A few weeks ago we hiked the Dacukeng Historic Trail. It takes three to four hours and can be done by anyone with a little bit of hiking experience.
The trail connects the popular tourist village of Houtong with the even more popular village of Jiufen. This is one of several trails you can take across the mountains here. There is also Xiaocukeng Historic Trail and the Golden Stele Historic Trail. Dacukeng is the easiest of them.
To get there, take a north/east-bound train from Taipei to Houtong, the next station after Ruifang. Houtong is a small station where only local (slow) trains stop. You can take a local train from Taipei directly to Houtong or a faster one to Ruifang and then transfer to a local train.
Houtong is a popular stop for travelers fond of street cats. There is a “cat village” there (to get there, take the pedestrian bridge across the railway tracks above the station). You probably will see cats inside the station as well.
After leaving the station you’ll see the remainders of a coal processing plant. This has been transformed into a museum complex and there are a few interesting exhibitions about the history of mining in the area you can check out. There are also some eateries in this small village.
To get to the trail turn left after exiting the station and follow the road along the railway tracks in the direction of Ruifang. Cross the new road bridge, turn left, and follow the road along the river. Before the main road goes across a bridge bear right and take the small road. There is a sign to Jinzihpi Ancient Footpath (Golden Stele Historic Trail). Then take the small road to the right uphill along a stream.
You will soon pass an abandoned school on the left. When you see a a bridge on the right across the stream, leading to the Golden Stele Historic Trail, turn left and continue on the road uphill passing a few houses and a temple.
Finally, at the end of the road you’ll see a well-maintained old house (or is it a new house in old-style?). A friendly dog and the owner greeted us there. The trail starts right behind the house.
It is an easy-to-follow stone-stepped trail along a mountain stream. Walking the not-too-steep trail uphill you are surrounded by lush forest and you can listen to birds and the nearby stream. After about 20 minutes, you’ll come to the Dade Temple, which is inside what looks like a normal farm house. Watch out for the family of stray dogs living in the adjacent ruin of another building. They did bark fiercely when we came but didn’t attack us.
From the temple you can spot a white staircase further uphill. That’s the Sky Staircase, a steep white structure that looks a bit out of place. I wonder who spent the money to build this rather comfortable path up the quite steep hillside here. (There is actually a dirt path to the right of the staircase, you can take as well.)
At the top of the staircase, look back and enjoy the splendid views of the valley down to the Houtong area and beyond. Then turn left and walk the wide dirt trail further up until you reach scenic route 102, which connects the village of Shuangxi with Jiufen and Ruifang.
Turn left and you soon come to a road entrance on the left with a red gate and some info about the area. You can also see the coast and the sea and spot Keelung Islet in the distance. Look further ahead and you will see a mountain top that looks like the head of a hippo, the Hippo Rock. Follow the road for a few hundred meters and then turn right onto a path downhill.
You will now descend down to Jiufen village. The big mountain you can see between Jiufen and the coast is Mt. Jilong, which can be easily walked up too from Jiufen. Then walk the path all the way down until you come to Qinxian Junior High School. Take the access road to the school and at the first bend turn left. Walk until you come to the staircase that leads from Jiufen to the school.
At the bottom of the staircase is a pavilion. From there you can continue down to Jiufen’s Old Street. If you want to avoid the tourists and perhaps take a bus back to Taipei from a bus stop before Jiufen, turn right at the pavilion and walk to route 102. Then follow the highway to the intersection where the 102 meets the road down to the village of Jinguashi. There, at Geding bus stop, you can take bus No. 1062 all the way to Taipei. The driver will ask you where you want to go and will only let you on when you say “Taipei.” He will also give you a ticket you need to return when getting off (the ticket helps him to control the number of passengers; people are not allowed to stand when the bus takes the freeway).
Dacukeng is an easy walk between two popular tourist villages, which presents you with some splendid scenery. Highly recommended! 🙂
[Images, videos, and text by Twelli]
If you don’t know Jiufen, here’s a video: