Mt. Ulap – Hiking Guide
Why Mt Ulap considered one of the Legs Shaking Trail?
Mount Ulap located at Ampucao Itogon, with an estimated elevation of 1846 AMSL with the difficulty level of 3/9. The Cordillera region has been known for its promising cordillera mountain ranges, pine trees, cool weather, and warm-hearted locals. One of its well-known provinces for mountain hiking is Benguet; we went to Itogon to personally experience the beauty of one of the most famous mountains for hikers, Mt. Ulap or Cloud Mountain, from the word itself, you can really experience a vast scenic view of the sea of clouds up there in the summit. You can finish this day hike for about 3-6 hours depending on your hiking level experience. Let’s now begin our hike to Mt. Ulap Itogon, Benguet via Eco trail!
In May 2018, we hiked for the first time in my life to Mt Ulap. It was one of the hardest and longest trail we have but it was rewarding things I’ve experienced after all. It was very difficult physically, as you can imagine, because the trail is mostly steep until you reach flat surfaces where you can rest. I think taking time to jog a few days leading to the hike was helpful in preparing me, but once we started our ascent, I wished I had done more cardio.
I would run out of breath quickly, and my legs ached like hell. But every time I thought I couldn’t go on anymore, a breathtaking view of the landscape and mountain ranges would make up for all the physical exhaustion. I also had the great company of my friends who kept me going. Together, we conquered Mt Ulap and discovered these things along the way.
First things first: What to Bring. Travel Factor was very kind enough to give us tips before our trip, and to sum it all up, here are the things that you should definitely bring with you:
- Sleeping Bags and Sleeping Mat
To protect you from the cold and to give you comfort from the hard ground
- Water Bottles
2-3 liters per person should be enough. (Bring more of course if you get thirsty very quickly).
- Flashlights or Headlights
If you don’t have a rain-proof one, then make sure to wrap your things inside in plastic; just in case!
- Snacks for the hike
Lots of it! Don’t be shy!
- Gloves, scarf, bonnet/cap
…anything to heat you up! They weren’t kidding when they said that it’s gonna be chilly up in Pulag, and I tell you, it was MORE than chilly. It was ice cold!! (I’ll tell you more about this later on.)
- Clothes for Layering. Clothes.
- Preferably rain-proof jacket, rain-proof pants, RAIN-PROOF EVERYTHING.
- Rain Gear
Again, another just in case, and definitely no umbrellas. If you don’t have ‘rain gear’, you can use trash bags.
- First Aid and Medicines
If you have frequent motion sickness or whatever, best to pack up Bonamine. I’ll tell you why later on.
- Hiking Shoes
…and hiking poles if you have those. Not really required; only for your ease.
- Extra Footwear
A light one; a slipper for example. Just in case your shoes accidentally get ruined.
- Lots of Plastic
To put your trash into, clothes, etc. etc. Don’t throw any of these away in that mountain of course!
- Eating Utensils
1.Jeepney to Mt. Ulap = P24.00
2. Registration fee = 100 pesos per head
3. Local Guide Fee (1 guide: 7 persons)
Dayhike = 600.00
Overnight Camping = 1,000.00
4. Campsite fee (Overnight Camping for group of 10 persons and below) = 800.00
5. Porter fee (OPTIONAL)
Dayhike = 500.00
Overnight Camping = 800.00
You need to reserve a slot prior to your hike. The number of hikers will be limited to 150 individuals on weekdays. For weekends and holidays, the limit will be 500 individuals.
MT. ULAP ECO-TRAIL
Entry point: Brgy. Ampucao, Itogon
Exit point: Brgy. Sta. Fe, Itogon
LLA: 16.2904 N, 120.6312 E, 1846 MASL (Mt. Ulap)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-3 hours
Specs: Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3,
Features: Grassland and pine ridges, scenic views of the Cordilleras, burial caves
Article history: Created 30-Nov-2015 by Gideon Lasco
A “mini-Mt. Ugo” which showcases the best of what the Cordilleras has to offer: Pine and grassland ridges with stunning views of the mountains, and even a glimpse of culture with villages, burial caves, and hanging bridges, the Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail in Itogon, Benguet is the perfect dayhike from Baguio City, only 40 minutes away from Burnham Park by public jeepney. Spanning around 8 kilometres through several peaks along the Ampucao-Sta. Fe Ridge (not to be confused with the Philex Ridge), it is easy enough to be completed from 4-6 hours, making it feasible as a dayhike or even a half-dayhike for hikers of all levels.
The trailhead starts along from the road to Philex in Brgy. Ampucao, but as of December 2015, hikers have to make a 10-minute detour to the barangay hall to register and secure guides (required). The trail goes up a ridgeline that is immediately surrounded by pines, and soon becomes scenic with views of Mt. Sto. Tomas and Baguio City; the perennially mist-covered Central Cordilleras from Ugo to Pulag; and to the south, even Mt. Arayat.
A number of peaks and points of attraction are traversed via this relaxing trail: from the grassland slopes of Ambunao Paoay to Gungal Rock, and then to the highest point, Mt. Ulap (officially 1846m but 1856m according to our measurements). The descent from Mt. Ulap to Pong-ol Burial Caves is akin to the descent from Mt. Ugo summit to Tinongdan, with its steep, pine-forested terrain. The Burial Caves themselves are a nice attraction, and at Sta. Fe there are hanging bridge and cemented footpath that complete the experience.
Once the province of trail runners, the opening up of Mt. Ulap as a hiking destination augurs well for opening up more mountains in the Cordilleras and hopefully people realise that there is much more to the region than Mt. Pulag. Pinoy Mountaineer recommends Mt. Ulap as a dayhike from Baguio and as a sidetrip or warm-up hike to bigger hikes in the region. The only caveat is that because of its popularity it’s becoming inconvenient to hike on weekends – so we are recommending it as a weekday hike – unless you don’t mind enduring the crowds and lengthy queues at Gungol Rock.
|Transportation||Public (0) Bus, Cubao or Pasay to Baguio [P460-750; 4-6 hours]|
(1) Jeepney, Baguio City to Brgy. Ampucao via Philes-Bound route [P50; 40 mins]
Approximately 40 minutes travel time from Baguio City Note: It is also possible to rent a taxi from Baguio City to take you all the way to Brgy. Ampucao and back. A P1000 roundtrip would be very reasonable. Private: Proceed to Baguio from Manila, then take the road to Itogon/Philex and make a left turn to Brgy. Ampucao.
|Registration||(1) Logbook at the Ampucao barangay hall complex. P100/person|
|Guides||Available and required P400/day (as of January 2017)|
|Campsites and waypoints||Campsites:|
(1) At Ambunao Paoay
|Water sources||No regular water sources in the Ridge itself except in the lower communities.|
|Cellphone signal||Present in most parts of the trails.|
|Roped segments / Technical parts||None.|
|Hiking notes||Exercise caution when taking pictures at the Gungal Rock, as carelessness can be fatal.|
|Sidetrips||Other trails are being planned in the area. We will update this. From Baguio City, other day hikes include Mt. Timbak and Mt. Sto. Tomas.|
|Alternate trails||Other trails are being planned in the area. We will update this.|
|Dayhikable||Yes (4-6 hours for the entire traverse)|
|Facilities at jumpoff||(+) Sari-sari stores|
|P400-500 from Baguio City for a group of 5|
Start small and choose the right trail for your fitness level.
Select a hike a little shorter than the distance you can normally walk on a level or paved surface. To estimate the time required to hike the trail, figure a pace of roughly 2-miles per hour. Next, review the elevation changes and add an hour to your estimated hiking time for every 1000 feet of gain. After you’ve been out once or twice, you’ll have a sense of what distance and elevation changes work well for you.
2. Familiarize yourself with the trail.
Once you have selected a trail, obtain a map of the area and review reports and data. There are some excellent online resources available. Find out if the trail is a loop, or if you’ll have to backtrack or spot a second car. Take note of any intersecting trails where you could potentially make a wrong turn. I also like to look for a good lunch spot such as a lake or peak with a view.
3. Check the weather.
Leading up to your hike, and again a few hours before, check the weather. This will give you valuable information on how to dress and what to pack. If the weather is forecast to be awful, it will give you the chance to change plans instead of getting surprised on the trail.
4. Tell someone where you will be.
It’s important that someone not on the hike knows the itinerary and what time to worry and call for help. Note I didn’t say, “when you expect to be done.” The “worry time” may be several hours later than your planned finish to allow for slow hiking, amazing views, or perhaps a sore ankle causing a delay.
Another option is to carry an emergency device such as the Spot tracker, which allows you to summon emergency assistance by satellite. One caveat, devices like the SPOT are not an excuse to shirk responsibility for your own personal safety – they are a backup.
5. Pack the 10 essentials.
The 10 essentials have gradually shifted from a list of items to a list of systems. These are the systems you should pack to stay safe in the outdoors, including facing a potential overnight. Depending on the length and remoteness of your hike, expand or minimize each system. For example, on a short summer hike near services, a compact emergency blanket should be fine. However, a remote winter hike would require something more extensive. Here are the 10 essential systems:
Ten Essential Systems
- Navigation (map & compass)
- Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
- Insulation (extra clothing)
- Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
- First-aid supplies
- Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
- Repair kit and tools
- Nutrition (extra food)
- Hydration (extra water)
- Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)
This list may look daunting, but once you tailor it to your hike, it won’t be so bad. Many of these things are what you’d pack for a picnic.
6. Wear the right shoes and socks.
Painful feet can ruin a hike. Invest in quality hiking shoes and socks. This doesn’t mean heavy leather boots, there are a lot of “light hikers” available that require little break-in compared to the old hiking boots I started with. Also, don’t skimp on socks and for goodness sake….no cotton! Wool or synthetic socks are the way to go. Also pack blister dressings just in case.
7. Dress for success.
Once your feet are taken care of, dressing right is key to comfort on your hike. Skip cotton anything, it gets damp and stays that way leaving you feeling clammy and causing chafing. Instead, go for synthetics. To easily adjust for your temperature and the weather, wear layers that you can add or shed as needed. Lastly, pack an extra warm layer beyond what you think you’ll need, preferably something that will block wind too.
8. Keep it light.
Okay, now that I’ve told you to pack all of this stuff, I’m going to tell you to keep your pack light. This means opting for the lightest of each item. For example, a travel-size tube of sunscreen instead of the NoAd 16-ounce tube you found on sale.
9. Pace yourself.
When you first get on the trail, you may feel like powering forward like a hero. However, you’ll be zero by the end of the day if you don’t pace yourself. Instead, pick a pace you can maintain all day. It might feel a little awkward at first, but after a few miles, especially uphill, you’ll be glad you saved your energy.
10. Leave no trace.
The beautiful trails we love will only stay beautiful if we care for them. Leave no trace . It’s up to every outdoor enthusiast to take care of our natural spaces.
Using these tips I hope you’ll get out hiking this season. Where will you go? Leave a comment to share your ideas; I’d love to hear them!