7 Hiking Destinations to Explore in NorthMin
By Dominic D. Yasay
Are you looking for new mountains to conquer and add to your adventure bucket list? Your next unforgettable outdoor escape might just be a plane ride away from where you’re seated now — in the Northern Mindanao region.
Contrary to what you see in the news, Mindanao is totally a safe place for hiking and other recreational activities. If you wish to know more about the region’s culture and hidden natural wonders, hiking is the best way to do just that!
Besides the great food, pristine beaches, and friendly locals, NorthMin is home to a number of spectacular mountains (more than your hands can count, in fact) waiting for you to discover.
From the beginner-friendly trails of Mt. Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin Island to the adrenaline-pumping hike up Mt. Dulang-Dulang in Bukidnon, there’s always an adventure suited for your experience and endurance levels.
When the restrictions ease and we are allowed to safely go out, here’s a rundown of the exhilarating peaks I look forward to exploring in Northern Mindanao. Here’s a quick list where they’re located, and their difficulty levels.
7. Panimahawa Ridge (Impalutao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon)
Elevation: 819 meters above sea level (MASL)
Difficulty level: 2/9
Hours to summit: 2-3 hours
Panimahawa is one of the five ridges of Impasug-ong and the most popular among them. Day hiking and overnight camping are possible in this beautiful destination. It is usually accessible all year round. At times, Panimahawa rewards early risers with a breathtaking view of a sea of clouds at 6 in the morning.
6. Mt. Hibok-Hibok (Camiguin Island)
Elevation: 1,332 MASL
Difficulty level: 4/9
Hours to summit: 3-5 hours
You’ve probably heard of Camiguin and its sweet lanzones and the majestic White Island. Another tourist destination it has is the famed Hibok-Hibok. It is classified as a stratovolcano (made of layers of ash and hardened lava) and is a protected area due to its rich ecosystems.
While it is an active volcano, Mt. Hibok-Hibok has shown no signs of activity in the last 71 years. The only sign of its activity are the hot springs near it, which is also another tourist attraction in the island.
5. Mt. Kiamo (Malaybalay, Bukidnon)
Elevation: 1,823 MASL
Difficulty level: 5/9
Hours to summit: 5-6 hours
If you’re up for a mix of easy and challenging (and you have ample time for a leisurely hike), then pack your bags and head up to Mt. Kiamo in Malaybalay. Kiamo is also known as the habitat of a new species of carnivorous pitcher plant called Nepenthes L., to which it is endemic.
But to see this plant up close, you’d have to reach the summit as the Nepenthes L. pitcher plants are only found along the summit of Mt. Kiamo. Kiamo may have easy descents but it’s also notorious for several steep ascents. So make sure to do some cardio and core workouts days before the climb!
4. Mt. Lumot/Mt. Sumagaya (Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental)
Elevation: 2,248 MASL
Difficulty level: 5/9
Hours to summit: 8 hours
Mt. Lumot came to public attention when it became the crash site of the Cebu Pacific Flight 387 in 1988. Since then, the local Higaonon people in the area have referred to it as the “Mountain of Souls.” And each year, climbers would hold a tribute climb every February to honor the lives of the people who perished in the incident.
Lumot (the Bisaya word for “moss”) is the high point of Mt. Sumagaya. So climbers would usually traverse from Mt. Lumot to Mt. Sumagaya, or vice versa. Mt. Lumot is known for its lush forest, rich biodiversity, and open trails.
3. Mt. Kitanglad (Sumilao, Bukidnon)
Elevation: 2,899 MASL
Difficulty level: 6/9
Days required/hours to summit: 6-7 hours
Kitanglad is the country’s fourth highest mountain and is part of the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park, a protected area of dense forests and four other mountains. Kitanglad is home to mossy forests and various species of plants and animals.
The trails going up Kitanglad’s summit are well-established as the summit houses the park’s communications center where a number of people work. The center also has bunkhouses, electricity, and decent mobile signals. Despite the conveniences it offers, Mt. Kitanglad is still one of the more challenging climbs in the region.
2. Mt. Kalatungan (Talakag and Pangantucan, Bukidnon)
Elevation: 2,880 MASL
Difficulty level: 8/9
Days required/hours to summit: 15 hours (3-4 days)
Also part of the Kitanglad Range, Mt. Kalatungan is the fifth highest mountain in the Philippines. Although smaller than Mt. Kitanglad, Kalatungan consists of various high peaks and challenging trails. Even some experienced climbers would describe the journey to the summit of Kalatungan as a “difficult climb” or one of the most arduous climbs in the country.
1. Mt. Dulang-Dulang (Lantapan, Bukidnon)
Elevation: 2,938 MASL
Difficulty level: 8/9
Hours to summit: 10 hours (2 days)
Mt. Kitanglad is the highest mountain in the Kitanglad Mountain Range and the second highest mountain in the Philippines. This mountain has all the nature-y and mystical aspects of a mountain: a long trek, assorted landscapes, mossy forests, wide trails, grasslands, and, what most climbers anticipate, an exhilarating peak and a vast sea of clouds. It even offers a glimpse of the famed Mt. Apo.
This list isn’t exhaustive; Northern Mindanao still has A LOT of adrenaline-rushing adventures in store for you. But before you head to the trails, make sure to:
Prepare yourself mentally and physically (it’s going to be a tough time out there)
Pack all the stuff you need for a safe and comfortable hike - A durable hiking backpack, sleeping bag, a sturdy tent that could withstand harsh weather conditions, and a pair of outdoor shoes that lets you tread and slide through rocky and wet terrains with ease
Coordinate with local authorities for guidance and safety advisory
I am hoping to see you soon in the great outdoors!
*Photos courtesy of R.O.X. Customers*