Sierra Madre Trails (Tanay, Rizal)

The Beauty of the Morning Sun on at Tanay, Rizal

Tanay has it all from the panoramic view of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range to crystal clear rivers and even hidden waterfalls. It comes with the adrenaline-pumping descents and the usual endless climb as you get to inhale Tanay’s fresher air and admire it’s attractions.


The Sierra Madre Mountain Range around me.

Last year, we visited the trails in this area but there can be many variations of trail in this area. Explore, get lost and appreciate. That’s the game plan and that’s always FUN by my books.

The Map and Elevation

Map Powered by Suunto Ambit 3 Sports
Elevation Profile is powered by Suunto Ambit 3 Sports

The route start at Pico De Pino in Marilaque Highway and had around a kilometer worth of road before entering the trail head. The next 6 kilometers is a descent of about 300 meters of elevation. The route shifts to a steep climb on the next kilometer with an elevation gain of about 100 meters before a sharp descent on the next kilometer with an elevation loss of about 190 meters. The rest of the course is along flatter terrain navigating from one waterfall to another and back at the town area.

Trekking the Sierra Madre Trails

The Usual Trail Suspects

We arrived at our jump off point at Tanay, Rizal in a newly opened restaurant called Pico de Pino instead of the usual Ten Cents to Heaven Access Point at the highway. You already get to appreciate the surrounding views of the Sierra Madre mountain range around you because of the high altitude of the location. One thing I like about Tanay is that the place is so clean and it comes perfectly with their cold morning breeze and fresh scenery. We started at a chitchat pace on the road to warm up for the run.

Mysawa Trail

The mountains and the clouds always make up a good background.

The trail had a mix of paved road and dirt roads. At this time of the day, the clouds were surrounding the mountain tops. It was majestic at this perspective. From our last visit, there’s been so many developments already. It reminds you of Tagaytay only less congested. We saw a new trail / road being constructed and it had the perfect view along the trail.

This is our playground!!!

The next 4 kilometers were downhill that had us switching from dirt roads, paved roads to single track trails. The beauty of the descent is that it can really bring out the daredevil in you since you can really blitz this trail. Trail running is fun when you get to brave the downhill.

Downhills are fun!!!

Trail Running is Fun!!!

The trails are softer on the knees This really helps a lot since downhill running can really give the knee a lot of pounding. The trails were wide enough to run. I always use a wider stance to keep your balance. The surface was solid enough to give you a firmer landing spot. The view shifts from the mountain views to shrubs and forested areas. They also have a local church you get to pass by along the route.

A Local Church along the trails.

After the church, the downhill path resumes. This would really give runners trying out this course a really good time. I used to be cautious on descents in the past but I’m trying to enjoy it now.

Unleashing the little Kilian Jornet in me.

Go left or go right?

The trails were slowly shifting to single tracks. When you see a fork, it’s the time to turn right. The last time we took this route, we went left and it took us longer to reach the rivers. The right part of the trail were on single tracks and was running by the side of the river. There were also bamboo shafts in some of the trail.

Taking a rest on this awesome rock formation.

The descent were on its final part and it was shifting to be a more technical trail. It really helps to plan your trail like a chess match so you should visualize your steps several steps at a time. This would help you maintain a bit of speed and keep your balance along the way.

Getting lost in nature.

The trail was beside a silently flowing creek, which you could easily see at some access points. The end of the descent led us to some rice fields besides a creek of water. We went towards the trail instead of going up. Spoiler alert: This is the point were we took the wrong turn so we had to find a new way out of the trail.

We’re Lost

Jazzrunner vs Pig.

After this, we asked directions to the town proper and ended up taking a fresh set of trails. It was even better than the old one. First things first, we need to find a way out of it first. We followed the trail and saw a lot of scenic views of the mountains.

It’s just humbling to be surrounded by the raw beauty of nature.

The trails were now uncharted territories for us. The trail slowly shifts to a slightly rolling ascent. The trails were a bit raw and had a lot of tall uncut grass along the trail so we had to squeeze ourselves in this areas. Aside from the scenic mountain view, we found this really beautiful creek along the route.

Beside Crystal Clear Waters.

After the creek at around the 7th kilometer, we started our uphill climb. The climb was short but it was steep. In the middle of the climb, we saw some locals and we asked for directions going to the town proper. It was at this point that we got the confirmation we knew about a kilometer ago, we were lost. One of the locals accompanied us back to the trails and these had our heart beating faster as he navigated the next 500 meters in a very fast past.

The View of the Mountain Range

With the Trail Master Rene Villarta (Jazzrunner)

We took a short break before we headed back to the trail. After a short climb, we had an excellent vantage point of the surrounding mountain ranges.

The views are just majestic.

From the top, it was about a kilometers worth of steep descent and I really enjoyed this descent. I was in the middle of the ridge running on single track trails with the view of the Sierra Madre Mountain range at both side. Running on steep single track is a lot tougher and challenging but it helps that you go in curves or S direction throughout the trails as it gives you more balance.

Running Downhill 101

It was a breeze at this stretch. It was exhilarating too. The soft trails was not rough on the knees and the ground was firm enough to take advantage of gravity on the descent. After the long descent, we headed out to the town proper at Laiban.

Approaching the end of the trail.

Chasing Waterfalls

After finding our way out, I was still game for some trail time so I went on to chase some waterfalls.  The trail looked a lot different compared to how it looked a few years ago. Good thing a local volunteered to accompany us along the trails.

I love river crossings.

They had clear rivers that’s really fun to navigate. We went back to the road beside the river since it’s an easier route to the falls. Our first stop was a popular swimming area here named Puting Bato.

Puting Bato

A popular swimming area here – Puting Bato

The route was familiar yet was a bit different. The once grass field surroundings now had plantations around. The route reminded me of the trail run here two years ago. After a while, we’ve finally hit Mysawa Falls. Two years ago when we visited the falls, it was a bit dry because of summer so it was really great that there’s more water now.

Mysawa Falls

Mysawa Falls.

Mysawa falls had a mystical feel because of the white limestone formations around. It had a basin at the bottom and the deeper part would be around waist to chest deep. I was happy to see it with more water this time as the last time I was here, it was just the white limestone and a few water puddles.

Kamaingaran Falls

Kamaingaran Falls

Kamaingaran was about 10-15 minutes away from Mysawa Falls. Kamaingaran Falls was mystical, magical and really majestic. It had crystal clear waters which was really cold and is really deep (probably 8-10 feet or more) on some spots. Kamaingaran also has several levels with different areas where you can take a dip.

Another level of Kamaingaran Falls.

The area is a bit cooler and covered. It’s a bit hidden but it was a scenic delight for trail runners, trekkers and those wanting a good cold swim. There were different layers of the falls. The second layer had several basins where you can swim. There was a part that you get to see the water falling from atop the mountain.

Yes, I couldn’t resist taking a dip at Kamaingaran falls.

Heading Back

The water was fresh, clear and really cold. After about a 13-14 kilometers of being in the trails, this was a refreshing reward. After a short dip, we then headed back to Laiban area where we got a motorcycle heading back to the town proper.  It was about 7-8 kilometers of climbing. Half of it we ended up walking after we fell twice on the motorcycle and that’s all part of the adventure.

Chillin’ Like a Villain after a gruelling trail run at Pico de Pino
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Post Author: Franc Ramon

Franc Ramon is a Marathoner, Mountaineer and a Duathlete. He has adopted the fitness lifestyle since mid-2010 and loves sharing them in his personal blog . While he's not on the trails, the road or on an adventure, he spends his time in the finance field.