|Mawie Tadeo working one of the La Mesa climbs
I cannot do a Biking in Manila series without featuring the La Mesa Nature Reserve. This is one of the best places to ride your mountain bike in Metro Manila. Located northeast of Quezon City near SM City Fairview, this dense forest offers 52 kilometers* of singletracks, dirt roads, and fire roads. From beginners to more advanced riders, the La Mesa Nature Reserve has something for everyone.
What sets this premium mountain bike park apart from the other bike trails in the area is its services and facilities:
Friendly and knowledgeable trail guides. Who would be better to guide you inside the trail network than the people who made it? It's easy to get lost inside this huge reserve, so guides are mandatory. Be honest with them about your capability and tell them what you're looking for. Whether it's a nice and easy ride to view the lake or an all-day all-towers sufferfest, they'll give you a ride you won't forget. They also have a radio with them to call Tower 11 in case of emergencies.
Rescue Vehicles. Talking about emergencies, in case you get into an accident or are just too bonked out to pedal back to the parking area, the La Mesa Nature Reserve have rescue vehicles that can pick you up from various points inside the park. Obviously, it cannot go in the singletrack sections, so you will need to walk a few kilometers to get to the fire road.
Toilets. For both males and females. How cool is that? It's a basic necessity that is not available in other bike trails. It's near the hut so you can do your thing before and after the ride. For everything in between though, you will need to do it in the bushes.
Bike Wash. For a minimal fee (P50.00), you can have your bike powerhosed after your ride while you rest in the hut. The outcome is far from a bike detail job, but at least the wife wouldn't get mad at you for soiling the carpets when you bring your bike in the house.
Moving Refreshment Stand. Your suffering in reaching the Kawayanan rest area is rewarded by a stall that sells food (e.g., hard-boiled eggs, boiled bananas) and drinks (e.g., water, Gatorade) during weekends. On good days, rice cakes are on the menu. They sometimes transfer their operations to the main fire road -- a perfect break before the ride back up to the parking area. Bring small bills.
Aside from all the other items mentioned, the most important is that your fees go to the La Mesa Nature Reserve's efforts in protecting the plants and wildlife in the area, not to mention supporting one of Metro Manila's water reserves.
The place is open 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day except for Christmas and New Year. They also close the place during events so call them first before making any plans.
P200.00 per person
- Walk-ins are not allowed. You will need to make a reservation at least a day before for weekday rides and three (3) days before for weekend rides.
- Minimum of five (5) people to make a reservation. Your party can be less than that, but you will need to pay for the fee of all five (which is P1,000.00)
- To make a reservation, call +63 2 938-2540 or +63 926 670-0320 (Mar Zeri Ramirez's mobile number)
1. Bring lots of water and food. This place is huge! Do not depend on the makeshift food stall at the Kawayanan rest area. Newbies take hours before getting here, and there are some who don't make it at all. A hydration pack with trail food enough to last you for half a day is recommended.
2. Know your limits. It's easy to get enchanted with all the singletrack, but remember that you will ride approximately the same distance going back to civilization. Reserve some for that trip.
3. Bring bike repair tools and know how to use it. The guide knows some basic stuff, but he's no magician.
4. Stay with your group. If you're stopping to take a nature break or something, tell your ride buddies what you plan to do. Also, if there's someone in your group struggling to keep up, lighten up the pace and let him recover when he catches up.
5. First timers, I would recommend that you ask your guide to take you to see the lake. Aside from the nice view, the climbs aren't as long and steep as the more advanced trails.
6. Some trails may be closed for rehabilitation. Ask for which ones are open when you book.
7. Don't forget to give a nice tip to your guide after your ride.
How to go here:
- From the Quezon Memorial Circle, take Commonwealth Avenue.
- Go straight until you reach Regalado Avenue.
- Take a right turn on Regalado Avenue. Go straight and you will see SM City Fairview on your left.
- Take a right turn at Quirino Avenue.
- Go straight. You will see Chowking and Mercury Drug on your right and soon the Sacred Heart Novitiate on your left.
- Follow the road. On your left you will see the Uno1 Gas Station. Opposite it is the entrance to La Mesa Nature Reserve.
Note that this is different from the La Mesa Eco-Park. Also, the entrance to the Nature Reserve isn't the same as the entrance to the La Mesa Dam or MWSS Treatment Facility.
To help you, here's a map:
View Larger Map
Welcome to the Reserve!
After gearing up, you will need to approach these guys to pay, sign the waiver, and get a short briefing on what they're doing at the La Mesa Nature Reserve. They will also assign you your guide.
The first lakeside view. Beautiful.
This is the Kawayanan rest station. That small hut with the owner-type jeepney beside it is where they sell food and drinks.
This is the treehouse area. Sadly, the treehouse is damaged so you can't climb up anymore.
This is Jeff, one of the nice guides that will take you around the trail.
What it looks inside the Reserve.
This is the lakeside view.
Honestly, I don't have one trail map that will show all the trails of the La Mesa Nature Reserve, so I'll just share with you the latest one:
Looking for more places to ride in Manila? Check out these other trails:
The Camp Aguinaldo Mountain Bike Trail
The Fort Bonifacio Tracks (The Army Trail)
The Heroes Bike Trail
*The 52 kilometers of trail is as of 17 March 2014.