Sun, Mar 07, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Forestry bureau opens Syakaro national hiking trail

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Syakaro national hiking trail in Hsinchu County, the scene of historical conflicts between Japanese soldiers and the Atayal tribe in the early 20th century, was officially opened to the public on Feb. 24.

The entry points to the trail are Chinchuan in the west and Hsiuluan in the east. The trail bypasses Kuanwu National Park and Shei Pa National Park. It is 24km long and situated between 1,295m and 2,050m above sea level.

The trail gets its name from the Atayal word for formosana, a kind of tree that thrives in the mountainous area.

In the past, this trail was utilized by the two Atayal groups, the Chinaya and the Syakaro, as their main route to visit relatives, go hunting and for defense.

During the Japanese occupation, as a result of warfare with the tribe, the Japanese government decided to renovate the trail and install numerous batteries and patrol stations.

"Today, the remains of these batteries and old walls are scattered along the trail," said Yen Jen-te (顏仁德), the director of the Bureau of Forestry under the Council of Agriculture.

Yen said that since last year, the bureau has been doing its best to preserve the natural look of the mountain.

"We want the trail to provide hikers with scenery as well as a sense of the historical events that occurred in this area," Yen said.

According to the Bureau of Forestry, Chang Hsueh-liang (張學良), one of the key figures in the "Xian Incident," had been detained in Chinchuan for 12 years before being moved to Peitou in 1957.

Another celebrity synonymous with Chinchuan is the late popular writer Chen Ping (陳平), better known by her pen name Sanmao (三毛). In the fall of 1981, Chen travelled to Chinchuan to pay a visit to a Catholic priest. She fell deeply in love with the place at first sight. Two years later, Sanmao moved into a red brick house in Chinchuan and made it her home for three years.

Geographically, this trail passes through the source of the Tahan River, the Sakayachin River and the Shangping River. In seasons where there is a huge fluctuation in temperature between day and night, the trail will be enveloped in fog.

Completing the entire trail usually takes about ten hours, hikers choose to start from Chinchuan or Hsiuluan and turn back at the mid-way point. There are three points of interest along the trail.

A wooden house can be spotted on the left side of the Shihlu entry point, which was constructed between 1700 and 1900. The house was renovated in 1964 by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government and used for administrative purposes, but was abandoned in 1989. It was then used by the Aboriginals as a warehouse.

At Shilhlu, visitors can admire a variety of plant species.

Another point of interest is Paishi, where a gory battle, known as the `Syakaro Incident,' was fought between the Japanese and the Atayal tribe in the early 1900s. Back then, the Japanese regarded Paishi as a key point for a military invasion. In the early spring one can spot cherry blossoms in this area.

The third point of interest is Yanglo police station, which is located between 1,640m and 1,320m above sea level. At this spot, there are still remains of an old government administrative house and a police dormitory, which were renovated in the 1970s.

The trail here leads to Paishi suspension bridge, which rewards hikers with the most spectacular scenery of the entire trail. In spring one can admire maple foliage in this area. Paishi suspension bridge is 140m long and was built in the early 1900s. It has recently been renovated by the Bureau of Forestry and is now safe to cross.

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