Distance: 6.6km to go there and back
Time: 3 hours – it could definitely be done quicker if you’re a fast walker though.
Difficulty: 2/10 – you can’t really get lost here since it’s a there-and-back kind of trail. There are slopes and steps but otherwise it’s quite simple.
Total ascent: 425m
Water: 0.5L was enough on a warm autumn day – we filled up at the temple at the far end of the trail.
Shade: patchy, I might have needed more protection if I’d come in the summer.
Mobile network: no problem
Enjoyment: 6/10 – a perfectly pleasant afternoon stroll with a few military curiosities and different scenery to what you get around Taipei.
GPX file available here.
There’s some roadside parking right at the trailhead, but we parked in the larger temple parking lot just 50m or so uphill – from the parking lot there is a wide view over the plain heading out towards the sea.
Walking downhill, the entrance to the trail is off a shaded road and opposite a tank – the first of many signs of a military presence in the area. On the weekend there are also several vendors selling tofu pudding and vegetables.
There is a shelter right at the bottom of the trail where it seems that people should be able to gather and prepare to start, however it is roped off and somewhat damaged looking so perhaps it’s due some refurbishment.
Heading up there is soon another rest shelter, this one conveniently placed to face the sunset which gives this trail its name. Apparently the sunset here has long been famed as being especially worth seeing.
The trail is a weird mixture of paved and earth, meaning you have to pay attention to where you’re putting your fest in order not to trip.
There is one defined and wide trail for most of the walk with occasional side spurs, we took this smaller path on the left to see where it would take us.
It was nice to get onto some natural trail for a way and catch glimpses of the plain to the left through the trees.
At a small junction we kept right in order to stick close to the main trail.
In fact, it seemed that our side path was running pretty much parallel to the main trail.
After a short time, it emerged to join the walkers on the original path and we continued (leftish), in the same direction that we’d been heading.
The route passes through a large gym/adventure playground type area. I had a little bit of fun climbing up an A-frame climbing structure until I realised that a small gaggle of children were waiting for their turn.
Continuing on, the trail passes another of it’s military relics: an old bunker. The entrance is painted with splotchy camouflage colours and inside the structure remains clean and empty.
In one corner there is an ominous tunnel which runs back away and then curves. We had a little exploration, but I’m a bit of a chicken really so I didn’t feel like poking around any more. A little way further up the path there was an entrance to another tunnel, (although we didn’t spot this one until we were on our way back).
Not far up from the bunkers, there was a cleared area which had been decked out with all manner of swinging things, hanging ropes, one seat so wide that it could almost be a two-person swing, hoops and bars for the more acrobatically inclined.
Walking on from the swings, the path arrives as a somewhat incongruously placed coffee and pizza shop. We debated stopping for coffee but decided to continue on instead.
The next little section was my favourite part of the hike for walking, a narrow ridge with knobbly trees and the perfume of lots of white-flowered bushes in the air.
It was only a brief section though, and soon we were out onto the road. The path continues just a short way downhill on the opposite side of the road.
As we walked up the steps of this next section, we passed an overgrown grave and could hear the (for once, pleasant) sounds of karaoke emanating from somewhere up near the coffee shop that we’d just passed. There were no side tracks on this part so it was pretty easy going.
As we neared the end of the trail, the path doubled back on itself to go down to the car park.
We made our way up to the temple to use their toilets and get water.
And of course Teresa went to pay her respects to the resident Gods.
The trail is just a there-and-back kind of trail so once we’d finished at the temple we retraced our steps. By the time we got back to the car, the sun was going down and we could see why the trail was famous for its sunset views. The whole plain below was flooded with intense orange light stretching all the way out to the sea.
How to get to Fengqi Sunset Trail
Google maps address: Feng Qi Sunset Trail, 302, Hsinchu County, Zhubei City
GPS location: N24 52.053 E120 58.721
Public transport: from Taipei you can take a local train as far as Xinfeng station but from there it seems you have to walk.
Further reading: Enjoy Hsinchu has some basic information here.
My new words learnt on this hike:
- 風力發電 / fēnglì fādiàn / wind power, maybe also wind turbine since that was what I was told that it means but translate is disagreeing with the teacher on this one.
- 晚霞 / wǎnxiá / sunset