Taipingshan National Forest Area

Northern Taiwan

This logging-area-turned-mountain-retreat offers easy forest trails along whimsical relics of old railway tracks, and countless lookouts over the snow mountains. Popular with Taiwanese families and retirees, an old logging train takes visitors from Taipingshan Villa (www.tps.forest.gov.tw), the sole accommodation here, to a nature area with boardwalk trails 3km away. If you don't have your own vehicle, it's easiest to visit Taipingshan on a whistle-stop day tour from Taipei or Yilan (www.taiwantourbus.com.tw, from NT$1100).

With your own wheels, you'll have the freedom to tackle Taipingshan's slightly more substantial hikes, including the 3.9km trail around pretty Cuifeng Lake (翠峰湖; Cuìfēng Hú), a 16km drive up the Taipingshan road from the villa area. At 1900m above sea level, Cuifeng is reportedly the largest alpine lake in Taiwan, though water levels vary depending on the time of year.

The photogenic Jiancing Historic Trail, 2.5km back down the Taipingshan road from the villa, follows the path of a derelict logging railway, its moss-covered rails and collapsed bridges clinging to the sheer edge of a mountain. Sadly, much of the trail was damaged by a typhoon and now only a 900m stretch is accessible.