Hehuanshan is a series of four peaks located near the highest road in East Asia. North Peak is the tallest at 3422 meters but all four are included in Taiwan’s Baiyue list (top 100 peaks). In addition to that you can also hike Shimenshan for a fifth Baiyue peak. The road is quite busy on weekends since the hikes (except West Peak) are relatively easy for 3000+ meter peaks. During the winter it is not unusual for it to snow and they sometimes require tire chains to go up. Cingjing farm is the closest lodging but Wushe is probably cheaper for those staying overnight.
How to get there – The easiest way to Hehuanshan is to use your own transportation but there are other options.
Option 1 – Buses depart several times/day from Taichung to Cingjing Farm. At Cingjing farm you will have to arrange a taxi to go to the trailhead (or trailheads). I am not sure if this is possible. You might have to hitchhike.
Option 2 – Taiwan Adventures usually arranges a couple of hiking trips to Hehuanshan. They are not cheap but they include transportation from Taipei, basic lodging and meals for a reasonable price. You can find out more information at their facebook page. Taiwan Adventures Facebook link
Option 3 – The drive up Hehuanshan from Taichung through Puli is beautiful and having a car or scooter allows you to stop at every interesting viewpoint and hike to as many peaks as you want.
The hike – All 5 of the Baiyue hikes will be described but I have only hiked 3 of them. We tried to hike to West Peak but we didn’t have enough time to finish the hike. I will return another time to finish this.
Hehuanshan Main Peak 合歡山主峰
Main Peak isn’t the tallest but it is the easiest hike of the four Hehuanshan peaks. This is the first trail that you get to driving up from Taichung. Some cars will be parked there but we saw a police officer writing tickets. There is a viewpoint with parking 200-300 meters past the trailhead. The trail is actually an old military road all the way to the peak and constantly ascends at a reasonable rate (290m in 2kms). It will take 1.5-2 hours to finish the trail.
Hehuanshan East Peak 合歡山東峰
East Peak is directly east of the Main Peak and is a more impressive looking mountain. It used to be a ski hill but I doubt it was ever very good and global warming has further shortened the possible ski season to almost nothing. Do not ever expect it to reopen. The hike to East Peak starts at Songsyue (Pine Snow) Lodge (possibly open). Walk down through the gates and the trailhead is on the other side of the building. This trail is steep (300m in 1km) and is almost entirely wooden steps. Overall it’s not that hard if you go slow but caution should still be exercised due to the elevation.
The trailhead is located just around the corner from Songsyue Lodge at a small parking lot. I haven’t hiked this yet but it looks like an easy hike.
Hehuanshan North Peak 合歡山北峰
The first 3 hikes might be a little too well maintained (boardwalks, steps and old military roads) but North Peak is a wonderful ridgewalk cut into the rock. The trailhead is about 5 km north of Songsyue Lodge. There is some parking right at the trailhead otherwise there is a parking lot at the visitor center about 200-300 meters from the trailhead. This trail is immediately steep climbing 250 meters in the first km. It levels off for a couple of minutes and then it ascends again until you reach the ridgeline. There are some camping areas at 1.8-2kms.
Hehuanshan West Peak 合歡山西峰
I have not finished this hike yet. We started at 9:30 am and were only able to hike at 1.25 km/hr due to the steep ups and downs. It would have taken us until 9 or 10 pm to finish and that sounded neither fun nor safe. Next time we will camp at the trailhead or near North Peak. There is some water available (not good and must be filtered/treated). You are supposed to obtain a permit to camp but I have not been able to find out where you can obtain permits or the process.
Resources – Taiwan’s Baiyue (top 100 peaks)
Dates visited – 3/21/2015 – 1/31/2017