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Khao Phanom Bencha - trailhead to mountain?

24 Jun 2019 12:18 - 24 Jun 2019 12:19 #5268 by wvwv
It used to be possible according to some sources to walk up to the mountain summit (same name as national park) from the main waterfall - Huay To/Tho. But I tried all the trails there and there is no sign of a trail up and I cant find any recent stories of anybody summitting from that direction. The tourismthailand website says:

"Phanom Bencha’s Peak – It is absolutely a destination for those who love hiking. There are two routes to go the peak. Both routes give you a good sight of natural vegetation, wild animals, caves, waterfalls, streams, and even a sea of cloud"

Other sources seem to suggest the only trail up is from a village at the north of the park, very far away from the VC. Does anybody have any knowledge about that trail i.e. where exactly the trailhead is?

The place to start seems to be called “Bang Saran Village” or "Ban San Tourist Service Center". So possibly could be spelled Ban Sarn or something similar. But I can't find any of these on Google Maps.

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24 Jun 2019 16:20 - 24 Jun 2019 16:27 #5270 by Paul T
Replied by Paul T on topic Khao Phanom Bencha - trailhead to mountain?
Never been but there seem to be the tracks on Gaia that may be it, looking at the route it took whoever recorded it quite a while to find the trailhead based on the backwards and forwards they were doing. Track is in light green.


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24 Jun 2019 18:46 #5271 by wvwv
The elevation isn't high enough on that track, showing max about 400m. The peak should be in the clouds at 1400ish. My guess is that's the nature trail at Huay To Waterfall, there is a viewpoint there through the trees and after that viewpoint you can walk another 50m (past a no entry sign) before the track peters out. I think that track is an old route to the summit so I searched around there extensively last time but definitely no trail.

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25 Jun 2019 09:06 - 25 Jun 2019 09:34 #5273 by Paul T
Replied by Paul T on topic Khao Phanom Bencha - trailhead to mountain?
Ahhhh. I see the one from the north you mentioned it goes to 1350+ on the map but shown on the base map rather than as trail someone has done on the system. I noted that is some other parks I know, some of the these base trails on Gaia do not exist in reality anymore or have succumbed to the zero track maintenance issue that plagues the NPs.

Anyway heres hoping someone can help you with this. Great write-ups by the way, makes me realize there's so many places I have not been.

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11 Jul 2019 01:48 #5310 by wvwv
Update on this before I try and hike it tomorrow/Friday...

I've found a few more references to village names where the trail supposedly starts from but none of these can be found on Google Maps when searching in English. So I forgot all those and found reference to a waterfall called Yod Maphrao on the other side of the NP to Huai To Waterfall. Apparently it was/is possible to hike from near the Huai To Waterfall (from a lesser waterfall not far away called Huai Sakae - can't find on Google Maps) to the summit and then back down the other side past Yod Maphrao Waterfall.

Again searching Yod Maphrao in English returns nothing but searching 'waterfall' over the rough area where I expected it to be came up with this place - น้ำตกต้นหาร - which I believe must be it (though a Google Translate comes up with 'Tod Han'). Yod (tod?) means the summit/highest point so that's promising.

Also looking at Google reviews for the summit marker (ยอดเขาพนมเบญจา จังหวัดกระบี่) there is one particularly helpful one posted by Sakda Thelion which I've copied below, it's only 18 months old so seems this summit is currently possible (at least from this side) on some sort of trail:

If you want to hike to the peak you should start the collasped dam Fai-gan-nam-ton-han (ฝายกั้นน้ำต้นหาร) and walk through rocky river, try to keep left and then you would find forest entry as seen in my first and second picture. From here you walk till you're meet a river, cross it and the next entrance is a bit higher, then keep walking to the camp site which is a level ground near a river.
The water at the camp site is clean and clear. The weather is wet and cold at night so a sleeping bag and sweater are advisable.
There's a trail from the camp site to the mountain top, you just need to pay some attention. hiking from the dam to the top takes around 6 hours and another 2 hours to the peak.

ฝายกั้นน้ำต้นหาร works on Google Maps so we already have two waypoints for the track and when plotted together they look like a likely route to the summit:

Start at ฝายกั้นน้ำต้นหาร (dam) and go approx 3km to น้ำตกต้นหาร (waterfall).

I'm struggling to find where the campsite might be. On the pictures where they have tents set up it is open and right next to a river. I think it might just be the same river but further upstream from the waterfall.

I'm also not sure if the trail goes to the actual highest point or if it skips it as there are no views there. So the trail below is a rough guide. Hopefully I'll be able to get up there and I can post an actual GPS track.

Also this is where I think Huai Sakae Waterfall is, a reference on a website said it was 300m from the visitor centre and this is the only river bed I can see from Google Earth that fits that description. The trail from the summit down to Huai Sakae/Huai To is completely approximate, I have no idea of the exact route down that side of the mountain.

I mentioned in a previous post that if you follow the nature trail up past Huai To Waterfall and to the viewpoint there there is a sign 20 metres past the viewpoint saying go no further. I think perhaps that trail used to link up with the trail from Huai Sakae, but from what I've read and seen it is better to start from the Huai Sakae route if you are starting from this side of the mountain. If I have time I will check out Huai Sakae as well.

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