One of 12 designated National Forests in Taiwan, Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area makes up a vast mountainous area with a range of different hikes and trails, historical sites and experiences available to those that make the trip to this tucked away corner of Yilan County.
At around four hours south of Taipei, this park is certainly difficult to get to, but worth the effort! In the not so distant past, the region was one of three major areas of logging areas in Taiwan, with, sadly, many of the old growth cypress trees having been harvested. There are, however, some older tress that remain in various forms and are absolutely breathtaking. Taipingshan is also home to Cueifong Lake, Taiwan’s highest mountain lake.
With a range of experiences and trails available to guests, this National Forest has something for everyone willing to make the trip up the mountain.
Hikes/Trails & Points of Interest:
There are 8 hikes located inside Taipingshan National Forest that are suitable for beginner and novice hikers, as well as a more advanced hiking options (in distance and terrain). The trails vary in length, difficulty and accessibility providing visitors of all skill levels something to explore. It should be noted that the trails and attractions, are spread across this mountainous area and take time to travel between them.
Cypress Forest Trail (<1km) – Located at the back of Taipingshan Villa, the Cypress Forest Trail offers a fantastic opportunity to explore a Taiwan Cypress forest. A perfect forest bathing trail with many ‘fallen giants’, old growth trees decomposing into the forest floor. It takes about 1 hour for a round trip.
Taiwan Hemlock Forest Nature Trail (1.3km) – Due to the high elevation and proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the trail is blanketed in fog all year round. This trail is ranked at medium difficulty and is suitable for most hikers. It takes about 2 hours for a round trip.
Maoxing Reminiscent Trail (~1km) – This trail is accessible only through the Bong Bong Trail. Developed by the Japanese authorities at the time of occupation, this trail is now built along the old Bong Bong Train tracks. A stunning mix of Taiwan Cypress, Taiwan Hinoki and Japanese Cedar are experienced along this meandering trail.
Cueifong Lake Circular Trail (3.9km loop) – After a 40 minute drive from Taipingshan Villa, the trail head starts from the western end of the lake and is stunningly scenic. With portions built on old tracks of forest railway, the entire loop with take you 2.5hrs with several stops at viewing platforms overlooking the lake.
Taiwan Beech Trail (3.8km loop) – Also located near Cueifong Lake, this trail connects visitors with an area filled with the rare Taiwanese Beech trees. The first 2km+ of this trail is built on the old forest railway and is relatively easy to hike. It takes 3 hours for round trip.
Points of Interest:
Taipingshan Villa – This facility, while not the official visitor centre of Taipingshan is certainly the most central and features a small cafeteria serving drinks and snacks, Washrooms available on site. The area around the Villa offers several hiking trails as well as access to the famous Bong Bong Train.
Bailing Tree – One of the more popular attractions in Taipingshan is a gigantic Taiwan Cypress Tree about 30 m high (roughly 10 floors) and more than 2,500 years old. It takes 6 persons to encircle its trunk!
Yunhain Cafe – A unique cafe with stunning views over the surrounding mountains, settle into a local coffee and snacks at this eatery. Perfect spot to stop before or after a walk in the woods!
Bong Bong Train – Originally used to transport timber throughout the region, this heritage train now offers visitors a unique perspective of a bygone-era! Perched along a mountain’s edge, whether sunny or foggy, this train is a fantastic experience for all.
Jhongjian Visitor Center – Located along the mountain road prior to entering the main visitor area, this visitor center will not be visited on a Parkbus trip, due to its distance from the main visitor area.