If you are based in Manila and planning a Baguio travel soon, what is the best route to take? Kennon Road or the Jose D. Aspiras Highway, more popularly known as Marcos Highway?
While Baguio travel time has significantly shortened thanks to SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) and TPLEX (Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway), there is still a lot of debate on which is the best route to take. Historically, Kennon Road is the shortest access route to Baguio City. As you make your way through Bued River Canyon, you will see many waterfalls, pine trees and mountainsides dotted with wild sunflowers.
However, extensive mining in the area has depleted the surrounding mountains of ground cover and pine trees, leading to land and rock slides. This is why there are always reports during the rainy season of Kennon Road being closed due to massive landslides.
The road is narrow but easy to use because of gentle bends. Kennon Road is recommended for “underpowered vehicles” because of the option to turn to Loakan Road at Camp 7 as an alternate route to enter Baguio City.
This route is also great if you are heading to the east side of your Baguio travel, which is Camp John Hay, Baguio Country Club, Mines View area because you will bypass the downtown traffic. This is the road to take if you are headed for the Philippine Military Academy, the Baguio Export Processing Zone and the other areas in the southeast side of town.
Marcos Highway, on the other hand, has a scenic view of the South China Sea, and its redesign has given it a short cut entrance just a few hundred meters further north from the Kennon Road Junction in Rosario, La Union instead of proceeding to the original entry point at Agoo, La Union or the alternative one further up in Pugo, La Union.
Although longer than Kennon Road, Marcos Highway is wider, smoother and “all weather.” You should take advantage of a bright, sunny day and pull over and stop for photos in the areas where the clouds are lower than Marcos Highway. Expect heavy fog in the afternoon though.
Take Marcos Highway, especially if you are headed for the northwest side of the city, which is in the general area of Green Valley, Legarda Road, Quezon Hill. There’s also an access road from Marcos Highway that allows you to skip the center of town altogether and go directly to Asin Road or Naguilian Road.
Turn left to Suello Village and follow the main road, heading downhill, then at the base, you will see a fork in the road, turn right and start climbing again until you hit Naguilian Road.
Naguilian Road is another road to take for your Baguio travel but this will require you to travel to Bauang, La Union. The 46-kilometer highway traverses the Benguet municipalities of Tuba and Sablan and the La Union towns of Burgos, Naguilian and Bauang. The route is primarily used by motorists coming from San Fernando, La Union as well as the northern provinces of the Ilocos Region to get to Baguio City. It was the first and the only road connecting Baguio City to the lowlands until Kennon Road was built in 1901.
It is really up to you to decide which of the two routes to take for your Baguio travel. If your car can overcome the unavoidable and particularly steep incline, take Marcos Highway. Marcos Highway will give you a smooth ride up to the City of Pines.