Itogon: Mt. Ugo – A Day Hike Guide
Mount Ugo, or otherwise spelled as Mount Ugu, is one of the famous hiking destinations in Cordillera. With an elevation of 2,150 meters above sea level, it is lower than the adjacent Mount Pulag, Mount Amuyao, and Mount Napulauan. Nevertheless, it still competes with its own distinct beauty like the other surrounding mountains. The towering pine-tree forest, rolling trails, highland villages and breathtaking views are just some of its highlights.
Mount Ugo was discovered by accident during the search and retrieval operation in the aftermath of the deadly plane crash here in 1987. The operations that followed paved way for the trail to be established, and eventually becoming a hiking destination.
We just saw this through a post in a Facebook group, the Trail of Philippine Hikers, who invited everyone to join us in hiking it. The flock decided to join in; at first, we felt lonesome but we felt their warm welcome and goodwill that they eventually became friends. It’s a bit challenging for a typical hike takes two days, covering a distance of 33 kilometers.
At 10 in the evening, we departed from SM North Edsa going to Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. After almost eight hours of travel, we finally reached the town hall of Kayapa at 6 in the morning. Here, we registered and were given a guide. After breakfast, we take a short moment to pray and ask the Lord’s guidance in our journey.
We started our hike at seven in the morning. Though Mount Ugo already has several entry points, we chose one of the most established trails in Kayapa. The trail traverses two provinces – the Nueva Ecija and Benguet.
The sun is already high when we started. We took the uphill road until we reached the concrete steps, where several houses were constructed at its sides. We went on straight through the trail, which is commonly slightly sloping upward, until we barely noticed that we’re already in the pine tree forest.
After a one-and-a-half hour of trek, we reached the Indupit Village. This is our first stop-over. We stopped for a while to wait for our companions, and because there’s a free-flowing water we refilled our jugs. After a short while, we resumed our trek going to the mountain foot. Though we can already feel the sun’s heat we pushed through our trek, determined to reach the summit by afternoon.
At eleven in the morning, we reached the campsite. We took lunch here before taking the final assault. We resumed our trek after just a short while.
The hike from the campsite to the summit was short so we reached the peak by 12:50. Because most of us are first-timers in hiking Mt. Ugo, we seized our moment being at the summit, especially the rewarding view that awaited. After some chatting and photo-ops, we took our descend, so we would not be caught by dusk at the middle of the trail.
The terrain and the view upon descent are fine, but we weren’t able to appreciate it very much because we’re speeding to descend before dusk. Under the sun’s intense heat, we continued walking until we passed by the rice paddies of Lusod Village and reached the Hanging Bridge. After almost five hours of almost non-stop descent, we reached the Barangay Hall.
Exhausted, weak, and almost entirely spent after almost 13 hours of journey. But our exhaustion and the long trek is worth it. To conquer it is a very rewarding, not only by witnessing the beauty it offers, but also to yourself who put your own endurance, strength, and persistence to the test to finish it, and in the end, you can say to yourself, you overcame the call of the mountain.
The locals used to name it as Umag-aga, but later on was renamed to just Ugo, coming from the Ibaloi word “Ugoan” which means ‘to slit the throat’. It used to be the place of the “busol” or headhunters who are defending their ancestral domain. It is said that the American or Spanish captives are beheaded here, and one of them is a Spanish Secretary-General only known by his name Juanchito. A tri-boundary marker was placed in the summit by the Americans in 1901 marking three provinces – Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan and Mountain Province. The mountain is also a silent witness to the tragedies of three separate aircraft crashes.
On June 26, 1987, Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR-206 en route to Manila to Baguio crashed at the mountain’s southern slope. All 50 passengers and crew on board perished, and it was regarded as the worst commercial aviation accident in the Philippines. The wreckage of the Hawker Siddeley aircraft was found 180 meters from the summit. At the very spot, PAL installed a small memorial in remembrance of the tragedy.
ACTUAL DAY-HIKE ITINERARY
10:00 pm – Depart from Manila
06:00 am – Arrive at Kayapa, Register, Breakfast
07:00 am – Start Hike
09:30 am – Indupit Village, Rest
09:45 am – Resume Trek, 10km Open Trail
11:00 am – Arrive at Campsite, Lunch
11:30 am – Resume Trek, Assault to Summit
12:50 nn – Summit
1:00 pm – Descend
2:00 pm – Lusod Village
5:00 pm – Itogon Hanging Bridge
6:00 pm – Arrive at Tinongdan Barangay Hall, Wash-Up
9:00 pm – Arrive at Baguio, Dinner
9:20 pm – Depart
1:00 am – Arrive at Manila
MT. UGO DETAILS
Reference: Pinoy Mountaineer
Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet
Jump-off points: Kayapa, N. Vizcaya; Brgy. Tinongdan, Itogon, Benguet
LLA: 16.31916°N, 120.80166°E, 2130 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 2-3 days, 9-10 hrs
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail Class 1-3
Features: Pine forests, highland villages, views of Cordillera peaks
REACHING MT. UGO
The following are the entry/exit points to and from Mt. Ugo.
Reference: Tinongdan Tourism
- Tinongdan Proper – Lusod, This route requires maximum energy. The trail from Tinongdan to Lusod is an open trail. Maximum of 8 hours would take a trekker to the summit.
- Tinongdan Proper – Ambasa. This is an uphill-downhill winding trail with Mt. Marikit as the front destination.
- Dalupirip – Mt. Palanchey. Barangay Dalupirip is an alternative entry/exit point. This is recommended for trekkers who wanted to explore new trails.
- Benguet – Nueva Vizcaya Boundary @ Barangay Pangawan – Indupit, Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. This is the most convenient trail. It is a gradual and winding trail passing through the mossy forest of Kayapa.
- Kayapa Central – Indupit. The strenuous ascend starts from Kayapa Municipal Hall up to Indupit Village.
- Kayapa Proper – Domolpos. It takes an hour ride from Kayapa Central to reach Proper and start the climb to Mt. Ugo or Domolpos with a minimum of 5 hours.
Note: Because we’re just joiners in a group, we spent PhP1,270 per person for van rental, guide and registration fee.
- Guide Fee – PhP500 (Good for 5 persons)
- Registration Fee – PhP150 (Kayapa)
- Registration Fee – PhP200 (Itogon, with a certificate congratulating each climber who faced Mt Ugo’s challenge)
If traversing, have someone take you from Kayapa up to Itogon.
Take the Maharlika Highway going to Isabela, and upon reaching the town of Aritao, turn left and take the road going to Kayapa.
Take the bus going to Solano, Santiago or Tuguegarao and get off at Aritao. From here take a jeepney going to Kayapa.