Mt. Ulap’s close proximity to Baguio City, its relatively easy Ampucao-Sta. Fe trail, its bearable foot traffic, and its magnificent views – not to mention Gungal Rock – make this mountain an ideal non-Rizal hike for beginners. It also makes a good prep hike for a Mt. Pulag, a Mt. Ugo, or even a Mt. Kinabalu climb.
The whole trail can be completed in less than 8 hours depending on your speed and fitness level, but you can choose a 2-day itinerary and spend a chilly night in one of the mountain’s camping grounds.
Here are some tips to heed before hiking Mt. Ulap this weekend.
[Credits to my bundok friends for the images.]
Bring an umbrella, a UV protection jacket, or a bottle of your favorite brand of sunblock.
Occassionally, you’ll hike along shaded pine trails especially in the beginning, but many sections are open. Even the peaks, including the summit, are bare.
While it’s tempting to forego these hiking essentials because of the cool weather, it’s wise to be protected at all times.
Here’s what we mean.
Hike early to avoid the crowd converging at Gungal Rock.
Gungal Rock is the highlight of the Eco Trail, so expect other groups to flock into and spend a lot of time at this IG-worthy landmark. Depending on their number, a group of hikers can take at least 20 minutes taking pictures and braving the heights of the rock. If your group is third in queue, expect to wait at least an hour.
This can be a concern because save for one pine tree, the place is basically shade-less. It’s therefore a good idea to start early so that you can have Gungal Rock by yourself.
Watch this video of Gungal Rock to know what to expect.
Downhills can be slippery because of loose rocks.
You might need a hiking stick. If you don’t have any, there are wooden sticks on sale for 15 or 20 PHP at the start of the trail.
If you easily get height-sick, you can avoid the summit and Gungal Rock.
Going up the summit isn’t the hard part. It’s the descent that makes you dizzy. Skip this part by taking the trail that goes around it, leading to the camping grounds.
If Gungal Rock is too much for you, you can choose not to do what everyone else is doing. A few meters from the rock, there’s another spot that is as IG-worthy. All you have to do is find the perfect angle. Take a look.
If you want a more challenging hike, start at Sta. Fe.
At the Ampucao side, expect a gradual uphill climb. But at the Sta. Fe side, expect to start with a steep ascent that lasts for 2 hours.
Cow dung is everywhere. Don’t forget wet wipes or a hand sanitizer.
You’ll have your lunch along the trail, so a hand sanitizer is a must-have especially if you’d like to take shots like this one.