Hiking near BITOU CAPE — Haiyuan Historic Trail

Walking on the Haiyuan Historic Trail

Walking on the Haiyuan Historic Trail

Last weekend we did another coastal-mountain hike on Taiwan’s northeast coast. The route, called Haiyuan Historic Trail (海園古道) near Bitou Cape is a bit like the one to Mt. Shenao (深澳山) we did a while ago (see: https://taiwaneverything.cc/2016/12/28/hiking-mt-shenao/).

It is close to the well-known and tourist-popular Bitou Cape (鼻頭角) area. You can easily combine this hike with visiting the cape.

To get there we took the train to Keelung and from there took Keelung bus No. 791 (http://routes.ntpc.com.tw/ntpcebus/Tw/Map?rid=16682&sec=0), which follows the coast to Fulong.

Get off at Bitou (鼻頭) bus stop, one stop before Bitou Cape. You can also take a train to Ruifang and take bus 856 (Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Gold Fulong Shuttle Bus; http://en.taiwantrip.com.tw) and get off at Bitou Cape bus stop. Head back along the highway until you see kilometer marker 83.9.

Look for steps on the left side leading to a small Earth God Temple.

Coastal highway near Bitou Cape

Coastal highway near Bitou Cape

Typical Northeast Coast scenery

Typical Northeast Coast scenery

The trail starts behind the temple

The trail starts behind the temple

Look for this km marker

Look for this km marker

Behind the temple you can see the broad yellow-mud trail uphill. You will soon walk almost directly above the highway, the sea in full sight, with the coastal cliff on your left.

Start of the trail

Start of the trail

Broad yellow mud trail

Broad yellow mud trail

The highway is almost straight below you

The highway is almost right below you

Nice views of the sea

Nice views of the sea

The mountain in the back is Mt. Jilong near Jiufen

The mountain in the back is Mt. Jilong near Jiufen

The trail goes by this cliff face

The trail goes by this cliff face

Along the trail there are interesting flowers, like thistles, attracting big white and black butterflies.

Big white butterfly on thistle

Big white butterfly on thistle

Idea leuconoe, paper kit?

Idea leuconoe, paper kite?

A beetle rolling a dirt ball

A beetle rolling a dirt ball

After about 20 minutes you reach a saddle. The right path leads to a vantage point with more great views of the coast. The path ahead goes downhill to a stream. Maps indicate that there is a trail further on along the coast, we checked it out, but we didn’t find the trail. Didn’t look safe to walk further on from there along the cliff face.

Look back at the trail

Look back at the trail

This is the left path to the small hill

This is the left path to the small hill

So we took the left path, which soon brings you to a steep hill. There is path straight up and you can grab onto a rope to get to the top. If that’s to challenging, there is another, easier, route to the right, which also gets you up the hill a bit further behind. From the top, called Lieyanjian (裂岩尖), you have splendid views down to the path you just walked on.

You can take the more challenging rope route or the easier one to the right

You can take the more challenging rope route or the easier one to the right

We chose the easier one

We chose the easier one

View from the top of the hill

View from the top of the hill

Then it’s uphill through alternating thick forest and tall-grass areas. The trail is always easy to follow, even though the tall grass can cover it completely at spots. I wouldn’t advice you to go there during wet weather, because the earthen path will definitely become very slippery and the wet grass will make you soaking wet in no time.

This moth looked interesting

This moth looked interesting

Another look back

Another look back

We went there on a fine sunny day. If you go in the summer, protect yourself against the sun.

Further on you’ll pass a smaller cliff face where the trail is a bit narrow. Not very difficult, if you have some hiking experience.

Small cliff face

Small cliff face

Next you come to 148 Peak (148峰; 148m high?) from where you can take in more fine views of the coast and the sea. 

Another look back, on the left is the small hill again

Another look back, on the left is the small hill again

Then you have two choices. Take the path to the left which will bring you back to the small temple near the highway from where you started or take the right path that makes a large loop and brings you to Bitou Elementary School (鼻頭過小) near Bitou Cape. We took the latter.

Don't know if the left route is easy or not, should be alright telling from the number of ribbons

Don’t know if the left route is easy or not, should be alright telling from the number of ribbons

This route is easy to follow but goes to some thick tall grass areas, interspersed with shaded easy to walk sections in the woods and the occasional spot with great views. You definitely want to wear long sleeves (watch out for plants with tiny spines). I also spotted a solitary hornet, not sure if there were more. Like always when hiking in Taiwan, look out for potential trouble, like insects and snakes. Oh, yes, lot’s of tiny-spider web encounters too…

That's Bitou Cape in the distance

That’s Bitou Cape in the distance

Tall-grass area ahead

Tall-grass area ahead

More scenery

More scenery

For stretches the path goes through nice forest

For stretches the path goes through nice forest

Watch out for these sharp spikes

Watch out for these sharp spines

Yep, the trail goes right through there

Yep, the trail goes right through there

Very lush those hills

Very lush those hills

Made it through another grass area

Made it through another grass area

Whence you get closer to Bitou Cape, you will spot Bitou Fishing Harbor (鼻頭漁港) on the left and further on Longdong Bay (龍洞灣) on the right. You can clearly see the rock-climbing area on the opposite side of the bay.

A glimpse of Bitou Fishing Harbor

A glimpse of Bitou Fishing Harbor

That's Longdong Bay

That’s Longdong Bay

Bitou Fishing Harbor a bit closer

Bitou Fishing Harbor a bit closer

Before you reach the elementary school, you’ll come to a graveyard overlooking the coast. Finally you come to the access road of the school. Turn right to get to the school and further on to the main trail of Bitou Cape. 

First sight of Bitou Elementary School

First sight of Bitou Elementary School

Graveyard at the end of the trail

Graveyard at the end of the trail

The Haiyuan Trail is not very long. You can complete the hike at a moderate pace in 3-4 hours. If you have some energy left walk up Bitou Cape. We once went to the top pavilion and enjoyed a marvelous sunset!

Enjoying the sunset at Bitou Cape on another day

Enjoying the sunset at Bitou Cape on another day

Happy hiking!

Written by Twelli