The Taroko Gorge of Hualien (太魯閣國家公園) is one of the most spectacular scenic reserves of Taiwan. (photo gallery here). I planned for a cycling trip because I didn’t want to whiz through the beautiful Taroko Gorge in a car and I thought hiking would be too slow so cycling seemed to be the right choice.
We reserved our bicycles with Mr Lu online and picked up our bicycles from him at Sincheng (Or Shincheng) Train Station (新城站). He also provided transportation for us and the bicycles to Tian Xiang at Taroko Nationl Park.
Sincheng Train Station.
When most people visit Taroko National Park, they will start from the East Entrance Arch Gate (東西橫貫公路牌樓), making their way up to Shakadang Trail (砂卡礑步道), Changchunxi or Eternal Spring Shrine (長春祠), Yanzikou or Swallow Grotto (燕子口) , Jiuqudong or Tunnel of Nine Turns (九曲洞), and ending in Tian Xiang (天祥). This route is consistently uphill.
For us, we reversed our route and we started in Tian Xiang, going back down to the East Entrance Arch Gate, so that we were always going downhill for an easy ride (yes we are lazy!).
View from Wun Tian Xiang Park.
Before we started our ride down, we visited the little church nearby Wun Tian Xiang Park.
Cycling through Taroko National Park was an awesome experience. Taking an easy ride downhill, enjoying the breeze, the sun, the sound of the waters, the aroma of the forest and immersing yourself in nature. The grandness of the marble gorges made me feel so small and I wasn’t really myself, but rather, I was part of nature as well.
We stopped by the National Park Mountaineering School and had some fun posing with our bicycles. There is the Lushui Trail nearby and you can lock the bikes on railings at the compound.
There’s geological information about Taroko Gorge at the Mountaineering School.
Yuefei Pavilion (岳飛亭).
Cimu Bridge, or Motherly Devotion Bridge, is an excellent stopping location for sight-seeing. The bridge was built by the late president Chiang Jing Kuo in memory of his mother. We were glad at this point of our ride because we could spent as much time taking photos around the area. There’s also a Cimu Pavilion nearby on a higher position which provides a good view of the magnificient white marble valley with Liwu River running beneath it.
At Swallow Grotto Trail or Yanzihkou (燕子口).
Watch out for potholes at Swallow Grotto.
Sprinkling water from potholes
Up until the Swallow Grotto Trail, everything was enjoyable. The two-lane traffic was not too busy, just occasional cars and tour buses going downhill as us. However, the traffic became very very heavy by around 3.30pm or so. By that time, a lot of the tour buses and cars were making their way down, and curiously, a lot of tour buses were making their way up as well. It was actually quite scary because there were times I had huge buses following behind my bicycle, or I found myself having no space at all with one bus going up one lane and one bus going down the other lane. Most of the time we had to stop at the side of the road to let the busses, trucks and cars go by first. At certain places, the roads were so small I really had to step aside and almost into the drain at the very edge of the road. It was until this point that our ride started to become stressful.
We started hurrying our way down from Swallow Grotto as we wanted to make a move before even more buses make their way down. It was a pity that we didn’t get a chance to hike the other famous trails, such as the Shakadang Trail and Changchun Shrine Trail. We were only able to stop for some quick photos. Another famous trail, Tunnel of Nine Turns was closed during our visit
Our quick stop at Sipan Damn. It had beautiful blue waters.
Our quick stop at Eternal Spring Shrine.
And finally, we reached the East Entrance Arch Gate, which ended our ride in Taroko National Park.
It was an amazing experience riding through Taroko National Park. Cycling brought me closer to the gorges compared to taking a cab ride and getting off at various scenic spots. I truly enjoyed riding through the park, though the heavy and dangerous traffic was unpleasant towards the end.
Taroko Gorge is a beautiful place and I would recommend everyone to go, whether by cab, tour buses or cycling. But do take the safety factor and your cycling experiences into consideration before planning for cycling through the National Park.
Address: 291 Fushih Village, Sioulin Township, 97253 Hualien County,Taiwan.
Tel: +8863 862 1100
Map of Scenic Spots Along Taroko National Park. Image taken from Taroko National Park’s Official Site http://www.taroko.gov.tw/English/?mm=5&sm=1&page=1#up