When it comes to the Best Cycling Climbs in Taiwan, this is one of the best rides in Taiwan because of the variety in the scenery. This cycling route takes cyclists from Dayuling to Lishan along the spine of Taiwan. Starting in Yilan at 0km marker on the North Cross-Island Highway (Provincial Highway No. 7). There are actually three roads combined in this cycling route – No.7, No. 7A and the No. 8 (the old Central Cross-Island Highway).
Start Cycling North Cross (East Approach)
Starting at almost sea level in central Yilan the first 35km has a very mild gradient rising up to 313m. At this point the rider must continue straight on picking up Provincial Highway No. 7A (0km marker on this road). The next 29km is where the climbing starts and there are no shops to speak of on this section, so cyclists should be stocked up.
One interesting thing of note is the Lanyang River, which the road traces as you ascend. The lower region of this river is dedicated to watermelon farming, then higher up cabbage farms line the banks of the river. The only major stop for refreshments is at Nanshan (1,150m). The last few kilometers before the town are extremely steep. There are several guest houses, convenience stores and small restaurants for a feed before the rider starts the steepest part of the climb.
Cycling through Scenic Yilan
A wonderful winding road through dense forest over the next 16km to the highest point of this section at Szyin Yakou (1,945m). If the rider can get up here early in the morning, there are fantastic views down the river valley to Yilan, but in the afternoon it will also certainly be completely clouded over. For the next 9km the road descends to 1790m.
The next major feature on the road is the turn off for Wuling National Forest Recreation Area in Xue Shan (or Shei Pa/Snow Mountain) National Park. The turn off for this is located at the 54km marker. There are several good guest houses and hotels here, but most have to be booked three months in advance.
The Challenge Begins: Cycling into Central Taiwan
This is where the cycling along this road becomes complicated and extremely tiring for the rider. First, a 3km climb up to 1,960m followed by a descent of 400m down to 1,520m. A 7-11 opened in 2019 here and the second floor dining area has toilets and probably the best convenience store views in the country (see image above). Immediately after the road starts ascending to the last major town of Lishan at 1,900m and 74km from the start point in Yilan. Having said that it is also the most spectacular for scenery. For several kilometers the road runs parallel to the Central Mountains of Taiwan with the Snow Mt. range on the right.
Lishan is a great stop-over point for everything a cyclist might need for an overnight stay or loading up with supplies. It is also a major fruit-growing area in Taiwan, famous for its pears, apples, and persimmon.
Cycling Atop of Taiwan
From Lishan the rider picks up on the old Central Cross-Island Highway (Provincial Highway No.8) for the most enjoyable part of the ride and appreciation for the fact that Taiwan is alpine and equal to any high mountain roads that can be found across Europe. The last 30km of the ride is moderate grade, climbing up to 2,565m at Dayuling. There is a 500m long tunnel with one-way traffic to get the rider to the highest point of the road. This is where it intersects with the Taiwan KOM (see 001 KOM).
Over a distance of 104km there are approximately 3,518m of ascent making this a more challenging cycling climb than the KOM itself.
About the Best Cycling Climbs in Taiwan:
North Cross (East Approach) is listed as #007 of the Best Cycling Climbs of Taiwan. This may be the most challenging cycling route in Taiwan. But the rewards are worth it as cyclists will ride up the spine of Taiwan and Central Mountain Range. The views are spectacular and the tourist traffic is typically lower. Cyclists will ride through Shei Pa National Park and into a remote region of Taiwan. Contact Blue Skies Adventures for custom tours on this and other routes.