Datun Stream Old Trail, (Possibly) Yangmingshan’s Finest Hike

The beautiful, unspoilt Datun Stream

It’s been three weeks since I’ve been out hiking and the rain is not only keeping me inside, but it’s also driving me crazy! The last two weekends we were due to climb a couple of high mountains (Mt Xiuguluan and Mounts Bilu and Yangtou) but both times were defeated by the really nasty weather. Still, I shouldn’t complain, as the downpours have caused some nasty damage elsewhere in the island.

At the top! Mount Xiao Guanyin West Peak, Yangmingshan’s fifth highest peak

Having a well-deserved rest atop Mount Xiao Guanyin West Peak (1,056 meters) – it’s a steep and rough haul up here!

Actually on my last hike three weeks ago it also rained – poured in fact – my camera got wet and needs another trip to the camera shop to get repaired. At least it was a great hike: in fact one of my favorites in Yangmingshan – the Datun Stream Old Trail.

Fair enough words – the Datun Stream Trail isn’t for beginners. Experienced hikers will have no problem if they pay attention to the weather and the route markers though.

See pages 335-342 for a detailed description of the route.

See pages 335-342 for a detailed description of the route.

The trail takes only about half a day (start walking by eight and you’ll be on a bus home by lunchtime), but it’s one of the most varied, challenging and simply beautiful of all the more accessible hikes in Yangmingshan National Park. This is a hike for more experienced walkers – it’s very rough and strenuous in parts, and there’s the risk of getting lost in poor visibility, but it’s a cracker of a hike. Sure there are a couple of even more challenging and wild hikes in the National Park (Balien Old Trail, the back route to Alipang Waterfall and Jhuzishan Old Trail), but all of these start in remote spots and you need your own wheels to get there. Datun Stream Old Trail is fantastic because it’s easily accessible by public transport. I’ll be back again in better weather, hopefully to do the full circuit of Mount Xiao Guanyin’s four peaks next time, but even in crap weather this is one fine hike.

The first half of the hike, along the Datun Stream, is enchanting, and not too hard.

Getting there: The whole route is described in detail in my book Yangmingshan: the Guide (available at branches of Caves Bookstores, Eslite and Page One in Taipei), starting on page 335.

The route as described in the book is unchanged, although hikers now generally follow a road for the first short section of the route as the short linking trail is overgrown. Details of the diversion can be found on the Yangmingshan: the Guide book website HERE.

Don’t attempt the walk alone though, and check the weather is fairly stable before setting out. It’s a hairy place to be in a thunderstorm (as we found out this time!)

The weather this time was pretty bad so it was hard to get any good photos of the magnificent scenery on the second half of the route – the climb up the crater to the summits. To give a better idea of how lovely the area is, here are some photos I took the last time I went, on a boiling hot day way back in 2007. Apart from the first, the following photos were all taken on or near the summit of Mount Xiao Guanyin West Peak.

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