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Khao Sok NP including lesser known waterfall and lake trails

28 Aug 2019 14:40 - 28 Aug 2019 14:55 #5337 by wvwv
This thread has few pictures because an SD card I was using corrupted when I transferred the files to PC... I always thought you would be able to recover the files using recovery software if that happened, as long as you didn't overwrite them, but apparently not, seems SD cards can just lose their file structure completely essentially making the data disappear. So any pictures are from previous trips. But there is some info and GPS tracks which will be useful for anybody going to Khao Sok and hiking independently... and anyway sometimes it's better to not know what to expect, right?

So there are 5 trails I will cover here.

1.) The trail from the visitor centre which terminates at Ton Kloi Waterfall (walking west)
2.) The trail from the visitor centre which terminates at Sip Et Chan Waterfall (walking north)
3.) The trail which starts from main road at km99 and finishes at Klong Pey (Pae) tributary at the lake
4.) The rafflesia flower trail which starts from the main road about 2km northwest of the Khao Sok Village turn off (km111?)
5.) A trail starting from a ranger station and finishing at the lake at Klong Ka tributary



When you enter the NP through the main checkpoint at Khao Sok Village you have a choice of 2 trails, the one on the left (1.) which has a second checkpoint where you register, is the one 95% of people do. If you walk straight on without crossing the small bridge instead, there is another trail with its own checkpoint (2.) but that checkpoint is never manned in my experience. The main trail (1.) is a dirt road for 3km after which you are supposed to hire a guide however this is not enforced at all - there are staff there in a hut/shop and they just let/watch tourists through without a guide. Past that point it is a proper trail and a GPS app and track is advisable if you want to get all the way to Ton Kloi. Trail 2 has no staff/huts on the trail and it is a proper trail throughout.


1.) is covered well enough on the web already so I won't go into much detail. Basically it follows the river and sidetrails lead to numerous waterfalls and swimming holes and a very large tree. I've never seen any elephant activity on this trail. Backcountry Navigator App has this track preloaded on their map.


2.) this trail is not walked very often and there are a couple of points where the trail is not obvious. Also near to the start of the trail there is a bridge over the river and a very long staircase up and down which is in slight disrepair so it has been closed (though still possible to walk it as of July 2019). However you do not need to cross that bridge or use that staircase to get to the waterfall, indeed it doesn't even go there, it's just an alternative, shorter route which loops back to the start. From the bridge which is on your left you just have to continue walking straight, the same way you were going, ignoring the bridge entirely. This is the GPS track for this trail:
www.gpsies.com/map.do;jsessionid=F4A9141...eId=stydctdezocgmziq

Backcountry Navigator App also has this track preloaded on their map. I would not recommend walking it without the GPS track (or a guide). On this trail there were frequent signs of elephant activity. I found a large snake egg (hatched) which I'm guessing was cobra or python due to size. The waterfall is not that impressive and this is probably the reason this trail is not walked that often, it's a long way for one average waterfall. But if just wanting to cover a few km on a trail looking for animals, it works well as you will not likely encounter anybody else. Anybody curious enough to have had a look would probably have turned around at the bridge. The trail crosses the river 4 or 5 times. There are leeches throughout in rainy season.


3.) Starts at km99, opposite 99 Coffee and a glamping hotel. This is by far my favourite track to walk in Khao Sok however there is an issue with access, rangers are not happy with you trying to walk it alone. I tried once last year and was turned around. There is no elephant activity on the trail and it is not particularly long so I don't know why they are so insistent on a guide for this trail whilst they don't insist upon it for the trails near visitor centre. But anyway this trail now has a big closed sign near the start of it and a few warning signs, but it is still in perfectly good condition except for a fallen tree or two. I don't think the rangers are using it anymore, at least not regularly. You can drive a car down the first half (3km) of it (I don't mean the general public should try that, just that rangers do it and it is possible), after that walking only for the final 3km. I think before they were using it as a shortcut to get to the lake. I walked this twice a few days apart and fallen bamboo across the road part hadn't been driven over/moved from one time to the next. So... up to you. I have read a few other reports of people walking this trail and then being picked up by boat at the lake but obviously that would require ranger assistance.

GPS track for this route is here, this is my file (it's the track leading to the lake).

File Attachment:

File Name: 0625_6ifdi...8281.gpx
File Size:1,892 KB

Backcountry Navigator App also has this track preloaded on their map.

Here are a couple of pics from the info board at the start of the trail (taken on my phone).





Because the first half is dirt road progress is very fast and once you know the trail you can do it one way in a little over 2 hours if you walk fast. The first time it took me 3-4 because I was checking the map frequently. The trail is clear until you get to the grassland area near the lake, the grass is chest high and you cannot see the trail beneath you, you just have to force your way through and then check the map on the other side to find the trail again.

When you arrive at the lake it is one of the best if not the best view you can get in Khao Sok NP. And Khao Sok is renowned for amazing views so that's saying something. You're looking across a patch of open ground with a weird mix of skeleton trees, grassland, and dried cracked mudflats, all surrounded by pristine jungle and karsts, with the main river tributary meandering off to the right through a thin tall valley.



There were barefoot footprints in the mud at the lake, they could have been weeks or even months old. Their prints were much deeper than my shoes were going, so I guess they were left when the lake bed was wetter. There were also hoof prints, I guess wild boar or deer. I saw dusky langurs, a bat sleeping under a leaf and a few cool insects. On one side of the river there was a huge pile of snail shells that somebody had eaten, literally thousands of them and these were big snails, they must have been eaten over many months or years. There were other signs of human activity such as bamboo rafts, collapsed shelters, plastic bottles bundled into sacks, but it all looked decades old.

This way to the lake gets you quite far down it, over halfway, and it's not very far from Klong Saeng which is where the elephants, gaur, etc are found. You are already further down the lake than most of the tour boats go and you only walked 6km (or 16km if you started from Khao Sok Village). To go from KS Village to the pier at the lake and then back down the lake again to this tributary is more like 80km.

If you are looking for something a little different at Khao Sok I highly recommend this trail.

I took a backroad from Khao Sok Village to the main road and from there it was only 2km walking on the main road to km99. I saw a monocled cobra on the side of the road, quite a small one less than 75cm long. I was walking very close to the side of the road out of the way of cars, and I only saw it when I'd startled it and it moved to get away... a close encounter!


4.) You start at the village and walk to the main road and turn right heading towards Takua Pa. Walk along the main road about 2km until you see the ladder and signs on your right



The trail is then easy enough until you get to the rafflesias, it's straight up all the way; about 300 metres elevation gain. You'll know when you're at the rafflesia area because you will see taped off areas and signs like 5C, 9D etc. Spend some time exploring the little side paths as each one leads to another patch of rafflesia blooms. When I went only one flower was in perfect bloom - the rest were either not ready yet or dead already. The second time I went there weren't any perfect flowers.

After the flowers it's downhill until Tan Sawan Waterfall (assuming you want to do a full circuit rather than going back the way you came) which is probably the best waterfall in Khao Sok. You have to cross the waterfall about half way down it (look for the rope on the other side). From here on it's only about a 1-2km walk down the riverbed and then you come to the main river, cross it and then you are on the main trail (1.) from the visitor centre.

Some of these river crossings and waterfall crossings might be a bit dodgy in rainy season but the rafflesias aren't blooming then anyway so not many people would want to walk it in rainy season.

If doing this route it's best to do it the direction described above, not the other way around. a.) because it's free, and b.) because it's easier to find your way. It would be hard to know when to cross the river if going the other direction, unless you had the GPS track. Backcountry Navigator App has this track preloaded on their map. This is my GPS imprint for the rafflesia and the Ton Kloi Waterfall hike (1) which I did on the same walk (via Than Sawan WF). It also shows the approx location of the rafflesia.



The blue line is somebody else's GPS track, they just did three quarters of Trail 1.


5.) I don't have the GPS track for this and I've not walked it either. I made it as far as the ranger station and had a quick scout out of the information boards and that was it. Coordinates for ranger station/trailhead are 8.905428, 98.684462.

If anybody has done this or has the GPS track would be good to hear more about. I believe the trek goes through a cave although the cave can be bypassed in rainy season (dangerous).

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