Hehuanshan Main Peak – the best place to catch the sunrise
With only about a kilometer long hike to the top, Hehuanshan Main Peak is probably the easiest hike of all the peaks. The Main Peak seems to be at its best very early in the morning when the sun is rising, and it’s still quiet around. With an altitude of over 3,400 meters, witnessing the sunrise on Main Peak promises to be an unforgettable experience.
If you start climbing to the Main Peak one hour before sunrise, you’ll be able to hike under a completely clear starry sky and witness multiple shooting stars. For many photography enthusiasts this will be a great spot to capture the Milky Way. Waking up early can be frustrating, but when the sun rises from the horizon and you will see stunning scenery in front of you, it’s worth the effort.
The trail head is located on the right side of the road after passing Wuling. You’ll see an old military road with a closed gate. There is a sign for Main Peak trailhead, which leads to a marked path going up the hill. The path is quite bumpy so hiking boots are recommended. You can also hike up the old road as well if you prefer something a little less challenging..
Along the path there are a couple of lookout spots. You can stop there and admire the starry sky over you. Just before reaching the top you’ll see an old watchtower. Feel free to enter. . At the top there is also a meteorological station. The facilities are pretty good on Main Peak, since along the old military road there is a decent dry composting toilet aiming to protect the local ecology.
Even though the flora and fauna at these altitudes are not that flourishing, you can still spot some interesting species up here. If you’re lucky, on the way down you can observe some Formosan Laughing Thrush Birds, which live only at altitudes over 2500 meters.
Hehuanshan East Peak – revealing the beauty of scenic mountains above the clouds
Located in the center of the triangle formed by Summit Peak, Shimenshan, and Hehuanshan Main Peak, Hehuan East Peak offers lovely views of this area. In spring time, the Rhododendrons bloom on the top of the mountain and groups of tourists flood to the East Peak to appreciate this beautiful sight. In the winter you can admire the snow-capped peaks as well.
The East Peak trailhead is just off the main road and is relatively easy to locate. The starting point is almost behind the Song Syue Lodge. The trail starts as a dirt path until you reach the staircase, which goes all the way to the top. For those who are more used to hiking on a trail, don’t let it distract you from the views and lookout points on the way, which are enchanting. It takes about an hour to get to the top if you keep up an average speed. When continuing the hike upwards the hill, you’ll see an old cable car station that was used for military training. The summit’s not too far away from there.
The Hehuanshan East Peak is an extremely good location for sunset. After around 5 pm in wintertime the sun starts setting, disappearing behind the mountains and making everything around you look golden. Before the sun sinks into sea of clouds, the sky and the clouds below it turn almost pink. If it’s clear, you might be able to see The Milky Way Galaxy once the sun sets. What an amazing view!
Remember to be careful when descending, especially if it’s already dark. Make sure you have a headlamp with you.
Hehuanshan North Peak – higher peak on the way to the West Peak
Standing at an altitude of 3,422 meters, Hehuan North Peak is the highest of all the four peaks of Hehuanshan, which makes it a perfect spot to enjoy a spectacular view of both the breath-taking sunrise and the golden sunset. The route starts from Xiaofengkou near the Acacia Hill Station.
The hiking trail that leads to the North Peak is mainly a dirt path but also includes some stairs. The trail is quite steep for the first 30 minutes of the hike. Total distance to the peak is 2 kilometers, and it takes approximately 1.5 hours to get there.
This isn’t the easiest hike on Hehuanshan since the elevation is 200 meters for every kilometer, but the hike is not very long. If you’re a seasoned hiker, you should definitely come and enjoy the panoramic views and green vast hills of Hehuanshan North Peak. Besides great views, it also offers you varied terrain.
Some hikers also spend the night on the trail even if it’s officially illegal. After about one kilometer of hiking there is a flat spot cleared out for camping. If you’re staying there overnight, you can continue to the West Peak the next day.
Hehuanshan West Peak – the most challenging hike on Hehuanshan
Hehuan West Peak is a long climb and it is important to start hiking as early as possible since you want to be able to descend during daylight. The weather also often gets rainy and windy in late afternoon. The path first takes you up to the ridge of Hehuan North Peak, which lies at 3,422 meters of altitude. Just below the summit there is a broad plateau where you’ll find a crossing. Keep left at that point so you’ll find the path to the West Peak.
From the crossroads, the trail starts to meander up and down the steep ridge with fixed ropes. There are five humps for you to climb, sometimes along the hillside, sometimes in the forest. Remember to be careful and stay clear of the edge.
The hike to the West Peak is very long (about 6.7 kilometers one way) and you should do it only if you’re confident about your fitness level. It is only 3,145 meters high, but it is quite tiring to climb up and down all those humps.
If you choose the West Peak, better be ready for a challenge!