Hiking in the landslide capital of the world
At lower elevations the choices of trails are near endless. Around Wulai, a mountain township about 35km south of Taipei, ancient paths used by the area’s Atayal aboriginals for hunting and trade extend in every direction. The dense forest cover teems with birds and butterflies, and natural swimming holes in the rivers are not hard to find. Or the moody, misty 18km-long marble-walled Taroko Gorge on the country’s east coast offers an abundance of low altitude trails; one of the most popular trails, the Jhuilu (Vertigo) Trail, is carved into a 500m high cliff wall and is so narrow that hikers are only permitted to travel in one direction.
You will need a permit for most high elevation hikes. You can download applications from the relevant national park websites and should apply at least a week in advance.
The monsoon season is from April to May and typhoon season is from June to October, but heavy rains or earthquakes can hit at any time. If you have applied for a hike in a national park and the park is closed, you will lose your permit and have to re-apply.
Exercise caution and respect officials’ decisions to close trails. Despite the appeal of heading into closed areas, it is exceptionally risky to do so and if a rescue is necessary you will be charged for the full monetary amount.
It is best to always have a backup hike, especially a trail that only requires a police permit, which can be granted on the spot. Lower elevation trails are also good option as they rarely close.