Palo Alto: Waterfalls in an Unlikely Place

Whenever we wanted a short encounter with nature we found out long ago that a short 2 to 3- hour ride – short by Metro Manila traffic standards that is – was all we needed to get to the waterfalls in Laguna province. Or to the highlands of Tanay town in Rizal which was even nearer. But a few years back we were surprised to know that there was a waterfall in Baras town which was even nearer than Tanay. And it was in the unlikeliest of places – inside a residential subdivision.

stream cascades at Palo Alto

The Palo Alto Leisure and Residential Estates in Brgy. Pinugay, Baras is a 200 hectare residential and commercial estate situated at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountain range. It lies along the Marilaque Highway, a scenic road with beautiful views of the Sierra Madre foothills that goes through the towns of Baras and Tanay before continuing on to Infanta, Quezon.

Palo Alto stream, Baras, Rizal

Palo Alto stream, Baras, Rizal

The waterfalls inside Palo Alto drain into a stream winding its way down through steeply sloped ground. We had to walk about a thousand feet up to get to the main falls. However it was a relatively easy hike up 249 concrete or stone steps complete with metal handrails. Much of the pathway was cleared making for a leisurely climb.

mini cascades at Palo Alto Leisure and Residential Estates, Baras

Part of the reason the walk up seemed not too difficult was the view of the stream as it snaked down the rocky slope past a forest of trees on both banks. At several points along its length the stream would drop off a few meters over ragged boulders and into clear emerald pools, forming a multitude of small, beautiful cascades in the process.

mini cascades at Palo Alto, Baras

mini cascades at Palo Alto

Admiring this scenery, we would stop at various intervals to catch our breath, enjoy the sight and take long-exposure shots which always takes more time, making for a leisurely pace up the 249 steps.

mini cascades at Palo Alto

The 249 steps leads to the main waterfall, a single drop cascade about 60 feet high. The falls drop down into a walled-off catch basin, forming a swimming pool for guess. This area had been landscaped and cabanas built around the pool area for visitors. However on this visit we were the only ones in the area and had the whole scenery all to ourselves.

he main falls at Palo Alto Leisure and Residential Estates, Baras

We would later drive on to Tanay and to Daranak and Batlag Falls – our planned destinations for this trip – but as travelers know, many of the best destinations are the unplanned and unexpected ones.

view of Batlag's right side waterfall
Batlag Falls

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