Beidawushan is the southernmost Baiyue (top 100 peaks) in Taiwan. It might be one of the shorter peaks on the list but it makes up for it by starting at 1200 meters of elevation. Because of the 2100 meters of elevation gain the trail is almost always going up during the 12 km (one way) hike. The trail is well made and is one of my favorite hikes in Taiwan. It passes through beautiful forests and on a clear day offers outstanding views of southern Taiwan. There is also a chance that you will see the famous sea of clouds below you as you hike to the top.
Beidawushan was another area that suffered damage from Typhoon Morakot in 2009. A landslide wiped out the road and there appears to be no chance that it will ever be rebuilt. Some still hike across the landslide but they have built a new trail to the old trailhead. It adds 2.8 kms to the hike but it passes through a lovely forest.
You must get a police permit (free and apply day of)
Rating and length – 12 kms to the summit – 7.5 kms to the cabin (4-5 hrs) and 4.5 kms to the summit (4-5 hrs each way)
3 day trip – moderately strenuous – This is the best option if you have 3 days. The first and 1st and 3rd day are relatively easy and the 2nd day is a reasonable 8+ hour hike
2 day trip = very strenuous – The first day is relatively easy but the 2nd day is a 12+ hour day starting between 2 and 4am
1 day trip = insanely strenuous – Some have done this but I don’t recommend it unless you have done a similar hike before.
How to get there – Beidawushan is in Taiwu township and will take almost 3 hours to get to from Kaohsiung. You can get to Beidawushan on either 102-1 or on 106 but you must stop at the police station on 102-1 to get the mountain permit. Driving back to Beidawushan was fairly straightforward since you stay on the main road the whole way. The one exception (see map below) is the hairpin turn where the 102-1 and 106 connect. It is easy to miss this hairpin turn. If you start going downhill then you should turn around. There is about an hour of mountain road driving but the road is in fair to good condition and our sedan rental had no problems. There is no longer a parking lot due to a large landslide and you will have to parallel park alongside the road. On a weekend this can be tricky and you might have to back down the road 100+ meters to find a parking space.
The hike – There really isn’t a parking lot. The trailhead is a set of stairs leaving from the road where everyone is parallel parking. The trail goes up the stairs or steep trail for about 10 minutes and turns left at a concrete path. You follow that for awhile until you get to a trail junction. This junction isn’t marked and confused us for awhile until we took the left trail. 5 minutes later the two trails rejoined. There is a 2nd junction about an hour into the hike. Turn right and follow the sign to the old parking lot. The left fork goes for a short and steep hike up to Ritangzhenshan. After another 30 minutes on a gradual ascent you will reach the old trailhead. There is a small pavilion to rest at, piped water and some awful bathrooms. At the old trailhead you will need to sign in with an attendant that will later check if you have a mountain permit.
After the old trailhead the trail remains easy for 30 minutes and then you begin ascending. There are several small sections of minor rock scrambling with ropes. The most impressive part of the trail up to this point is a long ridgeline with steeply sloped cliffs on both sides. I have been on ridges like this at higher, treeless elevations but never within a beautiful forest. The path is well made and at least 2 meters wide along this ridgeline so it isn’t scary but it is very impressive. It will take most hikers 5 hours to reach the Guigu hut and camping area. The side trail is well marked. You must pre-book the cabin (free I think) but there are many tent platforms available to setup on. You will want to start as early as possible because almost all of them will be occupied by Saturday evening.
I wasn’t feeling well the 2nd day and didn’t think I could handle a 12-14 hour hiking day at elevation so I did not summit that day. The trail was challenging according to my friends with a lot of rock hopping. Of interest there is a Japanese shrine along the way with an interesting story. According to the trail plaques the Japanese attempted to put the shrine on the summit and the local aboriginal tribe protested as it was a holy mountain. The Japanese shrine was struck by lightning so many times that it was destroyed and they moved the shrine 1 km down the mountain. There is also an ancient red cypress forest along the trail shortly after the camp.
Camping – The mountain hut is a basic bunkhouse with one room for 40-50 people and a long counter for cooking (bring your own everything). There are also 30-40 tent platforms, a large toilet facility and water. The water is not filtered so I would recommend that you bring your own water treatment or filtration although the water should be pretty good up high on the mountain. If you want to sleep in the bunkhouse you must prebook your accomodation. Camping platforms are first come first serve and they will fill up on a weekend.
Permits and cost – all free – a permit must be applied for at the police station on the 102-1 – you must prebook bunkhouse accomodation but camping is first come first serve – The Cloud Ocean blog has details on how to prebook the bunkhouse application
Note – the permit system as completely changed in 2016 and this page has not been updated yet. You need to have a reservation for one of the campsites.
GPS info – new trailhead N22.613830 E120.701970 – old trailhead N22.624496 E120.714790 – summit N22.627050 E120.761377
Date visited – 4/25/2015