Wulai to Ilan?

Back when I was living in Taipei and fairly new to Taiwan, I searched on my motorcycle for the mythical Southeast Passage - a way to get to the fertile plains of Ilan without passing through the treacherous and war-torn Bei Yi Strait. Alas, I failed in my quest when I found I could not take my motorcycle past the police checkpoints SE of Wulai. But now that I am into cycling, the dream has been rekindled.

Does such a thing even exist? I know there is the Tonghou Trail but I don’t think it would be very enjoyable with road tires and I don’t feel like riding the rest of the way on knobbies. Still, has anyone ridden this lately? How is the condition? I cant imagine it escaped repeated torrential rains unscathed this past summer.

Also - according to Google maps, you can take two forestry roads (Xiken and Shuanglianpi) from where the 9-A ends in Wulai to where it begins again in Yuanshan. Has anyone tried this? Ive never seen anything about it on the interwebs. If such a road does in fact exist and its not blocked by one of the numerous police checkpoints in the area, it seems like I would have heard something about it…anyone?

Looking at Streetview, the forestry road on the Yilan side supposedly starts somewhere behind this blue truck. It doesn’t look that promising.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=taiwan+map&ll=24.758328,121.62288&spn=0.006118,0.022724&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&hnear=Taiwan&t=m&z=16&layer=c&cbll=24.758323,121.622885&panoid=n1UNvnpHa8Elp9DpXG8FDw&cbp=11,0,0,0

In my experience, most of these marked forestry roads go up very very steeply, only to end at a small corrugated hut with barking dogs, or at electricity pylons.
There’s not much joy or love to be had from following them.
Despite all that, I still cling to the holy Grail of a cross-mountain forestry road, rough but cyclable, not too steep. One that no-one knows about. One that you might have to jump a gate to access, but once you’re in, you’re in.

I’ll have a look at Google Earth.

Ah, but here’s the entrance to the west of that. Looks initially more promising. There is the mythical gate to jump over, for a start!
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=taiwan+map&ll=24.758055,121.613545&spn=0.012237,0.045447&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&hnear=Taiwan&t=m&layer=c&cbll=24.758058,121.613532&panoid=fhvLvKqplNRtN4HDSa3Vww&cbp=11,339.22,0,10.05&z=15

Mucha Man will surely chime in on the impracticalities of it all :smiley: . I’ve been wondering about this route for a while:

The only route I know of that actually goes through albeit with a 2km section of trail is the Tonghou route that connects Wulai to Jiaoxi.

I have done it both ways. Riding from the Jiaoxi side is much easier because you can get all the way to the pass on (mostly) paved roads. It’s very steep though. Then you have a 1.8km bike hike followed by 5km of blissful off road riding that anyone with a bit of off road riding experience can enjoy. An offroad virgin will find this challenging but rewarding.

This is currently one of my favorite rides for sheer variety and thrills. Take one of the slow trains to Jiaoxi with your bike. You need to leave Jiaoxi by noon and be warned that the network of roads to the pass is confusing. Ask if you are going the right way. I found GPS very unreliable.

If you go up from Wulai, you have to deal with check points and you will carry your bike a lot further uphill. Not recommended

I last did this in the spring after and during some heavy rains. I would guess that it is still passable now.

You are not going to be able to do this kind of riding in Taiwan on road bike tires. I have medium slicks that do fine though.

Other off road possibilities include the Xiakeladuo trail network in Xinzhu (connecting you to Smaangus/Simakusi!) and, in the past, the Neng gao in Nantou. There is a fair amount of hassle with access from the police for Nenggao and it is only one way unless you want to carry your bike for a LONG time to get over the Hualien side.

Most of the good off road riding in Taiwan is in the south.

[quote=“Feiren”]The only route I know of that actually goes through albeit with a 2km section of trail is the Tonghou route that connects Wulai to Jiaoxi.

I have done it both ways. Riding from the Jiaoxi side is much easier because you can get all the way to the pass on (mostly) paved roads. It’s very steep though. Then you have a 1.8km bike hike followed by 5km of blissful off road riding that anyone with a bit of off road riding experience can enjoy. An offroad virgin will find this challenging but rewarding.

This is currently one of my favorite rides for sheer variety and thrills. Take one of the slow trains to Jiaoxi with your bike. You need to leave Jiaoxi by noon and be warned that the network of roads to the pass is confusing. Ask if you are going the right way. I found GPS very unreliable.

If you go up from Wulai, you have to deal with check points and you will carry your bike a lot further uphill. Not recommended

I last did this in the spring after and during some heavy rains. I would guess that it is still passable now.

I don’t think the route from Yuanshan are going to work.

In case any one is wondering, forget riding from Shangbaling to Fushan. I tried it once and ended up carring my bike for 6 hours. A true Taiwan death march.

You are not going to be able to do this kind of riding in Taiwan on road bike tires. I have medium slicks that do fine though.

Other off road possibilities include the Xiakeladuo trail network in Xinzhu (connecting you to Smaangus/Simakusi!) and, in the past, the Neng gao in Nantou. There is a fair amount of hassle with access from the police for Nenggao and it is only one way unless you want to carry your bike for a LONG time to get over the Hualian side.

Most of the good off road riding in Taiwan is in the south.[/quote]

That sounds great Feiren. :notworthy:

Edit: found this thread https://www.forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=66656

Yes, that’s a good thread, the Tonghou one. And a trail I still haven’t got round to riding.

Back to the original forestry road, I looked at Google Earth and the section leading south from near Wulai looks like a rock-filled stream, nothing more. I’d say good luck trying to get a bike up there. So whilst it’s just possible that when Feiren was pounding up towards Tonghou he rode right past the entrance to a sweet and unknown mountain-bike track leading over to Yuanshan - it seems unlikely.

I don’t think so. Or if there is, it very well hidden.

I must have taken every wrong turn on my first expedition up to Tonghou from Jiaoxi. Each one ended up at a small corrugated hut with barking dogs, petered out in lush jungle, or was cut off by a raging torrent or landslide that even I would not try to cross in good weather. It’s still very wild and beautiful up there.

TongHou
tw.myblog.yahoo.com/747-tony/article?mid=3682
tonyhuang39.com/tony0584/tony0584.html

remember reading that somewhere in the middle you have to carry your bike

Nuit, that old forestry road is impassable for cyclists. The first 5km remnant are only used by hikers to access the peaks on the range in the back there. Back in 1997 I explored the remnants of that road up to near the pass and it was a struggle then dodging wild pig but on a recent hike Iast month coming down from the peaks I saw it was totally overgrown - a bushwack beyond the last trail head. There are quite a lot of small mountain roads going off from the Bitan to SanXia road and over to the LuLugu that are steep but have rewarding views and little traffic.They are definitely worth checking out.

JL, ta for the confirmation. It did look unlikely from Google Earth.
So Wulai to Yilan can be scratched, save for the Tonghou Trail.

[quote=“antarcticbeech”]Muzha Man will surely chime in on the impracticalities of it all :smiley: . I’ve been wondering about this route for a while:

][/quote]

I’ve been meaning to try this one out for a while. Google maps says it’s 20km from trailhead to trail end (meaning the beginning of the paved road and civilization in the form of a restaurant, from where one can probably call a cab or something). I did the Sanxia to Wulai trail in one day last year, starting at around 10:00 am. Any guesses if this is doable in one day as well?

Thanks.

UPDATE

Went today to check out the Fushan Botanical Garden and the old Japanese Road from the Yilan side and discovered the following (pardon me of you guys already know this).

  1. The permit for entering past the last checkpoint on the highway 9A takes about 60 days, BUT if you look poor & sad enough and have some nice girls with you the guard will just let you in, provided you avoid the Visitor Center, for they double check permits there.

  2. the entrance of the old japanese road is behind this gate (as correctly guessed by someone before)

According to the local forestry dep. volunteers, this trail is passable all the way to Wulai, but dangerous. Here is a close-up of the sign at the entrance
24°45.478’ N
121°36.803’ E

The other entrance of this trail appears to have been washed away, for there is only a river where the trail is supposed to start according to the map I have (also visible on Google Maps, though street view just shows a blue truck parked next to the river).
24°45.499’ N
121°37.369’ E

  1. Last but no least: the fabled road that connects Yilan and Wulai (via Fushan Township, like the bear guessed) DOES EXIST, but it is now reserved for forestry department crews and researchers only. I was also told people are allowed to hike the whole distance, though it is dangerous. Honestly, seen the conditions of the road we drove on today to the Fushan Garden, I would not dare drive my car (a very old Honda) on that road by myself. [Source: Forestry Dep. Guard at Fushan Botanical Garden]. I might be able to get a permit to spend the night at the Fushan Reserve and drive on that road through the Earth Science Center at the Academia Sinica. I’ll post developments in this thread.

Here’s an account of crossing from Wulai to Fushan Botanicl gardens by a dedicated bike hiker.

mobile01.com/topicdetail.php … 071188&p=1

Note his specialize frame for carrying his bike! Orz!!

西坑林道越嶺阿玉山出雙連埤
Xikeng Forestry Road over the ridge to the A-yu Forestry Road exiting at Shuanglian(bei). BTW, 埤 (pi2 mandarin, bei Taiwanese) means a low lying wetland.

Your fabled road between Yilan and Wulai via Fushan is the Hapen Pass Trail. 哈盆越嶺古道. A Gudao is almost always a hiking trail used as a route before there were roads. Here are details.

samshiue.blogspot.com/2010/10/20 … iwans.html

You are not going to drive either a honda or a four wheel drive across that trail.

There is also the Fuba Gudao which connects Fushan and Shangbaling on the northern cross. It’'s a great hike. I trid riding down from Shangbaling once and ended up carrying my bike for most of 16km (c. 5 hours). Not recommended.

The Tonghou trail from Yilan is a great ride. Try it!

Hi Feiren, I have a question about your ride along the Fuba Gudao: How do you got in in Shangbaling. I have been in Shangbaling and the Giant Tree Forest Park. There is a gate from where one can go down to Fushan. According to notes on the gate, one needs a permit. Let’s assume one ignores this, then one still need to pass the Rangers office and the visitors of the park. They did not complain going in with the bicycle? I am asking becouse I am still thinking doing it by bike even if you would not recommend it. Thanks for your answer!

Today, I went from Fushan to Yilan via the Hapen Pass Trail. The first 10 km are mostly ridebale (also one has to get off very often shortly), the last 5 km are basically purly hiking through the Jungle.

I can also recommand the Tonghou trail from Yilan, it’s really good.

You are correct that you are supposed to have a permit. I’ve never gotten one and I’ve hiked it many times. I had no problem with any rangers (I think it’s more of a visitor’s center), but this was before the big bike craze. There were six of us, so we were pretty obvious. I think if you rode the Hapen Pass Trail, you will probably be able to ride a lot more of the Fuba than I was. I also was not riding a bike with any suspension and my companions were not really up for it, so as the ‘guide’, I carried in a number of places that I think I could have ridden over in different compant (sometimes they were blocking the way in front because they were too slow). If I recall correctly, there may have been a lot of typhoons that year, so the trail may have in worse condition than when I hiked.

Be sure to give us a report if you live to tell the tale!

Tonghou to Wulai is currently one of my favorite rides in northern Taiwan. I do seem to have trouble finding repeat companion riders though :wink:

I will go along the Tonghou trail very soon with a friend who never went there. We actually now scheduled the tour for this Saturday if the waether is good. You (and anybody else interested) are welcome to join. This time we are planning to take the bus to Yilan (last time I cycled there). How did you normaly went to Yilan?

I’m already riding all day Sunday (NPM, Fengguizui, Balaka, Danshui), so I don’t think I’ll be able to make it Saturday. Thanks though. I usually take one of the early morning slow trains from Taipei-you can take your bike on some of these without taking your bike apart. I’m sure the bus is much faster.