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Our group just completed a 180km ride in two days between Hualien and Taidong, for the second time.
We choose road number 9, the inland road, because it is easier and at least as pretty as the more hilly and remote road No.11 (which we rode during a ride organised in 2009).

received_10153224255110937-01Bikes:
We rented bicycles from A-sen in Hualien, nearby the train station (Zhongshan road, No.561, 0931 807 729). The bikes are either Giant River or Merida 670, with slick tires, in size S or M (I’m 186cm and it was kind of ok). DSC_0169_1They come equipped with just everything: rear rack and bags for the racks so that you don’t need to carry a back pack while riding or attach yours to the bicycle, front and rear lights, bike computer, and a repair kit. It’s 1000 for two days, 1300 for three days. We returned the bike at A-sen’s shop right across the Taidong train station, which was really convenient.

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Hotel:
Hualien: Find your own, it’s easy
Midway: We chose to stop at a hotspring resort 72km after Hualien. This made the second day longer (110km), but I believed that we would not have been able to cover as many km on the first day (some people were taking a train early in the morning). We stayed at the Hoya Hotspring Resort. It cost us about 1000NTD per person in a 5 person room.
Taidong: Instead of staying in Taidong, we went immediately over in Dulan, a small village 20km north of Taidong, know for its art scene, old sugar factory, and surf spots. We stayed in Wagaligong, a friendly local hostel that started it (300NTD per night, we had a room for 4 people). If you arrange with them in advance they can come and pick you up at the train station for 600NTD (that’s cheaper than a taxi).

Roads:
IMG_20150501_190123_1Day 1: Mostly straightforward, not many options to choose from. Around 72km, with enough 7 Eleven. There is a cute bike path along the Nanbin park, just outside Hualien. Also, shortly after that, still on your way out of Hualien, the warehouses have been painted over by local artists, and it can be fun to ride around that area (that’s the little detour we did here).
Day 2: It’s a longer day at 110km, with more elevation. You have options to avoid the hills, some we have tried, some we haven’t. Immediately outside of Ruisui (the town where the hotel is located), you can take the road 193 until the Gaoliao bridge (after Sanmin). Here are the two options (in blue the harder one we took, in grey the easy one we didn’t ride). From the Gaoliao bridge, I strongly suggest you start looking out for bike pathes along the river. They are really charming.
The next bit of hills comes after Dongli station. You have the option of continuing on the road 9, but you can expect hills over the next hour, until Chishang, or you can a flatter detour by the road 75 (two of our group members did it and were quite happy with it).IMG_20150502_101542_1_1_2
Once in Chishang, I’d suggest a stop on the rooftop terrace of the No.9 cafe (it’s a bit pricy, but very enjoyable). The next 1h30 are flat, well protected from the wind, and you can push very high average speeds (30-35km/hr on a big bike). After Ruihe comes the last section of the trip, where you have to go through the mountains north of Taidong. It is not particularly hard, but expect to spend 1 to 2 hours going across. You could try and follow the train line and stay down in the valley to avoid the hills, but I am not sure of the conditions of the roads after Shanli. We did the Chishang-Taidong section (50km) in less than 3 hours.

Photos (yes, it is that gorgeous)

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Posted by: HART | 02/25/2014

Hike: 西那吉山 Mount Si Na Ji (2100m)

Description, photo, and GPX by CU
1504246_10151902868396441_165762594_oThis is not a popular place but this trail is in good condition. Although there is not breath-taking view but you will get great sun shield on the route. It’s about 2.5km return trip. Difficult level:medium. There is no trig on the top. Although it not technically difficult, there are many difficult routes connect to this trail. Ensure to set your turn around time and don’t wander too far in the forest.

GPX

Description, photo, and GPX by Matteo

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We put together a pretty good 4 hours hike yesterday in Yangmingshan Park. It includes a trip along one of the historical canals that dot the woods in the park, a stroll down the river (possibly good for some beginner level river tracing in Summer) and a steep ascent to the Shi Ti trail, which will bring you through the forest to the windswept grassy peaks, all the way to QingTianGang. From there, you can either go back to the city with bus 小15 or take the Yulu Gudao (Fishermen Trail) down to Highway 2B, where bus 1717 can take you to Taipei. The trailhead(s) can be reached by bus 小18 小19 from JianTan MRT station.

Hiking time about 4 hours. Moderately strenuous.

GPX

 

Posted by: HART | 02/05/2014

Our favorite camping spots

This post will gather our favorite camping spots around Taiwan, and be updated as time goes.

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From Matthew:

Nice little camping spot near Fulong, 24°58’50.08″N 121°55’28.65″E

 

 

 

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From Charles:

5 minutes outside of Dulan, in the direction of Taidong, near an abandoned house on the seafront (can be seen from the road)

 

 

 

 

 

Sanxia camping ground

From Stephane:
Around Sanxia ( 新北市竹崙里竹崙路95巷1號 2667-2591#1), nearby a pretty river

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: HART | 10/27/2013

MTB Ride: Ba Fu trail (巴福越嶺)

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Photo, GPX, and info by CU

Ba Fu trail(17km) links the nothern pass and Wu Lai.
Most hikers visit this trail by hired van transportation. I’ve done it with my friend by public transportation.
Here some info you may find useful:
(1) There is only one bus run each day (Tao-Yuan bus No. 5090); departure time is 6:50 AM at Tao-Yuan bus terminal (245NT one way).
(2) It’s a mini bus. We packed our bikes;  it’s very crowded.
(3) Bus arrived the terminal stop at 9:30. You have to apply for climbing permit in the police station which is 2.3km before the bus stop.
(4) There are many small landslides in this trail and riding won’t save much time compared to hiking.
(5) We arrived asphalt road in Wu Lai around 1730 pm.

GPX file and map

Posted by: HART | 08/05/2013

Rides: Bikingintaiwan GPX links

One of the member of our group has been publishing his own blog for a while with lots of useful information on riding bicycles around Taiwan. He keeps GPS records of the road rides he does. You can find his landing page for rides in Taipei here.

We regularly head to Yilan to go surfing and body boarding. Our two favorite spots (there are better places but harder to access) are Wushigang (烏石港) and Wai Ao (外澳).
So, how to go there?

We usually avoid the train. Not only it is crowded, but also it takes over two, and sometime even three, hours to go to Jiaoxi (the main stop to reach the two beaches). The bus, by contrast, only take 45 minutes through the highway tunnel when the road is clear. Even in a bad day (Sunday evening between 5 and 9pm), it’s 1h30, still less than the train. The bus also runs 24/7 (meaning you can surf, have dinner, relax in a really nice hot spring till 11, and sleep on the way back home in the bus).

  1. Head to Technology building MRT. On the other side of the street, just a bit further north, there is a Kamalan Bus office (here).
  2. Take a bus to Jiaoxi. It costs less than 200 NT for a return ticket (group deals are available too), and leaves every 20 min.
  3. Once there, the easiest way is to take a cab to the beach. There is also the bus 131, leaving from nearby the bus station (here). Timetable and stops can be found here and here. Get down here, at the Lan Yan Museum station (蘭陽博物館站). Another alternative is to take the train to Wai Ao or Toucheng station, and then walk to the beach.
  4. If there are many of you and you’re going to rent several boards for the day, you can call the surf shop we usually use (039789233/0933104133). They will come to pick you up in Jiaoxi for free (you’ll need to speak Mandarin though).

Afterward, you can head back to Jiaoxi, dine in this pretty good Ramen restaurant which has its own foot hotspring in front of the door (menu here, location here), or have a steak at the local buffet (here), or buy some of the dried fruit cupcakes or strawberry foam cakes from Yi Shun Xuan (they will be very popular with your Taiwanese in-laws/co-workers).

You can also buy a 30 NT head cap in this shop, and head to the biggest and nicest public hot spring in the city, Art Spa Hotel. It has the most machines and pools of all the hot springs I have seen in Taiwan and is usually not that crowded at night in the weekends (at the end of a surf day after dinner). It’s 275 NT per person, 220 NT for students. If you don’t like the mandatory head cap, want more privacy, and a place opened late into the night (Art Spa closes at 11pm) you can head to the Breeze Hot Spring resort. Ask for the private hot springs in the “indoor garden”, it’s 250 NT per person for two hours (you can stay longer late at night).

If you need to be back in Taipei before a specific time, be careful that there is sometime quite a bit of delay at the Kamalan bus station, since each person get put on a list and it’s first come, first served. You could have to wait anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes.

Update: According to Erin, one of our member, there is now a bus going directly to Wushi.

Just in case anyone doesn’t know already, Kuokuang 國光客運 is now running a bus route directly from Taipei to Wushi. Bus 1877 departs from Yuanshan MRT Station 圓山捷運站(Danshui/Tamsui Line 淡水線) and also stops at Nangang Station before heading toward Yilan. Return tickets 來回票 are $220. Looks like on weekdays the buses run every hour beginning at 7:05 and on weekends and holidays they run every 20-30 minutes starting at 6:05.
Links for the weekday and weekend times for Yuanshan MRT 圓山捷運站 to Wushi 烏石港: 
(weekdays) http://www.kingbus.com.tw/down2.php?li_code=4U020439
(weekends & holidays) http://www.kingbus.com.tw/down2.php?li_code=4U020441
And Wushi to Yuanshan: 
(weekdays) http://www.kingbus.com.tw/down2.php?li_code=4U020440
(weekends) http://www.kingbus.com.tw/down2.php?li_code=4U020442

Update 2: Another member pointed that going to 南港展覽館 and taking the bus there (same company) would be faster since it is already on the route.

Posted by: HART | 06/14/2013

Hike: Wulai shan (烏來山)

Sanxia-Wulai Hike

Map, desription, and photo by Fred.

This is a 6 hours, 12km hike, with 900 meters of elevation.

Departing from wulai village, up to wulai shan (烏來山). It has a nice way up a ridge (pretty steep and strenuous, with a few easy roped sections) for the first two hours. This first part is not suitable for dogs or kids. It is also not suitable in case of rain (unless you like to crawl in mud).

The trail then continues in the forest until Datongshan (大桶山), with a much more gentle elevation. You will continue north for about 2 hours down on a more gentle larger trail, with quite a bit of stairs.

At some point then, you will cross a nice forest of very tall pine trees (san shu ?? ).

On the Richard Saunders books, it would rank as a level D hike.

You can see more about this hike on this blog.

UPDATE MARCH 2014:
1) DO NOT take the trail from the Aboriginal Village to Wulai. Always start from Wulai towards the village. This way you will be climbing the extremely steep part of the trail uphill and will have a gently sloped trail and some stairs at the end. I personally think trying to go down to Wulai on this trail is suicidal, especially if the soil is wet.

2) Make sure to have the GPX route available or carefully follow the signs and ribbons on the trail. There is an amazing network of paths up there and it is rather easy to get lost.

Map

GPX: We don’t link to GPX files directly anymore since links get broken whenever Wandermap updates their system. Instead you need to look on the Wandermap page, below the description of the hike, in the right corner for a “Export GPS Data” button. It will then download automatically.

Posted by: HART | 03/27/2013

Hike: Teapot Mountain via Stegosaurus ridge

63973_10151326331076441_285468031_nMap, photo, and description by CU.

Warning: Part of this trail is on controlled land, belonging to state companies. You will want to stay out of sight, especially in the gully, and watch out of the infrared detectors near the white wall. There is a guards’ cabin near the guate.

0800 start, 0830 river dam (*accidently climbed this dam; the correct way is to detour on the right), 0900 finish river tracing, 1000 getting on the ridge (*4km long), 1330 right turn to Mt.Teapot (*if you go straight, you will reach Mt.燦光寮) , 1500 teapot trail parking lot.

Map

GPX: We don’t link to GPX files directly anymore since links get broken whenever Wandermap updates their system. Instead you need to look on the Wandermap page, below the description of the hike, in the right corner for a “Export GPS Data” button. It will then download automatically.

Posted by: HART | 03/04/2013

Hike: Teapot and Banping Mountains

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Map, description, and photo by Matteo

The Teapot Mt. and Banping Mt. hike in northern Taiwan is one of the best, most scenic day hikes one can find on the island. The trail start at the Gold Ecological Park near Jiufen (九份). A series of stairs will bring hikers first to a secondary road, then to the base of the “teapot” peak. Once there, one has to climb through the rocks to the narrow top, negotiate a small chasm to the stone platform to the other side, then follow some more fixed ropes down to the trail to Banping Mt. This second part of the hike is a lovely stretch of steep trail surrounded by tall grass. Some small clearings can be found and are perfect spots for a break or a picnic. At the base of the rocky ridge the last fixed ropes lead to the top of Banping Mt. The climb is very short but fairly slippery, so pay attention here.

480137_10151393360088138_1055159164_n Once on the other side the trail follows the ridge (fixed ropes are there in the trickiest, most dangerous parts), becoming gentler after a while. Its last, overgrown stretch leads to an old road. Once there, one can either turn left, then immediately right to catch the trail to Caiguangliao Mt. (very dangerous if wet!!), or turn right and head back to the Gold Eco Park or road 102 (take the steps going down on the right after a while for the Eco Park).

533154_10151393357233138_154149497_nOnce down the first set of steps, a short detour leads to a somewhat interesting exhausted gold vein which has been excavated when the gold mine was active. The whole hike is ridiculously scenic. At no point will you be able to complain about the view, which includes mountains, valley and the Pacific ocean.

Practicalities: Walking time is about 4 h, including one long stop. Make sure to bring lots of water and sunscreen if hiking in summer, for the trail does not offer any shade. Avoid this hike on a wet day, for there are plenty of places where a slip and a fall could cause severe injuries. Parking is available at the start of the hike (Gold Eco Park).

Weather sensitivity: This hike is good after rain, for it dries fast as it is more exposed. This also means that you will not have much protection if the weather change.

Map page

GPX: We don’t link to GPX files directly anymore since links get broken whenever Wandermap updates their system. Instead you need to look on the Wandermap page, below the description of the hike, in the right corner for a “Export GPS Data” button. It will then download automatically.

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