Trip Report : 11th and 14th of April, Explorations Along the Mountain Ridge Dividing Lampang and Chiang Mai Provinces
Recently I have been out exploring out of town past Doi Saket and the area where “Jungle Flight” has it’s zip lines. Out 5-6 km along the 1252, from the road down to Mae Dtoon Luang the starting point for previous hikes up Doi Langka Noi we reach the highest point on the 1252 which is the top of the ridge which forms the boundary between the two provinces Lampang and Chiang Mai. This is around 60 km from the centre of Chiang Mai and it is a quite pleasant drive out there. By the time you get to the ridge line you will have been driving through forest and small villages for some time. As I have said before the forest on this side of town is a lot better preserved than the forest in the more popular Doi Pui Suthep National Park.
Oliver Hargreaves, who writes an excellent guide book to Chiang Mai, got me interested in going over to this area and checking it out as he told me he had found several trails in this area among which was a trail running up to Doi Langka Noi. I have been really happy to have found some really nice new trails along the ridge lines starting from the intersection of the 1252 and the Lampang border. There are quite a few very nice trails running in both directions to the North and South of the 1252 following the border line and also going off in other directions.
Relatively Well Preserved Forest, Not Quite So Many Pyromaniacs on This Side of Town
Like other hikes in this area the forest around here is comparatively untouched. It has not been hit too hard by the pyromania that sweeps Thailand at this time of year. One group of hikers that went up to Doi Langka Noi recently though did find there path blocked by some not too intense fire. The fire was not very fierce but that never the less caused them some concern and one hiker was injured as he stumbled on the trail trying to get past the fire. Hikers at this time of year definitely need to keep an eye on any fires that can spread very quickly.
Below you will see a screen shot of the new trails that I explored. The icon showing a dog barking up a tree indicates a trail that continues on and is something I hope to explore sometime in the future.
We found trails North and South of the 1252.
Trails North of the 1252
On the 11th I did an exploratory trip to check out the trails North of the 1252 with a friend JB. We found a new (for us) trail that starts from the intersection of the Lampang border and the 1252 and goes North steeply up to a peak of 1787 m. The trail drops down fairly gradually to a Golden Naga (9 snake heads) Shrine and then drops sharply down to a valley between ridges and goes sharply up again to the ridge that we normally climb to Doi Langka Noi that comes up from Mae Dton Luang. We also found several interesting branches off this trail :
- there is a branch forking off to the left before you come up to the first 1787 m peak that we suspect may be a fairly gradual descent down to a hill tribe village below. It is as yet unexplored.
- there is a branch off to the left if you are coming back towards the 1787 m peak from the direction of Doi Langka Noi. It does not skirt around the mountain according to Oliver but heads off in another direction. This has only been partly explored by Oliver, enough to know it is not a short cut avoiding coming up over the 1787 m peak to come back to the road.
- we found another trail on top of a ridge that parrallels the ridge between Doi Langka Noi and Mae Dtoon Luang. It seems that this would make the Doi Langka Noi hike into a circular hike. You could go up to Doi Langka Noi and then come past the Naga Shrine and down the parrallel ridge back to Baan Mae Dtoon Luang again. This does involve a lot of extra work as you need to come down into the valley between the two ridges and then come steeply back up onto the next ridge. The trail is not so well defined as you start to come into the town, you come through a coffee plantation but you just keep on heading down hill and you reach the town.
Some Pics From Our Exploratory Trip
Is the Trail North of the 1252 Which Links Up to the Mae Dtoon Luang – Doi Langka Noi Trail A New Trail
I am not sure if we have just never spotted this trail before, despite having travelled up to Doi Langka Noi so many times or whether the trail linking our known Doi Langka Noi trail to the 1252 is a new trail?? The Naga shrine on top of the parrallel ridge does look new and it looks like fresh steps have been dug into the side of the ridge as you come up to the Naga shrine. The Naga shrine can be seen from a distance and the path coming up the ridge to the Naga shrine is very visible from our known trail so it is possible that this is a new trail I think. I am thinking that maybe since the Mae Dtoon Luang to 118 hike is proving quite popular with Thai hikers from Bangkok that the National Park may have actually developed a new trail and someone has built another shrine on top of the ridge that parrallels the ridge on top of which is the golden Doi Langka Noi shrine. From the peak South of the 1252 we could see both golden shrines in the distance, one in front of the other.
Trails South of the 1252
On the South side of the 1252 it is also possible to follow the Lampang border. We found a couple of trails that go up to the nearby 1719 m peak one trail involves a 70 degree climb up 15 m from the road, clambering up a steep incline by grabbing the vegetation. The trail goes steeply up the mountain switching back and forth at times, the trail follows very closely the Lampang border as marked on the military maps. Another trail is a little less defined it starts about 150 m to 200 m into Lampang along the 1252 and follows the contour lines for a less steep climb up to the 1719m peak. We had to manoeuvre around small families of cows with their young on the way up. It seemed that the second trail was mainly used by cows but was a lot easier going than the steeper trail that followed the border line.
From the 1719 m peak to the South of the 1252 there is a well defined trail that then drops very steeply down, following the Lampang border line and you can see it carrying on into the distance. It seems that there is a trail carrying on following the ridge that defines the Lampang border just as there is a 18km trail following the border North of the 1252 road that goes past Doi Langka Noi across the Doi Langka Luang mountain range and then runs along the Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai border to the 118 road.
I would think that the trail going South would follow along down to the trail along the Lampang border that I have already hiked above Mae Kampong home of “Flight of the Gibbons”.
There is also the possibility of a fairly short though circular hike that goes up to the peak of the 1719 m mountain and then comes back down the ridge to the East and back to the 1252. It would seem looking at the contour lines that this would be possible but we didn’t spot a path when we were up there.
Below you will see a screen shot of the map :