Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area is located in Miaoli County, close to the border of Hsinchu and is one of three designated areas that make up the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area. The others include Lishan in Taichung and Baguashan in Changhua, but it should be noted that the three areas are actually not connected. While not grand in comparison to the scale and size of some mountainous regions of Taiwan, or as remote, Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area offers hikers and outdoor enthusiasts a full-day of experiences that are Quintessential Taiwan. This includes rich green jungle trails, rugged (yet modest) mountain and ocean views, Buddhist temples and tea houses.
At around 2 hours south of Taipei, this park, while not impossible, is difficult (and time consuming) to get to by public transit. This makes it a perfect Parkbus Taiwan destination.
Hikes/Trails & Points of Interest:
There are a total of 5 hikes located inside Lion’s Head Mountain that are suitable for beginner and novice hikers. Three of the trails can be linked together to create a fantastic day out and one of over 10km of hiking. The trails vary in length, difficulty and accessibility providing visitors of all skill levels something to explore.
Shishan Historic Trail (獅山古道) (3.5km) While there are steady inclines along this trail, the actual elevation is only about 300m. Start out from Lion’s Tail Archway and meander along an asphalt road that passes multiple temples including Wanfo, Jingang and Yuangguang Temples. This path curves along a mountain ridge and the presence of these temples provides a special experience. The highest point on this trail is approximately 425m and can take a hiker from the Hsinchu side to Quanhua Temple on the Miaoli side, which takes about 1.5 hours (one-way/return)
Liuliao Historic Trail (六寮古道) (2.5km) – Another paved trail that functions as a quiet road for local Hakka residents follows the Liuliao River. While a visit any time of the year offers scenic lookouts and natural scenery, a visit in April and May allows visitors to experience the unique Tung Blossom. Connecting to the Shishan Historic Trail (獅山古道) and the Tengping Trail (藤坪古道), this trail offers a key (and recommended) trunk to a wonderful looped route.
Tengping Trail (藤坪古道) (1.2km) – Starting off right from the Lion’s Head Mountain Visitor Centre, this trail is much steeper and consists mainly of stairs (both up and down). One of the more secluded trails, Tengping connects hikers to Liuliao Trail and then onto Shishan Trail. A popular trail during the Hakka Tung Flower blossom season, it’s also a short, but favourite trail of ours.
Shuilian Bridge (水濂橋步道) and Shuilian Cave (水濂橋步道) Trail (.75km) – Short but sweet, this trail gives a glimpse of the impact an ancient river can have on a landscape. Following the Shizi River to explore ancient grottos, historic bridges built during the time of Japanese occupation and a temple built into the side of a cave.
Points of Interest:
Lion’s Head Mountain Visitor Centre – This facility is well positioned and central within the scenic. Bilingual interpretation area gives visitors a chance to learn about the local ecosystem and historical significance of the area. Water and washrooms also available on site.
XieXin Tea House (歇心茶樓) – The Xiexin Tea House is located adjacent to the Lion’s Head Mountain Visitor Center. This building is perched among several Tung trees, landmarks of this region as these trees are several stories tall. Enjoy local Hakka tea and deserts under the trees after a day out exploring the area.
Wangyue Pavilion – Grab a snack or noodles and cold drink at the mountain top eatery with stunning views over the surrounding mountains. Perfect spot to stop before or after a walk in to the peak a short ten minutes away!
Qixing Sacred Tree – Found along a short trail located just off the Liuliao Historic Trail, this 400 year old tree is also known as “Mother and Child Camphor Tree” and is worshipped as the Earth God by the local Hakka people. A great place to sit in the shade and enjoy the natural surroundings.
Temples and Caves – There are 12 temples located throughout the Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic area, several of which have been built right into the local mountains. Ranging in size and scale, these attractions are a main draw and give hikers plenty to see and do along the way. Caves and exposed rock faces along the interconnected trails are numerous in the area. Stoping off at the Buddhist vegetarian restaurant located within Yuanguang Temple close to Wangyue Pavilion for lunch is a must!
Great Reads About Lion’s Head:
- Nick Kembel (from Spiritual Travels) shares an great experience about his visit to Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area – HERE.
- Josh Ellis Photography bridges a fantastic imagery with some great information about visiting the area. HERE
- BikeHikeTaipei visited this site and gives a great overview of their experience. HERE