Exploring mountain areas (flowers, snow, permits...)
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Mar 27, 2013 11:07 PM Last Post By: kneelweighed
Mar 9, 2013 8:25 PM
Exploring mountain areas (flowers, snow, permits...)Hi everyone,
We are thinking about visiting Taiwan in a couple of weeks (end of March) for about 10-12 days to explore some of the more scenic regions and doing a lot of hiking.
I'm trying to come up with a good itinerary, but had a few initial questions to get me started.
1) Is it too early to consider going up 3000m peaks? What is the snow cover like this year?
2) I've heard the rhododendrons are spectacular in Taiwan, is this a good time to see them or is it too early?
3) What is the permit situation like in Taroko? The national park website seems to say you can only go if your 'team leader' is Taiwanese. Is there no way to visit alone?
Any suggestion for an itinerary very welcome. We're experienced day-hikers and usually manage hikes of about 1000m elevation gain or 10-15km length, but have no experience with multi-day treks where you have to carry tent, stove, food, etc. For this trip, we'd like to avoid carrying a heavy rucksack which probably rules out the longer treks. So we'd prefer to stay in places we can easily eat and sleep, though overnighting in a cabin for one night could be fine.
Thanks a lot for your help!
Mar 10, 2013 9:42 AM
Mar 10, 2013 7:35 PM
2The 3,000 meter peaks are fine at the end of march-beginning of April, although there's always the chance of snow on the highest peaks. Since you're trying not to hike with a heavy backback, you should consider the five Hohuan peaks, which have an amazing rhododendron display. It might be a little early, but the weather this winter has been so good that all the flowers seem to be opening early. In any event at least two species seem to flower in the masses there, one flowering earlier than the other, so you have a good chance. The best rhododrendron display is on Hohuan North Peak, and the best hike (by far) is from Hohuan North Peak (an hour to ninety minutes from the road) to the West Peak. The whole trip from the road to the west peak and back would take a whole day and is a good one-day workout. Otherwise the East Peak (2-3 hours return) is a good,easier hike and has a good display. The remaining two peaks of the group, Hohuan Main Peak and Mount Shimen, which are easy strolls, although nice as well, and you 'bag' them both in a morning if you want. You should also be able to get by without a permit - they are officially required for the North and West Peaks, although many people go without them. If you want to get one the only one you need for it (thankfully!) Permit, which is easy to get at any police station on the way up. There are two hostels near the trailheads you can stay in, although you'd best plan to hike during the week, as they book up on Saturday nights.
Getting a permit from Taroko National Park for the big mountains like Nanhuda, Qilai and Yangtou is notoriously awkward for foreigners. We always end up having a local ID holder apply because in the past they've always flat-out refused to issue permits to non-Taiwanese ID holders. Things are a lot more reasonable in neighbouring Sheipa Nation Park, and you might consider Snow Mountain, the second highest peak in Taiwan, although you'll need to carry a 10-12 kg pack with some food (2 days), sleeping bag and plenty of warm clothes.
Let me know if any of these ideas appeal, and I (or one of the others on here) will give you some info about transport etc.
There's loads of amazing and sometimes surprisingly strenuous and rewarding hiking near Taipei, by the way. If you happen to be in the city on a weekend during your trip, you'd be welcome to join us on a hike - I run a hiking club and we go out most weekends on day hikes in some of the more rugged countryside around Taipei.
Mar 12, 2013 9:24 AM
3Hi Taiwanrick - thanks for the really great information. The Hohuanshan is now definitely on our list of places to visit, it sounds like it has a good mix of hikes - will definitely do the North-to-West one. I've considered Snow, I think it's a notch above what we'd like for this trip, though I haven't ruled it out completely (I know I would need to apply for a permit asap). Maybe I'll save that one for a separate trip which includes the Holy Ridge :D
Taroko seems a bit disappointing: even without doing any peaks, it seems the interesting hikes need a permit. I was considering the Zhuilu old road, but the only permitless trails seem to be Sakadang and Baiyang which look really short and (judging by websites) kinda touristy. I wouldn't mind some good suggestions for that area, if there are any.
We were considering renting a car to make life easier (for outside Taipei only) - does that open up any possibilities, given we'd be driving to the Hohuan and Toroko areas? I'd appreciate any other recommendations on the same level as the hikes we've been discussing (I was also thinking of the Walami trail, overnighting in the cabin and returning).
Thanks a lot!
Mar 12, 2013 10:41 AM
4There is a trail that is much easier to apply-- Dali-Datung trail
(I will visit Dali-Datung this summer but I cannot find any further English material for you now)
There are some advantages.
1.You need to apply mountain access permit only.
I have applied on line before, it seems you can apply by your passport number directly
http://eli.npa.gov.tw/E7WebO/index02.jsp (sorry, only Chinese version)
2.There is a home stay there 300/d with house and Comforter, 500/d including gas and stove.
3.It's a circule route
starting from the Taroko National Park headquarter and ending in Sakadang trail.
Mar 12, 2013 8:45 PM
5A car would make life easier in Hohuanshan for sure, plus you can spend time on the Central Cross-island Highway. If you have a car and want to get a bit more 3,000-meter-plus hiking in, Mount Yangtou on the way down from Dayuling (below Hohuan) to Taroko can be done as a day. Official you need the National Park permit, which they simply won't give you, but sshhh! There's usually no-one there to check the permits, and if you do run into someone, be polite and speak only French, Spanish or some language they're unlikely to understand... or that's how we usually plan to get round round it (not that we've ever needed to).
Hope you have a great time, wherever you go!
Mar 13, 2013 7:18 AM
Mar 23, 2013 12:22 AM
7Hello again - any advice for a few more areas with good and satisfying day hikes (non-overnight)? I'm spending 2 nights each in Toroko and Hehouanshan (thanks to you!), but still have 2 more days to fill in my itinerary. They fall on a weekend too (29&30 March), so it has to be possible to secure some kind of accommodation! The can be easy or difficult hikes, just as long as they are long enough in length - but what's important is to just be "away in nature" somewhere (and preferably away from crowds). Guidebooks have lots of nice pictures of Taian, Alishan, but I think it may be too crowded on a weekend. (The hike up Hushan in Taian sounds interesting though)
Taiwanrick - what are you planning that weekend? I don't think we want to be in Taipei but you never know :)
Mar 27, 2013 11:07 PM
8There are loads of good day hikes all around Taipei, but if don't want to base yourself there, you could stay in Jiufen and hike Teapot Mountain or any of the other hikes along the coast. Or you could spend one day and night there, then visit Pingxi and the great crags nearby on your way back to Taipei.
Edited by: kneelweighed
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