Fri, Jun 08, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Off the Beaten Track: Return of the ‘heroes’

Hiking in the mountains can be pleasant even in high summer, especially in places like the Seven Heroes in Taichung’s Kukuan, where relatively high altitudes and a waterfall keep hikers cool

By Richard Saunders  /  Contributing reporter

Along with Dongmao and Pojinjia mountains, Wuwowei Mountain (屋我尾山; 1,796 meters, no. 3) is the finest of the seven peaks. There are two trailheads. Unfortunately, although still useable, the steep, rocky and quite challenging trail from the south (the more interesting route by far), is officially closed. A much quicker and gentler route leads to the summit from the Dasyueshan Forest Road (大雪山林道) in the north and, unusually, goes down to reach the summit.

The second highest Hero, Maluan Mountain is a very fine hike, with a couple of good views, and the scant ruins of a Japanese-era logging village and railway at the half-way point. Reached by the longest trail of the seven (13km return; 6 to 7 hours), it’s a fairly straightforward climb, with just two very steep stretches, one near the start and another right at the end, which is cruelly trying at the last stages of a long uphill hike. The trailhead lies several kilometers up Taidiansiang (台電巷), which leaves Provincial Highway 8 two kilometers east of Kukuan Village, and is too narrow for anything larger than a small minibus to get through.

Finally then, the tallest and most popular Hero, Basian Mountain. Personally I think it’s the least interesting hike of the seven. The trailhead is inside Basian Forest Recreation Area (八仙森林遊樂區). During the six kilometer-long climb there’s some lovely woodland (especially a small but magical area of forest dripping with mosses and lichens just before the top), but the summit itself is a huge, undefined plateau. There is a large, flat area of scrappy grass beside the summit plaque, an untidy thicket and no view whatsoever.

Unless enjoying those cool summer breezes at nearly 2,400 meters are the main reason for lugging yourself and several liters of water to the summit, it’s probably better to stick with one of the more scenic Heros, at least the in summer.

Richard Saunders is a classical pianist and writer who has lived in Taiwan since 1993. He’s the founder of a local hiking group, Taipei Hikers, and is the author of six books about Taiwan, including Taiwan 101 and Taipei Escapes. Visit his Web site at www.taiwanoffthebeatentrack.com

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