It has long been a goal to ride from Wulai, in the mountains near Taipei, to Yilan on the coast. There have been rumours of such a trail, reporting varying levels of condition. The internet is making searching for this kind of thing much easier these days, and Mark contacted us last week to book the Tomb Sweeping holiday for a ride.
Predictably perhaps, Taipei dished up a crappy morning of weather, and we ascended into the hills looking up at clouds, mist and light rain. Nothing we haven’t seen before.
Despite another crash on the treacherously slippery road section (giving me pleasingly symmetrical wounds), cold weather, a broken water bladder and dodgy shifting performance it was pretty awesome to break through the summit and see the Yilan plain laid out in front of us. Almost as awesome as the pack of Jelly Belly Sports Beans (seriously, so delicious it is the reason I even do sport) and the descent down to the stream crossing where I almost tipped a photographer into the water as I clattered by.
Conditions also made life pretty difficult; every single thing was covered in slippery moss; even my bike became a handful at times. In the summer, you would no doubt trade more confident trail conditions with high temperatures and humidity.
Driving into Wulai, you need to drive into the town, and at the start of the old street, take a left up past the school. You then follow the road for a few kilometres, register at the police station, and drive another few kilometres to the next check point. If you want to go further, you need to register online, so we stopped there. It’s then about 12.5km of gentle climbing to the trail head.
From the trailhead, it is about 6 or 7 km to the summit, of which the first 3 or 4 are rideable, and with the final section turning into more taxing hike-a-bike. We then kept heading downhill towards Jiaoxi, and stopped when we hit tarmac. The climb back up is a solid 20 minute slog. After negotiating the steps and climbing sections, the final few kilometres are lots of fun, with sweeping turns and frequent close proximity to pools and small waterfalls – great in the summer. We set out from Taipei at 7:00am, left the trailhead at 8:30, and we back at the car at about 2:30 pm.
I think it would be possible to take the train to Jiaoxi or Yilan, do the complete climb, and ride all the way back to Taipei from there. A solid day in the saddle, but eminently doable!
The route up to the trailhead is featured on this blog-post here.