ADVENTURE/
OUTDOOR

HIKING

From a stroll under cherry blossoms to teetering along a snow-covered ridge, Taiwan has trails and treks to suit everyone. You can hike all year round, but the most wonderful thing about hiking in Taiwan is the diversity of the landscape. Evergreen forests, tropical jungles and mangrove swamps, alpine peaks – things are never dull. You may even experience several microclimates within the same day, and the scenery associated with them.

The island has a series of mountain ranges oriented north-to-south, parallel to the eastern shoreline. The mighty Central Mountain Range divides the island into two like a spine. Nestled snugly along its western edge are the Jade Mountain Range (Yushan) and the Snow Mountain Range (Xueshan). These are homes respectively of the highest and the second highest peaks in northeast Asia – both close to 4,000 meters. Separated by a river from the Jade Mountain Range is the Alishan Range. Over on the east coast, the slender Coastal Mountain Range plunges to the Pacific Ocean between Hualien and Taitung. These thickly forested mountains, much of them within national parks and nature reserves, are a wonderland of valleys, gorges, villages, and high-altitude lakes.

You can find low-altitude trails all over Taiwan, for hikes lasting a few hours to a few days. Some examples are in Yangmingshan National Park and Wulai in the north, Dakeng Scenic Area outside Taichung, Taroko National Park in the east, and Weiliao Mountain. Tackling high-mountain trails that reach above 3,000 meters requires more advance preparation, including applying for permits, but the experience is truly world-class. Some excellent hikes include Snow Mountain, Mt. Jade, the Batongguan Historic Trail, Mt. Dabajian, and Mt. Beidawu. Note that you will need a permit or a couple of permits (from the relevant national park, and the police) to hike the high mountains. This bilingual website npm.cpami.gov.tw/en/ has details.