MOUNT MACULOT

Mt. Maculot is one of the most popular daytrip destinations. It is so popular that on weekends and summer months, there is a sari-sari store, dubbed ‘7-11’ at the campsite. This mountain, at the heart of Batangas, is known as a landmark for locals and travelers alike; it is easily identifiable because of its abruptly terminating east side – forming a cliff that is challenging for rock climbers and breathtaking to everybody else. Others describe the shape of the mountain as ‘igloo-like’.At 930 MASL, the mountain has three destinations: the famous Rockies (706m), the summit (930m) and the Grotto (510m). These can all be covered by a traverse dayhike, but most climbers head to the Rockies, which is the reason why Maculot is the paragon of an easy hike. Only 5% of hikers pursue the traverse, but we hope more people will explore the “forested side” of the mountain.
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It is understandable, though, that the Rockies is Maculot’s most powerful draw. This rocky formation stands beside Taal Lake, creating a scenic view, encompassing the whole of Taal Lake including the world-famous Taal volcano; as well the plains of Batangas. From a distance looms, on opposite sides, Mt. Makiling and the Tagaytay Highlands. If you follow Batangas Bay to the South you can see Maricaban Island, and beyond that, Mindoro’s Mt. Halcon. The climbing time is variable; experienced climbers can reach the Rockies in less than an hour, but on a more relaxed pace, one could take up to two or three hours. Being a very popular trail, some entrepreneurial locals would sell drinks, like buko juice, at the rest stops along the trail, which is somewhat steep.
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Moreover, there is a big store, dubbed ‘7-11’ at the campsite which marks the end of the initial trail: this store offers everything from hard drinks to halo-halo and is open on weekends and peak season days during Holy Week etc. The campsite has space for 20 tents or more, but if you are a seeker of peace and quiet on a mountain on weekends, this is probably one of the worst places to camp in, being full of people, some of whom can get rowdy and noisy well into the night, talking and drinking. On weekdays, though, Maculot is very pleasant and quiet. Also, because of its popularity, Maculot has historically been dubbed one of the mountains with the dirtiest trails and campsites – a notoriety that has since been improved by clean-up climbs and an increasingly responsible hiking culture; nonetheless, garbage remains a big problem, and has diminished the beauty of the mountain.

Arriving at the campsite coming from the jumpoff, there are two trails, the left one leads to the Rockies, five minutes away; the right one leads to the summit, which is visible and prominent the campsite. For adventure seekers wishing to maximize a day or two of hiking, Maculot has plenty to offer beyond the Rockies. From the campsite, one can continue to the peak (930 MASL) and the Grotto on the other side of the mountain.

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The trail to the summit, and past it, is mostly forested, and lends a different flavor from the usual Maculot trail. Some parts of the trail may be overgrown but is not difficult to follow through the long-established trail. It takes about an hour or so to reach the summit from the Rockies, and there, 930 MASL – the second highest point in Batangas – one can see the Rockies partially surrounded by the waters of Taal Lake; and Taal Volcano too visible and you can take a peek of the Crater Lake itself.

From the very summit of Maculot, there are two trails: one that follows the trail of origin, and another than goes down right from the summit, which is also the right side of the summit, when you’re turning your back from the Rockies. Follow this trail, which gets quite steep (and there are some roped segments). The forest ends where the Grotto emerges, and from the Grotto, there are stations of the cross that follow you until you reach the end of the trail. The traverse, like the regular climb, is a relatively straightforward climb, and is doable for reasonably fit individuals.

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Either way – as a traverse or as a regular climb – Mt. Maculot is a very nice climb, and its popularity is understandable. This used to be one of our highly recommended dayhikes from Manila, but as of 2015, we are concerned about the mismanagement of the place: the summit was “shaved” in November 2015 to give way to a “better view”.

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