How to Hike the Amazing Dakeng Trails in Taichung, Taiwan

Calling all thrill-seekers! Does it take a precipice, a trail of logs, and only a thin rope dividing the two to get your adrenaline going? Well, then read and find out to experience the amazing Dakeng trails of Taichung, Taiwan.

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How to get there

To get to the Dakeng trails, stay the night in Taichung and get up early the next morning to catch the bus. You can catch bus  #1, #15, #16, #21, and #31 to trails 9 or 10. Just get on the bus and wait until you hear an announcement about Dakeng Trails or the power station. Trails 9 and 10 are part of the Dakeng trail system, and I’m sure they’re nice, but they are more for families and less for thrill-seekers.

If you want to get to trails 1-4 (the scary ones), then you should catch bus #66 from outside trails 9 and 10.

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Trails 1-4 are the most exciting of the Dakeng Trails and they are all interconnected, so you can hop out at whichever you feel like climbing and then climb down another one later on.

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*Note:

Be sure to get up fairly early for the Dakeng Trails. We tried catching a bus around 11 AM from the train station, but no bus arrived for almost an hour. When we finally caught the bus, the ride was about 40 minutes. After that, we arrived at trails 9 and 10 and had to wait an additional half an hour for the #66. The ride from trails 9 and 10 to the other trails was about another 45 minutes. By the time we finally arrived at trail 2, it was nearly 2 PM and the last bus for Taichung leaves around 5 PM, so we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked on the trails. Get up early and give yourself plenty of time to explore.

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Safety on the Trails

The trails are a bit challenging. I’m not incredibly fit and I definitely struggled at parts, although it was still very doable. Just give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush, especially on the wooden logs (which is the majority of the trail), as it’s easy to slip and hurt a leg falling through.

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Some hikers had gloves to hold onto the ropes, but I felt that was unnecessary. The only precautions I would take would be to wear long pants (there were lots of bugs, including signs for biting bugs) and bring lots of water and maybe some snacks. If you run out completely, there was a man at the top of the mountain selling sports drinks and sodas.

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Why the trails are amazing

The trails are really unique because they weave along mountain ridges, and while many Taiwanese hiking trails are neatly paved with cement or steps, these trails are made of logs all wound together with rope handholds on the side. It makes the trails challenging and very beautiful.

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The fact that the trails climb along ridges and over peaks, makes the hike breath-taking and exciting. Every photo you take looks like your climbing into the clouds. It’s truly beautiful.

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Which trails are the best?

On the way up, I took trail 3. This trail was my favorite of the day. It took over an hour, but we saw incredible views and the log paths were winding and challenging, but incredibly picturesque. We even saw macaques on this trail.

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Trail 4 (the famous one) is currently closed for repairs. My boyfriend and friend still went down on Trail 4 (they weren’t aware that it was closed). However, I really wouldn’t recommend attempting the trail until the logs have been repaired. I was told that the trail is mostly dirt paths at the moment (with no handrails on dangerous ridges) and my friend banged up his foot pretty badly, slipping, and sliding on the mountain. Hopefully, this trail will reopen soon, but until then, give this one a miss.

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I took Trail 2 down the mountain and found it to be easier, but slightly longer than Trail 3. The trail winds through the valleys of the mountain and doesn’t go on ridges near as often. However, it was still very pretty and much cooler and quieter than walking on the mountain ridges.

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Of the three, I’d recommend Trail 3 at the moment, at least until Trail 4 is back in operation. Trail 2, 3, and 4 all lead to a similar area at the top of the mountain with a huge drop on one side, awesome views, and some great photo ops.

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Getting back

Getting back will be the same as getting to the trails. However, you should know that the last #66 bus leaves for Taichung around 5 PM. Below is a picture of the bus schedule for Trail 2.

IMG_4377.JPGGive yourself plenty of time to get back to the bus stop. Because we left so late, I basically had to run the entire length of Trail 2 to get back in time. Even then, I nearly missed it. Each trail takes over an hour, even if you’re moving very quickly. Get up early, pack a lunch, and make the Dakeng trails a day trip, so you don’t have to rush on these gorgeous trails.

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Would you be brave enough to try these thrill-seeking trails? Let me know in the comments below.

And if you want to read about more trails in Asia, check out this article about a hike with Taiwanese monkeys and this one about a hike outside Hanoi, Vietnam.

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