Running The Magalipit and Mt. Alyaas Trails: Puray, Rodriguez

When your usual everyday route just doesn’t get your blood pumping anymore, it may be time for something more exotic…green…unpolluted and invigorating! Head out for the trails!

This is what we did yesterday with running buddy June as we decided, at the spur of the moment, to forego our usual run in UP and head to the backyard trails of Montalban, specifically to the mountain trails of Alyaas, near Puray.

After running these past few weeks to both the Tanay and the Cavinti trails, i was starting to feel some longing for trails nearby, so Montalban sort of filled-up that gap. Besides, we both plan to run the Cavinti Road and Trail Adventure Marathon in 4 weeks time so what a better way to get those lungs ready than by running actual trails!

The mellow vibe of the mountains near the Wawa Dam was enticing and a bit invigorating as this would be my second time in running this place. The river crossings alone were captivating and a big bonus was discovering a new trail, an alternative route going to Puray and that was via the trails in Baranggay Magalipit!

The trails here were simply captivating, with wild trees and greenery mostly enveloping the area while the air was cool at times even with the smidgens of the sun peeping from the clouds failed to dampen our mood to run on these secluded parts. After discovering these pristine and quiet trails (the dogs were even forgiving to us galloping strangers), i am reminded why i should visit this place more often.

The landscape which stretches along the community of Mascap to the routes going to Puray is absolutely absorving! Staring at the mountain tops while you soak your shoes down river crossings is one of the most exhilarating experiences of a trail runner. During our first outing here about 2 years ago, we went for the downhill route that had about a dozen river crossings. This time, we went for the more arduous uphill route, with an elevation gain of about 880 meters.

Our destination was suppose to be at Puray Falls but when we saw this hidden trail that weaves uphill along the Sierra Madre mountains, we decided to forego the falls and instead explore the mountain sides.

The views atop Mt. Alyaas is certainly impressive. The undulating Sierra Madre mountains, the bamboo tree forest, the chiseled steps on the ground for the uphill assault  and the totally unexpected mini-waterfalls that was a refreshing sight to see!

But all is not a walk in the park when you tackle those jagged hills. I had to stop every 10 meters just to catch my breath while traversing those climbs. There were parts of the trails that were inches away from ravines that you had to cling on bamboo trunks for balance. June, who was the expert climber between us was forced to wait for me on several occasions after i got winded.

All in all, it was one great experience to climb atop those trails. It’s not an easy climb for newbies in trail running although i would suggest to them taking the river route for a more satisfying experience!

Here are some of the pics along the route. Enjoy!

One of the steel bridges that connects the subdivision to the trails

Start of our run were done along banks of rivers

Stronger currents here but were tamer on the latter parts.

Trail starts here. A little soggy but were mostly dry for the rest

Trail leads out of the residential areas

June chats with a local resident near the banks of a river

One of the more picturesque trails

Getting inside a more secluded area

Exploring a new route to Puray

At the foothills of the Sierra Madre

My turn to lead

Part of the Magalipit Trails

Surprisingly, most of the trails were dry despite the intermittent rains that fell in the area during the last few days

Trails zigzagging along the route

Heat was bearable and essential if you want to join trail races

A trail view near the edges of a ravine

Posing with military men at a checkpoint

These school children in a jolly mood posing for the camera with the urging of June

At the Magalipit spillway

One river we crossed

Test running the World Balance trail shoe!

Transparent even on underwater

2nd river crossing

Entering the boundary of Mascap

A shack at a secluded baranggay

Taken from atop a bridge in Mascap

View from atop a mountain ridge

The upper trail towards Puray

It’s a long uphill from here

Single track trail going to Mt. Alyaas

Established trails leading to more uphills

At the ridge of a mountain

Quiet and all the fresh air and trees…

Ridges at the Rodriguez mountains

Tree backdrop for June

A mini waterfalls in the middle of nowhere

Up close where the water is really ice-cold

Water pond is knee-deep where you can soak your aching legs

Another stream on the left side of the mini-falls

Cool place

The stairway trail to Mt. Alyaas

The mountain was shrouded with bamboo trees. Pandas will be able to survive here

Non-stop uphill

An almost vertical climb

Finally, the view on top

Sitting near the clouds

The Magical Garden and River Trails Of Montalban

I have often espoused about how much there is to see and experience in running on trails and if runners only took the time to look beyond city running, there is a wealth of fascinating places to be discovered.

During the week-end when many were running road races around Metro Manila, running buddy June Santiago and i discovered these wonderful trails just beyond the majestic Wawa Dam in Montalban (now Rodriguez) frequented by mountain bikers and hikers alike.

Flanked by the huge boulders of limestone rocks and a gorge at the south-end and the Sierra Madre mountain range in the north, it is a picturesque combination of stunningly beautiful garden-covered vistas, pristine river, wild fauna and runner-friendly locals.

We felt that we were the only 2 people in the world who were lost in this somewhat secluded paradise. It’s hard not to fall in love with this place, town-folks in their small farms and a scenery of pastoral charm. The clean and gently gushing river and fresh air provide a refreshing treat to the senses and to the spirit.

I’ll leave the rest of the pictures we took during our run with you but i really don’t think these pictures will reflect the beauty of Montalban well enough which to my mind was no less than…magical!


The start was just after the last steel bridge and watch tower

Trees were abundant in many parts of the trail

The trails lies just beside the Wawa river banks

Cool breeze, mountains, clear river, fauna… all breath taking scenery, who wouldn’t want to run in here?

One of the postcard scenes at the beginning

One of the twin mountains as a backdrop

This is not a lake, just a wide part of the Wawa river that points to the “Bernardo Carpio” twin mountains

A sandy part of the river trail

There’s a small village that cuts through this trail

We ran through this small community

Entrance to the garden trail

As technical as you can get

The roots are like large boa snakes crawling on both sides of the trail

The trails were illuminating with greenery, with wild birds floating above your head

Deep woods, leaves scattered and the trail seem not to mind this intruder into its territory

So peaceful here. All you had were the wild plants and trail

Wild fauna all through out this area

A dash over some rocky terrain

Ferns, orchids, aroids, palms, pandans and other exotic plants were abundant

A secluded area only trail runners would enjoy

One has to watch-out for these protruding tree roots, though

The plants never intruded into the trails, lined up on both sides as if welcoming the runner

Going back down into the river

In the middle of the river

Our first river crossing

There’s more on these river crossings

Nice wading on gentle-flowing, clear shallow waters, knee-deep at the most

My Viking trail shoe takes an unscheduled bath

We’re going deeper into the country side

Cutting into land, along vegetable gardens

Wide open land of vegetation

June stops, observing a farmer harvesting eggplants

Grazing cows

Approaching a makeshift store selling halo-halo.The store’s name is called “Shimanong”

Our 2nd river crossing

We criss-crossed the river 12 times on our way to the main road to Buso-buso and back

Past Sitio Inigan towards Tanay area

We had these trails all to ourselves

A rugged, rocky path

Our 3rd river crossing

Running here entails many zigzagging over rivers

Back to dry land

Getting warmer as hours passed

We went on just following the trails with many interesting views

Towards a gushing river

Pristine view. Wish you were here

It was like a lake view but it’s still the river

It would be nice camping out here

Spot June here

Walking past boulders

Taking it easy on this single track

This calf didn’t want me to trespass on her trail so i had to maneuver around. Bad cow!

June surveys the area

Still on land, on the river banks

Boulder is shaped like a face of a buffalo

4th or 5th? river crossing. The deepest we had so far, reached up to our groins:)

The running continues…

Non-stop trails along the river banks

At last, another one on the river besides us

Root crops in the middle of the river

Our 5th river crossing

A trekker who passed by us

We strayed away from this trail

Another open land

Another one blocking the trail! Bad cow!

Surfaces varied from sandy to rocky

Taking some rest and enjoying the view

Wish we had more time to take a dip in here

Sipping a drink from my Camelbak Surge

Another rock formation

Island hopping

Taking in the view

Strong currents here descending to a downhill path

Main entrance to Kasili and Boso-boso

View from an elevated area

On our way back, we finally make a stop-over at Shimanong’s Store

The Shimanong’s specialty, Halo-halo!

Nice rustic scenery

Back on the trails

Removing the dirt and grime

Another vegetable garden

Trail shoes underneath the water

Back in the woods

Tired and weary, we had our cool-down 2 kms before we ended our run

The trail on the west side of the river

Cool winds kept the temperature tolerable

June getting his second wind

A crevice on the trail

Thatched huts in Wawa Dam

The steel bridge to the watch tower

The limestone trail towards the dam

Wawa Dam

From a distant

The gorge below

Trail Running and River Crossing at Puray, Rodriguez (with Pics)

I’m not really fond of crossing rivers as part of a long trail run because firstly, i don’t want to get my shoes and my toes wet specially in the early stages when i still have to complete an hour or two of running and second, i easily develop blisters when i run on wet feet.

But this is what happened to June and i when we ventured to PURAY, a small village nestled in the midst of the Sierra Madre Mountain ranges in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal. What we didn’t know was that we had to cross at least eight (8) rivers interlocking a couple of other small villages before we reach the final village of Puray.

The fire-roads and trails to Puray is actually a favorite route of mountain bikers that offers them plenty of challenges in trekking the gentle to rough terrain and cross the rivers continuously without getting down from their bikes.

Getting there is just less than an hour’s drive from the Quezon Memorial Circle via Commonwealth Ave., Batasan Road and San Mateo Road. Before reaching Barrio Wawa is the small district of San Isidro. Turn left on its main highway going to Avilon Zoo. This zoo, the largest zoological park in the country is the jump-off point and we started our run from there heading first to the village of Muscap then to Puray.

Muscap is about 10-12 kms of paved to rough roads while Puray is 5-7kms further west. The trails along Muscap going to Puray is one of the most extensive i ‘ve ever seen. It has mostly well-maintained double tracks and you have two choices of routes going to Puray, one on the elevated tracks with views of the mountain ranges and the other on the lower portion where the river crossing occur.

We experienced soft to rugged desert trails that roller coaster between boulders, ridges with eye popping views of the Sierra Madres. The rivers are a blissful place of slow rushing water that is disturbed intermittently by motorized tricycles transporting town-folks, cyclists and pedestrians who just enjoy walking barefoot on these rivers.

The trails are an experience to itself, the trees that line its banks reach up as high as a 3-storey building and some flowers are in full bloom. There’s more than enough trails here to keep our legs lively and our senses well-fed both atop the mountains and all over the foothills that surround the small villages.

June and i covered about 19kms in about 3 hours and the trails command a repeat performance run. If the active outdoor life is this beautiful and challenging, what more could you ask from a place?

Here are some of our pictures. I hope you enjoy them.

First crossing after only 6 minutes of running

Didn't want to get my shoes wet yet just after starting

First hurdle done.

June leads towards the mountains

Towards Muscap in Rodriguez

Start of the trails

First break after 5 kms

A stretch of paved highway

June glides by some rock formation

Charging an uphill

Soft sand was good for the feet

All uphill from here

"Go ahead, i'm just behind you!"

Nature at its best!

More scenes like this later...

Great scenery!

Approaching the Sierra Madre Mountains

Great view!

Full view

The trails from behind

Running at the edge of a ravine

Getting closer to a waiting shade

Taking another break

June at the waiting shade

Sprinting ahead

Approaching Puray

All downhill from here

Another river crossing. June talks to a native

Clear and pristine

At the other end

Clear skies and it was going to be a hot day!

We forge ahead and after a few hundred meters, another river to cross

And yet another one

Stopping to pose

This kid just appeared in the picture. Where did he come from?

A balancing act

Nice easy walk

It was great running on trails along the banks of a river

And another river crossing

Back to the trails

About 16k during this time

Some more views of the rivers

Trails and river run side by side

More rivers to cross

The last river

Up The Mountains And More: Our Run In Parawagan!

When your regular runs in the city doesn’t get your blood pumping anymore, it may be time for something more exotic. So when the runners decided to do a mountain trail run, not a few had their heartbeats pumping, anticipating the event as it would be the first for many in running a mountain trail. The trail is situated at Sitio, Parawagan, Barangay Wawa, Rodriguez (Montalban).

With some of my old running buddies, i had run this trail once last January so when suggestions were solicited at the website on where to run this April, i didn’t hesitate to offer the place. There were about 25 runners who initially confirmed their participation (others were still undecided), a good enough number to get the event rolling. However, during the assembly at Jolibee, Philcoa yesterday morning, a good 40 runners showed up, more than we had expected. Nice to see over-all coordinator Pojie, early. I was surprised to see my club-mate, Norio Tanaka san who just recently completed the Bataan 102 Ultra Race. Others would be going straight to the venue. We left in a convoy of about six vehicles at 5:00am and reached Barangay Wawa, 45 minutes later. The vehicles were parked in a wide parking area near the entrance to Wawa Dam and in front of the small tourism building. Some runners texted that they were still on their way while one runner, Rico V. won’t be coming anymore because he had lost his way. We didn’t wait for the others anymore but they would follow us the moment they arrive. After doing some light stretching, we started our run towards Sitio Parawagan.

Posing before the run

Posing before the run

The mountain trail is a dirt road of about five meters wide, resplendant strip of backroads that is relatively untouched by development. It’s the kind of road where you can get distracted. It swerves, dips and elevates; zigzagging through lush greenery, circumscribed at odd intervals of nipa huts, sturdy wooden houses and the occasional barks of dogs, unused to strangers running and laughing in this early morning breeze. It passes through more rough roads, thatched bamboo outposts and the ragged assortment of different tree species with vines clinging to the mountain edges. It is the gateway to the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Start of the run

Start of the run

Smiling at the early stages

Smiling at the early stages

Lead by Boston Marathon veteran and Bataan 102k Ultra Finisher, Norio Tanaka (left with white cap)

Lead by Boston Marathon veteran and Bataan 102k Ultra Finisher, Norio Tanaka (left with white cap)

For the locals who were out in the street early in their Sunday best to hear mass at their local church, it was a strange sight seeing a large cast of characters. Observing our group, the scene was similar to that of runners ascending the Skyway during the recent Condura race. Only, this was in a rural setting. If you’ve never seen runners before, then you’ve never seen such a gaggle of skinny running freaks in technical shirts, Nathan and Amphipod hydration belts, camel backpacks, GPS watches, digicams and UV glasses. There were runners sprinting way in front of the runners to take pictures of the group approaching, some opted to stop completely and pose, then run back again while some were ribbing and poking fun at each other, the usual “kulitan”.

On the go

On the go

Uphill comedy

Uphill comedy

Part of the group

Part of the group

Will take pictures first

Will take pictures first

At about 2.5 kms., we approached the steepest part of the climb, a torturous 700 meter ascent that even a Buenavista or the Sabals wouldn’t dare venture to run. Its slopes were continuously ascending, leveling a little bit, ascending and ascending some more. As i look back at the other runners (walkers, this time) to check how they were coping, suddenly everything seemed overwhelming: the mountains, the fog, the elevation, the distance. Everything but the walkers who were like zombies in slow motion. Everybody was struggling in putting one foot after the other. My walks were labored too as i had to stop at times to take a deep breath then start again; one long slow distance!

Uphill from here

Uphill from here

Arresting view

Arresting view

Three peaks

Three peaks, one covered with fog

At this point, we were now separated by groups. When my group finally made it to a plateau at 3.2kms, we started to simulate running once again. Hardly had we jogged more than a hundred meters when we encountered what was to be another bane for trail runners. Earlier before the start of our run, i had made a short courtesy call to the tourism officer in his office fronting the parking area. I advised him about our group’s run up Parawagan. He had warned me that it rained hard the night before and it would be very slippery on some parts of the trail.

Mud trail

Mud trail

Skirting the sides

Skirting the sides

So there it was, large patches of the clay surface were soaked with water and mud, thick and sticky as a rice pudding clinging to our outsoles. There was no way to run the now muddy trail so we reverted back to walking. Thick slabs of mud would stick to our shoes that we had to remove the residues after a few meters of walk. For the next kilometer, this was to be our ritual. Without removing the sticky clay, our shoes would be heavy as stone. It had become clear that this was not going to be our Long Slow Distance (LSD) practice run as we had anticipated but some kind of adventure hiking! It was then that i started to understand the concept of “Trail Running”. The point is to get through it by any means possible. Whatever discomfort the runners felt, they didn’t show it. This was minor compared to the scenic vistas we were treated in, like a travel show in the sky. After this realization, we really started to enjoy our run-walk saga.

In the middle of nature

In the middle of nature

Our shoes, almost soaked in mud

Our shoes, almost soaked in mud

After hitting the last patch of mud trail, we started running again and three hundred meters into the run, we saw the first batch of runners perched up on a high hilltop, delightfully enjoying the scenic views below them. We sprinted our way to the sides of the cliff until we reached the hilltop and the view there was magnificent! At the western side was a panoramic view of the Sierra Madre mountain range while at the north-east was a bird’s eye view of the metropolis that included the La Mesa Dam and Water Reservoir. Little by little, the other groups started to trickle in, including those who arrived late.

View from the top

View from the top

Me in the foreground

Me in the foreground

Jump shot!

Jump shot!

If a wild party was ever possible without music, food or spirits, held at an open hilltop at about 5,000 feet of elevation, this was it! Cameras were clicking and people were scrambling to give their best poses while the others were content fooling around, socializing, laughing, etc. Even Norio, hard core runner that he is who i presumed would have preferred running those remaining trails seem to be enjoying the camaraderie of it all.

One special incident that truly put some meaning in our run happened during our mini celebration. While we were in the last quarter of our fun and laughter, we saw a faint figure in the horizon whom we presumed was a male, walking, wearing a red t-shirt and shorts approaching towards us. Since all runners were already accounted for and we didn’t expect any late straggler to follow us, we dismissed him as some local who was minding his regular business. However, when the person came nearer, we all paused and tried to put a name on this stranger’s face. When he came into full view, we erupted into cheers and recognized the man! It was Rico V. who called up earlier to say he wouldn’t come anymore because he got lost trying to find the venue. Just coming off from an injury, he took the same torturous route, walked the same mountain ascents and muddy trails all by his lonesome just to be with us. His nome de guerre and blog name, “Sheer Will” bespeaks much of this spirit, a true fighter against all odds. When he finally reached the top, he was cheered in unison, not with his blog name ‘Sheer Will’ but with another term that most, if not all runners can identify with, humorous as it may but endearing all the same… “Addict, Addict, Addict!!!”

Rico's dramatic entrance

Rico's dramatic entrance

After some more time with Rico and the group at the hill, we decided to end the party and run back to where we started. It was easier this time as it was downhill all the way. Back at the parking lot, we changed to dry clothes as i had to accompany Norio to the Wawa Dam as he was visiting this place for the first time. After spending sometime up the dam, we had to leave early as i was going to attend another get together party, this time with the Runnex Club members up in Antipolo City while Norio was to attend to some family matters.

Wawa Dam

Wawa Dam

It was a very adventurous run over-all and we’re up for more running adventures. See yah!

Seen thru the lenses of  Eric, Roy, Dennis, Edu, Argonaut, Docpnx, David. Thank you guys! Trail Run At Montalban- April 26, 2009

Trail Run Will Be On Sunday, April 26, 2009

Trail Run Will Be On Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Runners will be having its monthly LSD (Long Slow Distance) Run this coming Sunday, April 26, 2009 at Sitio Parawagan, Rodriguez (Montalban). The run will cover a distance of 15 to 20 kilometers passing along the beautiful mountain trails of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Assembly will be at Jolibee-Philcoa. Here are the details:

4:30 – 4:45 – meet up at jolibee, philcoa
4:50 – we leave for san mateo-montalban
5:10 – 5:20 – arrive at wawa, rodriguez (dead-end road
before reaching Wawa Dam)
5:30 – start our run
There’s a wide space in front of the Tourism Office where you can park your vehicles.

All runners should bring their own fuel/hydration belts/ belt bag-pouch/ hand held water bottle/ camel backpack, bars/gels because water and food will not be available along the route. The terrain is rolling to mountainous and the surface is a combination of asphalt, dirt, sand, hard clay, soft gravel, etc. You don’t necessarily have to wear a Trail or an All-Terrain Running Shoe. Your regular running shoes will do as long as the out-soles are not so worn-out.

After the run at about 8:00-9:00am at the most, we can have breakfast at one of the various food joints there at Wawa (take note that the eateries are frequented by bikers who are mostly from metro manila). Thereafter, you can take your time in visiting Wawa Dam to take pictures.

For those who are planning to run the TNF 10k/20k or 100k Sacobia Trail Run at Clark, this will be an excellent practice run specially to those who are not yet acquainted with trail running.

Check out this link for more details about the venue:

For more details about the run or meeting place, kindly contact Mr. Pojie Marilag at 0918-3453476 or leave a comment at the end of this post or at the website:


Mountain Trail Running (Parawagan, Montalban)

Mountain Trail Run at Sitio Parawagan, Rodriguez, Rizal

It was one of the most challenging but scenic mountain trails i have ever run and one i will never forget. Finding a decent running trail without going to far outside of Metro Manila is a bit of a stretch but one just has to look outside the usual beaten path and discover for themselves places which are not the usual roads that people usually dwell or visit.

Last Sunday, January 10, 2009 my running buddy, June and two of his office mates, Daryll and Oliver set our sights to Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal and arrived there at about 5:30am, still dark with nary a soul wandering the streets. We initially planned to hike-run the Wawa Dam trail. However, a caretaker staying at an old bungalow the served as the city’s tourism office suggested that we take a more scenic mountain pass and promised us a rewarding view of the surroundings once we reached the top. The trail is located at Sitio Parawagan, Brgy San Rafael which is situated at the western side of Sitio Wawa. So off we started our run.

Setting off on the early morning run

Uphill past the twin peaks

Being in a mountain trail and taking a glimpse of these peaks that we were expected to reach a little later, we were in for a surprise. Running on low hills and steep inclines has been a usual fare while running in Metro Manila but this mountain road has inclines of up to 600 meters non-stop and reaches up to 60 degrees of difficulty!

Further up the slope

Running thru the winding trail

On the second kilometer of our run, we had to practically walk up the incline and this elicited both frustration and anguish as we had not expected anything like it.So for most of the initial phase of the journey, we walked the incline and run the portions when we came to the flat parts of the trail. Once we were at the topmost areas, the run was now one for the scenery.

At the 4k mark and still uphill

Passing along the narrow trails

You’ll have views–narrow streams, mixed forest, the Sierra Madre Mountains, and the rolling green foliage at the sides of the trail. At around Km6, you’ll have a full view of the La Mesa Dam Reservoir and on the west is the faint skyline of Makati.

Trail running up the mountains

June, pacing the trail

Me, leading the pack

No vehicles on site

The trails are very demanding, hilly stretches of dried red clay and the other portions of the dirt trail are either loose soil with roots protruding and gravel sand. It’s part of the appeal in running within the wide green scenery. You’ll run among acacia trees, isolated nipa huts and fragrant hyacints plants. And each torturous climb comes with its own rewards. Some of the best vistas in the wilderness of the Sierra Madre mountains.

Viewing the vista

Not knowing where the trail would end, we made our way back past 6km as Daryll sprinted past ahead of us. My hamstrings began to ache at this point and i had to slow down during the downhill portions. Running those uphills really took its toll on me so i also took walking breaks on the way back.

On the way back with Daryll leading the way

Downhill all the way


One more for the view

We finished the 12k run at abour 2 hours and decided to have breakfast first before we had our cooldown run at the Wawa dam site.

Beakfast at Tifanny’s with Daryll and Oliver