Yuan Zui/Shao Lai trail is located in Hoping district, Taichung. Both mountain are next to each other that you can hike from one to another. Or just hike the most popular one-Yuan Zui only. Shao Lai trail is rather smooth compare to Yuan Zui. Although the altitude of Yuan Zui is not that high (2,180 meters above sea level), but it famous for it’s steep and challenge trail that you have to hold onto the rope rock climbing to the top. “Yuan” (鳶) in Chinese means eagle. “Yuan Zui”(鳶嘴) means the mouth of the eagle. That’s exactly how the top of this mountain looks like-an eagle’s mouth. When the weather is nice, you can see it from Shao Lai mountain.
Normally, the suggest hiking route is starting from Yuan Zui then to Shao Lai if you plan to hike both mountain. If you do the opposite direction, it’s going to be traffic as normally people come from Yuan Zui first, and the rock climbing part trail is narrow, you have to queue. Especially at the weekend would have more people. If you comes from the opposite direction, you might cause a chaos or just have to wait for longer.
There’re not only one trail entry to access Yuan Zui. One is just next to the Henglin Mt. tunnel (橫嶺山隧道口)which is around 27k. And another is a bit further down, maybe 28k. We took the one at 27k as local people told us the 28k one is much more smooth. Since me and my friend we prefer something tiring ourself, we decide to starting from 27k entry. You go all the way steep up around 0.15k. There’s a view point on the left when you reach the first flat platform. From that view point you can see the famous 谷關七雄(Seven mountains in Guguan area, some of them also quite challenging). From here, continue 1.1k to the top. Closer you get to the mountains top, trail became more rock climbing.
If you’re scare of the height, Yuan Zui might not be the best choice for you as at the rock climbing point, one side is the wall and another side is the cliff. You literally have no way back as there’re more people queue behind you. When you reach to the top to the photo shoot point, You can 八仙山(Bashien mountain) and the highest mountain in Taiwan-Jade mountain(玉山)
We were being blessed by the good weather. Pretty sunny that day. Sometimes, you can also see the sea clouds on the top. But I’m happy with the good weather anyway. The mountain like this it’s not suitable to hike when it’s raining or wet.
Wait a minutes, this is not the end. To going down to the mountain, there’re still 3 steep almost vertical cliff that you need to climbing down first!! We wait for a little bit as people in front of us it’s a group. Some people going slowly. But one thing I love about hiking in Taiwan is some Taiwanese are really nice. So hospitality to tell you which route is better and volunteer to take photos for you. Tell you which photo point is better. That make the whole trip even interested.
It’s not really hard, you just need to watch out and stable each step that you made. There’re all have rope and step point over there. Just relax and take it slow, you’ll be fine. After you finally completed came down from those 3 cliffs, you can either choose to go down the mountain from 27.5k sign. Or continue to toward to Shao Lai mountain. We decide to keep on moving as it didn’t took us too much time to finish Yuan Zui. From Yuan Zui going to Shao Lai is another 2 hrs. The same the entire trail is going up then going down over and over again. When you reach Shao Lai that’s around 30.5k point( all the kilometre that I mentioned in this article is the distance you saw when you get back down to the road)
From there, you can either choose to go down from Dayseshan Forest Rereation Area which is located at 35k, then maybe hitchhike back to where you park your car. Or just walk back like we did. We walked back to 29k then going down. What I heard from local people is 29k is more steep compared to 27.5k. But we were bit of tired that don’t feel like to going up and down for 2k to that point. So go down 29k. About an hour to going back to the road.
We started to hike around 7:30 in the morning. by the time when we get down from the mountain is about 14:30. So that’s about 7 hrs hike include a lunch break. It was quite a nice hike, the weather was nice until we go on our way to Shao Lai, starting to get foggy that you can’t see any view. I would suggest that unless you really want to hike both mountain. Otherwise, if weather is that great, you can actually just hike Yuan Zui only.
Next time, if I ever come to Yuan Zui, I would consider to camp for 1 night nearby the trail entry. Then starting to hike early in the morning.