On November 21st, my friends and I hiked Caoling Trail (草嶺古道). I’d wanted to hike this particular trail for over a year, as I’d heard that it was the most beautiful trail in Northern Taiwan.
However, Caoling Trail can only be hiked during autumn and spring, as it’s too exposed to the weather extremes in summer and winter. Jessica was luckily just as down to hike Caoling Trail as I, and she and Reiney pulled together a most excellent trip. We followed the trail directions noted in Richard Saunders’ great hiking and day trip guide to Northeastern Taiwan, Taipei Escapes 1. We started at Daxi Station (大溪火車站) and ended up at Fulong Station (福隆火車站), so that we could to the Taoyuan Valley path.
A lot of other people have done some excellent write-ups, which I’ll link, before hitting you in the FACE WITH PICTURES. Also, everything on this entire set of paths is made of stairs, and I considered asking my friends to leave me behind to die so that I could end my suffering. I was too embarrassed to tell them that part, so I ended up finishing and we got some of the VERY LAST biandang at Xiang Ye Biandang (鄉野便當).
I guess living was worth it after all, since I gave life an 8/10 after that biandang.
The whole trail was gorgeous, but definitely bring plenty of food and water, as well as prepare for rain and wind. From starting at Daxi Station, to walking up to Xiang Ye Biandang, it was probably about 8 hours in total. That’s including food and bathroom breaks, as well as ‘I laid down on a bench and prayed for death’ stops. We cut it extremely close in terms of having enough day light on the trail portions, and we ended by walking in darkness along the paved road into Fulong.
So, start early, and start prepared!
Other people with more words:
Caoling Trail – Taiwan’s Beautiful Northeast Coast – The Daily Bubble Tea, 3/2008
Caoling Old Trail and Wankengtou Mountain (草嶺古道和灣坑頭山) – Lao Ren Cha, 2/2010
The Caoling Historic Trail – A Fulbright Experience in Taiwan, 9/2013