Mount San Cristobal


Known as The Devil’s Mountain; Mount San Cristobal is The Spookiest Climb in Southeast Asia!

Mount San Cristobal, Philippines via Wikimedia Commons
Natural Height
Hiking Period
Rest Stops & Facilities
Guides & Porters
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Summary Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Summary

Mount San Cristobal is considered the Devil’s mountain in Filipino folklore. It is the alter-ego of the Holy Mountain, Mount Banahaw, meaning that if Banahaw is the power mountain with lots of positive energy, Cristobal is supposed to be the opposite – a mountain with negative energy.

One of the popular myths about the mountain is that a creature that the locals call the “Tumao” roams around its premises. Tumao is actually similar to “Bigfoot” of Western legends.

Climbing Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Height and Distance

Natural Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Natural Height

Summits Index:
3 / 10 (1,001m - 2,000m)

1,470m (4,820 ft)

Natural Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Hiking Period

Summits Index:
2 / 10 (1 day)

There are 3 trail options.

The Dolores Trail is by far the most common trail used to climb Cristobal, it takes about half a day to get to the crater and a full day to complete the entire hike.

The second option is the Nagcarlan Northern Trail which takes about 3-4 hours to complete. You’ll definitely need a guide for this however as the trail is not established.

San Pablo Trail is the third and longest route to Cristobal. It can be accessed by Barangay San Cristobal in San Pablo and takes about 6 hours to complete.

Difficulty Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Hiking Difficulty

Difficulty Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Terrain

Summits Index:
5 / 10 (Mild difficult)

Mount San Cristobal is a nicely shaped conic volcano covered by dense rainforest. The forests here are said to be one of the most pristine in Luzon. However, there are many legends based on the “negative energy” surrounding this peak that may either appeal to or spook off the average hiker.

The Dolores trail:

This trail commences just before you enter Barangay Kinabuhayan (the jump-off to Banahaw). There are lots of citrus fruits (dalanghita) along the way.

The starting point is 610m (2001 ft) above sea level. In a short while, you’ll have reached a wide flat area which was actually a test site of a proposed geothermal plant that didn’t push through. Here you can opt to set up tent or rest for a while if you like.

As you continue to hike passing plantations, you will arrive at a fork right before the ascent begins. The trail on the right leads to the house of the psychic, Montelibano.

After Montelibano, the forest ensues, taking around 2-3 hours to cross. Once you’ve reached 1,380m (4527.5 ft) you’ll notice a campsite. You are now about a half hour away from the crater.

The land is flat at the crater with usually a lot of mist around. If heavy rains had taken place before, a “Cristobal Lake” may have formed in the crater, creating a swampy appearance.

You’ll want to begin the descent fairly soon to avoid the steep drops in the dark unless you decide to set up camp at the peak and make it an overnight hike.

The Nagcarlan Northern Trail:

A traverse of Cristobal entails crossing over to the Nagcarlan side, north of the crater. You will reach a high point of the crater rim, and from there, it will be a descent through a similar forested environment.

San Pablo Trail:

Be warned that the hunter trails by Barangay San Cristobal in San Pablo are quite confusing. The first sections would be grasslands or woodlands with sampinit (wild berries) growing; a dense forest follows – perhaps the densest in the whole mountain.

There is also an area called “Koronang Tinik” in which the whole place is surrounded by thorny trees, palms, and vines; branches of thorns stick out of the trail, and can only be removed by moving one step backwards. Katmon trees, bearing edible fruits, also grow here.

Difficulty Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Weather

Summits Index:
5 / 10 (Very variable - unfriendly or consistently unpleasant throughout the year)

Mount San Cristobal falls within a subtropical climate. Historically, the mountain gets the most rain between June and December, and the driest months are between January and May.

The temperature remains hot all year, with the hottest months being between April and September. The highs in this period go above 30°C (86°F).

The climb can be and has been attempted all year round. However, you’ll need to prepare for the cold at the peak.

Difficulty Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Equipment

Summits Index:
5 / 10 (Poles and/or clothes for weather)

Hiking shoes, gloves and poles are recommended on this hike for the sudden steep drops and climbs. There will be instances of scrambling on all fours, however, rock-climbing skills will not be required.

Facilities Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Support Facilities

Facilities Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Rest Stops & Facilities

Summits Index:
1 / 10 (N/A; for short or easy hikes)

Food and water are only available from guides or porters from the trailhead, along the trail through to the summit base camp.

Rest stop shelters, such as huts, pavilions, etc. as well as some signposts, hazard markings and “Groomed” trail sections can be found along the trail.

Facilities Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Guides and Porters

Summits Index:
5 / 10 (Recommended)

Guides are recommended. Porters are not required.

Accessibility Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Accessibility and Safety

Accessibility Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Location

Summits Index:
2 / 10 (Near major city; accessible any time)

The easiest way to get here is by taking a bus from Manila’s Pasay Bus Terminal to Lucena City or San Pablo City depending on the trail you want to take.

For the Dolores Trail; From there you may be able to find a jeepney or tricycle, depending on availability, that will take you all the way to Dolores. From Dolores, you’ll need to take a tricycle to Kinabuhayan. Negotiation skills are vital here and beware of rip-offs.

Accessibility Mount San Cristobal Philippines - Safety

Summits Index:
5 / 10 (Little - some risk)

Climbing safety:

The trail is challenging in some parts so be cautious, and bring the appropriate gear. There will be instances of scrambling on all fours, however, rock-climbing skills will not be required.

Personal safety:

The so-called negative energy surrounding this hike is so seriously believed by both locals and hikers alike that a lot of the guides bring special talismans said to ward off any evil spirits. This may not be the climb for solo travellers.

This peak doesn’t pose any specific threats to women but is generally a peak to be climbed in groups and preferably with a guide.

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