my attention because of its picturesque views of the Southern Tagalog mountains and Laguna de Bay. Then I saw comments from other hikers that Mount Sembrano is a great option if you want to hike with a lesser crowd.
In this article, we’ll be featuring everything you need to know about Mt. Sembrano including its history, the details on how to get there, and what to expect along the trail. We’ll also give you a sample itinerary and estimated budget calculation to help you plan your hike at Sembrano. Let’s get started!
Mt. Sembrano: Location, History, and Facts
Located in Pililla, Rizal, Mt. Sembrano was once a refuge of New People’s Army insurgents. Now, this mountain is safe to hike and has already become a popular hiking destination.
It features views of Laguna de Bay, Talim Island, Pililla Windmill Farm, and other mountains such as Mount Makiling and Banahaw.
As of today, hiring a tour guide is required in hiking Mt. Sembrano. During the time when hiring a guide wasn’t necessary, there were reported instances of hold-up and “laslas tent” (not saying this to discourage you from hiking, just telling the truth here).
Now, the locals can assure that this is a thing of the past and Mt. Sembrano is now safe for all hikers.
Mt. Sembrano Specs from Pinoy Mountaineer:
Major jump-off: Brgy. Hall of Malaya, Pililla
LLA: 14°23’10″N; 121°21’57” E; 745 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 3-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Views of Laguna Lake and Southern Tagalog mountains
Mt. Sembrano: How to Get There
There are two ways to get to Mount Sembrano.
1. By public transport
At EDSA Crossing, ride a jeepney going to Tanay. Drop off at Tanay Public Market. From here, ride another jeepney going to Malaya, pililla, Rizal. Tell the driver to drop you off at the Barangay Hall where you need to register. There is another option if you’re coming from Cubao Terminal. Ride a jeepney bound to Cogeo and ask the driver to drop you off at Cogeo 2. Ride a jeepney going to Tanay Public Market and another one going to Barangay Malaya.
Estimated costs and travel time:
Crossing to Tanay – P53 pesos, 2.5 hours
Tanay Public Market to Barangay Hall (Malaya, Pililla) – P23, 30 minutes
P.S. I don’t know how much the jeepney fare would cost from Cubao to Cogeo 2, and Cogeo 2 to Tanay Public Market. If you do know it, please leave a comment below so I can update this guide. Sharing is caring! 🙂
October 2019 Update: Our fellow hiker Josh Rodriguez has shared that the fare from Cubao to Cogeo 2 is P26. Thanks for sharing, Josh! 🙂
2. By private vehicle
You can rent a private vehicle to bring you from your preferred meet-up place to Barangay Malaya, Pililla. Travel time will take from 1.5-2 hours, depending on the traffic. You can search for “Barangay Malaya” in Google Maps or Waze but it will not lead you to the exact location of the Barangay Hall.
If your driver doesn’t know yet, tell him that the Barangay Hall is located in front of Malaya Elementary School. There is also a checkpoint sign in front, so it’s easy to find. If coming from Cubao, the Barangay Hall is at the right side.
For our hike, we hired Rebecca Andrea Transport since we were only and we can all fit in a Toyota Innova. Shoutout to my hiker friend / driver, Tin Nazul. You can contact her here for inquiries: 09296391250 and 09954531040.
Preparation at the Jump-Off
When planning your hike at Mt. Sembrano, we suggest that you let Barangay Malaya Tourism know of your visit so they can provide you important information about the expenses, or even what to expect on the trail. You can also contact them here at 09156644933.
During our hike, we arrived at the Brgy. Hall before 3:00 AM and the registration is still closed. But since we let them know that we will be arriving early, our guide came early to greet and assist us. Instead, the registration fee (P50 each) and guide fee (P500 per 10 people – day hike rate) were paid after the hike.
If you want to have a quick breakfast at the Barangay, don’t be disheartened because there is no 24/7 store near them that serves breakfast and coffee. We were so grateful to our guide, Kuya Darwin Reytana, because he welcomed us to his home (located along the trail) where he served us hot coffee. You can contact him directly at 09976440463 if you want him to be your guide.
The Trail: What Should We Expect?
Mount Sembrano is perfect for beginners. The trail has three important parts such as Manggahan Campsite, North Peak, and South Peak (summit). Reaching the summit would take around 3-4 hours depending on your pace.
The journey going to Manggahan Campsite is like a walk in the park; the trail is wide, some parts rocky, but manageable. After 30 minutes of hiking, you will reach the campsite that is full of mango trees (if it’s still not obvious by now).
During the day, the locals sell coconut here for P20 which is a must try when visiting Mt. Sembrano. Not sure if we can still get it for that amount in the Metro.
The real challenge begins when heading to North Peak from Manggahan. It’s ~45 degrees steep and some parts of it will make you crawl your way up. The rocks are bigger compared to the first part of the trail and the advantage of this is that you can use it as support by holding on to it.
After 1.5 hours, the trail will become wide again. You can now say hello to the grassland. Another 30 minutes of hiking will lead you to the North Peak where you’ll see Laguna de Bay and other mountains.
Going to the summit will take around 30 minutes and from there, you can see the trail you’ve been through as well. It just feels good to look at the path you have walked into from the summit.
We expected the descent to be challenging because of the experience we had from Manggahan to North Peak. But yeah, going down was way easier compared to going up. We arrived at the jump off after 3 hours because we rested for more than 30 minutes at Manggahan Campsite while enjoying our coconut juice.
Sample DIY Itinerary for a Day Hike:
This sample itinerary below is made assuming that the hikers rented a private vehicle. You can adjust it according to your own time.
12:00 AM – Meetup at Mcdo Kia Theater
01:00 AM – Departure
03:00 AM – Arrival at jump-off
04:00 AM – Start hike
04:30 AM – ETA Manggahan
06:30 AM – ETA North Peak
07:00 AM – ETA South Peak (summit)
08:00 AM – Start descent
09:30 AM – ETA Manggahan Falls
10:30 AM – Jump-off, tidy-up
11:30 AM – Departure
02:00 PM – Cubao
Estimated Expenses in Hiking Mt. Sembrano
Please be reminded that the costs below are ESTIMATED and might change due to other factors. Bring extra money as back-up.
- Registration fee – P50 each
- Guide fee (day hike) – P500 for 10 persons
- Guide fee (overnight) – P1,100 for 10 persons
- Commute from Crossing – P200 back and forth (please bring extra)
- Private vehicle service – P500 each (depends on your headcount)
Total budget: P400 each (group of 10, if day hike)
Mt. Sembrano: Our Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for a quick climb this weekend that is budget-friendly and is near the Metro, Mt. Sembrano would be a great choice. Another thing you’ll love about this mountain is that it’s not crowded and you can fully enjoy the picturesque views of Laguna de Bay and other Southern Tagalog mountains.
Since we have already discussed everything you need to know about Mt. Sembrano, including a sample itinerary and the estimated costs, you are now ready to conquer this breathtaking mountain! Add this now to your bucketlist and you’ll have no regrets for sure!
See you in the mountains!