The more mountains you climb in the Philippines, the more you are inspired to go higher and farther. How many times have we heard that ‘where to go next?’ praise after cursing the trails with regrets and bombarding the guide with ‘how many minutes more?’ Mountain climbing is addictive.
The Philippines is blessed, not only with beautiful beaches and tropical island destinations but also with challenging mountain trails that are sure to provide a magnificent view at the summit – or learning experiences that will last for a lifetime.
The Top 10 Highest Mountains in the Philippines
In case you’re planning to pursue mountain climbing, here are the top ten highest mountains in the Philippines that you may add to your growing bucket list.
Standing with an astounding height of 2,956 meters above sea level, Mt. Apo is considered the highest and the grandfather of all mountains in the Philippines. It is located between the provinces of Davao del Sur and Cotabato.
With Mt. Apo’s lush forest and tropical rainy climate, it has become a home to more than 272 species of birds where 111 of them are endemic to the mountain like the endangered Philippine eagle. For this reason, it was declared by the former President Manuel L. Quezon as a national park in 1934. Apart from the wide array of flora and fauna inhabiting the realms of Mount Apo, the mountain also serves as a home to the indigenous tribes of Davao – like the Bagobos, Ubos, and Tagacaol who consider the mountain as a sacred place of worship.
For years, Mt. Pulag in Luzon has been considered as the second highest mountain in the Philippines however after making better documentation of the mountains in Mindanao, it was found out Mt. Dulang-dulang in Bukidnon stands higher with an elevation of 2,983 masl.
Like Mt. Apo, Mt. Dulang-dulang is considered a sacred place for the Latapan of the Talaandig tribe who have lived alongside the endangered wildlife of the forested mountain.
Considered as the highest peak in Luzon, Mt. Pulag stands with a height of 2,926 meters above sea level. It is bordered by the provinces of Ifugao, Benguet, and Nueva Vizcaya and can be accessed through four major trails namely Akiki (killer trail), Ambangeg (shortest), Tawangan (difficult), and Ambaguio (longest).
For years, Mt. Pulag has become a favorite among seasoned and aspiring mountain climbers because of its scenic trails characterized by pine trail, mossy forest, and infinite grassland. It also offers an amazing sea of clouds view and unpolluted view of the Milky Way. In order to protect the indigenous tribe (Ifugao, Ibaloi, Kilanguya, and Kankan-ey) and the rich resources of the mountain, it has been declared a national park in 1987.
Another tall peak located in Bukidnon, which stands 2899 masl, is the majestic mountain of Kitanglad (derived from the local lemongrass or ‘tanglad’). It has a well-established trail with a surprising number of bunkhouses with electricity at the summit – which also serves as a communication center.
Nonetheless, despite its modernity, Mt. Kitanglad’s difficulty at pars other mountains with 6/9 trail class. It has very rich biodiversity; hence, declaring it as a protected area in 1996 under a Presidential Proclamation. At present, it remains as an ancestral domain of the cultural communities of Bukidnon, Higaonon, and Talaandig.
Mt. Kalatungan is the fifth highest peak in the country with an estimated height of 2,880+ meters above sea level (based on DENR/PENRO records). While it is not included in the active list of volcanoes in the country, it is highly susceptible to volcanic activities because of its volcanic characteristics.
Mt. Kalatungan’s height, and strong cultural, historical, and biological similarities have earned it the moniker as the “twin” of Mt. Kitanglad and like the rest of the aforementioned mountains, it has also been declared as a protected natural park because of the rich biodiversity of the mountain – which includes the Philippine eagle and endangered flora and fauna of the country. According to legends, Kalatungan means “praying mantis eggs” in the native tongues of Bukidnon.
Mt. Tabayoc is Luzon’s second-highest peak which stands at 2842 meters above sea level. Tabayoc is coined from the local term “basin” – referring to the four lakes that surround the mountain: Lake Tabeo, Ambulalacao, Iculus, and Detapnaco.
Hikers considered Mt. Tabayoc as one of the most difficult to climb in the Luzon because of its notorious “Monkey Trail” wherein hikers have to technically climb boulders, hang on vines, and swing from one branch to another.
Mt. Piapayungan remains as a mysterious range in Lanao del Sur that stands at an enormous elevation of 2,815masl. There is a limited record existing about this mountain because of insurgence which prohibits hiking activities in this landscape.
For this reason, very few hikers are able to actually complete hiking the Top 10 Highest Philippine Mountains Bucket list.
The third highest peak in the Kitanglad Range in Bukidnon is Mt. Maagnaw – also considered as the 8th highest mountain in the Philippines. Seasoned hikers often make the most of their climbs by hiking through all three highest peaks labeled as the KD2M major climb: Kitanglad, Dulang-dulang, and Maagnaw.
Mt. Maagnaw stands with an estimated height of 2,742 masl. Sharing ethnocultural heritage with the other two mountains, hiking Maagnaw also requires a sacrificial ceremony held the night before the climb. And while Maagnaw ranks third in height, its trail is nothing easier than the other two peaks of the mountain range. In fact, it was given a 9/9 trail difficulty by seasoned hikers.
Also known as Mt. Singacalsa (referring to a musical instrument similar to gangsa or gong), Mt. Timbak is considered the third highest mountain in Luzon – which completes the ‘Luzon 321 traverse hike’ first blazed by Adonis Lloren and his friends.
According to fellow hikers, out of the ten highest peaks in the country, Mt. Timbak is the easiest to reach. The hike can simply be accomplished with an hour hike from Halsema Highway to Timbak Elementary School and another 40-minute hike to the summit. Note that the road to the school is accessible by vehicles; hence, if you are renting a jeepney or bringing your own vehicle, you only need to hike 40 minutes going to the summit.
Mt. Ragang (Piapayungan Range)
Completing the ten highest mountains in the country is the stratovolcano called Mt. Ragang of Piapayungan Range which stands at an elevation of 2714 masl. It is often referred to as the ‘Blue Mountain’ and one of the many peaks of Piapayungan Range in Lanao del Sur.
Mt. Ragang is considered the most active volcano in Mindanao which has been documented to have erupted in 1873.
Hope this pandemic will end soon and we can hit back the trails. Still, keep safe and see you!