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bakas, norzagaray

Another weekend, another day of exploration. While most of our PMTB (Pinoy Mountain Bikers) friends were hitting the popular trails in Licao licao, I (together with a regular MTB companion - see his blog here) decided to veer off the beaten tracks and go somewhere else. The mission: find Bakas (in Norzagaray, Bulacan, some 30 km from home) and then find a way out of Bakas without passing through the main roads.

We started out early, woke up at 3:30AM, had an early breakfast, and was on the road by 5AM. The ride to Norzagaray was uneventful, we rode without rest stops. I notice my front hub to be a bit wobbly, strange since I just had it repacked a couple of days ago.

A few kilometers on the rough road from the town proper to Bakas, my front hub completely gave up on me (darn these amateur bike mechanics!). We were determined to reach our destination that day. So we (slowly) rode back to town, bought a cheap hub from a local bike shop and cannibalized the internals. After about 30 minutes we were back on the trail again.

The sight before us when we reached Bakas was worth all the troubles. The place was absolutely scenic! The place was called Bakas (translated to "tracks", "marks" or "footprints") because of the large limestone rocks and the interesting footprint like impressions and formations. Folklore has it that those were left by the giant named Bernardio Carpio and his pets. The other set of prints can be found in Wawa in Montalban, Rizal.

The river was running deep that time, so we were not able to cross to the big rocks. From there you should be able to see the marks.

Bakas scenery

From Bakas we explored upriver and found a nice picnic/swimming spot. The midday sun was getting hotter so we took shelter in one of the makeshift cottages along the river bank. Soon a group of excursionists arrived and started setting up camp. The overwhelming smell of their BBQ was to much for us, so before our mouths water we readied our gears and was soon heading further upriver.

Further upriver from Bakas

We reached a point where the rideable riverbank vanished. The river started swelling and the water was getting deeper. There is a dam several kilometers upstream and they usually release water at around noon. From that point we can already see the quarry site of Holcim cement factory, one of the largest in the country.

End of the river trail

Its either we head back to the nearest road or find a passable trail. The decision: find the trail. The folks at a nearby sand quarry was giving us perplexed looks when we headed to the nearby hill. We found a small foot trail, if people go by this way surely we can bike it, we reckon.

Soon there was no trail at all! We had to ride on top of large volcanic rocks and climb over bamboo fences (designed to keep livestock in/out). After a few push and pedal, we wound up in a rice field. At least now its bikeable :)

Rocks, rice paddies, Holcim factory

We were getting hungry and had to quickly find a way out of the rice paddies. We estimated where the road could be and pedalled to that direction. We ended up in someone's backyard and was met with curious and amused looks.

"You came from the rice fields? There's a road there, why didn't you use that?", a man said while pointing to the direction of the main road. We just smiled and politely asked permission to pass through. We found a small sari sari store and quietly ate our packed lunch there. We too were amused with the trail we took :).

From there its a ride passing through the Holcim factory grounds and then out to Tungko-Norzagaray highway. We took a quick break after reaching the main road, its going to be long pedal home on a hot stretch of highway.

We were home by 4PM, 81 kilometers later. Not a bad ride, we got to see a very beautiful place.
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  1. wow! 11hrs trail biking. you guys must be completely insane! but I'm sure you enjoyed every minute of it. That river scene in bakas is absolutely beautiful! Nice discovery and I hope we get to camp there sometime soon.

  2. salamat sir sa iyong pag-daan. bagsakan ko ng mga pix nuon yun. dito sana mga sulat: kaya lang di ko maasikaso.

    love the contents of your blogs. sarap sana sumabay sa mga lakad na yan. kaya lang time ko. silip na lang ako sa mga obra mo! salamat muli!

  3. I should've read your blog first before we went to Norzagaray this morning. After reading your blog and seeing your pictures, i say we missed a lot! There were also a lot of cyclists from Manila going to Norzagaray, but only me and my friends went to Bakas. One of us had a hard time reaching the resort because he brought with him a road bike, and the other one is not well-conditioned. The next time i go there, i'll make sure i'll find that trail where you guys passed through. It's a very nice place and i definitely don't want to miss it again.:)

  4. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  5. I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

  6. This was where we spent our summer outings when I was younger (around 25 years ago). Our relatives are from Norzagaray. Resorts and theme parks were unheard of. We hire a jeep to take the whole clan if we all cannot fit in the car. Pay the entrance fees (because there were "harangs" where they raise a rope stretched from one side of the rough and rocky road to the other,and there are about 3 to 4 harangs along the stretch) then look for a vacant shed where a 20 pesos rental fee is paid (I don't clearly recall since only the adults take care of these matters. hehe). I remember a lot of people go there in the summer because resorts were unheard of. And yes, during those times, there were no amenities. People do their thing in the river so it was not surprising to find yourself shooing away floating stuff together with the occasional seaweed. Through rinsing can be done at home and endure the itchiness of not having a decent shower. There were tire interiors for rent as floaters,some of which were as big as 10-wheeler tires. In spite of all the rustic elements, I will remember my times in Bakas as the most unforgettable memories of my childhood.

  7. This place is a very popular summer destination when we arrived here in Northern part of Caloocan City in 1983 and becoming more popular through time until late 90's when people is not yet mesmerized with full air conditioned buildings and nearby rice fields areas isn't yet converted to massive government housing projects and private subdivisions. The exodus of people came from near and far provinces populated the area near Bakas.

    the amalgamation of the said events erased places that dear to us.

    thank you for sharing your experienced-journey. It help me traveled back in time and easily visit cherished moment/s stored in my memory.

    - Badong

  8. I'll be inviting my MTB group to ride here, may I use your pictures for the invite that I'll be posting in our FB group? thanks.

    - bert, pampanga


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