Distance: 4.1km – this is just for going up and down to the lake, but if you have time, I’d say that you probably ought to extend it by a kilometre or so to walk around the lake.
Time: 1¼ hours – although as above, this could be longer if you walk around the lake.
Difficulty: 2.5/10 – purely for the angle of the slope, (and the fact that we did it in darkness on the way up).
Total ascent: 292m
Water: 0.5L should be ok on a coolish day – if you go in the day time I think there is also a cafe at the lake if you go before 5:30.
Shade: hard to tell given that we walked it at dusk, but I’d say it is probably patchy shade.
Mobile network: pretty good as far as I can tell
Enjoyment: the way we did this wasn’t quite right, however, I reckon this could be turned into a solid 8.5/10 for a leisurely holiday wander if you time it right. If you arrive mid afternoon, maybe 3-3:30ish, then take half an hour walk down, another half an hour or so for a gentle stroll around the lake and then there’s time to enjoy a coffee. When then coffee shop starts to close for the night, head back up again to catch the sunset setting over the town. (The only reason it’s not higher is that the walk itself is not very exciting.)
GPX file available here.
Initially we drove up to look at the pretty view from Hutou shan that we’d had recommended to us by the lovely little B&B we stayed at in Puli. The view over the town as paragliders and the sun went down was mesmerising enough to keep us sitting there for half an hour before we decided to make a move.
When we did decide to wander a little further we first wandered up to a second nearby viewing platform, but it wasn’t as pretty as where we’d come from, so instead we thought we’d see if it was possible to walk down to a nearby lake.
The path starts off going downhill to the left – it’s vaguely signposted in Chinese but there aren’t any english signs to indicate where you’re headed.
The first couple of hundred metres is a wide, paved road heading gently down.
Then after a slight turn there are some weirdly sloped steps.
Most of the rest of the path is a sloped, narrow pavement.
As we got closer to the water, we started to get a few views through the gaps in the trees. The final section was a little rougher, (it transpired that they were actually fixing the path), and the failing light didn’t help.
However, the rather beautiful sight that greater us at the water’s edge made up for our reservations about walking back up in the dark.
Lanterns had been strung along both sides of the path to make a dimly-lit, reddish corridor.
Insects, birds and frogs joined together in a dusk chorus and the lights reflected in the twin lakes made for a very peaceful atmosphere – perhaps the kind of place that foreigners imagine they will discover upon visiting Asia. Given that our car was parked at the top, we decided that we would leave my parents to enjoy the frogs whilst we went back up to collect the car and return for them.
Luckily I had my head light in my bag so the return journey wasn’t too difficult and we arrived at the top in about the same time it had taken us to get down.
Back at the car, the view from Hutou shan lookout had changed to a night scene and all but one couple had headed home. We drove down hill to collect the parents – apparently the lake was home to a species of frog so loud that they’d initially believed it to be some sort of industrial machinery.
How to get there
Google maps address: 545, Nantou County, Puli Township, 知安路埔里虎頭山飛行場 – this lookout is a popular sunset watching spot so there are spaces to park cars and scooters.
GPS location: N23 57.845 E120 59.400 – this is the top of the trailhead, we parked a little downhill from here though.
Public transport: if you’re in Puli you can get a bus from the town centre to the bottom of Hutou shan, from there it’s almost an hour’s walk up though, so you might want to make it into a loop in order not to have to climb twice.
Further reading: I can’t find much out Liyu lake because the results of any google search are dominated by information about the lake of the same name in Hualien, I was able to find this video though. Likewise, any search for Puli’s Hutoushan comes back almost exclusively with information on paragliding there.
My new words learnt on this hike:
- 怎麼了嗎? / zěnmele ma? / Why ask? – Not polite, kind of “What’s your problem?” or “Why do you need to ask?” type thing (although not always, it depends on how and when).
- 折好 / zhé hǎo / folded – or maybe an instruction to fold something(?)
- 受不了 / shòu bùliǎo / can’t stand – I liked this one and remembered it as soon as I heard it. It can be put to use in phrases such as “我受不了他.” or “I can’t stand him.”. What I like less is the fact that liǎo is written as 了, which until now, I had only encountered as being pronounced le. I know people learning English go through this kind of frustrating experience almost every time they encounter the language (cow/low, blood/mood, hour/four, etc.), it must make them want to scream.