Bei Da Wu Hiking Report

The October hiking season hasn’t been so great weather-wise especially with the North and East Coast being quite cloudy and rainy in the higher altitudes, lacking that consistency necessary for a successful extended high mountain trip. So, last week I decided to target Pingdong County’s only mountain in the hot 100 mountains over 3,000 meters in altitude category.

The weather had been quite sunny and dry, so I decided to take my time and take the longer route from Sandimen and bag the peak a few days hence when the weather forecast seemed to show the weather coming right ie. less cloudy both on Pingdong and Taidong County sides.

Actually, the bus from Pingdong dumped me off on the south side of the river at a place called Maja (across the bridge on the north side is Sandimen proper). The mountain road winds steeply up for about 17 km offering dramatic views of aboriginal farm fields and hamlets and the ridge line behind which is the well-known road to Wutai. A clearing 3 hours into the forest was my first campsite.At 1,400 meters in the thick forest, I could hear barking deer this being their favored elevation and vegetation. An excellent place with a water supply with an excellent view down valley was my reward. A strange sight was a village at the bottom of the valley with a huge landslide at one end; it made me think of how tough aboriginals have it living in or at the foot of the mountains.

The path is lightly tagged and eventually joins the road coming up from Jaiping which is the usual route locals use to get to Bei Da Wu Shan. I met a few hikers, not many, and was shocked to hear that their schedule was to do the whole thing in one day. Drive to the road head at night, hike up by torchlight, hit the summit at say 8 a.m. after hiking 7 or more hours and then descend after a similar amount of time. Madness!

Four hours from the summit is the Mountain Hut which has been repaired recently. The old wooden shingle roof and walls have been overlaid with corrugated plastic sheets to make it rain proof and there is a water source there too. It was a bit of a cold hole, but watching the sun set through the tops of the trees on the steep slope on which it was perched was a great way to unwind while eating my mashed potato and sardines ‘power mix’ dinner. Bats flitting around and later a weasel snooping around in the hut made me realise how much of Taiwan’s wildlife is nocturnal. Being in a Forestry Protected Zone meant a welcome absence of hunters who are active at night in so many other mountain areas on the island.

The vegetation changes higher up, a giant Red Cedar tree being one of the highlights as well as hemlock and juniper and the ubiquitous bamboo grass. The path is supposed to be one of the more difficult peaks to summit, but the Forestry Dept. has a team doing regular maintenance on the path and there are new looking ropes on the steeper sections. Along the way is a great view of Nan Da Wu Shan with a sheer drop roped off.

I didn’t bother getting up at dawn to do the assault by torchlight method preferring to go later at about 6.30 a.m. and arriving at the peak at about 10.30 a.m. It was a lucky day because there were no clouds about the summit and I could see in every direction. North it was possible to see Kuan Shan and behind that Jade Mountain some 40 km away. Epic soundtracks I thought. To the south the ridge line gets steadily lower, this peak being the Central Mountains last hurrah…the last biggie this far south.

After another night in the hut and a repast of instant noodles, a boil in the bag seafood stew, crackers and hot chocolate for afters, I descended back to the road and exited through Jiaping, hitching a ride with a local guy who took me to Wanluang, ‘Pig Foot City’ and treated me to the above-mentioned local delicacy with fern leaves and a bottle of beer.

Result: as well as some unforgettable memories, I didn’t lose much weight!

Sounds great, Jah, thanks for posting. Got any pics?

A few questions if I may: You need a police permit for this hike, right? Where did you get yours?

Also, did you go on a weekend? You say that locals usually do this in one day so it sounds perfect for a weekend hike with a stay in the (empty) cabin. How many people can the cabin hold?

The forestry bureau as you say is maintainign the trail as it is one of the National Trails. Good maps available at Sanmin bookstores.

Wow, just looking at my map and it shows a small side trail heading east to the natural Bilu Hot Spring. This is on the Taimali River a few hours upstream from Jinfeng on the east coast. Cool, that means you could hike all way to the coast. Another cross island trail?

Didn’t bother with any permit since I came in from a different route. There was a cop shop on the mountain road at about the 8km point, but like in a lot of small mountain villages these days it was closed maybe permanently. Coming out via the road most people use to access this area, I also didn’t notice any check point, and no one I met was interested in asking me about permits. Most people come up the road at night,so there’s no motive to comply with this regulation when there’s no one there to enforce it. Of course, it’s a totally different situation if you want to go to a mountain like Jade Mt., Snow Mt., or other well-known mountains within the National Parks. Also, I’m not suggesting you take the chance I did. The permit is probably easily obtainable at the nearest functioning cop shop on that road.

The mountain hut is quite big. The sleeping platforms have painted dividing lines and are numbered up to 54 spaces if I remember accurately.Surely that could house your entourage, MM! Another 15 or so people could sleep on the floor, and there is a porch area out front that could shelter a similar number. There are also some clearings for tents and newly constructed toilets, a short but bracing jog away in the icy night-time air.

  As for the route to Taidung from the peak, I took a little walk down part of it to get the feel of it, and it looks like a much rougher deal. Not tagged, more over-grown and quite a steep route on a pretty steep ridge dropping down about 1,000 meters in altitude. As the map shows, it's a minor trail but it's there for someone who's got 5 days to spare. I think a better route would be to go to Wutai, further north and take one of the routes eastward past the lake on the ridge. That'll be my next hike when I'm in this area.

There is a checkpoint at the police station entering Jai-hsin from the 185. I would be possible to blast past, but not recommended as the police (you may need in an emergency) are friendly and have the form/templates set out on tables at the door. All that is required for a permit on the spot is some id and a couple minutes doing things in triplicate.

Be aware of large numbers of people in the hut (Juniper Lodge) on Saturday nights.

Haven’t tried it, but as I understand it, the way down to the East is very hard.

That’s too bad that the cabin is filled. I was hoping, based on Jah’s report, that most Taiwanese went up in a day, leaving the cabin relatively empty.

I take it this mountain never, or almost never gets snow (too far south and southern winters are warm and dry) so it would be hikable over the winter. True?

Monday Feb 21st I did a one-day hike to the summit and back. I just wanted to update the thread on current trail conditions, as this thread is fairly old. I arranged my mountain permit ahead of time with the online form, then printed it out. I brought my ARC and passport along as well. I entered from the road to Taiwu village, aka Oulaluce, then followed that road as far as it goes. There’s a big section of the old road to the trailhead which was destroyed by a landslide, otherwise the trail is in good shape from the 0 to the 9km mark at the summit. There are two routes from the end of the road to the trailhead, the more direct being a scramble over the landslide.

Well done doing it in one day! The extra bit traversing avoiding the landslide moves it from being a tough one-day for the fit, to being a very tough day for the very fittest. For most humans it requires 2-3 days.

There’s a dicernible track across the landslide which is more direct. Just watch your footing as you go, it’s quite loose. It only adds 1.5km to the trip, so it’s not a big deal.

Just came across this great thread and it seems a good idea for my trip to southern part of Taiwan this February! I love especially the information about the mountain being hikable in winter :slight_smile:

I would be very grateful for answers to some detailed questions:

  • how to get there by public transport? I understand there are buses from Pingdong - any more info for a non-Chinese speaker? Bus destination & number, exact departure place, schedules etc.? What about the last bus back to Pingdong?

  • maps - I found the information on Sanmin bookstores, but are any specific map particularly recommended? Are there any maps with place names in Latin alphabet? Are there any basic maps available on the internet - just to get some basic orientation?

  • permits - I understand that there’s no national park there, so only police permit is needed, right? Any website for applying online (preferably in English)? Can it be arranged on the spot?

  • what are average temperatures near the cabin at night?

Finally, is it realistic to plan it as a do-it-yourself trip for two days? Day 1 - from Kaohsiung train to Pingtung, then bus/walk to the trailhead and hike to the cabin (how long does it take?). Day 2 - from the cabin to the top and back down early enough to catch the last available public transport back to Pingtung/Kaohsiung?

Many thanks in advance!

if you really cant find it i can type out the way to get to the traih ead. I also live fairly close, if you are really in a jam i can give you a life on scooter, cars wont make it in (well not small cars with lower clearance).

personally i think you could do it in that time, but 2 full days of hiking are nice. Most people stay at the camp then wake up super early (2-4am) and go to the summit for sunrise then come home. the way back eats up a day.

its been a rainy year, its clear here now but probably still very moist up there and slippery. lots of steep spots.

Thank you very much, it would be great! I don’t speak and read Chinese, so such a detailed description how to get to the trailhead (including which bus to take, where to get out etc.) would be most helpful.

Depending on when you are doing BeiDaWuShan you might be able to get a few from Kaohsiung/Pingdong to go with you. I haven’t been up there yet and I would be interested in a spring trip.

How much farther would the hike be if you took a car? An extra 3-5km or 10-15km?

your car can get as far as a scooter, but there is one steep little mud hump with a puddle at its base, i wouldnt take my car on that, but the rest is just bad mountain road as usual.

Here are directions from the 7-11 in Shuei Men (right near Sandimen). take highway #3 to get to sandimen from afar.

From the 7-11 head down #187, towards Neipu.

about 2km or so there is a stop light (flash light at night) with a big temple on the left, turn left. You soon go through a short tunnel. this is road 185, it hugs the mountains and you can go to kenting this way as well.

Stay on the 185 for a while, i dont know exact distance, i suspect 15km or so. You will drive by a military base on your left, getting close. A couple km after the base, there is a light. the intersection is small, and there is a coffee house on the right. you turn left down this road. there are signs in Chinese saying the mountain is this way.

go a few km up the road to the first town. there will be a police station on your left, go in and sign in with them (bring your arc/passport).

after them keep going up the hill. there is a kind of roundabout, go past it and the road kind of veers right, go right.

this takes you through some mountains. Again only guessing, its probably 5km or so and the road has a 3 way (a very poorly shaped T intersection. Turn left and stay on main road. there are some signs saying go down the hill to the right for stuff, dont go there.

another little ways and you come to another mix of roads. turn left and go on the road that goes down and left. this takes you through to the end. the road ends and there are some big rocks adn wires there. we camped there the night we arrived.

you can hike across the landslide (hot as hell and loose in spots) or take the trail just about 30 meters back from the end of the road that goes up. at night allow an hour and a half maybe to get to the trail head, where is good and flat for camping. there are spots along the way to the trail head that are flat and ok for camping.

Great info! Many thanks! It seems that with your advice now I managed to find it on Google Maps.

Do I get it right? From Road #185 turn left into #106 to Wutan, then go past Taiwu? Is the police checkpost located in Wutan? (at least that’s what Google Maps shows).

We won’t have a car, so we will need to get there and back by public transport, taxi or hitch-hiking.

Google Maps shows that bus no. 8212 goes from Pingdong only as far as Wutan and there are no buses for the remaining 15 kms or so of the road to the trailhead. So it seems the realistic option would be to take a taxi from Pingdong to the trailhead. Google shows the distance to be ca. 36 kms - any idea what would be the approximate cost of the taxi?

Our plan would be then to arrive to Pingdong the afternoon before, arrange the permit, stay at a hotel (any budget place recommended?) and take a taxi from Pingdong to the trailhead the next morning. On day 1 walk to the Juniper Lodge, sleep there. Day 2 - hike to the summit of Bei Da Wu and down to the trailhead/Taiwu. Then hitch-hike from Taiwu to the bus stop in Wutan or straight to Pingdong, in order to get to Kaohsiung for the night.

What do you think, is it realistic?

possibly. you dont even need a permit. you go into the police station, they photocopy your arc/passport and you carry on. get it on the way in. there are a few guesthouses up there, have really zero clue how much they are though.

getting there and back is probably your biggest issue. its a long walk, but i think hitch hiking is a good bet, there are a number of people that go up there for just walks along the road.I doubt a taxi will take you, but it might. I also dont know if a taxi driver from pingdong city would know how to get there, at least fast and smoothly.

the road doesnt go to the trailhead anymore, you will be walking 1-1.5 hours from the absolute last point a car can drive to the trail head.

i think you can do it, just avoid doing it if you need to work the day after, might be a long time getting back. the trail is cool, really nice place. but steep and rocky. right now its pretty damn cold up there too.

A taxi is going to be really difficult to get as Pingdong says. You don’t speak Chinese and most drivers won’t know where the trail is. Have you thought about renting a car in Kaohsiung?

I plan to take a print-out of the route from Google Maps with Chinese place names, so any driver with elementary map-reading skills would be probably able to read and understand it. The question is only I have no idea on taxi prices. Any rough estimate based on the distance of ca. 36 kms?

I’d prefer to avoid renting a car - I don’t drive myself, my wife’s driving skills are very basic and we also wouldn’t like to pay for a car which would idle for 2 days on a parking lot at the end of the road.

A taxi wont go past the hairy bits, i am certain of that. And i dont remember the exact distance but im guessing that would add another few hours of walking.

Also no idea on taxi cost to the trail, but I did take a taxi from pingdong (train station) to Sandimen for $500 (after my wife bargained down, thats about as cheap as it can come i think). I think your best bet it to get a taxi in as far as you can and do it during the day so you can hitch a ride with other hikers driving in. go friday during the day, often lots of people going up then. come back sunday for a similar reason on getting a ride back.

the closest big town is Neipu, lots of taxis there. it might be cheaper to get a bus there then a taxi to the trail, or the smaller town where the cop shop is might have a taxi.

Just went up Beidawu this week, very tough but enjoyable two day hike now with the new trailhead.

They seem to be doing a fair amount of work on the road, but there are still some parts that on a rainy day would be very unpleasant to pass.

Spaces in the Kauigu Cabin are now bookable in advance. It’s supposed to be an online system but I haven’t as yet found where you can do this. Will keep looking! … 0120119001

Thanks a lot! I can get an idea of the text by using Google translation but it’s admittedly a very rough idea :slight_smile: It’s highly interesting, as we (me + wife) are planning a hike to Bei Da Wu probably on Friday/Saturday 17/18.2. Perhaps if they don’t launch on-line booking by then, it would be bookable by appearing in the Pingtung Forest District Office the day before?

If you find the link for booking online, I would be very grateful for sharing.