Taiping Mountain (太平山), or Taipingshan, in Yilan’s Datong Township is the focal point of the Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area, one of Taiwan’s three major forest recreation areas. The ideal destination for fans of the great outdoors, at Taipingshan you can combine your hike with a dip in the hot springs and even a forest railway ride. Home to a variety of types of trees, rivers and brooks, as well as peaks reaching as high as 2,700m, it truly is a place of stunning natural beauty. Here are the best things to do in Taipingshan to make it a hike to remember.
Jancing Historic Trail (見晴步道)
Named after the old Forest Railway Jancing Line, this 900m route follows alongside the old railway line where you’ll see remains of the tracks, cross a suspension bridge, and encounter all kinds of Taiwanese plant life, including cherry blossoms if you visit during the right season. You may even see the odd disused log cart, giving you a glimpse into Taipingshan’s logging industry past. (See also: Hiking through Taiwan’s great outdoors: A Long Walk On the Old DanLan Trail)
Cypress Forest Trail (檜木原始林步道)
Cutting through a forest of primitive Taiwanese Cypress, this trail is approximately a one-hour roundtrip. 610m in length but 2,000m in elevation, the scenery on this beautiful hike includes “tree caves” created by fallen trees, as well as “two-generation trees” which are new trees growing out of the trunks of already fallen ones. The trail starts behind Taipingshan Villa, the site of the majority of Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area’s administrative offices and recreational facilities. (You may also like: Travel Deeper to Bakulas: A Tribal Wonderland Hidden in the Forest)
Taiwan Beech Trail (台灣山毛櫸步道)
Taiwan is known for its beeches as well as its beaches. A tree dating as far back as the ice age, the Taiwan Beech is rare these days, which makes this trail extra special. A 3.8km hike at an elevation of 1,800m, this trail takes around three hours, with the last section boasting 900 hectares of pure Beech forest. Offering a different feel depending on the season, in summer expect lush green, in autumn crisp reds and yellows, and in winter no leaves on the trees at all. (See also: Snow Way: Does It Snow in Taiwan?)
Visit Cueifong Lake (翠峰湖)
The largest Alpine lake in all Taiwan, Cueifong Lake is situated between Taiping Mountain and Tayuan Mountain. The lake’s surrounds are also home to an impressive hiking trail, starting 15.5km along Cueifong Scenic Road; about a 40-minute drive from Taipingshan Villa.
At an elevation of more than 1,900m, reaching close to 2,000m at its highest point, the trail is 3.95km long and intersects the Pingyuan Nature Trail to the lake’s east. The local government describe the trail as having a “primeval vitality” as due to being deserted for most of the time, it maintains a look of an untouched forest from tens of thousands of years ago.
Stops along the way include an exhibition center and a viewing platform, while be sure to appreciate the juxtaposition in the natural scenery created by the ground’s heavy moss covering and the towering Taiwan Cypress trees above. (See also: Travel Deeper to Songluo Lake: A Night of Lakeside Camping)
Take a Dip in the Jioujhihze Hot Springs (鳩之澤溫泉)
With the hot spring water sourced from the surrounding hills, the Jioujhihze Hot Springs were built by Japanese loggers. Open from 9am-7pm daily, the springs bubble away between 38 and 42°C, with facilities including a spa pool, a family area, and separate naked bathing areas for men and women. There is even a spot where you can cook your own hot spring egg. Cracking! (If you like hot springs: Hot Springs, Spas and Spa Hotels Around Taiwan)
Ride the Bong Bong Train
While it sounds like something your roommate tried to peer pressure you into doing at college, the Bong Bong Train is actually a light railway train that in the past was used to transport timber. From Taipingshan Villa, the train slowly heads to Maosing (茂興) where you will find a self-guided forest trail, the Maosing National Forest Trail, and a small fern garden.
Where to Stay in Taipingshan
Taipingshan Villa (太平山莊) offers eco-friendly accommodation and dining, with no disposable toiletries or tableware available during your stay. Due to its low-carbon footprint, the villa was awarded the gold standard for green hotels in Taiwan back in 2013.
Another option is Cueifong Villa (翠峰山屋), where you’ll be able to watch a stunning sunrise, as well as feel a real sense of isolation from the outside world, with the hotel’s electrical generator only offering power between 6am and 9am, and 4pm and 10pm.
How to Get to Taipingshan
Located in northeast Yilan county, you can get to Taipinghsan off Provincial Highway 7. You can also catch the bus there from both Yilan and Luodong. For more travel info, click here.