Warnings: At 14 kilometers in length and with 950 meters vertical elevation gain this hike will be more strenuous than average and a reasonable degree of physical fitness is required. Steep, slippery downhill sections will put a premium on good footwear and a sense of balance. This hike is not for novice hikers.
The start point for this hike is located just behind Wat Pong Noi. We will follow a dirt motorbike trail (trial bikes only!) that climbs steadily up through primary forest to meet the Doi Suthep/ Doi Pui road at the “Forester’s Camp”, approximately mid-way between Wat Doi Suthep and Buphing Palace. Here we will make use of the tables and (one) chair to take our lunch break. From the Forester’s Camp we will descend gently along a forest trail until intersecting another trail coming in from the right, at which point we will turn left and descend steeply southwards towards the Valley Cafe area. Steep descent over, this track meets up with that old favourite the Valley Cafe loop hike, at which point we will turn left and follow the upper part of the VC loop heading back east. At the 4-way junction where we would generally turn right back to Valley Cafe we will keep straight on to meet up with our outward trail and complete the Wat Pong Noi loop.
For most of the time we will be passing through primary rain forest, with one or two more open areas that afford good views to the south, cloud permitting. The ecosystem is in reasonable order with an abundance of insects (note!), lizards and birds and we put up a small group of Jungle Fowl at one point.
The outbound part of the hike is steadily uphill on a large dirt trail, with short steeper sections.
Although the downhill trail is an obvious trail, it is quite steep and there has been a build-up of slippery green algae in parts, which it would be best to avoid. We will be taking this portion of the hike very carefully to avoid mishap. We were surprised to find that the Valley Cafe loop portion of the hike has badly degraded during the monsoon, with a number of blockages due to fallen trees and some parts overgrown by tall grass. We have marked the best route through the tangles, but some soft bushwhacking will be required.
The hike is expected to take 6 – 7 hours depending on the group, meaning we should be back at the vehicles by 3 pm.
We will not attempt to descend the steep downhill trail from the Forester’s Camp in heavy rain. In the event of such a misfortune we will take one of several other options to return to base from the Forester’s Camp.
Hike Leaders: Richard and Peter
If you want to join:
Make sure you have read the general advice on this website as well as the specific hike details in this post. If you still think this hike is for you, just turn up at the meeting place on the day, on time. No need to inform us in advance. But we cannot accommodate groups.
Meeting Point & Time:
We will meet at 07.20 and vehicles will leave for Wat Pong Noi at 07.30.
We will meet at the open area 50 meters past the PTT gas station on Canal Road (about 500 meters south of the Suthep Road intersection (see map below – click on map to enlarge). The meeting point is only about 1 kilometer from the hike start point.
Items to bring:
- At least 2 liters of water or re-hydration drink.
- A picnic lunch.
- Strong footwear with good grip and ankle support.
- Sticks recommended for steep downhill.
- Sunhat, sunscreen, insect repellent.
- Long sleeves/ pants recommended.
- Rainwear, unless you are happy to be soaked.
- Plenty of energy, enthusiasm, team spirit and good humour.
Filed under: Hike Reports