Paved streets and rough roads: 5 bike trails to try in Rizal

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Whether to improve your cycling skills or to escape from the busy streets of the city for a day, avid riders can explore these 5 road and mountain trails. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Much has been said about the health and environmental benefits of choosing cycling as not only a form of exercise but also as a mode of transportation. However, the streets of Metro Manila make this almost impossible with its narrow, almost non-existent sidewalks along with its car-dominated roads.

In recent years, many Filipino organizations have been lobbying for safer streets through road-sharing schemes that call for more bike- and walk-friendly roads. A Bicycle Act was even introduced in 2014, which sparked the conversation about putting up safe bicycle lanes all over the country.

Although it may have taken several years, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has finally announced that they are making it their priority to put up proper bicycle lanes on roads all over the country in an effort to create safer, greener, and more accessible streets for everyone this 2019.

“Lahat po ng mga roads namin ngayon, lahat po ng mga bago na gagawin namin, ini-incorporate namin ‘yung possibility of a bike lane. When applicable, we really endeavor to include bike lanes in roads,” DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said in a forum early this year.

This change of pace is also proven by the recent inauguration of a 3-meter-wide bicycle lane along the newly opened Laguna Lake Highway which connects Taytay, Rizal to Bicutan, Taguig and cuts the normal hour-long travel time in half.

While waiting for these new infrastructures to become a reality, there are several areas near and around Metro Manila where proper bike lanes and trails can easily be accessed. Whether it may be to improve their cycling skills or to escape from the busy streets of the city for the day, avid riders can explore and test their skills on road and mountain trails that are guaranteed to be safe and are frequented by other cyclists as well.

The Province of Rizal borders a massive part of Metro Manila and many of its areas can be easily accessed by cars or even by your neighborhood jeepneys. And with its countless options of paved streets, rough roads, and mountain trails, cyclists can easily choose from any of the available bike trails in the area.

We list a few below.

The trails of Timberland Heights are a favorite for various bicycle races and marathons all year round, such as the annual 7-Eleven Trails. Photo from RIZAL PROVINCE/WEBSITE

Timberland Heights (San Mateo, Rizal)

Christopher King has been an avid cyclist for over nine years now, and although he has pedaled his way through numerous trails, the ones in Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal are what will always stand out for him.

“It’s where I started riding bikes seriously in 2010, and it is where I really got into the sport,” King says.

Considered to be the “Mountain Biking Capital” of the country, Timberland Heights is an all-time favorite for cyclists of different levels. It is a developed piece of land that is connected to Mt. Maarat and is known to be the only International Mountain Biking Association certified trail in the whole country.

Timberland Heights has over five trails, but to reach them, cyclists will have to go through a 2-kilometer trail that is aptly named as “The Wall” because of its steepness. Cyclists can also opt to take the “Shotgun” trail as an alternative.

Once they overcome this, cyclists can decide to take on different scenic trails that varies in difficulty including the Green Zone, the Blue Zone, the Black Diamond, the Roxas Basic Trail, the Ten Commandments Statue in Mt. Sinai, the Sandugo Basecamp Trail, the Pump Track, and many more.

The trails of Timberland Heights are also a favorite for various bicycle races and marathons all year round, such as the annual 7-Eleven Trails.

The start of the trails can be accessed at the end of the Kambal Rd. Ext., in San Mateo, Rizal, just before the C6 Rd. It is roughly a half-hour drive from Commonwealth Ave. provided that there is not much traffic.

Puray Falls (Rodriguez, Rizal)

The road to Puray Falls can be long and daunting as it can take several hours on a good day. This is why if you plan to pedal your way to the waterfalls, various guides suggest to make sure that cyclists have the endurance to survive the ride since bicycle rides can take up to six hours from its starting point — depending on your speed and chosen route.

The start of the Puray Falls trail can be accessed from Barangay Puray in Rodriguez, Rizal. Cyclists can choose to take either the “dry route” or the “wet route” that both lead to the waterfalls.

The dry trail is supposed to be the longer route but it offers paved roads and multiple uphill climbs. The wet trail, on the other hand, will require riders to get off their bikes and carry them for short hikes. This route is the most scenic and picturesque of the two though.

It can take over an hour’s car ride to get to Barangay Puray from Commonwealth Ave. so an early start is preferred if you plan to take on this location.

The Thunder Trail, accessible through Antenna Hill, can bring you to interesting sites such as the location of the historic Angono-Binangonan petroglyphs. Photo by CHANG CASAL

Antenna Hill (Binangonan, Rizal)

Another favorite around the Rizal area are the trails of Antenna Hill located in Binangonan, Rizal.

In her blog, biking enthusiast Kara Santos says that although the trails have “challenging ascents,” this one is more popular with downhill riders because of the steep tracks and drops in the area. The Thunder Trail — which can bring you to interesting sites such as the location of the historic Angono-Binangonan petroglyphs — can also be accessed in this area. The Mahogany and Acacia trails are some of the other trails available for avid mountain bikers as it offers a good mix of paved roads and uphill trails.

These trails can be accessed through the Thunderbird Resort, which also holds occasional races and cycling competitions. The resort is a good hour and a half from Commonwealth Ave.

Mt. Balagbag (Rodriguez, Rizal)

For mountain bikers with more experience, the trails of Mt. Balagbag is the way to go.

Mt. Balabag is located in Rodriguez, Rizal and is famous among hikers and cyclists alike. Although the mountain is considered to be a beginner level for hikers, navigating the trails can be a bit more difficult with a bicycle.

When ascending the mountain, riders can take up to a couple of hours to reach the summit. It takes about half that time when going down. The descent from the mountain will also be the most challenging part since riders will have to pass through all the large rocks in the mountain’s famous rock garden.

The trail of Mt. Balagbag starts at Barangay Licao-Licao and is about an hour and a half drive from Commonwealth Ave. on a good day with no heavy traffic.

Biking along the trails around the Windmill Farm in Pililla, Rizal makes for a good day trip for cyclists who want to spend a day away from the busy streets of Manila. Photo by CHANG CASAL

Windmill Farm (Pililla, Rizal)

For people who cannot go to the famous Bangui Wind Farm in Ilocos, the Windmill Farm in Pililla, Rizal is definitely a good substitute. Aside from being one of the newest attractions near Metro Manila, the location of the windmills also provides both paved and unpaved trails for cyclists.

The Pililla Wind Farm is located in Barangay Halayhayin which is over a two-hour car ride from Commonwealth Ave., making it another good day trip destination for cyclists who want to spend a day away from the busy streets of Manila.