Recently I’m lucky enough to be able to hike an amazing old trail in the east coast of Taiwan- Hualien. The Zhuilu Old Trail is located inside of Taroko National Park, Hualien. It’s the biggest precipice in North East Asia. Make sure you make a full plan before you visit here. Zhuilu old trail has restricted daily visitors amount.(max 56 person during the week, 156 at the weekend) So you must apply for the entry permit ahead. (one day-30 days before you entry), for more detail please refer to national park website.
There’s a check point on the side of the road on the opposite of the entry, they’ll check each of yours ID. And do the head count when you get in/out of the trail. The entry fee is NTD 200 for Adult. Both entry and leave on the same point. The whole distance is 3.1km. It used to be entry from the west then out from the east (Yanzhico). But due to there were partial route collapsed, so they only open till 3.1k then you have to return.
I would suggest you estimate your condition before you do this hike, although the whole trail is only 3.1km 750 meters above sea level, but the first 2.6k is ascend 800 meters. And on the other side is 800 meters high precipice, if you’re fear of the heights, better consider carefully before you do this hike.
We started to hike around 8am in the morning, weather was really nice considering about it was raining the whole weekend on the north west coast of Taiwan. We’re blessed!! The best part about hiking with the nice mountain guide is, unlike some of hiking company they’ll only take you all the way to the top(I’ve been there before). A good mountain guide familiar with the history behind the mountain, and know any kind of plants, animals.
Zhuilu used to be The Truku people(The indigenous Taiwanese) live here before Japanese came. The original trail was only 30 cm wide, where they use to connected to other villages. Then Japanese recruited The Truku people force them to expand the road to 1.5 meters wide to transport the cannons during Japanese Colonial Period in 1917. They had The Truku people tie with the rope suspended on the precipice to built the road, it was windy out there, lots of people die on being blowing off. This road was really built by the tears and blood by these respectful ancestor. Zhuilu old trail was qualify to apply for the UNESCO heritage, but sadly we can’t as we’re not part of the UN.
The first rest point was Badagang remains(巴達崗駐在所遺址), you can still see there’re two columns stand over there. And some architecture remains cover by the grasses. It’s not hard to see this place was used to be a prosperous village with school, hotel, clinic …etc., more than 200 people lived here before. On our way back I take a closer look of the column, place my hand on it trying to picture the image of how does the people who lived here their life like?
We continue to marching after a brief water break, soon we reach to the Badagang NO.2 suspension bridge. Since the weather was so nice and no other people behind us, we spent two mins laid down on the bridge enjoy some peaceful moment, meanwhile, we’ve been surrounded by the sound from the waterfall, different kind of birds chirps among the trees. That’s part of reason we hike aren’t we?
After you cross the bridge, there’re still 1.3km to go and more steep than previous road(300 meters ascend). But don’t give up, amazing view is almost there (I think we all know that when people tell you this on a hike, that’s definitely a lie!!!) If you have chance to hike Zhuilu Old Road, don’t be just thinking about how fast you can get to the end, then you’ll miss lots of beautiful things around you! Take your time, adjust your breath and pace.
Interested thing about Zhuilu is, although here is only 750 meters above sea level, but you can actually see the plant that suppose to grow in the mountains that’s 3000 meters above sea level. How does that happened? Because Zhuilu is close to Hehuan Mountain(合歡山), therefore, when the wind blow, the wind carry the seeds of those high mountain plant to Zhuilu,then they grew up here. It’s amazing to see some plants that I saw on Hehuan mountain month ago and see them here as well. Especially you know they’re suppose to be high mountain plants. This is way better than only focus on summit but disregard these small detail but it can bring you so much joy!
I’m getting very excited when I saw the distance pole came to 2.5k which mean we’re closing to the breathtaking part!! One of people from our group she’s really fear of the heights that she had to put both of her hands on the wall while she walk, tried not to look down the precipice. I have to warn you this is the most dangerous part of this hike, watch out every step that you made and when people came across.
It had a few incident happened here before. One of them was a hiker who carry a big backpack, he didn’t notice about the rock above him was a bit low, so his backpack hit to the wall above him that he fell over from the precipice.
I’m really pleased that I finally made it, the trail that I’ve been longing to hike for a year. It’s my pleasure to hike with a group of cool people and awesome guide that help us go through the history and environment of this area. That makes the entire trip even better!