Pico de Loro a mountain within the Cavite and Batangas limits has long been a favorite trekking and camping site for me. I remember it as one of the first mountains I climbed and where I learned a lot about nature first hand. Naturally when I found out that a new trail was made to replace the old trail I had been trekking for years with a set of new rules I was curious and excited to see what the new trail had in store. When we found the time I spent a day hike getting to know the new trail and what had become of my favorite mountain.
The new rules state that overnight camping is no longer prohibited. Everyone will register at the DENR pay an environmental fee of 30php and climbers should be making there way back down before 3PM. Those are the major differences everything else is still the same like no collecting of wild life and no smoking etc.
The new trail is a faster trek to the top of the mountain and leads you straight to the old camp site 2. The old trail would an average of about 5 hours while the new trails is an average of 2 hours. I had not visited my favorite mountain in a few years so I was shocked to see the establishments that had settled in. First was the DENR center. Now there are more places to take a shower, police assistance, tricycles ready to take you to the nearest bus stop and much to my amazement a large variety store that even sold rice meals. I remember the day when my friends and I would have to bring everything to eat in our packs and actually cook at the campsite just to have a warm meal.
The trail starts off at the DENR center versus before where you had to walk a feet away to get to the jump off point. Immediately the trail takes you to a river where you need to balance through a few rocks. After passing through the river the trail will take straight up to an ascending stairway like path made of rocks, tree roots and dirt. You'll take that grueling trail straight up until you reach what seems to be a viewing tower. After the tower you'll be walking towards the old campsite 2 on trail that descends and ascends alternately. Eventually you find yourself at the old camp site 2.
The old camp site 2 has also changed dramatically since the last time I visited now there are made shift benches and tables and even variety stores at the old camp site. It's more like a mini village now unlike once before where you had an open space to make camp. Though the space looks different and is not as peaceful as it used to be the view is still as spectacular as ever and there's always a feeling of accomplishment once you gaze over the Batangas view from above Pico de Loro.
To get to the peak of Pico de Loro you need again to climb through an assault like trail within a bamboo forest. After passing through the bamboo forest a barren dirt land awaits you as you claw your way to the top. It wasn't always like this, the way to the top used to be like a lush meadow with plenty of grass to hold onto. The transformation must have been brought on because of the recent popularity of Pico de Loro for climbers and the fact that it seems like a mini village now where you can even buy halo-halo at the top.
All in all Pico de Loro the new trail is still a challenging and beautiful way to enjoy nature I just wished it didn't become as "commercialized" by capitalists and would still preserve the feeling of visiting nature.
How to get there : Take a bus headed towards Ternate, Cavite and get off at the last stop. Once you get off take a tricycle to the DENR of Pico de Loro this will cost you 250php to rent three seats on the tricycle if you try to fit more you'll have to may extra. The cost for going back down to bus stop from the DENR will be the same.