mt ulap eco trail reverse itogon benguet

Mt. Ulap Day Hike (Benguet): What to Expect, See and Do

One of the sought-after hikes in Benguet in recent years is Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail because of its rewarding trek and breathtaking views. In this post, I share my experience when we hiked Mt. Ulap during our Baguio trip.

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Mt Ulap Quick Guide:

Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail Location:

It is located at Barangay Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet. Mt. Ulap is around 40 40-minute drive from Burnham Park, Baguio, making it a recommended side trip if you love hiking or want to experience a bit of an adventure.

Here’s the location map for the jump-off point.

Is Mt. Ulap for beginners?

I’m not a hiker and I rarely hike so if I can do Mt. Ulap, you surely can do it even if you’re a beginner. A word of warning for those with a fear of heights though that some spots will trigger your phobia.

How many km is the Mount Ulap hike?

The length of the trail is said to be 9.4 kilometers.

What do you wear to Mt. Ulap?

Since it can get chilly in the north and the mountain peaks, I suggest you wear layers so you can remove your jacket when you feel sweaty or hot. Can you wear sneakers to hike? Yes, that’s what I used since I rarely hike. Although it would be best if you have hiking shoes.

Why is it called Mt. Ulap?

Hikers can experience the sensation of touching the sea of clouds as they reach the mountain’s summit, where the clouds seem to embrace the peaks.

How to get to Mt Ulap from Metro Manila:

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  • Take a bus going to Baguio from Pasay, Cubao, etc.
  • Ride jeep to Ampucao, Itogon (or Philex Mines) at Lakandula st.
  • Get off at Brgy. Ampucao
  • Walk to Barangay Hall for registration

Fees (as of November 2023):

  • TOUR GUIDE FEES:
    • Day Hike PHP 800.00
    • Camping PHP 1,600.00
  • PORTER FEES
    • One-Way (Day Hike): PHP 800.00
    • Two-Way (Overnight): PHP 1,200.00

Timings (as of January 2024):

TIME SCHEDULE FOR HIKING:

  • DAY HIKE: The registration will start from 5:00 AM on weekdays and 4:00 AM on weekends. Cut-off time is 12NN
  • CAMPING: For Camping, the registration will start from 7:00AM and the cut-off time is 2:00PM

Do you need to pre-register? Here’s Mt. Ulap Eco-Trail Pre-Registration Form:

Access the RESERVATION FORM here.

What to Pack for a Day Hike:

  • water
  • trail food
  • jacket
  • flashlight/headlight (if you’re going to start before sunrise)

Mt Ulap stats:

  • Elevation: 1846 meters above sea level (masl)
  • Difficulty: 3 out of 9
  • Trail class: 1 – 3
  • 9.4 km long
  • Number of peaks: Three – Ambanao-Paoay (1788 masl), Gungal Rock (1814 masl), and Mt. Ulap summit (1846 masl)
  • Features: grassland, pine ridges, views of Baguio and Cordillera
  • Other attractions along the trail: burial caves, hanging bridge (Sta. Fe traverse)

Mt Ulap Eco-Trail Reverse experience

I was awoken by my roommate in the middle of the night. She asked if I felt the earthquake. Groggy, I mumbled something and went back to sleep. The next thing I know, we missed our waking up time, causing us to miss the 6 AM jeep to Ampucao by a few minutes. And that’s how our Mt Ulap Reverse adventure started.

Waiting by the sidewalk, contemplating whether to eat breakfast at Jollibee, turned into half an hour of waiting. By the time the jeep arrived and left, our stomachs were grumbling, We really should have eaten breakfast.

SEE ALSO: Where to eat in Baguio

So we tried to lessen our hunger pangs with the green tea KitKat that Aki brought from Japan. Hopefully, that will tide us over until Ampucao.

Upon reaching the entrance near Ampucao Barangay Hall, we were already excited. Luckily, there were a few vendors near the registration area. With the registration finished, I hurriedly bought boiled eggs and we were on our way.

Our guide, Josephine is even younger and of smaller stature than us. So I asked her how many times she had already climbed Mt. Ulap. And she answered with a simple word – countless.

Reassured, we returned to the highway until we reached the jump-off point. It was around 10 to 15 minutes of brisk walking. The cemented path uphill was a shock to our system. An intense warm-up. Only then we did realize that we didn’t stretch before the hike.

It was a series of assault after assault and very few descents until Ambanao Paoay, the first summit. My poor knees were screaming. But the views were awe-inspiring.

I ran out of adjectives resorting to saying “ang ganda” (it’s beautiful) every time I was amazed.

From this perspective, the land looks flat and continuous. But I was standing near the edge of a cliff overlooking the peaks we were about to face to get to the famous Gungal Rock. The neighboring mountains are also visible in the background.

Rows and rows of pine trees lined our way and the cliffs of the mountainside. The winds were quite strong up at the first summit and there was nothing to hold on to. The clearing and the hills reminded me of Batanes. Even more so when we saw a herd of cows grazing just after Ambanao Paoay.

Didn’t expect to see cows along the trail of Mt. Ulap. This scene reminds me so much of Batanes because of the rolling hills and the cows grazing. Good thing the cows were friendly! Our guide said they usually chase hikers πŸ˜„

As usual, my jelly legs were ever present so the steep descent from Ambanao required me to ask help from our guide. Or else, I would have been tumbling down the hill like Jack and Jill.

From there the terrain got even rockier. It was a different scenery from the ones we have passed by which were full of trees. The earth was also dotted with cow dung. We were like playing β€œpatinteroβ€œ, taking care not to step on cow shit.

We trudged on, passing by two smaller rocks on the mountainside that could pass off as smaller versions of the most awaited Gungal Rock.

The wind was getting colder. The dark clouds looming yonder. Thankfully, upon reaching an even more rocky terrain, our guide declared that we were there.

She was referring to the most popular spot in the mountain – Gungal Rock. This is what Mt Ulap is famously known for.

We were overjoyed. True enough, the ever-famous rock is jutting just beyond the towering rocks.

People were already taking pics near the edge of the rock and some were waiting patiently for their turn at the bottom of the jutting rock, away from the sight of the cameras.

When it was my turn, I didn’t expect that the walk to the edge wouldn’t be as easy as the others made it seem. With the wind blowing hard and nothing to hold on to, I pleaded with one of the Rangers to help me reach the edge. I tried so hard to stand at the edge but my jelly legs wouldn’t cooperate. This time, the body wasn’t as strong as the will.

This is the highlight of our hike, the famous Gungal Rock. Standing at 1814masl, we reached this spot via a rocky terrain after the grassland slopes of the first summit, Ambunao Paoay.
We were quite lucky that there was no queue when we got here. But the wind was strong and reaching the edge of the rock without taking extra care can be fatal. Good thing there were rangers present to discourage the daredevils and to assist climbers who want to have their pics taken near the edge.
Jelly legs, I tried my best not to take a peek below. My knees couldn’t take it so I just sat down. Reaching the Gungal Rock was enough of an achievement for me.
Conquering my fear of heights one day at a time.

After a few clicks, I couldn’t wait to get back on the stable and level ground.

We took our lunch near the entrance to Gungal and shortly after that, started our way back the trail. We decided against a traverse at that time because we were pressed for time. The rain clouds were closing in, and the mist making it colder up in the mountain.

The steep ascent earlier now turned to be a steep descent as well, making the most impact on our knees. Trying my best not to slide down the cliff, my hyperactive brain considered comparing hiking to love. The higher you climb, the higher you fall. While it was all excitement going up, going down was the harder and more painful part (or at least in my case). Guess I tend to get emotional when faced with imminent danger.

SEE ALSO: Buscalan: Tattooed by Apo Whang-od

In between water breaks, we took the time to just take in the feeling of being surrounded by nature.  Trying to slow down our heavy breathing with our sweat trickling down our faces. Appreciating that precious calm that can be sometimes so elusive in our daily lives.

And as we reached the roadside, we asked ourselves.”Was it all worth it?” Heck yeah.

So thank you Mt. Ulap, for a worthy travel experience, and for meeting new friends. Til we meet again.

READ MORE: 22 Captivating Philippine hideaways that will steal your heart


Mt Ulap Reverse Timeline:

7 AM – Lakandula St, Baguio (in front of Jollibee) – Jeep to Itogon

7:45 AM – registration at Barangay Hall

12 PM – leave Gungal Rock, start descent

1:45 PM – roadside, wait for the jeep to Baguio

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Do you hike? What was your most memorable mountain? 

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Darlene is currently on the road again and traveling full-time after being an expat/overseas Filipino worker in Qatar. She's rediscovering what it means to travel solo and in her 30s while working on her blogs.

Comments

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    What a lovely trek. The landscapes are really stunning, no wonder you ran out of words looking at the beautiful scenery around you. Looking at the pictures of the pine trees and the meadows, I am reminded of somewhat similar landscapes in Switzerland. Would love to get there someday.

    • Thank you! I would love to see the mountain landscape in Switzerland πŸ™‚

  • Michelle

    I would have been terrified to stand up on Gungal Rock! I’m very clumsy, and I think that wind would have blown me over! I always think of beaches when I consider the Philippines, but I loved this inside look on Mt. Ulap. It’s definitely somewhere I would consider visiting if I get the chance!

    • Yeah, if you love hiking, Mt Ulap is a good day trip from Baguio. πŸ™‚ Hope you visit Philippines soon.

  • Megan Jerrard

    Wow, what an incredible hike! I have the same weak knee syndrome when I’m climbing rocky terrain – really takes it out on me! But I would definitely climb Mt Ulap, what a stunning landscape, especially when you get to the views from Gungal Rock – your photos are spectacular. Thankyou for sharing!

    • Thanks Meg. Mt Ulap is an easy day trip from Baguio. A good break from the city views. πŸ™‚

  • Rahul Khurana

    I love hiking in mountains. Views from the top are really amazing. I just returned from a trek last week and reading this post now is making me want to go for another one. Loved all the pictures. and I can understand your feeling of legs crumbling as it happens on a steep climb, but it was worth I am sure πŸ™‚

  • Jennifer

    I’m jealous of that nice ridge trail! I most recently was trekking in Nepal and it was just straight up and down. My knees still hurt going down a lot of stairs and I’ve been home for three weeks now.

    The trail looks like it has beautiful views. How many kilometers was the hike?

  • What a fabulous hike. I don’t think I’d manage it – so I have to live vicariously through your description. It looks wonderful

  • Wow, the views from Mt Ulap are totallw awesome! And your photos are so beautiful! They make me want to back my luggage and jump in the first flight to Philippines! πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Love the first pic of the rock. It looked pretty quiet there, was it quiet or were there lots of other hikers?

    • When we went to Mt Ulap, there weren’t much hikers. But I heard, now it can get crowded especially in weekends!

  • It seems that serendipity made you miss your intended plans so that you could enjoy this beautiful visit to Mt Ulap instead. I love the photos of the beautiful views along the trek and especially the ones of you guys on that famous jutting rock. What a wonderful experience!

  • The mountains in Benguet are truly awesome. We have a plan to do the Bakun trilogy then head off to Mt. Ulap as a “side” climb. Something career-wise came up, and we had to set that aside for half of the year. But we’ll surely do the trilogy soon as well as a visit to scenic Mt. Ulap.

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