After losing my adventure-partner-exploration-mentor to a job in Taipei, I have been left in Taichung on my own devices. So I started small, this weekend seeking out two local trails in nearby Guguan.
Guguan is a popular destination in central Taiwan in the winter months, primarily for its hot springs and high mountain tea. The township of Guguan is in a valley surrounded by small mountains, commonly known as The Seven Brothers.
Guguan is easily accessible from Taichung city and makes a great day trip for hiking or hot springs, and in the coming winter months, both hopefully. From the Taichung High Speed Rail, the 153 shuttle bus runs directly into Guguan. The trip cost me about 60NT one way each time. It took a little under two hours both ways to get from the HSR to the 大道院, Daoist Temple, stop, it is the trail-head for both the Mt. DongMao 東卯山, and the Defulan Trail.
After walking up towards the temple from the bus stop, the trail-head can be found in the far corner of the parking lot on the left-hand side. From the parking lot to the trail-head is a steep ascent, about a half a kilometer.
The DongMao Shan trail is a 6km series of switchbacks, which can be made shorter via shortcuts along the trail. As a solo hiker I was very picky about which shortcuts I used especially on the descent. I was scolded by an elderly woman, who was also hiking solo, for speeding by her using the short cuts “Wéixiǎn!”. I saw her later on my way down still heading up, somewhere around the 4km mark. It is a popular trail and I saw quite a few hikers once I got past the 3km mark. The incline gets increasingly steeper but at a steady pace, I made it to the top with no breaks in a little over 2 hours. The trail itself is heavily shaded, that made hiking on a hot day more comfortable than it would have been otherwise, but it did not offer a lot of viewing points on the way up.
The peak of DongMao Shan is a little under 1,700 meters. It is a flat wooden viewing platform with four huge billboards,(I think they serve some sort of function for cell phones or reception or something along those lines). I brought a book and intended on taking a nap and doing some reading, but when I arrived it was crowded with people and the view was clouded and a bit chilly. On a clear day you would be able to see into the valley of Guguan and the rest of the surrounding mountains.
On Sunday I went back to try out the Defulan trail. Starting at the same point and sharing the trail until the .5 kilometer mark where you can take a steep shortcut to the trail or carry on until the 2 km for a softer incline.
We took the shortcut. The Defulan trail is quite beautiful, the highest point is maybe about 1,200 meters but I think it offered some better view points than the peak of DongMao Shan itself.
Though we didn’t see any bears we did see plenty of butterflies.
Some parts of the trail were covered in debris. It isn’t as popular as a trail as DongMao Shan so I am assuming this was the result of the summer typhoon season that hasn’t been cleared yet.
The trail itself is pretty straightforward.
We saw a few families and one large hiking group after the 3km mark. Around the 2km is a small suspension bridge.
The last kilometer it gets a little tricky, after crossing a man-made stream there is a sign post indicating that the exit is less than .5km away.
However the path gets less and less clear until you end up in a farm field. We hesitated, but this is correct, you have to walk through a tree farm to get to the small parking lot at the end where there is a bathroom and a few picnic platforms. From there it is a 5 minute walk down to route 8 by the Songhe bridge where the 153 picked us up less than 10 minutes later.
Both trails are easy day trips, less than an entire day if you have your own transportation. And even via bus I was back at my apartment in Taichung around 5 both days. DongMao Shan is a good challenge for a beginning hiker and the Defulan trail can be utilized for a family outing, a trail run, or a leisurely recovery hike. Hopefully after a few months of knee-hab it can be a regular trail run.