Mugua River Gorge
Mugua River Gorge information
For a real cycling adventure, head out to narrow, snaking Hwy 14, cut into the marble walls of the Mugua River Gorge , which is a chasm as dramatic in appearance as Taroko Gorge but far more raw.
To get to Hwy 14 head north along Hwy 9 from Liyu Lake. Cross the bridge heading back to Hualien and then turn left to follow the river upstream (now on the left bank). Cross the next bridge and continue upstream . Register at the police station and pay NT$10 to receive your permit (bring your passport). A short distance later, hand a copy of your permit to the officer on duty at a gated booth. Note that there's a 300-person daily limit into the corridor, and on summer weekends this fills fast. Try to arrive before 8.30am.
The road now goes on for 10km or so, ending at a hydroelectric power plant. After that a very narrow (but also ride-able) farm road continues up a side canyon until washouts render it impassable.
Several popular swimming holes can be found in the gorge down a side road. After passing the police station, continue a few kilometres until you reach a large red bridge. Don't cross, but instead take the lower road to the left going upstream along the Chingshui River. After the first tunnel, look down to the right. See the massive, marble-lined natural swimming hole with deep, bluish green, crystal-clear water? To get down into the water look for a trail about 30m up on the other side of the cement barrier.
Decent-quality bikes can be rented at the Giant bicycle shop on the west side of Liyu Lake. Headlights are essential if you plan on entering the gorge. The series of winding cathedral tunnels can be nerve-racking enough without attempting them in the dark.