TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: NEIGANJIAO to SHIFEN (淡蘭古道中路:內柑腳/十分)

The stretch of the Tamsui-Kavalan trails leading into Shifen from the south is probably the quietest section of the middle route, but don’t let that put you off. This really has the feel of a functional historic trail, leading you over the hills and across the valley from one village to another. And those who walk it south to north can reward themselves with some snacks from Shifen Old Street.

TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: DALI to YILAN (淡蘭古道北路:大里/外澳/頭城/礁溪/宜蘭)

This leg of the journey ties up the northern, middle and southern routes on their route into the centre of Yilan. Along the way you can stop to take in some grand coastal scenery, soak up the sun at the surfer beach in Wai'ao, visit Toucheng's historic old street and dip your toes in Jiaoxi's hot spring waters. Although it may not seem like the obvious place to go for a stroll, those who do walk this way will certainly find plenty to keep themselves interested.

TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: PINGXI TOU to WAI’AO (淡蘭古道中路:坪溪頭/外澳)

If you know anyone who isn’t yet sold on the natural and cultural delights of Taiwan, then take them by the hand and lead them to the start of this trail for a condensed highlights-reel version of everything that makes me love this charming island. This portion of the middle Tamsui-Kavalan Trails follows the footsteps of the tea-traders of yesteryear over clear streams and vibrant forests to a mountain top and the coast beyond. Along the way you’ll meet the many gods who they trusted to keep them safe on their travels, and if you’re not utterly smitten with Taiwan by the time you finish, then you don’t have a heart.

XIONG KONG NAN SHAN and YUNSEN FALLS (熊空南山/雲森瀑布)

This has definitely been one of my favourite hikes of the year. The walk starts with a reasonable climb through quiet and multi-layered forests to a peak that remained cool and breezy even in the summer heat. Then tracks down again to follow the playful Zhongkeng Stream as it spills and bounces it’s way through the valley. There are mountain views, grand waterfalls and even swimming holes to be enjoyed along the way. I will be adding this to my list of places to take visiting friends.

YONGHE RIDGE LOOP (國旗嶺/鄧公嶺/烘爐地南山福德宮)

img_9589 Whilst Taipei’s northern and eastern hills tend to get most of the attention, this trail to the southwest of the city has plenty to offer the traveller who strays from the well-trodden trails of Yangmingshan Park. Indeed, as the locals know, Yonghe District has well-trodden paths of its own to explore. This route takes in ancient banyans, views to both the north and the south, all manner of trail types and enough temples to satisfy the very keenest of temple aficionados.

TAIPEI GRAND HIKE – NANGANG MOUNTAIN RANGE AND FUYANG BRANCH LINE (南區茶鄉大縱走 – 南港山系/富陽支線)

The Taipei Grand Hike’s southern arm stretches over the peaks of the Nangang mountain range and up to the huge temples and tea plantations of Muzha. In this section, you will experience wonderful views over Taipei, some of the most popular trails in the city as well as some much quieter, less frequented routes. Take in 360 degree views, historic trails, a mountain-side cemetery and a whole load of temples. This walk is a great way to start your Taipei Grand Hike adventure.