Taoyuan Valley Trail
Don’t be confused, this trail is in Ilan, not Taoyuan, despite the name.
Length: 12Km (about 6 – 7 hours)
Highlights: fairly strenuous hike along the ridge parallel to the east coast. The views are fantastic!
Warning: there are no stores in Dali! Eat a hearty breakfast in Taipei and stock up on water and snacks before taking the train. There is also no shade along the ridge line, so don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat.
Access: Take the local train to Dali station, 90 minutes from Taipei station.
Trail Conditions: stone trails all the way, lots of steps, your feet and knees will be feeling it!
The hike is well signposted in English along its entire length.
Exit the train station, turn right and follow the path to the visitors’ centre. There also a Mr. Brown coffee shop here. Walk past the temple next to the visitors’ centre and go up the stairs besides the temple. From here a service road leads up to the top of the ridge. After a while, you’ll see some stairs going up, but my advice is to stick with the road. You’ll be seeing plenty of stairs soon enough, so might as well enjoy the meandering road while you can. You’ll also pass a bathroom halfway up, this is your last chance to take care of business for the next 6 hours, so make sure you’re good to go. There are also some vending machines here which may or may not be stocked.
At the end of the service road you’ll come to a trail junction, continuing straight will lead you to Fulong, turn left and keep heading up the top of the ridge for the Taoyuan Valley Trail.
The trail continues along the top of the ridge. The initial climb is very steep. From here the trail constantly goes and down and there are lots of stairs. There are also frequent pavilions where you can rest and get out of the sun, but they are always full of old people eating, singing, and smoking (I thought those things were supposed to kill you).
The trail ends at a T-junction with another trail, turn right here to have look at the little shrine, then go back to start heading down to Daxi. Finally, there will be plenty of trees to give you shade. When you finally make it down to the coastal highway, cross the bridge over the stream and keep going straight to get to the train station.
Take the train to Joaxi. The town has lots of places to eat and drink coffee before taking the bus back to Taipei (it’s much faster than the train).
Map and Photo Gallery