A Plan In The Works: Sansia, Wulai, Fushan, Baling


My name is Nate. After having my plans of hiking the South Cross-Island Highway and Jiaming Lake utterly shutdown, I have been fiending for another extended backpacking trip. Dragonboat weekend makes for the perfect opportunity. Having already been to Wulai and hiked a fair bit of the Jiao Jiu Liao trail, I decided to combine what I know with a few highly recommended hikes from the new Lonely Planet guide. These include Beichatianshan in Manyueyuan FRA, Jiao Jiu Liao to Wulai, and the Fuba trail from Fushan to Baling. Here is the exact itinerary…

I get off work in Danshui at 12:30. I am on the MRT by 1. I arrive at Yongming Station by 1:30. I take the bus to Sansia and arrive by 2. I meet my friend, who lives in Jhongli, in Sansia, and we leave for Manyueyuan FRA some time between 2 and 3. We get on the trail around 4-5pm and get in as many kilometers as we can. Supposedly there is a great camping spot somewhere near the base of Beichatianshan. A fair bit of elevation gain, but only about 5-6 km’s. I haven’t had the time to track down Richard’s Taipei Day Hikes… any info on how to find those giant cedars?

According to my Sun River map (printed 2003, I think) there is a trail that connects Beichatianshan to Jiao Jiu Liao trail. I can confirm from personal experience that, from the peak (don’t know the name) southwest of the hiker’s hut on the Jiao Jiu Liao trail four km’s from Wulai, that a trail marked with regular flags travels west towards Manyueyuan. It basically traverses the ridgeline for 18km in a fairly straight NE/SW trajectory. We stay the night in the hiker’s hut.

The transition day. We will hike down to Wulai, only 3-4 km’s or so, and have some lunch. Maybe have a soak in the hot springs. When we’re feeling antsy, we’ll jump on Road 107 towards Fushan and start walking. Hopefully (undoubtedly) someone will pick us up and take us to Fushan. Here we register at the police station, maybe lollygag a little bit, then get going on the Fuba trail towards Lalashan and Baling. Hopefully we will get in 6-8 km’s before we stop to make camp. Apparently campsites abound.

The last big push. If we’ve gotten a fair chunk done the day before, we will have the opportunity to detour up Lalashan, and admire the beauty of the giant cypress trees. What we do in Baling will depend on when we arrive and what our transportation situation is. Supposedly there is one bus (according to Google) that leaves Baling at 6:30am for Taoyuan. This will obviously be too early, and really throw a wrench in our plans if it is the only option. There seems to be another bus, but the Taoyuan bus website is down, and Google doesn’t have an arrival/departure time for this other bus. We could hitchhike and/or taxi from here, but I have no idea how realistic either of these are. Any ideas? Suggestions?


I’ll post lots of pictures and a trip report when all is completed. If anybody has any information to share about these specific hikes, or alternative routes to suggest, I am perfectly open. The purpose of this post, I suppose, is to get some feedback from anyone who has any knowledge of any of these areas… the conditions, the requirements for access, what we may see, things we should plan for, etc. And go!

For the first part of your hike you will need Map 5 of the KMPress Northern Taiwan Series. The old tree area is clearly marked about 2 km west of Beichatian Shan on the main trail coming up from Xiao Wulai.From Manyueyan you need to take the path that goes via the big tree area on the way up rather than the other direct route to the peak. So, what maps are you using? These trails are tagged and have small signs at trail junctions but not many map boards showing the big picture, so it’s important to have detailed maps for this area.

The other problem with your route is access to water. The ridge route going north east of the peak doesn’t have water, so you’ll need to carry about two days worth there. The route is tagged and reasonably clear.This part of your plan is quite ambitious. Hauling a big pack will slow you down, so i don’t imagine you’ll reach the hut on the Jiao Jiu Liao trail on the second night.I think that stretch needs two days. I suggest you take the path down from Beichatian Shan peak to the back of Fushan which will also save you the hassle and heat of trying to get from Wulai to Fushan by road. I took this route recently after exploring the western part of the Old Xiao Wulai trail and it’s tagged and OK. After reaching the trail head at at the road, you can walk down, turn right to another mountain road walk up about a kilometer and just camp next to the road. There is a water pipe running along the roadside with a faucet. After being in thick forest all day, a more open view might be refreshing. Alternatively, you could push on and join the Fuba trail and camp about 9 km in where there is a clearing. I believe there is a bus at 12:30 p.m. from Xiao Baling, but to make sure I would call the Tourist Info Hot Line to check that. They are very helpful.

I don’t know what extended hikes you’ve done in Taiwan but I think this one is a bit too long for three days. Look forward to reading your report.

If you leave Danshui at 1, you won’t be in Yongning until closer to 2. It’s 35 minutes just to Main Station, then you need to change lines. If timing later is tight, this may be a factor.

Where can I find this map? They only have Sun River maps at the main outdoor store near Taipei Main.

I am using a 2003 Sun River map (1,2,3) of the Wulai/Sansia/Lalashan/Fushan/Baling/northern Sheipa area. Also, information from the newest Lonely Planet guidebook.

We will both be carrying two full liters from Beichatianshan. I have precisely measured the trail from here to Jiao Jiu Liao, and it’s about 18 km’s. There are no climbs of greater than 200 meters. I climbed from the hut on JJL to the 1118m peak to the SSW and back in six hours… with a nap and detours. Consider: that’s a 900m uphill slog. If we break camp by 8am, we will have 11 hours of daylight to make it there. I have weighed my pack and I’m only going to be carrying about 11 kilograms.

Any idea how much traffic goes between Wulai and Fushan?

Thanks a lot for your detailed response.

Is this the first possible camp spot on the trail from Fushan?

In taiwan you shouldn’t judge hiking times by distance. It is meaningless. A km an hour is not unsual progress on a lot of trails. Possibly slower if there are a lot of rope climbs/descents and super steep sections. Also I’d say 2 litres of water for a possible 11 hour rough hike is not enough in this weather. Unless you really know how your body handles exercise in hot humid conditions it’s better to be conservative.

You might consider hiking jiajiuliao from Wulai to the end, walk the road to manyueyuan, then hike in to one of the wild campgrounds. There is a good area maybe an hour or so in. The campground at the base of Beichatianshan is excellent. I was just there last month.

After climbing BCTS you could as jah suggested hike down to the Xiao Wulai Old Trail and then out to Fushan. I was planning to do that also last month but didn’t because we had a dog and pets are not allowed in the park. Check the Forumosa thread though as I posted some maps and blog info.

From Fushan head up the Fuba to Bailing and then catch the bus down. Again, as Jah said call the 24 Tourism Hotline for uptodate bus info.

I’ve done two multi-day hikes in that area recently. One was 3-days on the Fuba trail, exploring some of the side trails on the way up to the old trees. There’s easily enough just on that system to keep you busy.

The other was across Manyueyuan. Camped at the base of Beicha, hiked up and down, and then the next down hiked down to Fuxing village on the North Cross island hwy. This takes you through allthe old tree area. Great route. from Fuxing there are buses back to Taoyuan where you can catch a train to taipei.

If you do decide to go to Manyueyuan first. catch a taxi from Yongning Station. About NT450.

Between Wulai and Fushan there isn’t much traffic but you might be able to hire a taxi in Wulai.

The complete Daxi to Shang Baling schedule is below. The last bus for Daxi leaves from the main road next to the entrance to the shenmu at 15:30.

Daxi 大溪 - (Lalashan) Shang Baling 上巴陵
7:00, Zhongli Bus Co.
7:40, Taoyuan Bus Co.
11:40, Taoyuan Bus Co. * departs Zhongli TRA Station at 10:30
13:00, Zhongli Bus Co. * departs Taoyuan TRA Station at 12:30

(Lalashan) - Shang Baling 上巴陵 - Daxi 大溪
9:30, Zhongli Bus Co.
9:50, Taoyuan Bus Co.
13:30, Taoyuan Bus Co.
15:30, Zhongli Bus Co.

I think you should increase your water ration to at least 3 or 4 liters. It’s June and the weather is heating up even at 1000 plus meters altitude.Your pack sounds light at 11 kg. Maybe you have a super lightweight tent. Anyway, you have the option of adding a few extra kilos of water and you should.

Besides the hiking stores, Eslite might be worth checking for more up to date maps. Usually, they print up a batch and then the popular routes like Snow Mountain sells out quickly, but they don’t update and reprint until they’ve drawn down their stock of the other maps.I’m not sure the map I have is available now, so to back up your Sunriver map take a hard look at the map board at the trail head at Manyueyuan to see if there are any additional routes to mark on your map.On that ridge there are several places where you can bail off the ridge if you run out of time.

I can’t remember if there are any other camp sites on the Fuba path before the 8 km approx one. At a pinch you could probably find a flat spot on the trail especially the first kilometer.

Chung, thanks for the Lala Shan bus info. That last bus back to Daxi is pretty crucial.

MM. The Old Xiao Wulai trail crosses the main ridge to the south of Beichatian Shan and is untagged on the eastern side.It’s not marked accurately on the Northern Taiwan map series. It begins on a side road a few kms up from Xiao Wulai. Several hours in, a linking path verges north from it to the old tree area, but for the OP I’d say go from the peak directly down to Fushan is the best way if you decide not to head for the Jiaojiuliao track.

I had this long, epic, fully-picture-supported post all written up, then my crappy camera crashed and all my windows were closed. Damn.

So instead I’ll just say that the trip was mostly a disappointment. Saturday, we got there on time, lollygagged up to the Dongningshan trail junction, and made camp. Nick had a wonderful experience with Taiwanese leeches. We saw a flying squirrel. We sweated like pigs on a spit and cursed the 10,000 stairs we had to climb. Stupid. Bloody. Stairs.

The next day we woke up around 8am to the sound of a raucous group of 20 or so. They had already come up the Dongningshan trail and were congregating about 50 feet from our tent. We packed up and headed out. We passed “the campsite” on the creek an hour later, drank some water, met a guy who was also going up the mountain and who became our de facto guide after he heard of our plan, and we went on our way. Caught glimpses of the majesty of the giant trees as we climbed. Our “guide” seemed hesitant about our idea to hike to JiaJiuLiao, even though we were both packing four liters, and we could fill up about two kilometers past Beichatianshan. We dropped the matter as we climbed, had a wonderful extended lunch break, and enjoyed the view. Nick took this man’s word for gospel, and when I laid out the three options, and the “guide” put in his two cents, the way was clear.

From BeiCha, we could take two days to hike the ridgeline to JiaJiuLiao, descending to the Red River Gorge trail or Manyueyuan if things ever got too hairy. Or, we could drop to Fushan, camp there for the night, and do the Fuba trail the next day. Or, as our guide suggested, we could follow him back down to Manyueyuan. Every time I suggested the ridgeline trail, the amount of water our “guide” suggested increased by a liter. It started at three and eventually became six. Each. We had hiked eight kilometers in six hours at an extremely lazy pace, with 1300 meters climbed, since the evening before. We had six hours of daylight left. And yet our “guide” even thought that Fushan would be too far. Apparently there’s no water in that direction either. So instead we followed him and a father-son pair onwards, to where the ridgeline drops down to Manyueyuanshan and the waterfall. It was easy going. We passed one descent trail that our “guide” said had water shortly down, but we passed it for the next one about a kilometer on. We hit a few fixed-rope descents. An hour later, I would be wishing I could descend ropes all day.

We reached our descent trail and started down. It. Was. Steep. And barely marked. There were flags everywhere, but not much of any trail to follow. We dropped about 1000 meters in about three hours. We got stuck behind a ridiculously slow group that wouldn’t let us pass on the last kilometer, who an hour later passed us at our camping spot and asked for water, to whom I replied, “Uhh, not really” then began scrounging around while their slowest member stood there looking desperate. I handed him the last 100 ml’s of my Nalgene, but he declined. It was really weird. He acted half-dead. Anyway, after my legs had turned to jelly, words could not describe my feeling of relief upon seeing that platform overlooking the pools below the waterfall, and hearing that soothing purr. As I reflected on the day, I couldn’t figure out how the way we had come could have possibly been any better than the way we had wanted to go. Fushan would have been approximately the same distance, the same descent spread over the duration instead of the last three kilometers, and would have also ended in water. Am I missing something here? Why did this guy insist that we go back to Manyueyuan, other than because he (like many others I have met) thought that our adventure sounded dangerous and wanted to see us back to a safe haven?

Anyway, that night we made plans to hike the Red River Gorge trail to Wulai the next day and go from there. The next morning we awoke stiff as boards. During breakfast, Nick threw in the towel. To be honest, I wasn’t terribly upset. The prospect of doing an easily accessible day hike with a rather heavy pack just didn’t pique my interest. So we lazed in the sun, swam a bit, then strolled out to the gates where a wonderful man gave us a ride to the bus stop, where we turned our backs on further adventure and returned to civilization.

So, what did I learn? That Taiwanese hikers think foreign backpackers are crazy. They want to take care of them even if it means persuading them that their plans are preposterous. That you should never take someone who is not entirely gung ho on a daring adventure to begin with. That Taiwanese trails either go up or down precipitously. On such trails, kilometers truly mean little in planning how long it will take. However, the flat sections fly by. Roped sections are fun. That I am out of shape. Always fill up all of your water bottles at a water break.

And that’s that. Tied it off.

I get off work in Danshui at 12:30. I am on the MRT by 1. I arrive at Yongming Station by 1:30. I take the bus to Sansia and arrive by 2. I meet my friend, who lives in Jhongli, in Sansia, and we leave for Manyueyuan FRA some time between 2 and 3. We get on the trail around 4-5pm and get in as many kilometers as we can. Supposedly there is a great camping spot somewhere near the base of Beichatianshan. A fair bit of elevation gain, but only about 5-6 km’s.[/quote]

Danshui to Yongning might take an hour.

Getting on the Manyueyuan trail at 4-5pm will mean you won’t get to your campsite until 10pm or so. Most of the hike will be in pitch blackness and relentlessly uphill, plus there’s a landslide area to be careful of (last time I visited, last fall, the trail was closed because of the landslide). In Taiwan’s mountain trails, figure that 1km takes about an hour.

I’d take the morning off and hit the trail as early as possible. Why work on Saturday, anyway?

If that’s not possible, not far from the beginning of the Manyueyaun trail proper (which begins above the final restrooms at the rear of the park: take the trail angling back behind the restroom, go past the big water tanks and the little bridge, and the trail starts on the left): once you get past the initial switchbacks and hike beyond that huge camphor tree on the edge of the trail, there’s a pretty nice flat camping area, complete with a small rivulet that can serve as a source of water. If you get a late start, and don’t feel like trudging along the steep, treacherous trail in the pitch darkness, that’s a good place to camp.

After that, a few hours later, you’ll reach a resting area just below the ridge (within a grove of rock oaks). A trail veers off to the left. (Note that if you were to continue a little further, up to the highest point, there’s another trail going left. You don’t want to take that one.) Take the trail going left. An hour or so later you’ll reach a wide, shallow stream. This area is known as Shuiyuandi, and people picnic here (and may also camp here). Past that, to the left, is a hill of roots. Climb over it, and you’ll find another trail. Go left along the trail. Soon after, the trail forks. Keep left. You should see a sign in Chinese pointing to the Big Tree grove. Soon after that, the trail widens into a clearing. To the right there’s a slope covered with roots. Climb down, and you’ll get to the Big Trees. There’s a clear trail, and the trail actually goes through a big hole in one of the trees. Follow the trail to the stream, and there’s a camping area somewhere around it.

(Note: this is all from memory, and based on my own hiking speed, which is faster than the average Joe, but slower than, say, Mucha Man or Omniloquacious.)

We got to the intersection of the Dongningshan trail around 8pm, which is right in between the “rivulet” camping area and Shuiyuandi.

See picture 1.

Because I’m the newb at work (Hess) and need all the hours I can get. I also had Tuesday off, so I still had three days to hike.

This is the route we took. We certainly weren’t keen on hiking up Manyueyuanshan.

We took the ladder up to the BeiChaTianShan trail. See pictures.

Shorts are a bad idea for this kind of hike. I always carry a small vial of salt when I hike/mountain bike through the forest just in case the leeches latch on to me.

Shorts are a bad idea for this kind of hike. I always carry a small vial of salt when I hike/mountain bike through the forest just in case the leeches latch on to me.[/quote]

Actually salt or a lighter are not recommended anymore as when the leech goes into shock it regurgetates the contents of its stomach into your wound. Infection is more likely in this case. What you need to do it run your thumbnail under the tail and then run it up toward the head, pushing down on your own skin as you do. This pops the fangs out naturally without harm. Then just flick the bastard away before he leeches on to your thumb. :lick:

I never had a problem with just brushing them off. Never needed to put anything on them. A styptic pencil can be useful, though, to stop the bleeding. Those bites bleed for ages and can make a right old mess of your socks or pants or whatever.

i just let the dog eat them.

I won’t wear anything but shorts in this weather unless it means permanent sterility. I’ve seen about a dozen attached leeches now, and none of them took more than a brushing to get them off. Mucha Man’s method always works for the bigger suckers we get swimming around our cabin in British Columbia. Just check your socks and back and groin every few hours or after a stream crossing.

I always wear long, lightweight hiking pants. They’re made of quick-dry material and barely weight anything. I avoid shorts like the plague… too many bugs, thorns, stickers, burrs, leeches, UV rays etc.

Oh yes! This is an important lesson that we have learned through experience! Also, don’t bring anyone along on a long, strenuous hike whose fitness/endurance/abilities/mental state you don’t already know.