Maolin (in addition to Mexico) is one of just two great over wintering valleys in the world. Every winter 1000’s or possibly 1,000,000 of the famous purple crow butterflies migrate to Maolin. There more than 10 different species altogether in the migration. The easiest place to view them is along a short trail next to Maolin village but there are other places in Taiwan to view them. This (long) article provides some outstanding background information on Taiwan’s purple crow butterflies.
Rating and length – easy (but many stairs) – 2 kms – 1-2 hours (loop hike)
How to get there – The butterfly hike starts right in Maolin village. Hikers can park at a parking lot at the entrance to the village and the the trailhead a set of stairs on the opposite side of the road. At the top of the stairs there is a nice visitor center with a lot of information on the butterfly migration and a short movie.
The hike – After the visitor center continue up the stairs towards Maya Pavilion. After 10-15 minutes of ascending you can turn left and go to the lookout (Maya Pavilion) for a great view out of Maolin Valley or turn right and go past the best butterfly viewing areas. The entire trail is a mix of brick road, asphalt or boardwalk. It isn’t the prettiest hike but the focus is on the butterflies.
Best time to see them – They overwinter here from November to March every year. It is best to do this hike first thing in the morning before the butterflies become too active and aren’t in dense groups.
GPS – visitor center N22.886778 E120.663166
Date visited – 11/1/2015 (and almost every year)
I descended through town looking for a restaurant. Maolin is coming back and there are more restaurants every year. I ate at a spot near the police station.