Ritangzhenshan Trail is a less known hike in southern Taiwan that shares a trailhead with southern Taiwan’s most popular hike, Beidawushan. Hikers that don’t want to deal with the long 2 day trip to Beidawushan and the hassle of getting permits can easily dayhike the lower portion of the trail.
Note – The old trailhead is no longer accessible by car due to Typhoon Morakot in 2009. There is a new trailhead alongside the road and cars can park on the side of the road. From there follow signs to the old trailhead.
How to get there – You can get to the Beidawushan (and Ritangzhenshan) trailhead 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 the trailhead 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 a car has 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 – A set of stairs goes up from the road near the end. It won’t be too long until they reach the old road (overgrown) and you hike on this for 10-15 minutes. After leaving the old road there is a junction where both paths reconnect in 2-3 minutes. Shortly after this there is another junction with old trailhead and parking lot in one direction and Ritangzhenshan to the left leading uphill. This part of the hike will be steeper than the beginning until you reach the top of the ridge. Follow the ridge to the end until you have reached the summit (1702 meters).
Return to the flat spot just below the ridge and follow the junction to the left to the old trailhead. At the old trailhead you can hike directly back to the new trailhead on the main path. You can also hike past the new bathrooms on the Old Fawan Trail through a beautiful cedar forest. The trail should go to Jiupaiwan and Shalawan Waterfall but it is unclear if it still goes through. We found little signs of use past 1 km.
Mass transit – Not possible. Maybe a taxi (not cheap) but you would need to pre-arrange pickup transportation since cell service is really poor in this area.
No permit is needed for the Ritangzhenshan hike. You will not be able to hike past the old Beidawushan trailhead without a permit though.
Date visited- 2/12/2017