Camp Sinai, Pintong Bukawe Trails: The Merrell 2013 Trail Route

This may well be one of the most beautiful and varied 21k trail course outside of Tanay and it was good to have run these rarely used trails for the very first time. Camp Sinai in Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal was near a former dump site where trash were as high as the mountains surrounding it that made the area a no-no visit or even pass through it.

Things change however, when the land-fill was closed a few years ago and this time, a burgeoning resort-like ambiance grew on its outskirts where outdoor activities have again flourished like mountain biking, trekking and now trail running.

With rolling hills, many technical terrain and about 1,200 ft of elevation gain, it’s not an easy course but the winding switchbacks to and from the river rewards you with stunning views of rural vistas, broad valleys where many sections offers sweeping views of the vast Sierra Madre Mountains.

As with previous Merrell Adventure Trail Race editions, this year’s route was selected by trail race expert and Race Director Thumbie Remigio who has again devised a route to challenge adventure seekers. Me and a group of runners from the Merrell and Saucony groups including some bloggers were given a glimpse of what to expect.

We ran just 11 kms of the 21km route and i was very surprised at the amount of variety, from gnarly rocky paths to broad rough roads and the various river trekking one has to pass with plenty of vegetation on the sides. Warning: the last part of the race will be all uphills and i advice runners who plan to participate in this race to train on hills. Arduous as it is, the organizers will even set up mud pits to give it more a rather dirty look for trail runners!

For those who plan to join the trail run, here are some details to guide you through in registration: http://registration/merrell-adventure-run-2013-at-pintong-bucawe-san-mateo-rizal/

I’m leaving you some pictures for a sneak peek of the Merrell 2013 race route and trails. Enjoy!

The welcome sign, 300 meters upwards

The views atop Camp Sinai where the starting line will be

Cottages at Camp Sinai

Briefing from Race Director Thumbie Remigio

The start of our run

It will be all downhill for the first 3.5 kms.

A small river that will greet runners on the way down. No crossings here

Views on the downhills were excellent

Trails passes at the side for a better view of the mountains

A bump during the downhill portion

All the trails you want

Seldom used trails here

With the group taking a break

There will be a long section of these on the trails

Stopping at a cross-road while Thumbie giving some instructions

At the 3km mark during this point

Single track trails leading to sterling views of the Sierras

Atop a portion of the mountain

This trail leads down to the river

One of the best views of the run!

Picture doesn’t give justice to the feeling while you view this. A wow scenario!

The group waiting at the edge of the river

Root crops at the river’s edge

Trekking towards the river’s edges

Wish we could just lie down and enjoy more of the views

About to cross the river

They didn’t want to get their shoes wet?

In the middle of it all

View from the other side

This will be part of the route

Threading some trails before we cross to the other side

Approaching a fenced property

Only the 21k runners will pass through here

An elevated path

It’s back to the river

Thumbie and Nonoy

Deep portion of the river. The bamboos are so old and brittle that it was crackling while crossing it.

Back to the boondocks

Posing with 2 local farmers and their dog

Up to the green mountains

Jojo Pauly

At the second half of our run

Lots of banana trees here

Rough roads will also be part of the route

This is a very long uphill trek

…with good views while walking the steepest part

Kids running towards us

The view behind us

Exiting the Sitio Watershed P7, Pintong Bokaue

A large boulder at the edge of the trail

A sprint on the downhill part

Going up back to Camp Sinai

The 10k and 5k runners will be scaling up this steep climb to the finish

Me on my way up…

Resting at a side mountain cafe at Camp Sinai

Moses’ tablets (Samsung?) You just don’t know the enormity of this until………….

…you actually come close to it!

150 meters before the run ends. Back to where we started.

Took our lunch here

And despite the 2 hour++ gruelling, uphill, downhill, river trekking run–we find this sign posted at a sanctuary…

63 responses to “Camp Sinai, Pintong Bukawe Trails: The Merrell 2013 Trail Route

  1. nice route, this will be my next trail run after pimco’s love a tree event 🙂 how would you rate its difficulty from 1-5… with 5 being the daranak run from last year?

    • The Daranak trails was a monster of a route, lots of technical trails. Here at San Mateo, i would rate it at 3 to 4 although the 2nd half would be mostly uphills. 🙂

  2. Sir ,
    I’ve gone through Xterra Trail run in Cebu, if you were to rate between Merrel and Xterra from 1-5, in which 5 will be the hardest. what will it be?


    • Hi Tenesee. I can’t give you a comparison since i wasn’t able to run the Xterra Trail run in Cebu. If i were you, i wouldn’t worry if one was harder than the other as they’re all doable. I heard from Arland Macasieb that the Liloan route was more of survival than running so maybe Merrell wouldn’t be so hard after all. 😉

  3. sir, tnx po s post nyung pics. n excite po aq, gus2 q po maexperience mgtrail run,. ask q po sna kung my service po b aq masasakyan, kng s masinag aq magmumula?

    • Hi! I think may provide ang Merrell ng service bus. Sana tinanong mo sa kanila nung nag register ka. May mga passenger jeeps from Masinag going to Pintong Bukawe, magtanong ka nalang sa mga jeeney drivers dun kung pano mkakarating sa Pintong Bukawe Peak (Camp Sinai).

  4. I have a Toyota Coaster I am thinking about using to haul interested people who need a ride. I can hold over 20 people. I have not committed yet. I am waiting till last minute to see if anyone would want a round trip ride from MASINAG/MARCOS/SUMULONG McD. Cost would be P250 round trip. Text me if you think you are interested. I’m coming anyhow and I’m driving anyhow. Might as well bring some people along and enjoy Capitalism at the same time. 0919 450 6438. Mitch

  5. sir, im from Pampanga nag try po ako pumunta kahapon sa Camp Sinai para i Survey ang site. Una nakarating ako sa Timberland, sabi nung guard di daw ako makakarating dun with my car kasi rough road ang daan at private property yun dadaanan. so, itinuro sakin via Marcos Highway to San Jose Antipolo via Brgy kabading…pero di parin ako umabot ng Pintong Bucawe kasi inabot nko ng dilim. ask ko lng po tama po ba yung way na tinahak ko…at pano po ba ang tamang way para makarating sa Camp Sinai? First time ko po mag trail run sana kaya excited ako. Salamat!

    • Yes, Marcos Highway (past Masinag Market–> Cogeo) to Brgy Kabading (Masinag to Brgy Kabading is about 8-10kms) then turn left to Pintong Bukawe all the way to Camp Sinai. Camp Sinai is better known to the locals as “Pintong Bukawe PEAK”. The area is a former dump site now almost empty of the wastes if was previously known for. I suggest you travel early and bring along your running friends.

  6. Hi Sir,

    Im from batasan QC. ask ko lang kung pano po ang commute papunta sa site. Thanks in Advance!

    • Hi. I’m not really sure how to commute from Batasan to the venue. All i can suggest is to go to Masinag Market junction where there are jeepneys plying the main highway. You can ask the drivers there as i’m sure they’re familiar with the area.

  7. Hi, Sir Rene. After yesterday’s Salomon X-trail, I am inclined to ask: How does the trail compare to yesterday’s? 🙂

    • My God, the trails last Saturday was HARDCORE! Note that only the 6k route was shown us previously so the other routes were completely unexpected! Merrell’s trails are gentler, more rustic in scenery i.e. farms, rivers, (like our last 26k run in Tanay) but there are parts that really go uphill on rough roads specially on the last few kilometers.

      • Unexpected is right. We didn’t expect it’ll be a survivor edition. Thanks, Sir Rene. We’ll probably be running here, too. 🙂

  8. sir.jazz runner taga san mateo dn po ako sa plaza part. but medyo hindi ko po kabisado ung bandang dyan sa brgy. pintong bukawe. panu po ba way ko??? salamt

    • Here’s the map going to Pintong Bukawe:

      According to the Merrell organizers, “There will be jeepneys provided at SM Masinag which will be travelling back and forth the venue.”

    • hi J.L i am from montalban and try ko sumali d2 if you like sabay na tyo pumunta sicne wla naman akong kasama.. =)

    • Hi Chai! Less than a kilometer away from the venue is the Phillip’s Sanctuary, a resort-like place where you can rent cottages. This is where the organizers of the Merrell Run are going to be billeted 2 days before the race. This place is popular so you can just ask directions from the residents there near Sinai Peak (Camp Sinai).

    • None that i know of, Chai. I guess you will have to find a hotel within Masinag which is the closest place.

    • Trails are not too technical, mostly single tracks though parts are rocky with long steep hills and moderate climbs. Some technical sections (and river crossings) will require beginners to dismount, but intermediate riders should find most sections rideable and challenging. Difficulty is *Intermediate*.

  9. hi sir. thanks for the great review. is it okay if i reblog this post?

    by the way, im just a newbie in trail running. my first virgin run off the road is the recent salomon x trail run where i only participated in the 6k category. now ive registered in the 10k category of merrell’s adventure run. is Mt. Sinai more technical than Hamilo Coast, Pico de Loro? Thanks sir!

    • Hi Cyrus! Your first trail race at Hamilo Coast is an achievement in itself as the route was from from easy. If you conquered that difficult route, Merrell should be easier for you. Still, there will be a lot of technical surfaces, specially the downhills plus river crossings and the last part which are mostly uphills! Good luck!

      Yes, you can re-blog this post. 🙂

  10. Hi sir, thanks for the tip. Nevertheless, i will still prepare for this run.

    The people in the photos are familiar, i saw them in yesterday’s 3rd leg of Rip the Road. Are you present in yesterday’s run sir?

    • No, didn’t do Rip the Road but i’ll be at the Safeguard-2XU Sole Racing this Sunday. 🙂

    • Yes, pwede naman. It’s a bike and running trail so it’s open to the public. Be wary of dogs while passing through small barangays.

    • I’m not aware that a headlight would be needed since gun start for the 21k is at 6am. Surroundings will be very visible already at that time.

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