The Caoling Historic Trail was first built over 130 years ago, by the Qing Dynasty, to be the only land link connection between Tamsui and Yilan. Now, the only remaining section of trail spans from the Fulong Beach area, through the mountains and plains to Dali, on the coast in Yilan. The current section of trail is about 10 kilometers long, making for a beautiful day in the Northeast Coastal section of Taiwan.

This trail and hiking destination has some unique sights along the trail, such as the the two boulders inscribed by the Qing Dynasty, one of which has four Chinese characters meaning “Bravely Suppress the Wild Mists” and the other bears the single character “Tiger.” Tigers were thought to control the wind. These inscriptions, along with the historical significance of the trail itself, have given the Caoling Historic Trail status as a municipal historic site.

The experience begins either at Dali station, on the east coast of Taiwan, or in Gongliao District. Beginning from Gongliao hikers can have a nice casual stroll through forested areas, before coming to the “peak” and Taoyuan Valley. At this juncture there are a few pagodas and viewing decks, where hikers can take in the coastline and Turtle Island in the distance. There is the option to either ascend down to Dali train station, via a winding path with coastal views, or spend some time hiking in Taoyuan Valley, where plenty of water buffalo roam. Either way, the way down is a breeze and shouldn’t take too long at all. Be sure to soak in the stunning views!

Views from Taoyuan Valley by Josh Ellis

Hikes/Trails & Points of Interest:

Hikers can either start on the coast or inland, but there is essentially one hike that encompasses the Caoling Historic Trail. However, the offshoot Taoyuan Valley is a beautiful;y green mountainside, with views of the east coast as well as an abundance of roaming water buffalo. The Caoling Historic Trail itself has a few culturally and historically significant inscriptions.

The hiking trail, as laid out by Travel Yilan

Caoling Historic Trail (~10km) / : Starting from Gongliao District, hikers will walk roughly 40 minutes to the beginning of the trail. From September to November hikers will get to hike amongst the Silvergrass, of which the area gets its name.

Taoyuan Valley (<1km) / : A short hike from the observation decks on the Caoling Historic Trail will take you to where the wild buffalo roam the vast green plains of Taoyuan Valley. This trail will technically bring you from one train station down towards another (Dali to Daxi).

Views of Taoyuan Valley by Josh Ellis

Points of Interest:

Qing Dynasty Inscribed Boulders – As mentioned above, located along the trail are a few boulders inscribed with various idioms and characters which were ordered by the regional commander of imperial forces in Taiwan, and were meant to ward off the baleful influences of nature in this once-remote area.

Dali Tiangong Temple – Located adjacent to Dali Train Station is Dali Tiangong Temple. The temple was first built in 1836, with the main god being the Sky God. The villagers wanted to build this temple as a place for carrying on the souls of those who have passed. Rebuilt over the eyars it took its final form in 1904.

Taoyuan Valley A short hike from the observation decks on the Caoling Historic Trail will take you to where the wild buffalo roam the vast green plains of Taoyuan Valley. This trail will technically bring you from one train station down towards another (Dali to Daxi).

Flora and Fauna – Yilan County gets some of the most rainfall in Taiwan and the forests, ferns and the inhabitants reflect this climate. Wet, humid (during the summer months) and forested mountains create habitat for a large variety of flora and fauna (aka plants and animals!). While this is a fairly popular hiking trail, larger mammals have been spotted in the area, including Formosan Macaques (please don’t feed them), mongoose as well as squirrels, a variety of amphibians, reptiles and birds.

The observation decks on the hiking trail, as laid out by Travel Yilan

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