Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mt. Pulag/Tawangan Trail (2,922+)

Kabayan, Benguet
Major jump-off: Sitio Labang, Brgy. Tawangan, Kabayan
LLA: 16°34'58"N 120°53'15"E, 2922 MASL
Hours to summit / Days required: 10-11 hours / 3 days
Specs: Major Climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 3

Pinoy Mountaineer features arguably the most comprehensive trail to the summit of Mt. Pulag, the Tawagan Trail. This trail is named after the barangay of its orgin: Brgy. Tawangan in Kabayan, Benguet. The beauty of this trail lies in the exuberant display of mosses and ferns in the mossy forest which takes up half-day of the ascent to the summit. After five hours of climbing, the grassland will emerge, and along with it a beautiful stream which counts as a water source. Beyond this is another 3 hours of climbing to reach the saddle campsite and the summit. As of 2008, there are direction markers set up by the DENR to orient you as well as the designate the places for camping. From the summit, it is your choice whether to descend via Ambangeg, Akiki, or return to Tawangan. Your jeepney, if you rent one, can pick you up in your exit point.

The town of Kabayan is noted to be a cultural hotspot. Here is the very heart of Ibaloi culture; you may visit the Opdas Mass Burial Cave, the modest Kabayan Museum, as well as other natural wonders such as the lakes that flank Mt. Tabayoc (i.e. Lake Danao, Lake Ambulalakao). Those with cultural interests can really maximize the lengthy travel time and stay one more day to hear the local folklore. For instance, one may wonder how the Opdas Caves came to be. Some say it was a collection of 'exploits' by ancient tribesmen; or they may simply have been gathered there from various sites.

In the same way that mountaineers hold Mt. Pulag in high esteem; locals revere the mountain. An ancient belief holds it to be the "Playground of the Gods"; where their spirits used to roam. Indeed, beholding the sea of clouds in the everlasting grassland of Pulag, one cannot but feel a heavenly, lofty feeling.

Day 1
0400 Early breakfast at Baguio City
0430 ETD to DENR-Ambangeg/ Registration*
0830 ETA DENR-Ambangeg / LNT briefing*
0930 ETD to Poblacion, Kabayan
1100 ETD to Brgy. Tawangan. Jeep will proceed further to Taaw River.
1600 ETA Taaw River / Start trek to Sitio Labang.
1800 Sitio Labang Campsite. Water available.
1900 Dinner / socials

Day 2
0400 Wake-up call / Breakfast / Prepare packed lunch / Break camp
0600 Start trek. Prepare for Limatiks.
1200 ETA Water Source (Grassland) / Lunch / Load-up water 4L/pax min.
1700 Mt. Pulag Summit for the Sunset viewing
1830 Arrive at saddle campsite
1900 Dinner / socials

Day 3
0430 Wake-up call
0500 Assault summit
0530 Mt. Pulag Summit / Sunrise viewing...
0700 Back to campsite / Breakfast / Break camp
0900 Start Descent
1100 ETA Ranger Station
1200 ETA Ambangeg, DENR (Log-out)
1230 ETD Ambangeg / Lunch along the way
1700 Back in Baguio City

*As of Jan. 2008, DENR-PAO discourages climbing from this trail.
**note that Day 1 may be spaced in two days for a less hectic schedule

Security. As of Jan. 2008, DENR-Mt. Pulag National Park discourages climbs from the Tawangan trail, due to security concerns. Coordinate properly with the National Park through Ma'am Emerita Albas to check status of the trail at +639196315402. The website of Mt. Pulag National Park lists Tawangan as one of the trail options but it is not updated; it is still best to contact DENR.

The beauty of Mt. Pulag attracts a lot of would-be climbers; however, PinoyMountaineer advises proper training before attempting to climb this mountain. The temperature may drop to chillingly cold levels (0-5 °C) and proper clothing is recommended. Coordination with personnel of the Mt. Pulag National Park (MPNP) is strongly advised for safety reasons. Pulag is one mountain where revenue is badly needed to maintain the beauty of the mountain.

There are many limatiks in the mossy forest; preparing accordingly. Guides may be arranged at the DENR office at Ambangeg; as of 2007, a P2,500 professional fee must be given for each guide; Mt. Pulag National Park fees would amount to around P200 when using this trail. Still feasible is a P2,500 budget if coming from Manila, given a group of 17-20 people.

The Norton bus caters to passengers coming from Baguio to Ambangeg and Kabayan. There are trips at 0900, 1000, and 1400 hrs daily. However, the best option is still renting a jeep from Baguio.

The Tawangan trail may also be accessed from Hungdungan, Ifugao; an addition 1-2 days is required if starting off from this location.

Cellphone signal is sporadic, but present in some parts of the Tawangan trail. Other useful numbers include those of the regional office of the Department of Tourism in Baguio City (+63744427014) and DENR-CAR with a fax number of (+63744447428).

Contrary to popular belief, the dwarf bamboo (Yushania niitakayamensis) is not endemic to Mt. Pulag. It is distributed throughout the high peaks of East Asia; and is known internationally as Yushan cane, after Yu Shan (Jade Mountain), the highest mountain in Taiwan at 3952 MASL.

Truly endemic to Mt. Pulag is the giant bushy-tailed cloud rat (Crateromys schadenbergi), considered the biggest rat species in the world. It feeds on pine cones and flower buds, and its body may reach up to 40 cm in length. It is part of the 2006 Red IUCN List of Threatened Species. Another rare species found in Mt. Pulag is the Luzon pygmy fruit bat (Otopteropus cartilagonodus).

Mt. Pulag was proclaimed National Park by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 75 on February 20, 1987 covering an area of 11,550 hectares. It was established to protect and preserve the natural features of the area such as its outstanding vegetation and wildlife. It belongs to the Cordillera Biogeographic Zone located in Northern Luzon. Mt. Pulag is a National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) site

The heavenly landscapes and rich biodiversity of Mt. Pulag makes it the "mecca" of nature lovers and mountaineers throughout the Philippines.

© Pinoy Mountaineer, 2008. All rights reserved.


karl joseph said...

sir buti naman nag-release na kayo ng info about the tawangan trail. i'm a freelance mountaineer and a big fan of your new site! great writeups and pics. more power! - karl, pangasinan

gideon said...

sir karl, many thanks. we'll try to keep it up. feel free to add infos in our published mountain guides :D

hikernovice said...

sir, when is the best time to climb pulag? what trail would you recommend for a first timer?

gideon said...

because pulag's main attraction is the breathtaking, "sea of clouds" views, good weather is a big consideration...december-february would be a great time though this would entail preparation for chilling temperatures. year-round, pulag is a good destination. as for the trail, the easiest would be an ambangeg-ambangeg. it requires only 4 hours up from the ranger station, and can be done in two days. i even heard that a group daytripped pulag from baguio, leaving at 3am!

hikernovice said...

thanks sir gideon! im still high school but ur blog inspires me to be a mountaineer someday! :D

gideon said...

mountaineering is really a great sport/hobby... it's a great exercise; you get to see great sights, travel a lot, experience different cultures and meet new friends! keep up the interest, hikernovice. hope to see you at the summit soon!

jimmar said...

This is a great write-up. Our group will be climbing Pulag this November and the info here really helps. Thanks!!!

gideon said...

you're welcome sir jimmar! have a great climb! please update our info when you get back!

Grace Coroza said...

Hi Gideon,

we're planning to go to mt pulag this december. i saw your blog while looking for more info. it's really helpful. thanks heap!

but we're not sure who to contact to help us out. Should we have a reservation for a guide and for our stay in the campsite prior to going to DENR office? what do you think should we do first? any help would be appreciated as we really are excited. =)

We are not really mountaineers and i think this will be a first time for all of us.

gideon said...

ma'am grace, reserving guides is not necessary as there is a guide association in place and you can arrange them in the jump-off itself (i.e. the ranger station). hiking groups sometimes fax DENR a week before their climb; you may also contact them for inquiries.

if you have further questions, please email

regards, gideon

Anonymous said...

Hello there, How long does it take to travel from Baguio to wherever the summit starts? Can we just drive there and then book or is it better to book in advance? Also how long does it take until you reach the summit? Overall, how many days do I need to hike up and down? pls. help. thanks... Pearl from Toronto

gideon said...

there are three different article in the blog that correspond to the three most commonly used trails to pulag...the days required for each plus the contact numbers are also detailed.

yes it is possible to drive all the way to the ranger station if you have a 4x4 vehicle.

Joven Paulo said...

hi sir,

i am from manila, but currently based in baguio due to work.

have joined a few climbs in select mountains since college but never had the chance again when i started working.

i am looking forward to trekking mt pulag with an organized group. would appreciate if you can inform/update me on schedules of organized climbs of your group/or any group that you can recommend that is inviting visitors/non-members to join the climb.

thank you!

xave said...

sir gideon i'll be climbing the playground of the GODS Mt.Pulag on Oct 31,08 til Nov 02,08 i'm hoping & praying for a successful climb. again & again i thank you sir! because the info on this site will help me again as i go along the way.

gideon said...

@xave: have a great climb! update mo na lang kami if there are developments/changes.

Anonymous said...

Sir we are planning to climb on June 2009, is there any past experiences that this month is not suitable for climbing in Mt. Pulag. Pls let us know.. we called our group as CAMBER Explorer (Commission of Adventurous Mountaineers Binded by Environment Restoration - Explorer).. Many Thanks!-josh,pasig

Anonymous said...


pg mainit, wag kalimutan mgdala ng jacket o khit anong pang-protect sa araw kng ayw nyo mgka-sunburn..


Anonymous said...

@ Josh of Camber Explorer, I don't know the level of stamina and endurance your group has. June is expectedly a muddy climb. So rainproof everything and bring the best of tents that you can as June can also be very stormy. With this consideration, take the easier route to Pulag (i.e. AMbangeg-Ambangeg).

BUt if you really think, you have the energy to take the Tawangan-Ambangeg route, kudos to your group, and prepare enough from now so it will be an enjoyable climb :-)

edge said...

Any update po sa Tawangan Trail..I'm planning to take this trail in the future resback.^_^

hapi trek!tnx

Anonymous said...

sir may climb kami dito 3 peaks timbak, tabeyoc at pulag tawangan akiki sa july 11-13, 2,200 po ung registration.. text 09154331631-cris for info.. thanks

Anonymous said...

sir tanong ko lang kung mayroon banhanxg aakyat sa pulag this december? sasama po kami kung pwede....09129805611/09325211425..thanx

Anonymous said...

Been here last week dec.09, descent to akiki.
super astonishing!

-tuldok m

leeain said...

Thank you for the information sir. Soon i will climb this mountain if enough training is there.

dagz said...

Tnx for the info sir....wla po itinerary ng budget....tnx po ulit...

Vic said...

open pulag (tawangan-ambangeg), Dec 26 - 29. email me ( more info. tnx

Anonymous said...

^final nb ung date nio? sana jan.7. ilan po target na kasama? budget? tnx in advance

melo sanchez said...

Luzon321 (timbak, tabayoc, pulag)
When: oct25-29.
Budget: 2.5k - 3k

anyone interested to join us pls contact me (09272037772) or sir daryl (091764345800, sir janel (09173812567)

-melo sanchez
mountain quest pilipinas

vic said...

@omer-we are looking at 20 pax. budget, we'll try to keep it not more than 3k. still in the planning stages. as for the date, it will be on the last week of december, between 26 - 29.

Anonymous said...

Good day pinoy mountaineers..ask ko lng po kung merong small group na mag Mt. Pulag climb ambangeg-ambangeg oct 31 2010 makikisabay po sana group namin 9pax..para medyo makamura sa jeep from baguio to ambangeg...thnx po good day!!

Pls. Contact
Winson 09323349430

Anonymous said...

@Mga Bro/Sis, pakicontact ako kung sino gusto sumabay, Thanks!

TRAIL: Tawangan to Ambangeg
DATE: February 24(leaving Manila at 9PM) to 27

Kindly contact Jeffrey, 0922-8981739

Anonymous said...

open na po ang trail na ito? thanks po..:)

melo sanchez said...

Luzon321 (timbak-tabayoc-pulag) plus jr.pulag
timbak cave
tinongchole cave
tabeyoc 4 lakes
halsema highest point
with free BRC (basic ropemanship course)

Budget 3700

to those who are interested pls contact me:

Anonymous said...

We are organizing a charity climb for lusod elementary school
TRAIL: Tawangan to Ambangeg
DATE: April 30,2011 (leaving Manila at 10PM) to May 2, 2011

Kindly contact Erwin,09186087191

Anonymous said...

Life-giving plants battle death at Mount Pulag

Anonymous said...

for a first timer..a nice trail is akiki - ambaguio...


ambangeg - akiki or ambangeg - ambangeg..

Anonymous said...

good day sir gid..
sana magkaron din kau ng IT ng ambangeg-ambaguio travers..
very usefull blog for all pinoy mountaineers..keep it up and may god bless all of us..


Anonymous said...

aakyat ang grupo ng TAPIK tao pangalagaan inang dec 26-30 luzon 321 timbak,tabayoc,pulag via tawangan trail,,kung sino po gusto sumama txt lng po kayo...09228552477....ron

helmet said...

Hi! Question lang sa mga nakapag tawangan trail..madami po ba ang water source from tawangan to saddle campsite sa mt pulag ? gaano po katagal ang interval ng water source from another water source ? Thanks..

RD said...

3 po ang water source, sa last water source na kayo mag load ng water to saddle.mga 3 hours ang interval.

Missy l Sole of Missy said...

Planning to climb Pulag via Tawangan-Akiki trail. Anyone here knows the updated rates of DENR? As well as guide and porter fees? Thanks!

raquel said...

hi, possible po ba ang trail na ito within 2 days? Thank you.

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