Sierra Madre (Philippines)

The Sierra Madre is the longest mountain range in the Philippines. Running in the north-south direction from the province of Cagayan to the north and Quezon to the south, the mountains form the eastern backbone of Luzon Island, the largest island of the archipelago. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east. The Pacific coast of Luzon along the Sierra Madre is less developed as the lofty and continuous mountains form a bold and almost inaccessible shore, exposed to the full force of the northeast monsoon and the waves of the Pacific Ocean.[1] Some of communities east of the mountain range and along the coast are so remote they are only accessible by plane or boat.

Sierra Madre (Philippines)
View south of the northern Sierra Madre from peak of Mt. Cagua - ZooKeys-266-001-g007.jpg
View south of the northern Sierra Madre from the peak of Mount Cagua in Cagayan
Highest point
PeakMount Guiwan
Elevation1,915 m (6,283 ft)
Length680 km (420 mi) North to south
Sierra Madre (Philippines) is located in Philippines
Sierra Madre (Philippines)
Location of the center of the range in the Philippines
Range coordinates16°3′N 121°35′E / 16.050°N 121.583°E / 16.050; 121.583Coordinates: 16°3′N 121°35′E / 16.050°N 121.583°E / 16.050; 121.583 (approximate center of the range)
Borders onPacific Ocean

The country's largest protected area, the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, is situated at the northern part of the range in the province of Isabela. The park is in the UNESCO tentative list for World Heritage List inscription. Environmentalists, scholars, and scientists have been urging the government to include the other parks within the Sierra Madre mountains for a UNESCO site that would encompass the entire Sierra Madre mountain range from Cagayan to Quezon province.[2]


The Sierra Madre is the longest mountain range in the Philippines. In the north, the range starts in the province of Cagayan and ends in the south in the province of Quezon. In the province of Nueva Vizcaya, the Caraballo Mountains connect Sierra Madre Mountain range with the Cordillera Central range.

The mountain range serves as a typhoon barrier, attenuating incoming typhoons from the Pacific Ocean before reaching the central mainland.[3]

Remote communitiesEdit

Some coastal communities east of the Sierra Madre Mountains, especially from Palanan, Isabela heading north to near the northernmost tip of mainland Cagayan, are remote and isolated with no roads connecting them to towns west of the mountain range. Towns like Palanan, Divilacan and Maconacon, Isabela can only be reached by plane from Cauayan City or a boat ride from Aurora province, south of Isabela or from Santa Ana, Cagayan, north of the province. Ilagan City - Divilacan road traversing the Sierra Madre mountain is about to be completed.[4]

Highest elevationEdit

The range's highest point is unclear, and several peaks are attributed as the highest. Mount Anacuao in Aurora province stands at 6,069 feet (1,850 m), while Mount Cetaceo in Cagayan is of similar altitude. However, an expedition in September and October, 2012 to Mount Guiwan (Nueva Vizcaya) preliminarily measured an altitude of 6,283 feet (1,915 m) on the summit.[5]

The mountains as viewed near summit of the Mount Oriod in Bulacan


The mountains in Gabaldon
The mountains in Isabela as viewed from Barangay Diddadungan in the town of Palanan
Northern portion of the range

Ecoregions in the range are in the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests (lower) and tropical and subtropical coniferous forests (higher) biomes.

National parksEdit

Other protected areasEdit

Active volcanoesEdit

  • Cagua Volcano an active volcano in Cagayan province that last erupted in 1907

Endemic speciesEdit

In the forest, in April 2010, the endemic lizard species Northern Sierra Madre Forest monitor lizard – Varanus bitatawa (common name: Butikaw) was described to science, although the Aeta and Ilongot indigenous peoples have known and used it as a food source.

Human activitiesEdit

Lower portions of the Sierra Madre, with habitat damage from logging and charcoal-making.

The Sierra Madre mountain range forest habitat is threatened by human activities. Settlers living at the lower portions of the slopes generally are supported by work in logging and charcoal-making. Some portions of the forest cover are already second growth forest.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (1919). "United States Coast Pilot Philippine Islands Part 1", pg. 44. Government Printing Office, Washington.
  2. ^ Coursey, Oscar William (1903). History and Geography of the Philippine Islands. Educator School Supply Company.
  3. ^ Bordadora, Norman (12 November 2006). "Sierra Madre blocks 'Queenie' punch". Philippine Daily Inquirer . Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  4. ^ Christian (2011-06-13). "Palanan and Maconacon". Off the Beaten Track in the Philippines. Retrieved on 2014-09-28.
  5. ^ Gray, Shirley (2003). The Philippines. Children's Press. ISBN 978-0-516-24212-5.

External linksEdit