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太魯閣: 錐麓古道 (Taroko valley: Zhui lu ancient trail)

posted by Martin Rubli at 13:59

Hiking in Taiwan always comes with a bit of suspense. There's the island climate, the unstable mountain weather, and then there are typhoons. Typhoons usually bring vast amounts of rain and because of the island's relatively loose mountains it often happens that hiking trails are damaged or roads get covered in landslides.

Three weeks ago we already had to change our travel route because the central cross-island highway was closed after a typhoon-induced landslide in Taroko valley. And while that road was reopened in time for this weekend's hiking trip, the ancient trail itself was damaged by another typhoon just a few days earlier.

So, instead of the full ten-point-something kilometers that the trail normally spans only the first 3.1 km were accessible. Luckily the first third includes one of the most impressive sections where the trail passes along a steep cliff and permits an amazing view of the valley and the highway down below. The trail is generally easy to walk, but nothing for those with fear of heights ...


Our bed & breakfast (or homestay, as they are called in Taiwan), the [http://www.wretch.cc/blog/maggiegarden 花漾花園民宿].

Our bed & breakfast (or homestay, as they are called in Taiwan), the 花漾花園民宿.

The view from near the homestay, towards the central mountain range.

The view from near the homestay, towards the central mountain range.

The Taroko Gorge seen from the lower 錐麓古道 (Zhui lu ancient trail) trail head.

The Taroko Gorge seen from the lower 錐麓古道 (Zhui lu ancient trail) trail head.

This bridge, the 錐麓吊橋 (Zhui lu suspension bridge), is the trail head.

This bridge, the 錐麓吊橋 (Zhui lu suspension bridge), is the trail head.

The view upstream from the 錐麓吊橋 (Zhui lu suspension bridge).

The view upstream from the 錐麓吊橋 (Zhui lu suspension bridge).

Even though the trail kept going up, for once the goal was not the top of the mountain. Only the first two kilometers are uphill, afterwards the trail levels out.

Even though the trail kept going up, for once the goal was not the top of the mountain. Only the first two kilometers are uphill, afterwards the trail levels out.

One of the many flowers along the way of which, as usual, I don't know the name.

One of the many flowers along the way of which, as usual, I don't know the name.

A butterfly couple chasing each other.

A butterfly couple chasing each other.

This trail in the cliff is the mountain road built in 1914 by the Japanese.

This trail in the cliff is the mountain road built in 1914 by the Japanese.

At the bottom of the valley you can see the [http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/中橫公路 中橫公路 (Central cross-island highway) that goes from 花蓮 (Hualian) on the east side via 合歡山 (He huan shan) to 台中 (Taizhong) on the west side.

At the bottom of the valley you can see the [http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/中橫公路 中橫公路 (Central cross-island highway) that goes from 花蓮 (Hualian) on the east side via 合歡山 (He huan shan) to 台中 (Taizhong) on the west side.

The entrance to one of several small tunnels along the trail.

The entrance to one of several small tunnels along the trail.

A tiny shrine inside the tunnel.

A tiny shrine inside the tunnel.

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The warning signs are plenty along the way. Narrow trails, falling rocks, steep cliffs, poisonous snakes, killer bees ... It's almost as if they didn't want you to hike here. :-)

The warning signs are plenty along the way. Narrow trails, falling rocks, steep cliffs, poisonous snakes, killer bees ... It's almost as if they didn't want you to hike here. :-)

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The rocks here are pretty lose, so people are encouraged to wear a helmet. I only saw two people with helmets, however, and they stopped wearing them too after the first few uphill meters.

The rocks here are pretty lose, so people are encouraged to wear a helmet. I only saw two people with helmets, however, and they stopped wearing them too after the first few uphill meters.

The highway down in the valley.

The highway down in the valley.

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A group shot in one of the few places that actually allow enough space for one.

A group shot in one of the few places that actually allow enough space for one.

Because only the first 3.1 km of the trail were open we even had some time left to see the other attractions, such as 燕子口 (Swallow Grotto), not far from the trail head.

Because only the first 3.1 km of the trail were open we even had some time left to see the other attractions, such as 燕子口 (Swallow Grotto), not far from the trail head.

Waterfalls are plenty in this part of Taiwan.

Waterfalls are plenty in this part of Taiwan.

The 長春祠 (Chang chun temple), closer to the entrance of the national park.

The 長春祠 (Chang chun temple), closer to the entrance of the national park.

A memorial shrine near 長春祠 (Chang chun temple).

A memorial shrine near 長春祠 (Chang chun temple).

The entrance of the path leading up to 長春祠 (Chang chun temple).

The entrance of the path leading up to 長春祠 (Chang chun temple).

Another view of the Taroko valley.

Another view of the Taroko valley.

The ocean view from 清水 (Qing shui), a beautiful spot with water access along the [http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/蘇花公路 蘇花公路 (Su hua highway)], a beautiful stretch of the East coast highway.

The ocean view from 清水 (Qing shui), a beautiful spot with water access along the 蘇花公路 (Su hua highway), a beautiful stretch of the East coast highway.

Those who still had energy to walk stairs ...

Those who still had energy to walk stairs ...

... went to the beach to enjoy the sand and the waves ...

... went to the beach to enjoy the sand and the waves ...

... whereas water-shy people like me prefer to point their camera at flowers conveniently growing nearby. :-)

... whereas water-shy people like me prefer to point their camera at flowers conveniently growing nearby. :-)


  1. sylvie barbizon says:

    Great pictures, some make me dizzy !

  2. Anne Betts says:

    Your photos are amazing!! They reminded me of what I missed when the fog rolled in on the Old Jhuilu Trail a few weeks ago:
    http://packinglighttravel.com/destinations/hiking-tarokos-old-jhuilu-trail/

  3. Martin says:

    Thanks, we were really lucky indeed. Some of the people in our group who had been on that hike before said they rarely saw such good weather.

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