Tonghou Trail – Wulai to Yilan by Mountain Bike

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Fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and Yilan Plain from the summit. On other days.

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.

Singletrack was great while it lasted ...

... sadly, everything was wet root, rock or mud. Treacherous.

The bikes take a breather at the halfway point.

Mark waits for the slow motion waterfall photography class to finish with their picture, before we ruin their serenity!

Ready, aim ... (the guy had to put up his umbrella to protect his camera when I went tumbling through)

Me, just about in one piece

Legs, sporting wounds from two days riding this weekend

The bike - after a stream splash did most of the cleaning for me!

Directions:

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.

2 Comments

  1. Jeremy Jenkin
    Posted 2012/04/24 at 05:59 | Permalink

    Hey Jon, I’m planning to do this route this Sunday with a dozen people or so. I noticed you said you had to register online for permit? Where do I go to do that or can I do that just on the spot when I get there. How long do you think the whole thing from Wulai to Yilan will take? I’m guessing its about 40 kms plus? Thanks allot.

    • Posted 2012/04/24 at 07:39 | Permalink

      I think as long as you all have ID or ARC you will be fine. There is a police station that you pass (we just drove straight past it).

      Timing? It was a pig on a bike but I think it would be okay walking (is that your plan). The actual trail itself I can imagine (can’t remember exactly) is a couple of hours, but then you are deposited in the middle of hill roads, a fair distance from Yilan. Not sure where the nearest shuttle is, or if you are organising your own escape transport. I can imagine adding a few more hours just to get out to Yilan.

      Any questions let me know. Take a look at Google maps … And good luck!

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