After more than eight months in quarantine, who doesn’t miss hiking in the morning, bathing in refreshing waterfalls, and simply ending a long day watching a beautiful sunset outdoors? While it’s not completely advisable to step outdoors just yet, it’s also important to recognize the need for activities distinct from our usual work from home routine.

Having a breather is important for mental health, and with a pandemic that requires open ventilation to prevent the spread of the virus, doing outdoor activities make for safer social interactions.

With mountains surrounding the city just a short distance away, hiking becomes a natural choice for an outdoor activity that does wonders for your physical and mental well-being. Outdoor hiking is also safer with access to open air and room to walk, instead of enclosed gyms.

Hiking works as a powerful cardio workout that lowers the risk for heart disease, improves blood pressure, and establishes balance. It can also lighten one’s mood, and offers a convenient and healthy outlet for that energy kept under lid by the lockdown.

Here are five hiking spots just a few hours away from Metro Manila: 

Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal

 
 
 
 
 
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Masungi Georeserve immediately comes to mind when we speak of hiking. You can never go wrong with this award-winning destination’s trail fit for family and friends. Masungi is just a two-hour drive away from the Metro and is a popular spot for hikers of any level. And did we mention, it also caters to private group tours?

Mt. Kulis in Tanay, Rizal

 
 
 
 
 
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Mt. Kulis gives hikers a view of a sea of clouds after an hour of trekking. Visitors can also take a picture with a nearby installation called “Noah’s Ark,” that complements the view of the clouds. At the end of the hike, you can take a quick dip at the nearby “Lion’s Falls” to freshen up. 

Mt. Batolusong in Tanay, Rizal 

 
 
 
 
 
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A more challenging but fulfilling hike can be found in Mt. Batolusong in Tanay, Rizal. Spot rice fields at the beginning of the trail, beautiful duhat trees around the ridgeline, and a majestic view on top of the summit. 

Mt. Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal 

 
 
 
 
 
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As one of the mountains that make up the country’s longest mountain ranges, Mt. Daraitan is a household name among hikers. This mountain with a 4/9 difficulty rate may involve a lot of rock-climbing, but the landscape of the Sierra Madre, the interesting limestone formations that make up the mountain, and the pristine waters of Tinipak River are sights that make it worth it.

Tila Pilon Hills in Trinidad, Bulacan 

 
 
 
 
 
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Check out this lowkey hiking spot up North. Dubbed the Chocolate Hills of Bulacan, Tila Pilon Hills is popular among tourists for its fascinating scenery and refreshing sights perfect for every beginner hiker.