How to Get to CDO’s Mintugsok Falls

With excerpts from Tom Udasco‘s blog entry on Mintugsok Falls.

It’s nearly a quarter into 2014’s summer. Which summer places have you been? While others might enjoy Initao, Duka, Tinago, or the Jasaan spring pools or even cool temperatures in Dahilayan, CDO has a hidden gem for outdoor lovers: a series of waterfalls in the middle of Indahag and Malasag mountains.

Known to the city as Mintugsok Falls and locally known (to nearby residents) as Treasure falls, this waterfall spot has water cascades and water falls flowing with cool waters from two tributaries: one stream from the Malasag mountains and one from Libona. The steady stream of water has also created large pools which vary in depth.

Mintugsok Falls is accessible in two ways: by trail hiking from Indahag (fast, steep) or river trekking or just walking a path from Mapawa Nature Park (long but clear path, easier and accessible by vehicle or motorcycle). Mapawa offers this as the end point of the river trek which includes rappelling courses. Discussed in this article is the Indahag trail.

Now before anything else, it will be a short but steep trail. Not rappelling-on-cliffs hard (although ropes would come in handy too) but just be prepared for slippery slopes and run-off paths. This list will help you prepare:

  • Bring a compass. All illustrations shown here are pointing north, so use this as a guide. Better yet, bring your GPS-enabled phone installed with Google Maps, or any GPS device.
  • Never hike alone to the falls, like, ever. Go with a group of friends. Unless you’re a professional or something.
  • Wear shoes with grooved rubber soles for hiking, or trail sandals. No smooth-bottom slippers or shoes. This is to help your feet hold on to loose soil or slippery stones.
  • You may wear shorts, but due to the grassy paths, light jogging pants, leggings or trek pants are advisable.
  • If you don’t want to get fried, bring sunblock.
  • Start trekking early in the morning to avoid the hot sun, but also leave early to allow enough time to trek up.
  • Bring only essentials. Extra weight on you bag will wear you down quickly. As a general rule, your backpack should weigh 20% of your weight.
  • Bring lotsa water. For food, trail mix (boy bawang, anyone?) or snacks can sustain you. Bring lunch as well but make sure it won’t weigh much.

Also, view the weather forecasts or watch for heavy cloud formations on Project NOAH. Never pursue your trek if it is expected to rain heavy in the day, or if it has rained heavy the night before. The river is wide enough to let dangerously strong water streams sweep anyone, so be careful and take extra precaution.

Now on to the trip.

As mentioned, the waterfalls is accessible through a number of ways: Through public multicab vehicle or driving from Cogon and passing through Camaman-an or through Mountain Meadows in Gusa, or through Mapawa Nature Park in Malasag.

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For maximum adventure, let’s cover how to get there through public vehicle. At Cogon near Kevin Enterprises, ride the multicab bound for Brgy Indahag. You’ll need P12.00 for fare.

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From there, the driver will follow the Camaman-an to Indahag path. Tell him to drop you off at the basketball court. Shown in the map are two ways to get to the start of the trekking path. The light orange path will lead you to a couple of homes, then exit to the defunct subdivision. The other path will be longer, but wider and concreted.

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Any way you choose, you will see a land trail passable by people and motorcycle only. This path right in front of the defunct subdivision, and an unfinished concrete corner.

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Now we start. The hike to the falls is about 45 minutes to 1:30 hours, depending on your pacing. Marked in the map below is the start of the steep descent.

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At the start of the descending path, you’ll see this majestic view of the mountains of Malasag: (click to zoom)

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When you reach the end of the path, you’ll now be facing the river. Slowly hike upstream. Note that the stream will be full of rocks, so beware of the slippery ones. When the stones get bigger, you’ll know you are near the waterfalls. You will see some (to borrow Tom’s term) rivulets and larger cascades before you get to the tallest one.

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Congratulations, you’ve just reached Mintugsok Falls!

Photo by Tom Udasco

But wait, there’s more! On the right side of the lower waterfall, there is another stream. Trek on that stream and on the left side there should be a small ladder on top of big rocks. Climb the rock and the stairs, and you’ll see two paths. One going up to a small cottage (by Mapawa Park) and one going down to the upper waterfall, the more developed and the best place to take a dip.

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The upper waterfall has a deeper pool for adventurous divers, jumpers and… sliders.

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Aside from the cool waters, open spaces for resting and eating, and shady trees, the upper waterfall also gives you a great view of the lower stream and cascades, as it is directly above the lower waterfall.

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For a more adventurous trip, you may take Mapawa’s River Trek course (orange), or for those who want longer bonding time with friends on the way, you may take the longer but steadier route from Mapawa to Mintugsok (blue). A fair warning though, a hike from Malasag to Mintugsok through the blue path is very long, and it’s an upward or downward street. Although you get to have the fun of passing through age old trees and the satisfaction of actually crossing Cagayan de Oro’s mountains.

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To return home, just follow whichever path you walked, in reverse. In Indahag, you may ride on passing multicabs or walk to the Brgy multicab terminal. In our case, from the Indahag path, we went through the Mapawa path. It was long and tiresome, but it was a lot of fun specially with good friends around. Just bring lots of water with you.

Overall, Mintugsok Falls is truly a hidden gem in the rural part of Cagayan de Oro. Most certainly, it can help you beat the harsh summer heat, especially while on rotating brownouts.

Photos with “rela” watermark (c) Tom Udasco Photography.