Xitou Nature Education Area is located in central Taiwan in the picturesque Lugu Township in Nantou County. Part of an experimental forest belonging to the National Taiwan University, this destination features beautifully preserved broad-leaved forests and an abundance of cedars, spruces, and many other different kinds of trees. Due to its unique ecology, this region was originally declared a ‘research forest’ during the Japanese occupation and, while it remains true to educational roots, was renamed as Xitou Nature Eduction Area in 1970.
This park is filled with a variety of experiences that can easily fill a day out. With trails, elevated canopy walks, a diverse and unique forest, endemic animals and insects, restaurants, cafes and plenty of unique and quiet places to forest bath and relax, Xitou Nature Education Area is a perfect Parkbus destination.
Hikes/Trails & Points of Interest:
There are a total of 13 trails in Xitou Nature Education Area and they vary in degrees of length and difficulty. However, visitors should be aware that the trails here are suitable for visitors with only modest fitness levels and hiking levels. The trails here criss-cross the park and connect visitors to a wide range of experiences and points-of-interest.
Phoenix Logging Road (5.7km) – The longest ‘trail’ in Xitou, this ashphault path connects hikers from the Giant Tree and Giant Rock, north to the Mt. Phoenix Overlook and Astronomical Observatory. The road ends on a ridge where, on a clear day visitors can see Sun Moon Lake and the surrounding mountains.
Forest Shower Trail (3km) – Located near the southern edges of Xitou Nature Education Area, this trail features several forested gazebos and areas to rest and forest bath. It also is a scenic and meandering trail that connects the Youth Activity Centre (washrooms/food services), the University Pond and the Giant Rock Trail. Further north and east, this trail connects visitors to the Giant Tree Scenic Platform.
Bird Watching Trail (2km) – Connecting the Bamboo Arboretum to the Giant Tree Logging Road (2.3km), or north to The Hiking Trail (1km), this beautiful trail is located close to the Visitor Center and a great initial trail for hikers to start their journey in Xitou Nature Education Area.
Other trails – There are a total of over 20km of trails criss-crossing Xitou Nature Education Area, enough to satisfy all types of outdoor enthusiasts, from young families to avid hikers. Visit Xitou National Taiwan University‘s website to access information on the other trails in the park.
Points of Interest:
Forest Sky Walk / 空中走廊 – One of the highlights of Xitou is the elevated walkway through the forests of Xitou Nature Education Area. This ‘Forest Sky Walk’ sits about 40 feet off the ground and traverses some of the quieter trails and sections of the forested area. Giving hikers a unique bird’s eye view of the forest floor and canopy.
1000 Year Old Giant Tree / 千年神木 – While you may read online elsewhere about this ancient beauty, unfortunately, this giant fell in 2016. Now available to view from a dedicated view platform, this giant had grown for an estimated 2,800 years. It was a red cypress (Chamaecyparis formosensis Matsum) with a height of 46.2 meters and a trunk of 5.5. meters in diameter and has now begun contributing to the forest in other ways.
Bamboo Arboretum – This section of the forest, while shorter than other trails, showcases more than 70 different species of Bamboo. Both ‘bushy’ and ‘spreading’ growth patterns of Bamboo are featured here and offer visitors a unique opportunity to compare these differing Bamboo forests in a single destination.
Ginkgo Bridge – Built by undergraduates of the Department of Civil Engineering at National Taiwan University, this unique ‘wavy’ bridge features a design that aims to reflect the appearance of Ginkgo leaves. It travels approximately 36m throughout the forest.
Flora and Fauna – Xitou Nature Education Area is an estimated 2,500 hectare protected areas and beyond the preserved broad-leaved forested area, hosts a forests that is mostly purposely managed and planted back between 1940-50’s. There are an estimated 70 different types of birds that can be found in Xitou and is a fantastic destination for bird-lovers. Also popular are the tranquil Bamboo Forests, which are featured on several of the trails throughout the park. Xitou is a fantastic destination to spot several endemic species, including various insects, reptiles and amphibians. Considered by some to be the prize of the park is the Ginkgo Forest, which is considered the largest Ginkgo forest in Southeast Asia. During the autumn season, these broad-leaves change colors and offer spectacular photo opportunities for visitors. The Ginkgo tree is a non-flowering plant dating back 270 million years, is one of the best known “living fossils” of the plant world.
Xitou University Pond (溪頭自然教育園區大學池) – This attraction is located close to unique coy pond with a photogenic, small bamboo bridge connecting a small island in the middle of the pond. A charming coy pond with an island in the middle accessible by a small bamboo bridge, here you can enjoy great views of the surrounding mountains. The pond is only ten meters deep, but offers a perfect location for visitors to sit and relax.
Visitor Center, Facilities & Stores – Located at the parking lot where Parkbus passengers will disembark, the visitor centre at Xitou is one of several built facilities in the park. Most of these buildings have been designed and built to compliment the natural settings and scenery. Washrooms and services are located throughout the park, including a coffeeshop and restaurant inside the site. See map for location of washrooms and other services.
Parkbus Taiwan offers direct and convenient transportation from Taipei to nature across Taiwan. If you’re looking for opportunities to explore Taiwan’s great hiking sites and outdoor destinations, be sure give this service a try.