× Note: Sanctuaries are different to National Parks in Thailand, Thailand currently has established 39 sanctuaries and access is more restrictive as their role is as a sanctuary for wildlife rather than a park for the nation. Some sanctuaries do allow limited access to tourists.

Doi Luang (Tak) and Khao Luang (Sukhothai)

03 Jul 2022 14:13 - 05 Jul 2022 19:48 #5803 by wvwv
Doi, Khao, Phu all mean mountain.  Khao is central and southern dialect, Phu is north eastern, and Doi is northern.  So these mountains have the same name.  They're not too far apart - about 70km in a straight line - and I did them in the same week, so let's put them in the same thread.  Starting with Doi Luang, Tak.

Doi Luang (Nam Tok Huai Mae Khai Forest Park) Tak


I did this as a dayhike on a Sunday so as I was going up there were a lot of trekkers walking down the mountain after spending the night there, I'd say 30-40, with 5 accompanying guides and a couple of porters.  I think if this had been in a national park or wildlife sanctuary I might have been turned around but since it's 'just' a forest park they aren't so strict, a couple of them asked me where I was going and when I was coming back, nothing more.  One of the guides was carrying a gun, not sure what he was figuring on shooting.  If going independently it's perhaps better to do it on a weekday to avoid other people.  If going with a guide, best to contact the forest park ahead of time or check out their facebook for more info www.facebook.com/1787092447984882/

The roads on the final stretch are not good; dirt and gravel.  That's the mountain, centre:


Trailhead is at  16°58'3.76"N 98°59'19.26"E


The first few km are fairly flat, criss-crossing a stream.  There are lots of domestic cattle roaming free.  They make their own tracks all over so it would be easy to get lost without a guide or GPS file.  From then it's uphill with the occasional flat section.  There's about 1km of elevation gain, starting from 200m elevation and topping out at 1149m.  It's 8km each way.  It will be a full day hike for most people so if not camping, plan to start early AM.  Moderate/Hard difficulty.  Not super steep, but quite long.


Here is the GPS track.


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Typical patch of forest, near the bottom:


A little further up, a view of the summit.  The peak to the left which looks highest is actually a lower elevation.  The actual summit is that grassy knoll to the right of it:





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04 Jul 2022 09:37 - 04 Jul 2022 09:40 #5804 by wvwv







Back at the bottom looking up where I'd just walked:


There was a quite big copperhead racer rat snake on the trail at about 700m elevation, I got to within a metre before I noticed it, stopped dead in my tracks.  We looked at each other for a moment and I moved very slightly which was enough for it to scarper.  And on the drive back to Tak there were a few snakes crossing the road.  Pretty sure these are both yellow spotted keelbacks / fowlea flavipunctatus, one is just more yellow than the other.  The one pictured in the car wheel well had a very close encounter with a couple of cars, subsequently abandoning its attempt to cross the road, retreating to safety.



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04 Jul 2022 10:49 - 04 Jul 2022 10:54 #5805 by wvwv
Khao Luang, (Ramkhamhaeng National Park) Sukhothai


3.9km in total but over 1km of elevation gain - a very steep, hard trail.  After rain and without the correct shoes you will spend more time on your bum than feet.  No guide required just pay your money at the entrance checkpoint and register at the visitor centre before you start walking.  It's great for camping.  Once at the top there is a circular trail around a couple of peaks starting from the campsite.  Very similar to Phu Kradeung in all these aspects.  Public transport from Bangkok doesn't go right to the entrance but it will take you to the nearby town of Khiri Mat from where you can get a motorbike taxi.  It's also not far to Sukhothai Historical Park so you could get a bus from Bangkok to there, check out the park then do the hike.

Should aim to start walking in the morning.  If mid-afternoon they might not let you walk it because it would be dark before you reached the top.

On the way up there are a couple of natural water sources which come out of barrels and taps, so you don't need to carry much water as long as you are okay drinking unfiltered water.




This is the park HQ where you started walking from:




I think the snake is a Common Mock Viper.


The circular trail at the top is well marked like the main trail.  If you don't have the energy for all of it (it's an undulating approx 4km walk)  head for the nearest and best viewpoint which is a 20 minute walk straight on past the office and tent equipment area.  That's where you get the view like the one at the top of this post.  The camping area has a view east sort of towards Sukhothai city but it's not a 360 degree view, maybe just 45 degrees through a gap in the trees.  In  the winter sea of fogs are quite common.  In June on my visit there was a bit of fog in the morning but not much.


Back at the bottom this is looking up at the mountain:


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04 Jul 2022 11:07 #5806 by wvwv
Not far from Tak is Petrified Wood Forest Park / Mai Klay Pen Hin National Park which has the world's longest petrified log.  It is situated about 6km from the Ping River but in the past the Ping used to flow here - the trees fell into the river and were buried under sediment, eventually becoming rock tens of thousands of years later.  This one, the longest, is in great condition.  The others are smaller and more fragmented.

Also near to Tak I found this barn owl on the road.  Looked like an injured wing.  Best I could do was usher it off the road into the grass.


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04 Jul 2022 12:13 #5807 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic Doi Luang (Tak) and Khao Luang (Sukhothai)
Thanks for the trip reports, always a great read. Still many places I need to explore someday.

And just for the record, all the snake IDs with image in your report are correct.
The following user(s) said Thank You: wvwv

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