The hiking boom currently enjoyed by the travel-and-tour industry means that the “beginner trails” near Manila are getting more popular than ever. If you are one of those who seek a quieter – and more challenging – trail, you would do worse than hike the trails of Mt. Ugo.
Mt. Ugo with Trail Adventours
Mt. Ugo, at 2150 meters above sea level, is considered a “moderately challenging” trail, as it is hiked over two days (though a very long and very fast day hike is possible). Trail Adventours, my hiking organizer of choice, spreads the adventure over two days to make sure we enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of Mt. Ugo.
The mountain proper is located in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, and this was where we headed off. The usual method of hiking Mt. Ugo (sometimes spelled “Ugu”) is a traverse; from Kayapa, we would hike up to the summit and back down, finding ourselves in Itogon, Benguet. It’s a long journey of over thirty kilometers on rough roads and mountain trails!
Our Trail Adventours guides, Neil Orticio and JP Yu, ensured we were properly briefed on the long hike ahead, as well as the customary reminder to the participants on the “Leave No Trace” principles. After we secured our local guides and porters, we set off for a local public school, which was to act as our night’s base camp.
Throughout the trail, we enjoyed beautiful open views of the mountain ranges; the Mt. Ugo trail is known to offer amazing mountainside views and wide, well-maintained pine forest trails. We were not disappointed at all! It was unfortunate though that we saw some evidence of forest fires along the trail, an effect of the heat wave hitting the Philippines in recent weeks.
A little over eight hours later, we were at the public school – and no sooner, as the heavens opened up and we experienced a real deal mountain storm! We settled in a large classroom, and prepared dinner soon after.
Another hiking group passed through the public school, drenched, and tried to set up camp but the storm was too much. Our Trail Adventours guides convinced the villagers to open another classroom where the wet and tired hikers stayed the night.