Zhuilu Old Trail – a scenic path on the edge of a stunning gorge
Zhuilu Old Trail was built during the Japanese period in 1914 in order to reach the aboriginal villages and connect the two sides of the Central Mountain Range. It was extremely difficult to carve the road out of a sheer cliff. It has been told that this cliff was so spine-chilling that it even made the most experienced Japanese workers quit. There was no choice but to hire Taiwanese aborigines to complete it. Some of the Taiwanese climbed up to the top of the cliff and used rope to rappel down for carving. There were 37 lives lost during the construction in 7 months – some fell into the valley and some were hit by falling rocks.
HOW TO GET THERE?
The cheapest way to get to Taroko Gorge from Hualien is by public bus. Buses depart from the orange bus station next to the train station on left side as you walk out of the main front exit. The earliest bus from Hualien leaves at 7:00, and the last one departs from Tianxiang at 17:00. This schedule is likely to change, so it’s important to get a copy of the timetable from the bus station before you leave. A 1-Day Pass costs NTD$250 and allows you to hop on and off at any bus stop along the Taroko Route. Purchase the ticket at the bus station, Family-Mart, or 7-11 before you get onto the bus.
Tourist Shuttle – 1133A Taroko Route from Hualien to TianXiang.
Departs from Hualien Station: 07:00 / 08:30 / 09:10 / 10:00 / 11:10 / 12:00 / 13:20 / 14:10 / 15:10
Return from Yanzikou: 08:52 / 10:12 / 10:52/ 11:52/ 13:02 / 14:22 / 15:12 / 16:02 / 17:12
Bus fare: 1-Day Pass $250, 2-Days Pass $400
Journey Time: Approx. 1hour
Detailed Time Table: http://www.hualienbus.com.tw/bus/userfiles/files/149826391848833.pdf
You can also cycle there if you are fit enough. From Hualien city to the entrance of Taroko is about 25KM, and it’s another 20KM to Tianxiang along the amazing gorge. You will experience ultimate freedom in this way, but you might feel a bit tired on the way back.
For the experienced driver, you can hire either a car or a scooter; there are some scooter/car rental shops in front of the train station. It costs around NTD$500~800/day for a scooter, and NTD$1600~2000 for a car. The road inside Taroko is narrow and winding. It can be challenging with all the tourist buses on the same narrow road with you. Drive carefully.
⦁ Don’t forget to bring along your passport and apply for the permits beforehand.
⦁ You need to pay the entrance fee of NT$200 at the trail-head near Yanzikou (Swallow Grotto)
⦁ Before entering the trail you will need to register. Show both the park and mountain entry permits, your passport at a small shaded stall on the side of the road opposite the suspension bridge. Pay the entrance fee. Only then the staff will open the gate for you. Have a happy and safe hike!
⦁ Make sure to have enough water, some food with you as there aren’t any options to buy either inside the park, and a rain jacket in case there are showers in the afternoon.
⦁ The trail ends just beyond the cliffs’ section. Zhuilu trail used to be 10.3 km long, but due to typhoon damage over the last years, it was limited to 3.1 km only.
⦁ Visitors must enter the trail before 10 am (trailhead opens for checking in from 7am to 10am).
⦁ Remember to be extremely careful when taking photos on the cliff.
WHAT TO BRING?
- Food and drinking water (at least 2L each person)
- Hiking shoes
- Hiking pole
You will need both Park Entry and Mountain Entry Permits. Because this trail poses some danger if it gets too crowded, only 96 permits on weekdays and 156 permits on the weekend will be issued.
The Park Entry Permit must be obtained at least 2 days before hiking. The Mountain Permit can be obtained on the spot at the police post just outside the Taroko Visitor Center, but it’s suggested to apply online in advance so you don’t waste time getting off at the visitor center and waiting for the next bus. Check our blog page ”Applying the permits for hiking in Taiwans national parks” for more details.