Time: 3 hours at a very leisurely pace, it’s a leisurely kind of walk.
Difficulty (new Taiwan hiker): 1/10 – getting there would be the hardest part, and that’s not even hard.
Difficulty (new Taiwan hiker): 3/10 – the slippery steps at the start added a little difficulty but really it’s a very straightforward walk. Once you’re on the path you can’t really get lost and considering Xiao Pang the dachshund can do it it should be within most people’s limits.
Water: 0.8L was enough for me on a hot winter day
Shade: patchy but mostly unshaded, I would have brought an umbrella with me.
Mobile network: pretty good.
Enjoyment: It was lovely to be able to do a longer walk with our dog where there are also interesting views to enjoy – her daily walk is just around the block in our neighbourhood so it’s really nice to see her enjoying nature .
We parked the car in a space next to a car park (at N24 35.977 E121 50.950) and walked to the trail head. This walk starts from the main entrance to Su-ao Cold Spring Resort.
A small sign directs you left up the side of the cold spring complex.
As you start the climb you get a good view into the cold-spring park but we went on January the first which meant that it was more of a hot-spring season so the resort was closed.
The first 900m of the trail goes steadily up on really slippery stone and concrete steps. I have no idea what was making them so slippery, they didn’t look as if they were covered in moss or mud but we had to be really careful not to slip.
All the way up the paved climb section there are rest pavilions and viewing platforms.
The signs are pretty clear, (they verge on being bossy to be honest, every time the path turns there’s a sign telling you not to go straight and to follow the path).
I’ve seen these large-leafed plants all over Taiwan but this is the first time I’ve seen them growing like this.
Nearly one kilometre into the walk we reached the last viewing platform with a view over Su-ao town.
At 219m high you get a nice view of Nanfangao Port.
Continuing on we followed the path going left to 往星嶺公園 (wangxing ridge park).
The path is an easy dirt track. Our dog found it a little tough on her short legs but it was easier than the steps for the humans in our group.
This portion of the trip offered wide views of Yilan Plain.
There were a lot of really beautiful butterflies, grey-ish with lots of blue spots. This one wasn’t alive any more, it had been pinned to the leaf with water.
Towards he highest point of the peak the path becomes grassy, the trees turn into low bushes and the views get wider.
The park itself is a kind of big version of the old people exercise areas that you find on lots of trails.
To the north there are good views of Luodong and Wudie Townships and beyond them Yilan City.
One thing this park has that other parks don’t is a whole dormitory’s worth of hammocks. We both had a little swing in one before carrying on with the walk.
Leaving the park the path starts going down and it’s pretty much down all the way from here.
Shortly after leaving the ridge park there’s a shortcut on the right, (the full path continues straight then doubles back, it’s not much further).
We took the shortcut and it took us down steps for about 100m.
At the bottom of the steps we rejoined the main path. From here there is no way to go wrong until you reach the road, just keep walking down the track.
At the bottom of the trail there is a noticeboard with a whole load of umbrellas. A sign says that they were donated for people to use and please return them before you leave.
At the junction with the road turn left and keep walking straight. On the right you pass farmland and a swimming pool.
Follow the road as it bends to the left.
Then under the footbridge. From here it is pretty much straight all the way back to the start of the trail. (Or turn left at the petrol station if your car is parked where we parked). Instead of going straight back to the car we decided to replenish with vegetarian food from one of the stores along the main road.
How to get there:
Car or scooter: google maps address: 蘇澳冷泉停車場 – this is the address for the cold-spring resort. The car park for the resort is in the bend of Zhongyuan Road but there are a few free spaces just outside the car park next to the park.
GPS address: N24 35.794 E121 51.075
Public transport: you can take bus 1879 to Nan Fang Ao from Nangang Station. You’ll need to get off at Su-Ao and then walk about three minutes to the trail head. The bus takes about two hours and twenty minutes so you’d definitely want to at least make a day of it.
My new words learnt today were:
- 溫泉 / wēn quán / hot spring
- 冷泉 / lěng quán / cold spring
- 栗子 / lì zǐ / chestnut
- 公主 / gōng zhǔ / princess
- 農田 / nóng tián / farmland (the wet kind)