Wushe/Lushan & Nenggao Cross-Island Power Line Trail

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It is nice up there. There’s a really nice view just by the side of the road, where the road forks and goes left for Chingjing Nongchang/Hehuanshan and right for Lushan (hot springs resort) - that may be the one you’re talking about. Somebody should really think about building a viewing platform there. It doesn’t feel that safe to be standing on the edge of the road.

There are a couple of viewpoints down the Lushan road a bit, with parking laybys. They’re not bad but I think the first one is better.

There is often a lot of traffic on the Puli-Wushe road at weekends, sometimes slow-moving and rarely courteous. If anyone’s thinking of going up there, a weekday would be far better if possible.

Further down the road to Lushan, you cross what is supposed to be the highest bridge in Taiwan. It’s quite nice to stop and have a look - lots of people do and there are sometimes some catering vans there. There’s a nice photo, which doesn’t include those vans, on “Kenmerk”'s Taiwan travel page;
geocities.com/kenmerk/Lushan_Bridge.html

Lushan itself used to be a Japanese hot springs resort. The buildings now all seem to be pretty modern and not very nice, though. I briefly checked out a couple of the hot springs hotels - they seemed OK but I’m not sure whether anywhere offers the nice spacious pools and interesting water jet stuff that you can find at resorts such as Guguan and Zhiben. I think space is at a premium.

I’m going to stop one night in Guguan just before C.N.Y. anyway. It’s a good stopping point between Taichung and Hehuanshan/Tailuge (Taroko). My brave mother and I are going on a motorbike tour but for reasons of comfort she doesn’t want to spend too many hours each day on the bike. I’ll post an update on Lushan after our stay.

Anyone else have any more info on Lushan/Wushe?

My gf (now wife) and I stayed at Lushan for a couple of nights last spring. We were not highly impressed, and wouldn’t be very interested in going there again except perhaps to spend a night there in passing. It’s pleasant enough, but there’s really very little to see, a dearth of good hiking trails, no chance to swim except in hotel pools, and a lot of ugly overdevelopment. There are hundreds of better places in Taiwan, including many around Taipei. Unless you’re hugely into hot-spring bathing and are happy to spend most of the day and night doing so, then Lushan is hardly worth more than a fleeting visit. Afterwards, I wished we’d stayed at Wushe instead, as the scenery there is much more beautiful and it seems like a far more interesting place. I like Nantou, and the people there are among the friendliest in Taiwan, but Lushan is definitely not one of the jewels in its crown.

Lushan is not very nice. I did enjoy the outdoor pool at the very top of the resort area. Something like Atayatl Princess. It was nice at night anyway.

About 30 minutes above Lushan there is a trailhead for the Cross-Island Power Line Trail (Gaoneng Yueling dao). This is a fairly easy hike across the Central Mountain Range over into Hualien. Highly recommended. This hike takes two or three days. Hardened mountain bikers might consider riding this trail.

Then we are in luck. As the places in Lushan were booked up and/or pricey at the time we are going, I booked in at a hotel in Wushe instead, for half the price. If the hotel is reasonable, I’ll post details on my website afterwards.

You say Wushe seems a more interesting place - what were you thinking of specifically? I’ve only been through, just stopping for that lake view. The Lonely Planet mentions hiking down to the lake but it doesn’t say where the path starts. It also mentions going through a ‘moon gate’ to reach a temple. What does a moon gate look like, anyone? Is it the standard kind of ornamental gateway you get before temples?

Thanks for the hiking tip Feiren. Sounds very nice. Maybe I can try that on another trip.

Apart from its lovely location (and the chance to hike down to the lake, which sounds splendid), it is evidently a real community with a lot of interesting history behind it, rather than just a soulless clutch of tourist hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops built around a run-of-the-mill hot spring and nothing much else.

Feiren wrote:

Feiren, have you actually traveled the entire length of this trail? If so, I’d be interested to read more details on this route.

Has anyone else hiked/biked this trail the whole way?

Cheers

Well, I had a quick scout around there a few weeks ago and found it pretty much as you describe; buildings put up quickly with no thought to external appearance. There’s now a bridge linking the two sides of town so there is no longer the ‘traffic-free’ side of town described in the Lonely Planet.

But the spring water itself is supposed to be pretty good. A friend was trying to explain to me; I think it’s not a sulphur spring but has a lot of another mineral in and/or it’s carbonated.

I’m afraid I’m a bit of a heathen when it comes to these matters - I’d be quite happy in warm bath water as long as either;
a) There were some beautiful surroundings (for example Wenshan in Taroko)
or
b) There were some fancy water jets, bubble things etc. to play with (for example the place I went to at Zhiben near Taitung).

I was in the Wushe/Lushan area last week and agree that Lushan is not worth visiting. On a rainy day the town looks like a dump, with mud and dirty water everywhere. The place has been overdeveloped to an absurd degree. Most places don’t even have nice views anymore. It’s a bit like Guguan, only worse. In Guguan, hotels have to use bamboo walls and trees to block the other hotels out so you at least have a few degrees view of the gorgeous valley.

Another thing to consider: with all those hotels what are the chances your hotspring water is 100% pure? Not very high.

Beside the bridge on the way to Lushan there is a dirt road you can walk on down to the river below (about 15 minutes). There is also a trail to the left as soon as you start walking on the dirt road but I don’t know where that goes.

The road down to the lake at Wushe begins just as you enter the town. You come around a sweeping bend and see a road to the right heading off to Aowanda Park. Just past that turn off is what looks like a toll booth. Just to the right of that is a small road heading down. Follow this to a parking lot. Park and head down the road to the lake. You can drive but it’s not that far down and the road is very steep and the roadside foliage likely to scratch your car.

The lake is not very high now so you can stroll along it. With all the driftwood that has collected it looks a bit like an ocean inlet.

As you head out of town toward Chingjing Farm there are a couple cafes perched on the side of the mountain with fantastic views over the lake.

Aowanda is quite nice. The drive down (and down and down)is perfect and there are a few short hikes you can do in the park itself. The food is pretty tasty at the restaurant in the tourist center and there are basic cabins to rent for think around NT 2,000 a night.

This has to be a different trail to the one I took yesterday because I went river trekking a little behind Lushan yesterday with a group through the Sun and Tree outdoors stores. The trip cost $1500 NT and transportation, lunch, harnesses and helmets were supplied. I borrowed a harness from a friend who is a keen rock climber. We walked upstream in the river or very near the river for about five hours.

I would not recommend doing this alone due to rapids and huge rocks that require help from others to climb. We were all required to wear harnesses and for a lot of the waterfall climbs they along with ropes were definitely needed. I fell into the rapids when climbing a rock after being pulled up once and had to be pulled up again. Everyone on the trip got fairly wet at some point. The trip was supposed to be last weekend but was postponed due to rain. (last Saturday it was on then off and then on and then called off).

I saw three snakes along the trail. We stopped for a while due to a poisonous snake being on a rock. The plant the Chinese call “Cat people bite plant” (Poison oak or ivy ?) was also on the route.

Anyone else trekked the river?

Yes I have hiked this trail. Sorry about the very late reply. I think the Formosa Fat Tire people have biled half of it.

The Hualien side is not really bikable unless you are willing to carry your bike up and over a huge landslide that requires a very steep 2km diversion. There is a trail around the landslide and I did see people with bikes coming from Hualien. Madness in my opinion.

If you were going to bike this, you would want to bike from the Lushan side. Downhill people would love the descent down to Hualien though it’s too steep for me.

If you hiked it all the way across, you would need to arrange transportation on the Hualien side. There are about 40km of paved road back to Hualien. Walking from Lushan to the trailhead on the Hualien side would be a viigorous hairy-legged yomp. There is a shelter about halfway and a lot of trails in the area of the shelter.

Can you describe more about this hike? Sounds fantastic. How long ago did you hike? You said two or three days? Which was it for your group? Is the way clear? What maps did you use? Is the trailhead that starts 30 minutes from Lushan clear?

I think this isn’t quite the same place, but it’s a great tale of attempted West-East crossing by bike:

inorbitt.com/adventures/taiwan_2001.htm

I just spent most of this week hiking this area again. The Nenggao trail is officially closed and the police in Wushe will not give you a permit. I,um, hiked it anyway. There were two massive landslides one at the trailhead and one at about the 9 km mark, but they are very close to finishing up restoring the trails. I’d guess the trail will be open in another couple weeks. Call first.

If you are going, I’d recommend staying at the hot spring hostel at Lushan Buluo the first night. Lushan Buluo is about 6 km up the road from the turnoff to the Lushan hot springs. I’ll try to post the details later.

Then get a ride to the trail head about 7 km up from the buluo. Hike in 13 km to Tianchi where you can stay at the lodge there. This is a gentle climb of about 800 meters through high altitude forest with beautiful views of the central mountain range.

Rather than crossing into Hualien, I would spend a day or two in Tianchi hiking around the area. You can hike south to Nengaoshan and north to several of the Qilai peaks (c. 3,500 m). The less hardy can hang out at Tianchi and hike the ‘hills’ behind the lodge. There is also a beautiful waterfall 300 meters from the lodge that is accessible. You can hike out across Qilaishan to Hehuanshan as well, but you will need to be fitter than the average hiker to do this pleasantly. You might want to do this with a guide though the trail seemed fairly clear to me.

It takes about 5 or 6 hours to hike to Tianchi and about 3 and a half to hike back. Experienced hikers would be faster.

I used the Sun River maps.

The main path is very clear. The trails around Tianchi that go up and onto the central mountain range are not quite so well kept up.

Enjoy.

Thanks for the lenghty reply. Few more questions if I may:

  1. Do you need to pre-apply for a hiking permit, or just register with the local police, such as when entering Smangus?

  2. Is there signage to let you know the turnoff for Tienchi or did you go by the map?

  3. Is the way all the way down to Hualien clear?

  4. Any camping spots along the trail? Even just good clearings? Water sources?

  5. What is the number of the road the trailhead is off?

Sure.

You have to apply in Wushe for the hiking permit. I think you can also do it at the Ministry of the Interior. I’ve got the permit on a same-day basis both times. Technically, I think you should just be able to register like you do in Smangus but that is not how it works in practice (I’ve had the same problem in Pingtung). Call first. I personally like getting my permits at the MOI–they will often issue permits that local police will not.

You mean the turn off to Tunyuan (the trailhead I think). You just take 14 from Wushe to the end (99 km) and then go up about six or seven switchbacks. There is an unpaved turnoff on the right with an empty sign frame. You walk about 50 meters in and you will see signs for the trail. It’s easy to find. I used the map.

Yes. But note that it is 44 km from Tianchi down to the first village on the Hualien side.

Yes. There are several Baoxiansuo or work stations for Taipower. You can camp there. They are marked on the map. There is plenty of water on the Nantou side. Less on the Hualien side. The season will affect this. Right now there are lots of little streams but I have been up there when it was quite a bit drier. The Baoxiansuo all have water of course.

14

Great stuff. Thank you. But in question two I meant the turnoff for Tienchi as you are walking down the main trail. You mention that one trail continues to Hualien, another to Tienchi. So is it obvious when you are on the trail, which is which?

This actually happens on the ridge above Tianchi. The trail to Hualien is very clearly marked with signs and the national trail system kilometer markers. Sorry about the confusion.

I’m sorry but I’m confused again. You wrote earlier that it was 5-6 hours to Tienchi. Wasn’t this from the trailhead near Lushan?

Oh wait, do you mean that the turnoff for tienchi is on the ridge above the village? In which case it would be obvious where you turn off?

Here is the route

Lushan->Lushan buluo -> Tunyuan -> Tianchi->Ridge->Hualien

Tunyuan is the trail head.
Lushan buluo to Tunyuan is about 8km
Tunyuan to Tianchi is 13 km
Tianchi to the Ridge is about 3km
The Ridge to the first village on the Hualien side is 44 km away.

Note that there is very little traffic on the Hualien side. Don’t count on hitchhiking.

Got it. Thanks a million. Hmm. Wouldn’t mind tackling this over CNY.