LA MESA NATURE RESERVE
Did you know you can hike or go mountain biking in an almost virgin forest, very close to Manila? Try out La Mesa Nature Reserve.
La Mesa Watershed Reservation
The La Mesa Watershed Reservation is a protected area that preserves the only major watershed in Metro Manila. It is the primary source of drinking water for those living there, and it also contains the last remaining rainforest of its size in this area. That’s why back in 1999 ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, through Bantay Kalisan started “Save the La Mesa Wastershed Project”. Their aim was to reforest and protect the watershed, and also to convert it into the environmental capital of Metro Manila.
Hiking and mountain biking
Now, the La Mesa Nature Reserve is completely reforested and has hiking and mountain bike trails for us to enjoy. Do not confuse this park with the La Mesa Eco Park, as that is at a completely different location.
We parked our car near the watch tower and went to register and pay. Our guide (compulsory) would walk with us all along the way. Since we were with several young kids (2-9 years old), we decided to try out an easy 6 kilometre hiking trail.
There are longer hiking trails for older kids and adults, good for running and mountain biking. Experienced mountain bikers can even do the more difficult, technical trails.
What we saw at La Mesa Nature Reserve
The great thing about the trails in La Mesa Nature Reserve, is that you feel like you are in an almost untouched forest. The trees are big and overgrown with vines, the bushes are dense.
The trails are narrow, so only good for hikers and the occasional mountain bike. If trees get knocked down because of an typhoon, they just leave as is and let nature take care of it. The guide makes sure nobody gets lost, and -also very important- that no one leaves their trash behind.
Along the trail, we found an enormous ant hill, mushrooms growing on dead branches, and giant leaves. The kids could even copy Tarzan, swinging on the long vines.
We walked a good 4 km until we reached a rest station with a beautiful and calming view of the water reservoir. The trees you see there, have big roots to hold the soil together, preventing erosion.
At the rest station, we found some benches to sit on and we had a snack before continuing the last 2 km of the trail. By that time the kids were complaining a little bit, but mind you, this was their first long hike!
When we got back to the registration point, there was another activity waiting for us. The guide said we could plant our own seedlings, as the reforestation is an ongoing process. You can even adopt a tree! They showed us how they plant the seeds and make compost, and then it was our turn to plant seedlings for the next generation of trees.
The kids also loved climbing up the watch tower. Best to have an adult guide them, as it is quite steep.
Will we be back at La Mesa Nature Reserve?
Yes! Our children learned a lot about taking care of nature, and protecting it. We had a good exercise outdoors in a beautiful forest, it’s very hard to imagine that the city is so close by!
Call ahead to make sure they can accommodate you
Follow Waze to La Mesa Nature Reserve, NOT Google Maps
Do not confuse this park with the La Mesa Eco Park
Bring lots of water and easy to carry snacks
Use a hat and sunscreen
Parking on site
Open: daily, 6.30 AM- 5 PM
Ticket: minimum entrance fee is P1000 per group, or 200 per adult if more than 5 people. Free for young children.
Address: Quirino Highway, Quezon City. The entrance is opposite a gas station. Follow Waze to La Mesa Nature Reserve. Do NOT follow Google maps to that address as it will lead you to the Eco Park, which is a totally different place.
Phone: 0926-7499776 (Joe Pascual) or 0937-2277700 (Mar Ramirez) or (02) 938 2540
If you have been here more recently than we did, please leave a comment with updated info and tips!
You like the outdoors? Then you might also like The Fun Farm or Hiking Mount Batulao