Time: 1¾ hours – there is a whole network of trails in this area so you could definitely figure out a longer walk if you wanted to.
Difficulty: 3/10 – the walk up to Yingge rock is a very easy flight of stairs, beyond that the trail gets a little tougher with a few roped sections and an occasional uneven floor surface. For anyone who regularly walks in Taiwan, this would be a piece of cake, for inexperienced hikers it would be a little challenging but definitely very doable.
Total ascent: 152m to a highpoint of about 200m.
Water: I took 0.5L for a warm spring day – the trail starts and ends at a large temple where you can fill up your water bottle.
Shade: just shaded enough for me on a clouded spring day, had the sun been any stronger, I would have needed to cover up a bit better.
Mobile network: ok the whole way.
Enjoyment: 7/10 – for a lazy Sunday afternoon exploration this is a great little walk.
Yingge Rock Trail Map:
GPX file available here.
We parked up in the forecourt of a temple, (and noticed the two-hour stay signs), then went back out of the gate that we’d come in. There are toilets and water here if you need them, but we didn’t so we just got going.
Turning left out of the gate, we walked along wall of the temple parking lot and followed the road around.
At a second smaller temple (or maybe shrine) behind the main temple, there was a map and two possible paths. Since we were accompanied by Xiaopang, we took the flatter of the two routes.
We were funnelled between houses and small allotments, over a bridge and towards the start of the climb.
Next to an information board, steps head up to Yingge Rock. We carried our short-legged dog up.
A short way up, naturally formed caves in the rock face had been turned into small shrines for a couple of deities. A rest pavillion opposite allows weary travelers to rest and receive the blessing of restored energy.
The rock that this portion of the trail is named after isn’t especially noteworthy save for the story that surrounds it. According to legend, the rock was said to produce an air, (which in literally all online retellings is called a miasma). This noxious gas/atmosphere was responsible for sickness, confusion and even death amongst the travellers that dared pass by. Then one day, General Koxinga led his army over the stretch of hill path which passes the rock and when the first of his troops started to show signs of succumbing to the preternaturally malevolent stone, he ordered that the rock be fired at by canons. The rock sustained damages as a result of the canon fire – the part which was referred to as its neck was broken – and from that moment on, there was no more miasma leeching life and health from the area. Given that it is such a storied piece of stone, it’s not surprising to know that it has had many names over the years. It’s current name translates as Warbler, but there have been previous bird-themed names, including Parrot Stone, Eagle Brother Stone and Golden Oriole Stone.
It seems that many people never make it further than Yingge Rock, but the trail just beyond is where I think the fun starts.
The steepest and most challenging (not really challenging at all), section is just beyond the rock, if you’ve not done this sort of trail before, you don’t need to worry since it’s really pretty straight forward.
The path is very clear and easy to follow, the surface is natural, so in places it’s flat and easy to walk, but in others you need to take note of tree roots.
A lookout platform has been constructed giving walkers views out towards Sanxia District. Sadly the views were a little hazy for us though.
The path continues down some steps to the side of the viewing platform and becomes a dirt trail once more.
The path was mostly flat enough for Xiaopang to walk by herself, but we did have to pick her up to pass a few places where her little legs wouldn’t be able to carry her.
At this junction we could have gone straight, but we went right instead – the paths form a kind of triangle anyway, so we joined back up with the other path after 30m or so.
We sat on the benches on the ridge line to feed Xiaopang before heading to the left.
This is what the path looks like from the benches, (you can see the path joining from the left – this is where we would have arrived if we’d just walked straight two pictures earlier).
There are a couple of alternative paths along the way, but they are basically headed in the same direction.
At the next crossroads we decided to head back down to the road where we’d be able to walk back to the temple. The sign indicated that it was a further 1290m to Zhongzheng 1st Road.
The path goes down a few steps before entering what looks like slightly cultivated land.
Where the path ends, a small road begins and meanders downhill through a small village where the houses are at least five times the size of the space I live in – would a commute from Yingge be a possibility…? A couple of the farms had dogs which came out to bark at us, but nothing more threatening than that. We chatted to the human of one of the dogs and found out that despite his youthful energy for barking, he was actually nearly 18 years old.
The small road joins a larger one and runs past a small temple – there was a family enjoying a relaxing afternoon gathered around all the outside tables here.
Walking closer to the temple we’d parked at we started to see evidence of what Yingge is known for: ceramics. One mostly abandoned factory had walls decorated with ceramic tiles.
Another factory was busy with production despite it being a Sunday – we were able to peek through the windows and see the very dusty looking interior.
After returning to the temple, we went in for a quick look. The most noticeable feature about this particular building is the large statue placed upon the temple roof – this is a representation of Sun Bin, (a Chinese military strategist who died in 316BC). Because of the military connection, it’s reported that soldiers come here to ask for support before embarking on any action – although given that this is Taiwan, I’m not entirely sure what action that might be. Inside, the temple has a huge variety of deities to satisfy the needs of all, there is even a sacred bull which can only be touched after you’ve washed your hands. Teresa picked up a copy of their annual horoscope – apparently this is going to be a good year for her.
How to get to Yingge Rock Trail
Google maps address: 239, New Taipei City, Yingge District, 中正一路303巷1號 – the temple at the start of the trail has a car park with free parking for a maximum of two hours, I’m not sure that they really enforce this, we were definitely there for more than two hours but only just. There is also a little parking near another entrance to the trail, but it was full when we went by.
GPS location: N24 57.460 E121 21.390
Public transport: the temple where we started is a short, 5-minute walk from Yingge station.
Further reading: A little information about the extreme-sounding life of Sun Bin. And an interesting article on the use of transliteration in Chinese, (see the Chinese vocabulary below for why this is relevant here).
My new words learnt on this hike:
- 分我 / fēn wǒ / share (sth) with me – actually I’m not really sure how to make a sentence with this yet.
- 乾脆 / gāncuì / straight forward or straight talking
- 死胖子 / sǐ pàngzi / fatty – literally dead fatty, (obviously) this is an insult
- 我們有輕鬆的一天 / wǒmen yǒu qīngsōng de yītiān / we have a relaxing day
- 巧克力布朗尼 / qiǎokèlì bùlǎng ní / chocolate brownie – I learnt this wonderful example of transliteration when we went to a cafe after the walk.
- 臭摸摸 / chòu mō mō / stinky
- 香噴噴 / xiāngpēnpēn / fragrant – or sweet smelling, these don’t really have equivalent English uses.