If you have found yourself with the opportunity to do this climb you are really in for a great experience. This road offers some superb scenery, the gradients are not knee-breaking insane, and given the number of switchbacks involved during this climb, it seems to go by like a top-notch streaming TV series, get ready! I am glad we have decided to put this in the top ten of our list as I feel it deserves this position, while there may arguably be climbs that could push this one to a different position – I am here to persuade you this one is a bonafide doozy!
Location and possible start spots: this climb can start in Shuili or Xinyi. There is a chance you are taking part in the hill climb event held by one of the local cycling federations – in that case, you will start in Shuili. If you are driving a vehicle to do this climb – perhaps you will bypass the flatter section and start in Xinyi. Regardless, both start positions offer something worthwhile.
The distance of this route starting from Shuili is around 72km, while the distance from Xinyi is around 40km. From this point on I will focus on the Shuili start which tallies up to 2200 meters of elevation gain. There are a few places to stop before the real climbing starts. Please take note the last 7-11 is located in Xinyi. Once you start the real climbing in the Yushan National Park there are no amenities, no 7-11, no bathrooms, no mom-and-pop shops, and not much of anything. So prepare the necessary things for this climb. At the summit there is a gate that closes at dusk, this is also a critical piece of information, if you intend to ride down to Chiayi this gate must be open. You might be able to sneak around this gate, however, a car or even a motorcycle will not be able to pass through if the gate is closed.
As mentioned this climb doesn’t have any knee-breaking gradients, granted there are a few places that hit 10%. However, unlike the Wuling climbs the average gradient of the focused 33km of climbing weighs in at 4.4%. So even for the non-climber, this route offers a challenge that can be approached with confidence.
During this climb you are surrounded by many hilltops, it is a majestic experience on a good weather day. Road conditions are in constant flux on this road, but many sections were recently repaved, as of 2020. There is a tunnel of about 500 to 700 meters you should be aware of – riding with lights would be wise but not absolutely necessary. One thing that must be mentioned: there is little to no traffic on this road, especially on a weekday. During a weekend day, you probably will find more traffic however unlike the Wuling climb from the Puli side, cars will not be bumper to bumper anywhere on this climb.
There is plenty of history surrounding Provincial Highway 21, at this time we are not going to go into all that information in this post, but it is worth reading. Once you make the summit of Tatajia you will be faced with two options: the first is to turn around and roll back to your car or ride back to your humble abode. The second is to ride down Provincial Highway 18 to Chiayi. Find details of that climb in post #.
About this climb:
Tatajia (塔塔加) is listed as #006 of the Top 100 Cycling Climbs of Taiwan. Cyclists will ride into the heart of Taiwan within Nantou County (南投縣) and Yushan National Park (玉山國家公園).