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Hike beautiful Mt. Guanshan and witness some of Taiwan’s most dramatic mountain views!
Located along Taiwan’s South-Cross Island Highway and standing at 3668m, Mt. Guanshan is the area’s tallest peak. The trail offers a highly pleasant overnight trip through lush woods and alpine terrain.
At A Glance
Length: 9.2km round trip
Height gain: 1288m
Type: out and back
Hiking Time: 2 days
Water source: no
Note: You can complete Guan Mountain in a single day if you’re in good shape.
From the trailhead, 2380m
The path takes you up a series of wooden/gravel steps all the way to Kuhanuoxin Cabin at 3115m. Some of these steps are at an angle and become very slippery when they’re wet. Take your time. In humid conditions, this part of the trail could actually be one of the most dangerous, especially on the way down, when your legs are tired.
Kuhanuoxin Cabin, 3115m
It will take you about 2.5 hours to reach Kuhanuoxin Cabin if you carry a big pack. The cabin itself is all right. Nothing special. It’s a basic shack. A shelter. What is notable is the setting. Wow! It is remarkable. From there, you get stunning views of imposing Mt. Guanshan and the surrounding peaks.
Meet The Grinch…
When my friend Mathieu and I got to the cabin, an unpleasant surprise was waiting for us. The cabin attendant (park ranger) and some other Taiwanese guys jumped on us: “Do you have a permit? Show me your paper! Paper, authorization, documents… I want to see your paper NOW!”
We had both mountain and national park permits, but no overnight authorization. “You have to go back!” He wanted us out of the mountain… The poor man didn’t expect the kind of counter attack we gave him. Mathieu and I were gonna start a riot. We kind of freaked everybody out. It worked… We stayed.
We were lucky enough to get the first snow of the year the day we went. People on the trail, were warning us: “Don’t go to the summit. It’s way too dangerous 非常危險！ Snow…ice…slippery…you’ll fall… Don’t go!” It had snowed about 1cm.
The campsite by the cabin
If you want to travel light and fast or don’t want to carry a tent, staying at the hut is your best option. But if you don’t feel like listening to a chorus of snorers, know that there’s a cool camping spot about 30m past the shack. That’s where we spent the night, and luckily we had a strong 4-season tent, as the wind got quite strong in the middle of the night.
After the cabin
Get an early start if you want to be back to the road before dark. The following stretch of trail starts revealing more difficulties… Steep sections (near vertical) where you ascend using fixed-ropes. Narrow passages along exposed faces. Nothing too hair-rising, but people not comfortable with heights could have a hard time.
It’s about 4 hours from the cabin to the summit of Mt. Guanshan. The last part is along a soft ridge that takes you past two false summits. If you’re blessed with good weather like we were, you’ll get to contemplate the famous sea of clouds.
Getting to the Trail
The trailhead is 4km east of Tianchih, along the Southern Cross-Island Highway. It’s at the bottom of a gully and is very easy to see.
Tainan – Meishankou by bus: Hsingnan Motor Transport Company on Zhongshan Rd has four buses/day; 6 hours; NT$320. Hitchhike or walk to the trailhead. It’s easy to get a ride.
Park Entrance Permit: If you don’t intend to spend the night on the trail, then you can apply at Yushan National Park Office in Meishankou, a village about 25km west of Tianchih. Apply online, at least 7 days in advance, for an overnight permit. You need to show a passport photocopy. Free. They open at 8:00am.
Mountain Permit: Apply at the police station in Meishankou. NT$10. They’ll want to see your Park Entrance Permit first.