Bicycling and hiking in Taiwan

Taiwan is a unique landmass formed about six million years ago when the Filipino and Asian plates began colliding with each other.  The central mountain range formed from the Asian plate while the coastal mountains which run along the eastern seaboard formed from the Filipino plate.  Between them is a valley where the best rice in Taiwan is grown.

The plates continue to collide while the mountains continue to grow about one cm a year producing peaks over ten thousand feet high with massive sheer cliffs.  These are some of the most rugged mountains I’ve ever seen!  Combine this with an abundance of rain and we have fast flowing rivers etching deep canyons, waterfalls, and lush green forests.

The result is unsurpassed beauty making this island-country a superb place for bicycling and hiking. It does have its challenges though.  The daunting climb across the country starts at sea level and ends less than fifty miles later at above ten thousand feet.  The heat and humidity make this ride taxing for even the most seasoned cyclist.

This is the third of six articles I am writing about the bicycling possibilities in Taiwan.

Taiwan mountains

Seventy percent of Taiwan is covered by mountains. The remaining thirty percent, mostly coastal plains, is where most of the 23 million people on the island live. This leaves a lot of remote mountains to bike or hike in.


Taiwan pagoda

A pagoda nestled high up in the mountains makes a wonderful hiking destination.


Rugged roads in Taiwan

The engineering that goes into the roads and hiking trails attests to the ruggedness of the mountains. A good portion of the roads have been carved into the mountainsides (background) while foot bridges were built along the hiking trails (foreground).


Hiking in Taiwan

A hiking trail carved into the side of a mountainside.


Shrine in Taiwan

A shrine built to commemorate the 226 men who lost their lives building the road that cuts through the central mountains. The main cause of death was rocks falling on the workers as they hammered out the road while dangling on the side of a cliff.


Hiking in Taiwan

Hiking in the mountains of Taiwan. Hikers must forge rivers, waterfalls, and tunnels.


Taiwan orchids

Orchids add color to the deep green forests.


Aboriginal village Taiwan

A replica of an aboriginal village. They have lived throughout Taiwan for the past 7000 years but since the time of Chiang Kai-shek they have be confined to the mountains where they thrive today.


Taiwan waterfall

Due to the plentiful rainfall, there is an abundance of rivers and waterfalls. The powerful rivers etch deep canyons with sheer walls on either side.


Taiwan mountains

The abundant rainfall and recent formation of the mountains combine to produce a unique range: steep, rugged mountains covered with lush vegetation etched with river canyons and with plenty of rivers and waterfalls.


Taiwan mountains

Ten thousand foot peaks are a common sight along the central mountain chain. The remote, unspoiled mountains offer many great hiking opportunities.


Bicycling Taiwan

Bicycling in the mountains offers beauty and solitude, but pedaling the steep roads in the heat and humidity is challenging.


Highest road in Taiwan

The highest point on any road in Taiwan is 3,275 meters It’s a tough climb from the Pacific Ocean since its only about 100 km from this point down to the ocean.


Taiwan tea plantation

A tea plantation is nestled high on the steep mountain slopes. Tea grown in a higher altitude produces a less bitter the tea since there is less sun (more clouds). There is also less caffeine in the tea. This highly sought after, expensive tea comes at a price though: the higher the altitude, the harder tea is to grow because the weather, steepness, and remoteness of the land.


tea ceremony Taiwan

Throughout the mountains, formal tea ceremonies are a common sight.


Sun Moon Lake Taiwan

A village on the shores of Sun Moon Lake.


Village on shores of Sun Moon Lake

On weekends and holidays, this village on the shores of Sun Moon Lake is full of activity.


Sun Moon Lake Taiwan

Sun Moon Lake. This tranquil lake nestled in the foot hills, is a gem. The sparkling waters against a backdrop of lush green mountains offers a great place for relaxing, hiking, or biking.


Bike path Sun Moon Lake

A bicycle trail was built around part of the lake. It was designated as one of the top 10 bicycle routes in the world. Don’t limit yourself to just the path; the surrounding countryside is well-worth exploring!

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

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9 Responses to Bicycling and hiking in Taiwan

  1. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family July 16, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    I can’t wait to go to Taiwan. It looks absolutely beautiful. I love how green and wet everything looks. 🙂

  2. Dana July 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    What absolutely beautiful mountains! They remind me of a much more forested view of the Tetons. It certainly looks like a tropical rainforest on the side of those mountains. And that hiking path cut into the mountain is crazy! Looks like a great time!

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel July 23, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      @Dana, We don’t generally think of Taiwan as being so mountainous, but it really is. It’s a beautiful country.

  3. Camp America August 1, 2013 at 3:52 am #

    WOW! I never heard Taiwan is covered with Mountains, I guess traveling to Taiwan will be revealing, fun-filled and exciting for me.

  4. Barbara Weibel August 5, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Great photos! Amazing to think that you can go from sea level to 10,000 in less than 50 miles!

  5. Mary - Green Global Travel August 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    Wow, your thighs must have been burning riding up all of those beautiful mountains! Great photos.

  6. Eunice Hatfield September 20, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    We had been in Taiwan also together with my friends. We experienced mountain climbing and biking. It was a really nice experience actually. I still remember how challenging to bike on their mountainous roads. Indeed, Taiwan is a wonderful place to go with.

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