Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail

Location: Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet, Philippines.
Trail: Tomtombek-Sta. Fe Ridge traverse (or backtrack).
Contact Number: 0928-483-1133; 0921-729-2726; 0946-340-4561.
Registration Area: Ampucao Barangay Hall
Registration Fee: Php100.00 per person.
Guide Fee: Php400.00  (max of 10 persons per guide). This will double to Php800.00 if you decide to camp for a night.
How to get there:
·         From Baguio City. Take a PUJ bound to Samuyao or Ampucao. The loading station is located behind Jollibee Magsaysay and beside Orion Drug. There’s a couple of tarpaulins indicating “loading area for Mt. Ulap” posted near it. Fare as of April 2016 is Php31.00. Just inform the driver that you need to drop at the Ampucao Barangay Hall for the Mt. Ulap hike registration. PUJ fare from Sta. Fe to Baguio City is Php50.00.
·         From outside CAR. Take a bus bound to Baguio City. Follow above information.
A newly formalized hiking destination, Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail, a less-than-an-hour drive from Baguio City, offers six stations which boast majestic views of Cordillera mountains, pine forests, grassland ranges, man-made stone stacks, picturesque boulders, and a faraway glimpse of the San Roque Dam and Philex mining area.
Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail is in close proximity to Baguio City unlike other popular hiking destinations in the region such as Mt. Ugo and Mt. Pulag. Travel time would be about 45 minutes depending on the traffic at the central business district. En route, you will pass by Camp John Hay, Philippine Military Academy, and Texas Instruments. Don’t get confused with the arch indicating Ampucao Elementary School at the drop-off area. Both the elementary school and barangay hall are located in the same compound. There is a table for registration with logbooks for Baguio City and NCR hikers attended by an officer. You will pay here the registration fee and guide fee. You will be assigned a guide according to the local queuing. An environmental orientation by your guide is a must before leaving the barangay hall. There are foods and bottled drinks peddled in the area, so don’t get nervous when you forgot to buy bottled water for the hike. There’s clean comfort rooms in case you need to attend to nature’s call or change clothes before the hike.
There are six stations along the trail. Tomtombek, the first station, is an easy walk from Ampucao Barangal Hall. A raised metal welcome board showing the stations marks the beginning of the upward assault. The next station, Ambanao Paoay, a 1,788 mASL peak, is adorned with man-made stone stacks. You may add your own design in here. Careful however not to erect it along a footpath. Camping is allowed at the lower portion of this station. Also, along this station, a portion of the San Roque Dam and Philex mining area can be seen. The third station, Gungal, at 1,814 mASL is characterized with rock boulders. Some tourists say that this part is the highlight of the trek. Taking a solo shot at the famous, pentacle-vandalized, Gungal rock seems to appeal to most hikers, thus making this the most populated station during the day. The fourth station and the 1,846 mASL summit, Mt. Ulap, is covered with grass. A concrete marker is seen in its highest point inscribed with the name of the Engineer who surveyed the area. Most of the campers favour this area than in Gungal. For campers, the magical sunset and sunrise is often sought here. There is a store and two open pit comfort room near the camping area. The fifth station, Pong-ol burial cave, is now closed to the public. Desecration of the sacred place as well as dangerous path are the reasons for its closure. Midway along the downhill path to the fifth station is a barricaded burial rock left. However, only a few bones were left by mummy thieves. Sta. Fe, the sixth station, marks the end of the trek.
Officially launched on 31 October 2015, hiking through Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail now means paying standard fees and adhering to its rules and regulations. According to a local guide, tour guide fees costs about Php500.00 before its official opening. Environmental prep talks is not done thus vandalism as well as desecration of the sacred burials areas is uncommon. As of April 2016, the Pong-ol Burial Caves is now closed to the public.
·         Practice the Leave-No-Trace (LNT) principle when visiting and camping.
·         Do not vandalize the stone and tree trunks.
·         Closing of registration at Ampucao Barangay Hall is 2:00PM. If you are a slow hiker, register before lunch or earlier if you don’t intend to camp for the night.
·         The fees including the guide fee are standardized. There’s no bargaining for lower price. Take note that the fees are lower compared to other eco-trails.
·         During holidays and weekends, registration starts as early as 4AM. However, to make sure of the availability of an officer at the barangay hall, It doesn’t hurt to inform the Tourism Council through the numbers listed above.
·         To those who are not regular hikers, take time to prepare yourself physically and mentally.
·         The foot paths are slippery during rainy season. However, you still need to be vigilant during summer because the dried soil easily crumbles under when stepped on.
The metal signage that marks the start of the six stations.
These are the sic stations of the Eco-Trail. However, to protect and preserve the sacred burial site, the Pong-ol Burial Cave is now out of the regular trail offering.
The trail is slippery during rainy season but the danger is as much present during summer. You need shoes that can conquer the dry, brittle and pebbled footpaths. Sprained ankle is one of the most common injuries to hikers during summer.

These are gates for cattle. Never open and pass through these gates; use the wooden makeshift stairs.
This is the first boulder along the trail where you can have a glimpse of the picturesque Itogon, Mt. Ugo, and even the mountains of Pangasinan.
A typical yet enthralling view of The Cordillera.

Pine trees and more pine trees but you’ll never get tired of it.
A corral for cattle branding.
Notice that most of the trunks are scorched. During summer, the dried pine needles are very combustible. Please be responsible not to cause fire during your visit [to any mountain].

A patch of pine tree saplings.
You will notice a lot of fallen trees. This was caused by previous tropical storms.
Cattle herd near the Ambanao Paoay peak.
Ambanao Paoay, the second station, is adorned with man-made stone stacks. This peak and its neighbour peak are cluttered with rocks, thus, often named as twin peaks.

The trail ahead as it snakes along the side and on top of the mountain as seen from Ambanao Paoay.

Pinit (Rubus niveus Thumb.), an indigenous wild berry in Cordillera, are commonly seen along the trail. This wild berry is edible.

Grassy sloped and sometimes dotted with pine trees is but one of many of what the Eco-Trail can offer.

Even the dead pines trees have their own charm.

Grass-covered mountain top.

Pine trees and grassland: a perfect duo for the eyes.

You’ll love this more with a clear blue sky background.

We’re not there yet.
You need to be sure-footed.
Survivor pine tree.

Of ferns and stones.

Those seconds when you just want to sit and marvel at the beauty of the mountains.
Another boulder for photo ops.
Another angle of the previous picture.
Let’s continue the trek.
Further along the trail.
Like walking at the top of the world.
Grace even during death.
And we are at Gungal station!
The famous pentacle-vandalized Gungal rock, where the heaviest hiker traffic happens. When taking a selfie, dangling your feet at the edge is now prohibited.
The trail out of Gungal station.
A closer look at the grass that covers the mountains.
Grassland ho!
More grassland.
The lines seen in the photo are actually cattle  paths made for years.
Never pull sapling when heaving your body upwards along difficult trails.
A downhill path before the upward assault to the summit.
These fences either denotes the boundary of land ownership or serves as safety barricade for cattle.
Another indigenous plant along the trail.
A mossy area near the summit.
The marker at the highest point at the summit. Engineer Lagman is the first surveyor of the then known as Pong-ol mountain. However, he forgot the name and just wrote what he saw, obviously, ulap (clouds).
The summit—Mt. Ulap.
Start of descend from the summit.
More cattle!
Cattle close up.
Another angle.
A glimpse of where we’ve walked.
The camping site.
A stall selling refreshments near the campsite.
The camp site has a nice flat surface.
Parts of the downhill trail were steps made with pine branches.
Shower areas, refreshments stalls and souvenir shops are available along Sta. Fe.
Concrete foot paths near the road.

You will pass through a number of hanging bridges.


Mt. Kalugong


Location: La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines
Google Map:
Coordinates: 16°27’37″N 120°35’44″E.
Major Jump-Off Areas: Cruz, La Trinidad, Benguet
Contact Details: 09196728888 or 09498980328
Entrance Fee: Php50.00
How to Get There: From Baguio City, take a jeepney bound to Tomay, Acop or Shilan. Drop at Benguet Memorial Services in Brgy. Cruz. The trail starts at the cemented road at the right side of this establishment.
Of the mountains surrounding the salad bowl of the Philippines, Mt. Kalugong might be the most popular. There are three alluring reasons why this mountain is becoming more widely known. One, it offers a panoramic view of the whole valley and the pastureland and pine forests at the western portion of the municipality. Notable establishments seen from the mountain includes the whole stretch of Benguet State University, Benguet capitol building, La Trinidad municipal hall, strawberry fields, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources fish ponds, and the Balili River snaking along three-kilometre stretch. Two, Mt. Kalugong offers a quiet place to relieve the stresses of the urban life. Currently, there are native huts, benches and tables, swing, and two ziplines erected in the conifer-covered area of the mountain. This environment is very pleasant to family or group picnics. Three, for the adventurous persons, Mt. Kalugong offers boulders upon boulders of limestones of different sizes and shapes.
The name of Mt. Kalugong came from a local word which means “hat”. This name is coined from a stone boulder resembling a baseball hat at the southern portion of the mountain as seen from the eastern part of the valley. Before the place was developed as an ecological park, the rock formations had been drawing a lot of locals. The area where it is not covered with limestone was previously used as venue for 4×4 off-road car racing.
·         The Tabangaoen trail is already closed since 2014.
·         Practice the Leave-No-Trace (LNT) principle when visiting the place.
·         Do not vandalize the stone formations.
The limestone formations have always been the biggest asset of the place.
Plants growing at the crevices near the ground.

At the top of the mountain, the panoramic view of the valley can be seen. However, in order to see this you need to move further west.

Buburtak weeds are all over the place. With that being said, bees are also present during the blossoming season.

If you are afraid of heights, this is not your place. Wear clothes suited for climbing rocks upon rocks.

Mt. Jumbo can be seen towards the southeast horizon.

Its as if the rocks were strategically planted on the ground.

Note the size of the rock to the brush.

Don’t wander on the limestone area at the heat of the day. It will be hard finding a shaded area.

Lichens cover some surfaces of the stones. Be wary of them to avoid slipping.

Mushrooms growing in a piece of wood wedged between stones.

This part reminds me of NatGeo shows. Its a perfect combination of rocks and greens.

Spot the dragon.

Check the following video of Nomadic Highlander for more details:

Mt. Pulag


Location:Parts of it are located in Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines.
Google Map:
Coordinates:16°34’58″N 120°53’15″E.
Major Jump-Off Areas: Babadak Ranger Station, Bokod, Benguet (Ambangeg Trail), Brgy. Doacan, Kabayan, Benguet (Akiki Trail), Sitio Labang, Brgy. Tawangan, Kabayan (Tawangan Trail).
Trails:Ambangeg Trail, Akiki Trail, Vizcaya Trail, and Tawangan Trail.
Contact Person: Emerita Albas (DENR-PASU): 09196315402.
Registration Fee: Php225.00 (For updated fees, contact Ms. Albas).
At 2,922 meters above sea level, Mt. Pulag is the highest peak in Luzon (UNESCO, 2006). Its fame is attributed to the scenic view at the peak especially during sunrise and sunset. The heaven-like scene at the summit, the “sea-of-clouds” phenomenon, and the unobstructed view of the Milky Way at dawn are but some reasons why mountain climbers kept on coming back in this “playground of the Ibaloi gods”. During sunrise, the changing of colors in the horizon and the mountainsides turning into gold when kissed by the early morning sun are breath taking. In order to protect and preserve the outstanding natural features particularly the wildlife, vegetation and the tarns of the area, Mt. Pulag was proclaimed National Park by virtue of Pres. Proclamation No. 75 on February 20, 1987 covering an area of 11,550 hectares (Pres. Proclamation No. 75 s. 1987). The preservation of Mt. Pulag also greatly reflects the cultural values of the locals. The lakes and mountains, like Mount Pulag, are deemed sacred and home of the spirits of their ancestors; thus, protected and kept safe.
There are three types of vegetation in the area suggesting the transition of elevations. The summit is covered with grass and the dwarf bamboo (Yushania niitakayamensis). At lower elevation, the mossy forest covers the mountainside. Below the small tree, fern, lichen, moss, and fog-covered mountainside is the coniferous forest. Mt. Pulag is also home to the Philippine Brown Deer, cloud rat (Crateromys schadenbergi) and the Luzon pygmy fruit bat (Otopteropus cartilagonodus).
Braving to camp at the summit during December, January and February exposes climbers to freezing temperatures and sometimes accompanied with rainfall. Planning ahead of time and considering the season of the year would prepare climbers from undue situations.
Respect and Protect
Respect the people and their culture. The beauty of Mt. Pulag has persevered until today mainly because of the belief and tradition of the locals surrounding it. Paying the meager registration, tour guide, and porter fee does not mean that you own them and the land. Give due respect to the locals, their culture and to the mountain.
Protect the environment. The influx of weekend and holiday tourists has a drastic impact on the mountain. For one, a lot of footpaths have been created in spite of the pre-climb orientation that only one path should be followed. Always practice the LNT principle when mountain climbing or camping. You can freely take pictures but don’t take any plant, stone or moss.
Sunset at the campsite. Unfortunately, the foggy afternoon blocked our view of the colourful sunset. During rainy season, this also becomes a problem during sunrise when the sun is covered with heavy fog and rain clouds.
During the dawn, the dark silhouette of the mountains adds to the beauty of the imminent sunrise. This is a common scene halfway to the summit.
The colors of the horizon will take your breath away. All you can do is widely open your eyes… and often your mouth, too.
The colourful sunrise and the sea of clouds will always be a treat to the early birds at the summit. You need to wake up and start the ascent to the summit as early as 4:00AM if you want to see this.
The sea of clouds sometimes become like a fast flowing river. Every minute, the wind changes the cloud scene.
The face of the mountains turns gold as it is kissed by the early morning sun.
Here comes the sun!
 You can witness mountain tops upon mountain tops touched by the rays of the sun.
The clusters of dwarf bamboos (Yushania niitakayamensis) at the summit grow as high as three to four feet.
During December to January, the dwarf bamboos are often moist from the fog. And they are haven for the ill-clothed climbers when the fog and chilly wind blows.
The rolling hills with the sea of clouds as background. When you thought you had your fill, more breath taking views are yet to be seen.
As the sun goes higher, the color of the grass-laden mountains turns to green.
The fog plays like a playful carpet. But this adds to the beauty of the moment making the mountaintops and hills like an elusive lady.
And just when a clear blue sky is needed, the fog and clouds obediently withdrew.
The sun warms the chilly atmosphere. Take note, however, that you are at high risk of sunburn without proper sun protection at this time and onwards.
It is not uncommon that you will just sit on the ground and be mesmerized by the wonder of God’s creation.
And yes, they’re grasses. And they’re beautiful.
It really must be the playground of the gods!

Even the trees are beautiful to behold.
Pres. Proclamation No. 75 (February 20, 1987). Retrieved on April 09, 2015 from
UNESCO (2006). Mt. Pulag National Park. Retrieved on April 09, 2015 from