Trail Chronicles #15: The Trails of Silangan To Wawa

This is one of the roughest but most picturesque trail runs that i have ever done! It’s tough not because of the hills that were constant on the trails of Silangan in San Mateo, Rizal but more of the heat which were hovering in the mid 30s. Running in mid-day for about 6 hours certainly does not make it any easier when you’re exposed in open spaces but the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction is well worth it.

This is one of the more popular trail routes many trail running enthusiasts use on their training runs. What makes the run more worthwhile for me is running this route with my teammates (Team 90%) for the first time, given how some of them really don’t like running on trails. So we all met up early last Sunday, at 4:00am in Pure Gold Supermarket and after parking our rides, we started our run towards Barangay Silangan, near Timberland Heights.

I’ve ran these trails before except for those in Silangan, which is where the trail part starts. From Pure Gold on the main highway of San Mateo, it took us about 7 kms of concrete roads inside small baranggays before reaching Silangan, working our way through small villages leading up to several low mountains.

The trails and rough roads from Silangan, Timberland, Pintong Bukawe, Amianan, Casile and finally to Wawa where the famous Wawa Dam is located is one scenic route one would expect. The trail route starts in an undeveloped subdivision and goes up a grassy valley with rocks on the apex that leads to trail ridges overlooking the Timberland Heights.

Up there, it’s a cascade of rolling hills, forests, open fields then exit out an open gate and suddenly realize that you were inside the Timberland trails all along. Then down we went to Pintong Bukawe, scene of the Merrell Trail route all the way to Casile then to the Marikina River leading to Wawa.

Hill crests, river crossings, single track trails, towering bamboo trees, unparalleled views–this is a route of an unforgettable trail run. Well, we were worried about the glaring heat but still some parts of the trail were windy and cool so you didn’t feel uncomfortable running and once you got used to the sun, you were fine.

The run took us about 6 hours to finish covering about 25k to 30k at the most. It wasn’t easy but you do get to enjoy the scenery. This run was to prep us on our forthcoming trail races at the NTDR Pimco Trail Run this Sunday and the Soleus Nuvali 50k/30 trail race on June 29.

Hope you like these pictures taken of our run:

Team 90% with Ultra runner Gene Olvis whom we saw on our way to Silangan

Entrance to the trails

Uphill to the mountains

The view of Timberland Heights below

Going up that ridge while Chito and Leo were waiting for us at the top

Nearing the top

With the “ninjas’ at the top

It’s on at the Timberland Trails

The ninja look. It’s the only way to beat the sweltering heat!

The view from the top

Betty and Tonette on one of the bamboo bridges

Betty with her improvised pole sticks

Picking out Kasuy along the way

Chito walking over the streams

Back to the trails

The green pond

Chito patiently waiting…

Downhill towards Casili

Bumping into ultrarunner, Jon Las Bruce

Last pit stop before proceeding to Casile and Wawa

Main river of Montalban (using an old Nokia CP cam)

Run culminates at Wawa Dam

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

Cooldown at the Wawa Trail, Rodriguez, Rizal

This is the rejoinder to the Mountain Trail run earlier at Sitio Parawagan in Rodriguez, Rizal. After that torturous 12k  mountain run and having some hot bowl of oily chicken mami, coffee and water at Tiffany’s (de Montalban) June, Oliver, Daryll and myself set out to the trails leading to the Wawa Dam National Park, Montalban’s famous tourist resort for some cooldown to refresh and stretch our aching muscles.

I did remember visiting this resort way back when i was about 6 or 7 years old and nothing much has changed except for the structures now erected at the roads leading to the park. The mountain peak ranges still tower above and the boulders which seem to be endless gaping on top of us. The imposing waterfall is still a sight to behold, where you stop by and take all the view into your consciousness, the trust of the water splash downwards giving you a cool chill. We made a stop into an old tower structure which gives you a great view of the top of the dam itself. One should be careful of the big man -made holes of the tower’s floorings which go down to about a hundred feet below.


Emerging from the Wawa trail. Daryll at left.


Part of the trail leading to the National Park


Jogging on more trail with the dam on sight


The dam as back-drop


Steel bridge connecting the boulders


With June at top of waterfalls


June, taking-in the scene

The cool weather, picturesque scenery and fresh air makes this place a perfect cool-down and we thank June for reminding us the beauty of this place. June has a knack for his knowledge of incredible places and his experience as an outdoors-man and mountaineer has led us to the great wilderness that we were able to explore thru running. And we wait with great anticipation where he would take us next.