Hehuanshan (Mt. Hehuan)
Hike Central Taiwan's Misty Mountains
Welcome to beautiful Hehuanshan!
Here, I'll help you escape above and beyond the smog and chaos of the city... and show you some of the most accessible
high altitude hiking trails in Taiwan. Are you ready? Strap on your
boots... or make sure your scooter has good brakes and a full tank...
You're off for a memorable experience!
At over 3000m, Hehuanshan is located in central Taiwan, on the western edge of Taroko National Park. The area is characterized by rolling green hills that often disappear in a sea of clouds. The weather here is much cooler and provides a nice break from the heat on the coast. It's also the best place to see snow in winter, and for that reason, it really gets crowded on weekends between December and February.
By the way, there is Hehuanshan the region (which is called Hehuanshan National Forest Area) and Hehuanshan the mountain. This page is dedicated to the entire area, and I will specify it when I talk about the peak.
Hehuanshan means mountain of harmonious joy, or something like that. As you've probably come to realize if you've spent some time in Taiwan, Chinese people love to give such poetic names to mountains, rivers, and other natural features.
Hehuanshan Natural Forest Area is located at the border of both Nantou County and Hualien County.
Things To Do At Hehuanshan
Taiwanese come here on weekends to enjoy the spectacular views from the
comfort of their cars and to snap some pictures from the parking lot by
Hehuan Cottage. But you will not satisfy yourself with mere glances at
the mountains from highway stopping points... You're here to walk! Let's go!
Hike 1: Hehuan Jian Shan, 3217m
Duration: 45 minutes round-trip
If you're pressed by time or if hiking is not your thing, but you still
want to "get high" then this short and easy (but steep) walk is for
you. As you can see on the picture below, the trail starts just behind Hehuan Cottage.
The summit is a great spot to have your coffee in the morning or to
watch the sunset. The parking lot in front of the lodge is a convenient
Hike 2: Hehuan East Peak, 3421m
Duration: 2 hours round-trip
By far the busiest peak in the region
and for good reasons... It's right by Hohuan Cottage, it's not too
hard, nor too long, and the views from the top are simply stunning!
The main trail
begins right across from the cottage and ascends the north slope of the
mountain. There are some steep sections where you have to use your
hands, or where hiking poles might come in handy.
Two alternative routes exist.
Here's how to get to the first one... Looking southeast from Hehuan
Cottage, you can see a big grey building behind the public toilets. The
trailhead is 25m past that building. Halfway up is the old, dismantled
ski lift. Yes, there used to be skiing here!
The other alternative route starts at Wuling,
1km southwest from the cottage. This one ascends the exposed west ridge
and is not for the faint hearted. Go up this way, and down one of the
two other trails if you want to make it a nice round-trip. Walk back or
hitch a ride from the cottage. Allow 3 hours if you hike the entire
Hike 3: Hehuan North Peak, 3422m
Duration: 3.5 hours round-trip
The trailhead of this scenic hike is about 3.5km north of the cottage off the road to Taroko.
The mountain seems to be a favorite choice for hiking groups from
Taipei and it gets pretty busy on weekends. The trail ascends the
southeast ridge and presents no real difficult challenge except a short
exposed section right at the beginning. From the summit, you can
continue on to Hehuan West Peak... which is a different story! (read on...)
Hike 4: Hehuan West Peak, 3145m
Duration: 8 hours round-trip
Are you ready for a challenge? You better be! The west peak is a very long trail
and you should only attempt it if you're in good shape. The first time
my friends and I went there, we underestimated it and got fooled by the
numbers. Sure, it's only 3145m high, (lower than most peaks in the
area) but the ridge is like a camel back with 5 BIG bumps. Click here for the complete trail description...
Sleeping and EatingAs
of November 2012, both Hehuan Cottage and the big hotel next to it (at
the trailhead of Cilai Mountain) were closed due to renovation. The
closest places where you'll find a hotel or something that might
resemble a hostel are Ching Jing Farm and Dayuling.
Camping: If you have a
tent, you can pitch it pretty much anywhere you want by the side of the
road. I've camped along this road countless times and I've never been
bothered by the cops. Some popular camping spots in the Hehuan Shan area
Booking ahead is a must! Call this number: (04)2522-9797
Getting To HehuanshanThe best advice I have for anyone interested in traveling to Hehuanshan is to get your own wheels!
Over the years I have heard so many complains from travelers who
couldn't find the bus stops in Taichung or Puli, or who found them but
the bus never came.
Having your own vehicle will add a sense of adventure! It will allow
you to bring more stuff like camping / hiking gear, and you'll be able
to go at your own pace and stop along the way to snap a few shots of
the stunning scenery.
It takes, roughly, about 3
hours to drive from Taichung to Hehuanshan if you don't stop too much
on the way, and it takes about the same time to get to Hualien from
Hehuan Mountain. I know it doesn't make sense when you look at a map,
but you'll understand if you drive in Taroko Gorge - the road is
somewhat sinuous. If you're as good as I am in math, you now know that it takes - again very roughly - 6 hours to travel between Taichung and Hualien by car or scooter, through the Central Cross Island Highway.
By Car / Motorcycle (highly recommended!)
From Taichung, drive south on road 63 to Caotun. In Caotun, switch to road 14 to get to Wushe, Ching Jing Farm, and finally, Hehuanshan. Drive with caution.
Make sure to fill up your gas tank at Ching Jing Farm before heading higher as the next gas station is pretty far and it closes early.
Don't drive too fast,
don't be impatient and pass other vehicles without seeing what's ahead.
Tons of high-on-beetle-nuts cabbage-truck-drivers travel down this road
day and night and believe me - they don't give a sh** about other cars
Bring warm clothes and rain gear.
Yes, even in summer. It's not uncommon for the temperature at
Hehuanshan to be around 5 degrees Celcius even in the summer months
when it's 35 degrees not too far in Taichung City. Add to this a little
bit of rain, or the wind if you're riding a scooter and you can imagine
how bad things can get.
From Taichung Feng Yuan Bus Company: Their office is located by Taichung train station. One bus departs at 8am for Hehuanshan. 4 to 5 hours, 393NT$.
From Taichung HSR Station:
The Nantou Bus Company has 2 buses that depart at 9:30 and 12:30
respectively, and make it as far as Chui Feng, a spot lost in the
sticks between Ching Jing Farm and Hehuanshan. The schedule says it
takes 3 hours... but it will most likely be more like 4. It's around
The Nantou Bus Company (by Puli bus station) has 3 buses that will take
you to Chui Feng. Buses leave at 7:10, 10:20, and 13:40. 2 hours, 150NT$
From Chui Feng...
It's only a couple of kilometres to your destination. Get in the middle
of the road, stop a blue truck, and jump at the back. Welcome to the
Here's a list of other destinations in the area:
Wushe - Taroko National Park - Hualien City - Puli - Mt. Cilai - Taichung
Return from Hehuanshan to Taiwan Hiking.