If you have been to Mt. Pulag, Ulap, or Kupapey and is up for a more challenging hike in Benguet, Mt. Ugo is the perfect mountain for you. Join us in this article as we tell you everything you need to know before planning your hike to this mountain, including tips on how to get there, budget, and sample itinerary.
We’ll also share our own experience in hiking Mt. Ugo last May 30-31, 2019 so we can mentally prepare you for yours.
You ready? Let’s get started!
Where is Mt. Ugo?
Mt. Ugo is located in the Cordilleras, specifically in Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet. It has two jump-off points; in Kayapa (Nueva Vizcaya) and Itogon (Benguet). It stands at 2,220 MASL and is shorter than its neighbors Mt. Pulag and Mt. Purgatory.
Also called as “Ugu”, it features pine forests and amazing views of the Cordillera mountains. If you have been to Mount Pulag already, it will remind you of the first part of its trail which is full of pine trees. Mt. Ugo also has a mossy forest that can be found on a higher elevation up until you reach the summit.
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
(Info from Pinoy Mountaineer)
Mt. Ugo was discovered on 1987 when Philippine Airlines Flight PR206 crashed on the mountain, killing 50 people onboard. The wreckage was found by rescuers 200 yards below the summit and this paved way to the discovery of Ugo as a new hiking destination.
According to Jovanie Claver’s article in the provincial website of Benguet, the name “Ugo” came from the Ibaloi word “Ugoan” which means “to cut the neck”. The elders say that it is where the Spaniards got killed, hence the mountain was called Mount Ugo.
How to Get There
From Manila, ride a bus bound for Baguio (5-6 hours). There are two ways to go to the jump-off (Brgy. Tinongdan). First, you can go to Baguio Terminal and ride a jeepney bound for Barangay Tinongdan. Second, you can ride a jeepney going to Itogon which you can find at a store called Shoperlane.
From what we experienced, we took the second option (we’ll explain why here). We alighted at the waiting shed (Twin River Junction) where the van from the Barangay Hall picked us up. Or if there’s no agreement between you and the Barangay, you can ride a tricycle going to the Barangay Hall. Travel time would take less than 30 minutes.
If you want to have a convenient ride, you can ask the Barangay to pick you up in Baguio. But I am not 100% sure if they can always cater these requests so make sure to inform them in advance.
We’ll talk about the fees later in this article.
All hikers need to register and attend a quick briefing session with the Barangay POC. There is also a viewing deck at the Barangay Hall where you can take pictures of Mt. Ugo from afar. You might catch yourself having second thoughts of continuing the hike because of the distance but remember, only weak people back out!
Since we’re talking about distance, let me also add that it will take 16 kilometers to reach the summit of Mt. Ugo. Yes, 16 kilometers. Those who were “lucky” to hike Mt. Tapulao (before they constructed a cemented road) endured 18 kilometers of God-who-knows-what-curse-I-haven’t-said-in-this-mountain hike. If you experienced hiking that distance already, you’ll know how physically (and mentally) exhausting it is to hike Mount Ugo.
Since we arrived at the Barangay Hall around 8:30 am, we were advised that it’s late for us to start hiking up to the campsite which can be found at the 14.5 km mark. Kagawad Ramil offered us a ride until the 3 km mark where we can officially start our hike. From there, he told us that we can reach the campsite after 8 hours. We grabbed his offer.
At the 3 km mark, we met our tour guide Tatay John and Gladys, the organizer, led a prayer for everyone’s safety. We’re glad that the sun wasn’t too bright at 9:45 am but we already felt the heat. Looking around, I told myself, that I’m going to love the trail because it’s wide and I’ll still live even if I trip (lol). But those happy thoughts didn’t last.
A-S-S-A-U-L-T. The first two kilometers were pure assault. We can’t even remember how many times we took breaks but we can’t continue hiking for 20 minutes straight without stopping. Another challenge was carrying our heavy bags. Gladys had the heaviest one (more than 10 kilos for sure) because she got the tools for cooking and food. So if you’re planning to do an overnight hike at Mt. Ugo, choose the things you’ll bring thoroughly because it will take a toll on you.
At the 7 km mark, you’ll find a small village with a sari-sari store where you can buy food and soda. They only have Mountain Dew for P40 each. They can also cook lunch for you, just let your guide know in advance so it can be arranged.
Another thing that makes KM 7 my favorite part of the trail are the local dogs! They’re super friendly! The dogs are so cute when they’re chasing the chickens and cats too. When we left, they tried to join us in our hike but their owner followed us and asked the dogs to go home. It was cute!
The trail become more bearable afterwards and has lesser assault compared to what we experienced in KM 3. As expected, the view is breathtakingly beautiful. It felt like we’re truly far away from the busy city and the only thing we can hear are the sound of crickets. We’re so close to nature! This is why I go back to the mountains all the time.
It started raining before we reached KM 12 and based on our pace, it will take 2 hours for us to reach the campsite. We expected the rain beforehand because we hiked during the rainy season. Prior to the hike, I also stayed in Baguio for 3 days where it rains starting around 10 am until the evening so we were still lucky that the rain in Mt. Ugo only started around 5 pm.
We arrived at the campsite at 6:30 pm and it was still raining. Pitching the tent got us all soaked in the rain and cooking was also challenging because we can’t move freely to prepare the food. Because we only have one backpacking stove, it took us 3 hours to cook everything — rice, chicken sinigang, fried eggplant, and Spam. The rain has finally stopped pouring after the meals were prepared.
It was recommended to start hiking at 3:30 the next morning so we can have a sunrise viewing at the summit. Since everyone was physically exhausted, we were able to start our hike at 6:15 am.
Gladys volunteered to stay behind so she can look over our belongings and prepare breakfast. Yes, we were the only ones who hiked Mt. Ugo that day but there was a dog that got some of our stuff. Gladys followed some “clues” and she was able to retrieve all what’s missing.
The whole trail going to the summit was steep and challenging even though we don’t have our backpacks. But the view is so much rewarding that we can still see the sunrise from afar, plus a sea of clouds on the neighboring mountain. Tatay John said that it’s Mount Pulag. If Pulag is your next hiking destination, you can check out our itinerary here.
After an hour, we finally reached the summit! The marker welcomed us, as well as the memorial for the victims of PR206. You can’t see the view of the Cordilleras from here because of the surrounding trees but I didn’t mind it because it was thrilling to finally reach the top of Mt. Ugo.
Tatay John showed us another part of the summit (which I didn’t know existed) and wow! The mountains of the Cordillera welcomed us with a beautiful view. In front of us we can see Mt. Pulag, Mt. Purgatory, and Mt. Tabayoc, which can be hiked from Ugo if you’ll go for a traverse. Here are some photos.
We descended at around 7:30 am and arrived at the campsite after 45 minutes. After eating breakfast and packing our stuff, we started to hike at 9:20 am. The sun’s shining bright but we can’t feel the heat that much because of the cool weather in Mount Ugo. But beware — even though it isn’t too warm, being exposed to the sun harms the skin. Some of us got sunburnt after the hike.
After 3 hours, we arrived at KM 7 where the local dogs greeted us once more. We resumed our hike after 1.5 hours and we arrived at KM 3 around 4:30 pm. Tatay John contacted the Barangay in advance to arrange our service from KM 3 up to the Barangay Hall.
Our total hike time going up from KM 3 until the summit was 10 hours. Another 8 hours was spent hiking from the summit until KM 3. These numbers will change depending on your pace, and if you were able to officially start the hike at KM 0. You can also watch our vlog to learn more about our Mt. Ugo experience.
Sample Itinerary for an Overnight Hike
Here’s our proposed itinerary for an overnight hike at Mt. Ugo.
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Important Things to Remember
Don’t miss this part. Feel free to take a screenshot of the details so you can properly plan your itinerary going to Mt. Ugo.
Traveling from Baguio to Brgy. Tinongdan
1. Direct to Tinongdan – This is from the terminal going directly to Barangay Tinongdan. There is no fixed schedule in the morning since it’s only available at 1:00 pm during weekdays.
2. Itogon jeepney – You can find these at Shoperlane store. We rode a taxi going here and said “Lakandula” as the destination. Drop off at Twin River junction. The jeeps are available anytime from 5:00 am – 5:00 pm. From the junction, ride a tricyle going to Barangay Tinongdan.
3. Taxi – You can ride a taxi going to the Barangay Hall for P1,500 for 4 persons and P2,000 for 5 persons.
4. Van – If you have at least 10 joiners, you can opt for a service from Baguio to Tinongdan. It’s convenient especially when you’re a larger group. Price is P2,200. Take note that this is a one-way trip only.
If your total headcount is still below 10 and majority are newbies, we highly suggest that you follow a 1:5 ratio (1 guide per 5 hikers). In some cases, there are friendly and accommodating guides who could help you carry your supplies.
For a group of 10, we recommend that you hire 2 guides. The first one will serve as the lead guide and the other will serve as a porter or sweeper.
What To Wear & Bring
Wear something that will protect you from the heat and cold. You’ll need your jacket while hiking early in the morning because of the cool climate. Starting around 10:00 am onwards, the sun would be harmful to the skin so might as well wear your jacket again.
Whether it’s a day hike or overnight hike, we highly recommend that you only bring the necessities. 2.5 liters was enough for me going up but it ran out in the morning when we used some of our personal water to cook.
Tatay John was so kind to go back to the water source and get drinking water for all of us. But mind you, the water source is located at around the 5 KM mark, which is 9 kms away from the campsite. So you need to make every drop count.
Best Time to Hike
Our group loves hiking during weekdays to avoid the crowd during weekends. During our hike at Mount Ugo, we were the only hikers there. Every single view was ours which means we can take our time in capturing photos. We recommend hiking Mt. Ugo during summer to avoid the rain. Go for the ‘ber months if you want to experience a cooler climate.
The local community of Tinongdan also conducts a yearly hike in Mt. Ugo which includes cleanup or social activities with the local school. This usually happens in the last week of April. Contact the Barangay here to learn more about it.
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Mt. Ugo: Our Final Thoughts
If you’re still here in this part of the article, I would like to thank you for taking your time in reading our hiking experience in Mt. Ugo. And another thanks too because of your interest in hiking this mountain in Benguet. It may not be as popular as Mt. Pulag, but honestly, I was impressed with what I have come across in this mountain.
Overall, I love the trail so much that I appreciate it for being wide (I’m afraid of heights, so this is a big deal for me) which makes it very hiker-friendly. A shorter version of this would be perfect for beginners but since it takes 16 kilometers to the summit, it becomes a major hike.
We recommend that you opt for an overnight hike so you can rest before going back to the jumpoff. When the sky is clear during the night, the naked eye can spot tons of stars which is incomparable to what we see in the city.
I hope you found the information we have provided useful in planning your hike to Mt. Ugo. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. You can also follow us on our social media accounts for more hiking tips and stories.
See you in the mountains!