Hiking in Guguan
Guguan is a small tourist town built along the banks of Dajia River in Taichung’s mountainous Heping District. It is famous for both its hills and its hot springs, making it the perfect destination for a hiking getaway. What’s more, this region of Taiwan tends to have more reliably good weather than the north, so it’s often a safe bet for people planning a hiking holiday ahead of time.
To attract hikers to the area and boost mountain tourism, the local government has collectively named a septet of peaks the Guguan Seven Heroes. The trails are all well maintained, moderately challenging (for those accustomed to Taiwan’s hilly terrain), and make for great day hikes – particularly when combined with a stay at one of the town’s hot spring hotels.
Mount Baxian (八仙山)
At 2,366m high, Mount Baxian is the tallest of the seven. It also just so happened to be the very first of the seven that I climbed. We visited this so long ago now that the details are hazy, but one thing that left a lasting impression were the magnificent old trees and relics left over from the region’s logging days.
Mount Malun (馬崙山)
Mount Malun is the second highest hero, standing at 2,305 metres above sea level. Whilst long, the trail leading to the summit is generally quite gentle (save for a final steep ascent), and the forest scenery is delightful.
Mount Wuwowei (屋我尾山)
The third highest hero is Mount Wuwowei. This relentlessly steep trek climbs up through grand old forests to an enclosed summit at 1,796 metres. There is an easier alternative to access the peak by climbing down from Daxueshan Forest Road, but of course we took the hard route.
Mount Pojinjia (波津加山)
As steep, if not steeper than Mount Wuwowei is Mount Pojinjia. The fourth highest of the Guguan Seven heroes stands at 1,772 metres above sea level, but don’t let its relative smallness trick you. This walk packs a serious punch, and is almost certainly the most taxing of the bunch. Prepare yourself for tough scrambles and rocky terrain.
Mount Dongmao (東卯山)
The fifth highest hero measures in at 1,690 metres above sea level and is an all-round winner. The trail to the summit of Mount Dongmao is considerably more gentle than the trails of Mount Wuwowei or Pojinjia, with lots of winding switchbacks to lead you up through different layers of forest until you find yourself with views stretching out in all directions. There is also a wonderful range of birdlife to be seen on this route, I saw innumerable grey-chinned minivets, yellow-bellied epornis, a Swinhoe’s pheasant and many more.
Mount Baimao (白毛山)
Mount Baimao is the sixth highest hero at 1,522m tall. Currently it is the only hero I haven’t yet climbed. I’m working on it!
Mount Tangmadan (唐麻丹山)
The most diminutive amongst the Guguan Seven heroes is the 1,305m high Mount Tangmadan. It can be done as a stand alone walk, or in conjunction with Mount Baxian. The route detailed on this site covers both the highest and lowest heroes together, but I hope to go back one day and walk this one by itself.
Hiking the Guguan Seven Heroes
What to take to hike the Guguan Seven Heroes
The hikes range from 4 hours to almost half a day depending on what route you plan to take and your fitness level. With this in mind, you need to carry enough food and water for a day hike in addition to the ten essentials. The routes themselves are well maintained and easy to follow, so navigation shouldn’t present much of a challenge, but they’re steep, so hiking sticks are a good idea (as are knee supports if you need them).
How difficult are the Guguan Seven Heroes?
If you’re a reasonably fit hiker and comfortable with plenty of elevation gain (most of them gain in excess of 1,000m), then climbing the Guguan Seven Heroes will be tiring, but not difficult. If you don’t think you’re ready for that yet, then try first testing your stamina by climbing Shaolai Trail at the base of the Mount Pojinjia Trail. If you’re comfortable with that, then either Mount Dongmao or Mount Malun would be a good first hero, just make sure to give yourself plenty of time, keep an eye on the clock, and turn back if it gets too late.
How to get to Guguan
Where to stay in Guguan
- There are plenty of (quite expensive) hot spring hotels to rent in the town of Guguan. Sometimes you can get deals on them by booking through Agoda or Booking.com. Some of them also have offers available directly through their website. It’s also worth noting that even if you don’t plan to stay in the hotels, it is often possible to pay to use their hot spring facilities.
- The temple by the start of the Mount Dongmao trail offers very basic single sex dormitories on a “pay what you want” type system. If your Chinese is ok then you can try calling 04 2594 3555 during office hours to book a space (check these photos to see what I mean by basic). The temple also has a vegetarian restaurant operated on the same donation based system.