The middle route of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails kicks off from Nuannuan and passes through the old mining town of Shifen on its way to the village of Neiganjiao. From here the route splits into two paths which converge again at Sanshuitan before heading over and down towards the coast at Wai’ao. You’ll find few people who don’t agree that this is the prettiest part of the whole three routes, and it’s no surprise that on weekends the paths are frequently quite busy. However head out on a weekday and you’re likely to have the trail to yourself for most of your journey.
BEISHI RIVER and ZHONGKENG HISTORIC TRAIL LOOP
WANTAN STREAM and BEISHI RIVER
PINGXI TOU to WAI’AO
The People’s Way
In Chinese the paths which make up the middle section of the Tamsui-Kavalan Trails are known as ‘民道’ – the People’s Way. The name reflects the humble workaday functions served by many of the trails in this area, most joining together settlements that have been populated since the large influx of Han immigrants moved here from Fujian Province in China. Although it’s hard to imagine it as you walk these tranquil ways now, back in the mid 1800’s the area saw frequent violent battles between rival factions of settlers from Zhangzhou (漳州) and Quanzhou (泉州) – perhaps this explains unusual abundance of small temples, shrines and long-forgotten bone urns that you can see along the way. The violence lessened over time, and as the community connections between villagers grew, so too did the usefulness of the routes between them. Brides travelled along them to return to their family homes on special occasions, farmers, miners and school children all used them to get where they needed to go. For hikers passing through some of these settlements now, there are clear signs of these more prosperous, populous decades, but whilst some villages like Shifen have managed to parlay their earlier fortunes into a new living serving tourists, others have been deserted, left for nature to reclaim. Whichever trail you set off on, you’re bound to find fascinating links to Taiwan’s past.
This is currently an unpaid side passion project and I will continue doing it just for the love of it, but of course if you like what I do and feel inclined to chip in a few dollars for transport and time then I would appreciate it immensely. You can find me on either Ko-fi or Buy Me a Coffee.