It’s hard not to go up the Cordillera region without taking a trail or 2 (or more). We had a wonderful gathering with friends in Baguio and decided on extending my stay to enjoy more of the mountains. I’m glad my fellow mountain-lover, Christine of JovialWanderer, broached the idea of taking a leisurely hike at Mt Yangbew and Mt Kalugong in La Trinidad. I welcomed the idea of seeing more summits and trails just an hour away from Baguio proper.
Morning Hike at La Trinidad
As early as 4:00 AM in the morning, we took a cab from Baguio proper to Barangay Tawang in La Trinidad, Benguet. It’s about an hour ride to the roadside jump-off. It was getting bright when we arrived and met another group who were also about to climb. There’s a signage on the road for the mountain, so it’s easy to spot the trail.
La Trinidad Nature
The trail starts on a gradually ascending paved paths leading to a dirt trail. As we ascend, we enjoyed the view of La Trinidad and Baguio enveloped in a thin mist slowly waking up. The sun steadily crawling through the landscape. Vegetation on trail still covered in dew. Plenty of birds can be seen and heard along the trail.
A few purple-throated sunbirds and mountain white-eyes can easily be spotted. After a few gradual ascents we reached the grassland. As we walk up to the summit, there were staff from LGU in a. makeshift hut where registration and fees are collected.
Mt Yangbew Summit Views
At 1,648masl, Mt Yangbew is the highest mountain in the municipality. It’s a very vast rolling grassland with a few limestone rocks jutting through the verdant landscape. It’s a beautiful campsite with panoramic views of Benguet. Views from Baguio including Mt Sto Tomas, La Trinidad and farther peaks near north. The summit is wide enough to hold hundreds of people. There are several horses there for those who wants to do a little horseback riding.
The popular spot was the rock outcrops which were quite picturesque and looks rad on IG. While there were crowds hounding the area, Christine and I walked around the hilly summit and I was ecstatic to find a few grass birds in the area. As soon as the sun was high enough and getting a wee hot, we backtracked on the same trail and found our way at the jump-off.
- Entrance Fee: Php 30 for locals, Php 50 for foreigners, Php 25 for students
- Overnight Camping: Php 100/head
- Horseback Riding: Php 300/hour, Php 150 /30 minutes, Php 25 for picture taking
- Taxis from Baguio can take visitors here to jump-off or the Tawang Barangay Hall. Fare can range from Php 250-300. If driver is not familiar, Google Maps can assist.
Leisurely Hike to Mt Kalugong
We found ourselves walking on the main road towards Tawang Barangay Hall. Visitors at Mt Yangbew can also register and pay here but it’s about 1km away from the jump-off so most people head straight there. Just behind the hall is a steep road leading up to the backroad trail to another scenic peak at Mt Kalugong.
It starts with a cemetery and continue on a gradual dirt path slope on the side of the mountains. It gets really pleasant here with pine trees increasing in density as we close in to the mountain peak. I also spotted plenty of yellow-vented bulbuls here and a few Pied Bush Chat.
Mt Kalugong Cultural Village
We finally reached Mt Kalugong Cultural Village, a private ecopark with picnic areas, overnight cabins and huts, hammocks, an eatery and swings. There are lot of limestone formations at the peak. Leading to the rocky viewpoint can take a little effort by traversing the limestone path. But the easiest is the pathway near the road entrance where they made use of old tires as stairs.
Wonderful views from the rock formations. My favorite part here is the Mt Kalugong Kape-an, a local cafe found 1,400 masl. Aside from utilizing high-altitude Benguet Arabica, its native interiors, scenic veranda and delectable breakfast offers make this cafe a worthy visit. After that leisurely hike at Mt Yangbew to Mt Kalugong, dining at this local cool cafe felt like a sumptuous reward.
- Mt Kalugong Entrance Fee: Php 100 for adults, Php 80 for PWD and Seniors
- Accommodations: Cabins with toilet good for 2 pax starts at Php 800
- Tent pitching fee: Php 350/head
- Tent Rental: Php 450/head
- Contact for reservation and inquiries: 0998-5599498 / 0907-3792278
- Taxis from Baguio can also take you directly to the park.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.