The walk along Wantan Historic Trail and Beishi River Trail is soul-comforting waterside wander between villages in New Taipei's sorely overlooked Shuangxi District. Bring a picnic and get ready to soak in some gently spectacular scenery.
The stretch of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails that tracks over the hills between Shiding and Pinglin Districts takes you past relics of the coal industry into the heart of New Taipei City’s tea growing region.
The southern stretch of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails starts from the historic centre of Wanhua and heads through urban parks and market streets on its way to the edge of the city.
The most southeasterly section of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails hews close to Beiyi North Road as it winds its way over hill and stream into the hot spring town of Jiaoxi. Aside from the always popular Paoma Historic Trail, you can reasonably expect to have the path all to yourself for long stretches.
The first stretch of road leading out of Shenkeng isn’t much to write home about, but the rest of the journey soon makes up for it. The sound of water accompanies you for most of the way, as the trail sticks close to first Jingmei Stream, then Wutuku Stream, going against the flow as you head away from Taipei.
This peaceful part of the northern Tamsui-Kavalan Trails traverses the slopes of the valley south of Jinguashi. Along the way you’ll pass deserted mining settlements, a tomb with a tragic tale, (or two, or three, or four), and a now abandoned dam in the middle of the forest.
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.
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.
This part of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails has two unique claims to fame, not only does it have the oldest original section of path, but it also overlaps with the route that the Japanese took when they marched from Yanliao to modern-day Taipei in 1895.
This stretch of the northern Tamsui-Kavalan Trails connects the relaxed beach town of Fulong with the fishing villages of Shicheng and Dali. On the way it takes you past the old Caoling Tunnel, and perhaps even follows the route taken by Wusha - the immigrant credited with being ‘the pioneer of Yilan’.
This section of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails will lead you through Jiufen and all the way to the sleepy beach town of Fulong. On the way you will get to take a wild wander over some of the less well known trails along Taiwan’s northeastern coast, as well as see traces of a rural way of life that you rarely find close to Taipei.
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.