The Jinshui Trail is one of Taiwan’s trails that cross over the central mountain range. Originally it was an aboriginal trail but later the Japanese setup a police station along the trail to control the aboriginal populations in the mountains. Now it is a well maintained trail that attracts groups from all over Taiwan.
Rating and length – moderately strenuous (due to length) – 15.4 km – 8 hours (one way)
Accessibility – The east trailhead is difficult to access with a car (really rough road in a stream bed) and the west trailhead is 23.5 kms up a narrow and twisty road. The trail is in great condition and can be walked by all ages.
How to get there
Option 1 – Join one of Mark Roche’s Blue Skies Adventures (FB link) trips or another guided trip. This is by far the best option since most guides set up transportation to drop you off at one trailhead and pick you up at the other. You can contact Mark through the above linked FB group.
Option 2 – You can drive to either trailhead and hike part of the trail and return to your own car. The west trailhead is located at the end of the forestry road (23.5 km marker) near the Lili aboriginal village. All cars are able to drive up the road but it is narrow and windy and will take a long time. The east trailhead is accessed via a temporary road that is routed in part of the river and can only be accessed when the river is low.
Option 3 – In theory it would be possible to take a taxi from Fangliao up to the trailhead and walk an extra 5+ kms to Dawu and take a train back. You probably won’t save a lot of money from just taking a guided trip.
Most groups hike downhill but Mark Roche prefers uphill for several reasons. 1) it is uphill but isn’t steep in very many places and long downhills start hurting knees and legs 2) if the river is flooded then you know at the beginning of the hike (and avoid potentially dangerous river fording) 3) if it rains then the trail will be very slippery in many places going downhill.
The hike starts at the east trailhead under a pavilion and immediately crosses the Gu-alun Suspension Bridge (people only). The trail is mostly a well graded dirt path (almost all uphill) with the occasional set of nicely made dirt/log stairs. There are covered pavilions near the 6 and 9 km markers. The final 2 kms is pretty flat on an old road back to the west trailhead. There are several informational signs along the trail pointing out environmental or historical information (in Chinese and English).
GPS data – east trailhead N22.368060 E120.849681 – west trailhead N22.407770 E120.756674
Other info – mountain permits are required (I think). They can be applied for day of at the police station or in advance but I don’t know the process for either since I have gone on a guided trip each time.
Dates visited – 12/18/2011 and 1/17/2015
Related hiking blogs – TheWorldIsNotThatBig (mine)