Daxueshan National Forest (大雪山國家森林遊樂區)

Approximately 3 hours south of Taipei City (臺北市), Daxueshan National Forest is located up a winding mountain road in central Taiwan. One of Taiwan’s 19 designated National Forests in Taiwan, Daxueshan National Forest (大雪山國家森林遊樂區) (meaning “Big Snow Mountain” in Mandarin Chinese) covers a massive area of nearly 4,000 hectares in the mountainous Heping District (和平區) in eastern Taichung.

Introduction to Daxueshan National Forest

Daxueshan National Forest can be best described as a linear park. Starting from the ticket booth, there is a 9km narrow and paved forest road that first leads to Daxueshan Visitor Center. An additional 4km along the forest road brings visitors to the Yakou Viewing Platform and the Xiaoxueshan Visitor Center a further 1km up the road. The Xiaoxueshan National Trail (described below) runs parallel to this road and connects hikers from the ticket booth to both visitor centers along an epic hiking trail.

This protected area transcends several climates making it a fantastic outdoor recreational destination and a perfect spot for hiking, wildlife viewing, bird watching and forest bathing. Moving from warm temperate to temperate to frigid forests, the flora in the park is diverse and ranges from broadleaf deciduous to coniferous.

Like several of the other National Forest Recreation Areas in Taiwan including Dongyanshan, Taipingshan and Alishan, Daxueshan also boosts a unique history of resource extraction, in this case, timber.

History of Daxueshan National Forest

The name “Daxueshan” originally came from the Japanese. They felt that the scenery wass very similar to the Daisetsuzan Volcano Group in Hokkaido, Japan. This land was originally occupied by the Atayal Tribe, who had given the area the name “Babo Rinisan“. Rinisan means “tears” (流淚) in the Atayal language and refers to “mountain where we cry farewell”.

Located at the rear section of the southwest main ridge of the Taiwan’s Snow Mountain Range”, this area used to be known as the “Daisetsu Mountain Forest Farm”, which provided significant lumber to the facilities in Dongshi and Fengyuan. In 1988, the site was finally closed and transitioned into a protected area.

Booking a Tour (Coming Soon)

Interested in visiting Daxueshan National Forest, but need some support? Whether you require a bilingual guide or just transportation services, for now, please contact our partner’s at Parkbus Taiwan. We’re working tirelessly on getting our booking system online!

Hiking Trails in Daxueshan National Forest

There are essentially only two trail areas in Daxueshan National Forest, yet the multiple trails along the linear Yuanzuei – Shaolai – Siaosyueshan (Xiaoxueshan) National Trail offer an abundance of ‘out-and-back’ hiking experiences throughout the park. Being part of Taiwan’s National Forest system, there are many sections of the trails that are quite well-maintained and are suitable for all types of hikers from beginner to novice and advanced, depending on how far (and where) one wishes to hike in the park.

The shorter, more accessible trails located near the upper part of the park (near the Daxueshan & Xiaoxueshan Visitor Centers) are more suitable for beginner hikers.

Hiking Xiaoxueshan National Forest (小雪山段國家步道)

9km | Linear Two-Way | No Permit Required | Level 3 Difficulty

GPX File for Xiaoxueshan National Forest (Shortened Route)

Note: This is a linear trail of about 9km in length. If you are intending to hike the trail end-to-end, you will also have to plan time for your return hike or arrange a pick-up vehicle at the Daxueshan or Xiaoxueshan Visitor Centers. See below for GPX file.

Arriving at the ticket booth there is lots of parking available. You’ll have to pay admission for individual entrants, as well as admission for private vehicle (prices below). There is a washroom located adjacent to the parking lot and a water refill facility near the staff offices at the park gate. 

While Xiaoxueshan National Trail extends south towards Yuanzuei and Shaolai Mountains for an additional 6.5kms, the routing described here does not cover this challenging section of the trail. The trail described is also a shorter route, leaving out the 1-2km section that connects to the Sky Pong, Xueshan Giant Tree and the Yakou Viewing Platform.

Getting to the Trailhead of Xiaoxueshan National Trail

Getting to the trailhead involves walking 300m up the main forest road, away from the park gate. The road here is a lane and a half, so keep an eye out for traffic. You’ll find the trailhead on the left hand side of the road with a trail guide kiosk with details on trail distance, time and elevation. 

First Half of the Xiaoxueshan National Trail

As soon as you begin hiking the Xiaoxueshan Trail, you’ll know you’re in for a treat. After an initial climb up some steps and a meandering trail, you’ll start to see some of the larger standing trees. It doesn’t take long to start to feel the stress of the city slip away.

The views along this first portion of the trail are limited as the forest is dense and the trail mostly travels through the middle of a forest. The trail is mostly compact soil with wooden steps for the steeper inclines. This is consistent throughout the trail, except near the final descent towards the visitor. Hiking the first half of this trail is truly spectacular. Depending on the weather, the experience can be spooky and foggy or bright and up lifting.

There aren’t many difficult hiking sections on this trail and certainly nothing too exerting on the first half. Be mindful of the time as you walk through this section. Many people love taking pictures and enjoying the magic of this forest. Sometimes hikers forget that they have a fair bit of hiking to cover in a day. 

Old Growth Trees on the Trail

The first half of the Xiaoxueshan Trail is like a leisurely walk in an amazing forest. Massive old growth trees are common along the trail, revealing themselves as hikers emerge over ridges and around corners. If you find the time to hike this trail, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the sheer beauty of this forest.

Along this section of the trail, hikers will climb about 300m over the first 2.5km. You’re also at an elevation of about 2000-2400m. With some short steep stairs, some hikers can get tired quickly. There are not many benches or other places to sit off the ground, so the small gazebo and pavilion at the 5.5km marker is a nice place to plan to have lunch.

Trojan Horse & Skid Road Trail

When you arrive at the small wooden gazebo you’ll see a trail that descends to the right. This trail is called the Skid Road Trail (木馬遵). It is also commonly referred to as “Trojan Horse Trail” and travels down towards the main forest road. There are washrooms a few hundred meters along this trail. If you’re feeling tired at this point, this might be a suitable detour. The path/descent is easier and parallels the Xiaoxueshan National Trail. It reconnects with the main trail, where hikers will continue down towards the end of the hike and final destination, the Daxueshan Visitor Center. From the gazebo, another trail continues up the mountain towards Anmashan/鞍馬山 (2,669m). You can take both, but we suggest you head up the mountain if you feel up for it.

Second Half of the Trail

From the gazebo, the hiking becomes a bit more difficult. The trail begins to ascend with the climbing becoming bit steeper and consistent. The ecosystems change as well. 

Along this section of the trail, you’ll pass through seemingly 3-4 different kinds of ecosystems. While some areas feature more open grasslands others shift to more coniferous forest with a pine needle covering on the trail. Remember you’ll be approaching 2400m in elevation at this point. While the hiking isn’t technically challenging, it can be tiring. We notice the trailside conversations while hiking tend to slow down and hikers focus on the trail and task at hand.

It could also be that the views also improve. While the area frequently has low cloud cover and fog, as you skirt the mountain’s edge (nothing too dangerous here), you’ll keep taking switchbacks up the mountain with views of the central mountain range of Taiwan all around you. 

From the Viewing Platform

At the 6km marker, you’ll arrive at a viewing platform with seats above and below a wood structure. Take a well-earned break here to have a snack and catch your breath. There is a trail guide kiosk here that illustrates the remaining trail distances and elevation. While the hiking durations provided on Taiwanese maps are helpful, they tend to be conservative. It really depends on the hiker’s capabilities and endurance. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll get clear skies and a chance to see absolutely fantastic views of Taiwan’s Central Mountains. Take your time, but also keep your eye on it. From the viewing platform to the visitor center, it could take hikers to finish this section of the trail between 1.5-2+ hours.

Onwards and Upwards!

The last 3km require nearly 2km of climbing up 350 meters. It’s a rewarding section of the trail, but after 6km of hiking, this section tends to really take a toll. It’s a lot of stairs. The environment changes again and the ecosystem is different at this elevation and the trail opens up so there are plenty of opportunities to spot soaring hawks and eagles. 

Once you’ve hiked nearly two kilometers along wooden stairs, you’ll cross over a wooden bridge and reach a trail junction. Turn right to begin the final descent down towards this Daxueshan Visitor Center. The descent down to the visitor center can be a challenge. Take your time and keep a sure footing. It can get slippery.

Final Descent and Getting to the Daxueshan Visitor Center

This section of the trail really the only part that includes a significant descent. For just over 1km, hikers will descend on a mix of compact soil (rocks and roots), wooden steps and even some makeshift wooden ladders with ropes. It can get tiring after a very long day on the trail. It can also get wet and slippery as there is a lot of moisture in the air at this altitude. The pine-needle sections are also quite slippery.

Eventually hikers will reach the paved forest road. Turn right for the last 100m before you reach the visitor center. Grab some snacks, maybe a coffee and relax on the outdoor patios. You’ve earned it!

Depending on how much you double back along the trail to take pictures or to just explore a little more, it should take you between 4-6 hours to complete this shortened version of the hike along the famous Xiaoxueshan National Trail in Daxueshan National Forest.

Hiking Xiaoxueshan National Trail End-to-End

Continuing to Sky Pond

NOTE: Below is an additional GPX file and routing if you wish to hike up to the Sky Pond. This requires a change in the routing above. Instead of taking the trail at the 7.5km marker to start your final ascent to the visitor center, you will continue on the main Xiaoxueshan Trail. This trail is an additional 2km up to lake. From there, visitors will have to walk back the way they came or talk down 5km along the Forest Road.

GPX File for full Xiaoxueshan National Trail to Sky Pond, Xueshan Giant Tree

Hiking Trojan Horse Loop from Daxueshan Visitor Center

9.5km | Looped | No Permit Required | Level 3 Difficulty

GPX File for Trojan Horse/Skid Road & Xiaoxueshan National Trail Loop

Hiking Trails around Daxueshan Visitor Center

5km | Various | No Permit Required | Level 1 Difficulty

Labeled collectively as Forest Trail, there are a number of short footpaths located around the Daxueshan Visitor Center. Combined they reach about 5km and are perfect for leisurely walking, birding and forest bathing. There feature a mix of hard surface and compact soil. Relatively flat and easy to walk, these trail takes approximately 1-1.5 hours to complete. These trails are partially shaded

Hiking Trails around Xiaoxueshan Visitor Center

2km | Various | No Permit Required | Level 1 Difficulty

If you will be visiting Xiaoxueshan Visitor Center area, we suggest driving up or planning your day according to the time it will take to hike up and back. The trails in this area are pretty short. They are a mix of hard surface and compact soil and have little elevation changes. A hard surfaced trail loops around the Sky Pond with a small stone gazebo overlooking the mountain lake. These trails connect some of the popular attractions of the park, including the 1,000 year old giant Taiwan Red Cypress (Xueshan Sacred Tree), Sky Pond and the Yakou Lookout.

Accommodation in Daxueshan National Forest

Staying overnight in one of Taiwan’s National Forests is a special experience for any visitors. While the accommodations are typically not 5-Star, the experience is unique and the environment can’t be beat! Daxueshan National Forest has a few accommodation options to choose from, all of which are located in close proximity to. the Daxueshan Visitor Center.

Visitors can choose between rooms within the larger “Daxueshan Hotel” which is located inside the visitor center, or separate, detached cabins. Reservations are required 1-month ahead of your arrival date and open at 6:00am. To book a room in Daxueshan National Forest, please call 04-25229696. You can review the prices and options on their website. The site is in Chinese-only, but you can use Google Translate to help. Typically, there are staff who speak some English when calling.

Points of Interest in Daxueshan National Forest:

Daxueshan Visitor Centre – Located at 2,275m, this facility is well-equipped with a basic restaurant, which includes coffee and other hot drinks. The gift shop has souvenirs and simple snacks. There is also some interpretation exhibits for those interested in learning more about the park’s ecology and history. A water refill station and washrooms also available on site.

Yakou Viewing Platform – Approximately 15-minute walk from the parking lot at the Xiaoxueshan Visitor Centre, you’ll find one of the highlights of the park. Located at the 48K marker, the Yakou Viewing Deck offers 270 degrees of spectacular views overlooking Hehuan North Peak, Chunyang Chienshan, and Taiwan’s highest mountain, Yushan (Jade Mountain).

Views from atop Yakou Viewing Platform

Sky Pond (Tianchi Hu) and Xueshan Giant Tree

Located at the farthest end of Daxueshan National Forest. While it’s not a large as Cueifeng Lake in Taipingshan National Forest, it’s a unique sight in Taiwan and worth the extra effort to get there. From the Daxueshan Visitor Centre, this site takes about 90 minutes return along the forest road or about 120 minutes along the Xiaoxueshan trail passing Anmashan. The Xueshan Giant Tree is truly majestic, with a trunk circumference of 13m and a height of nearly 50m.

Flora and Fauna – Due to the remoteness and diversity of geography of Daxueshan National Forest, this protected area provides habitat for a large variety of flora and fauna. Many large mammals have been spotted in the park including Taiwan’s iconic Formosan Black Bears, the endemic Taiwan Serow as well as squirrels and an abundance of birds. The Formosan Muntjac and Mikado Pheasants are common sights amidst the forest.

Birding in Daxueshan National Forest – A popular destination on Taiwan bird tours, Daxueshan is a sanctuary for Taiwan’s birds. A 7-year survey conducted between 1980 to 1987 found that an estimated 117 species of birds exist in the Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area. It is said that about 50% of Taiwan’s terrestrial birds visit this area. If you’re not up to hike the Xiaoxueshan National Trail, simply drive to the visitor center and walk the forest trails and along the forest road with a pair of binoculars.

How to Get to Daxueshan National Forest

We suggest using the Daxueshan’s Ticketing Booth as your Google Maps reference point. Whether you are driving up to the visitors or starting your visit from the ticketing booth, you’ll need to pass through the ticket booth. With washrooms and water, located just inside the booth, this will allow you and your group to determine the time best. Remember, from the ticket booth to the Daxueshan Visitor Center it takes an additional 30 minutes driving. Here is the Google Maps Link.

  • From Taipei, it will take about 3.5 hours to get to Daxueshan National Forest.
  • From Taichung, it will take about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The final 30km will take about 1 hour to complete. It is a windy mountain road. Please drive carefully. Also, visitors should note that, at the time of writing this, the last convenience store before the park is about 35km away in Dongshi (東勢). If you need last minute supplies, be sure to plan your stop ahead of time.

How to Get to Daxueshan on Public Transportation

As with many National Forests and hiking destinations across Taiwan, accessing them through public transportation is possible, but takes some advanced planning. It can also be inconvenient, as there are limited options and times.

From Taichung, visitors wishing to get to Daxueshan National Forest can plan their trip from the Taichung High Speed Rail Station (HSR). To plan and book your trip on Taiwan’s HSR, visit their website.

  1. From the Taichung HSR Station, transfer to the Taichung City Bus 153. Take this bus for about 1 hour and 20 minutes (33 stops) to Dongshi South Station bus stop. You can pay by Easy Card or cash when you board. This trip will cost about $80ntd one-way. From here transfer to Taichung City Bus 252 (Only available during weekends, but comes every 30 minutes) to Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area ticket booth. This leg of your journey takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes and includes 31 stops.
  2. If visitors are taking the Taiwan’s rail service (TRA), plan to stop at Fengyuan Station, transfer to Taichung City Buses 90, 206, or 207 to Dongshi South Station. Like above, transfer to Taichung City Bus 252 (Only available during weekends) to Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area stop.

Booking a Tour (Coming Soon)

Interested in visiting Daxueshan National Forest, but need some support? Whether you require a bilingual guide or just transportation services, for now, please contact our partner’s at Parkbus Taiwan. We’re working tirelessly on getting our booking system online!

Weather in Daxueshan National Forest

The region around Daxueshan National Forest has a cool, wet climate all year round. Keep in mind that the temperatures listed below are averages and will feel a bit cooler due to the humid and damp nature of the mountain climate.

Best Time To Visit

MonthHigh / Low(°C)
January9° / 1°
February9° / 2°
March12° / 5°
April 15° / 8°
May 17° / 11°
June19° / 13°
July20° / 14°
August19° / 13°
September19° / 12°
October17° / 10°
November14° / 7°
December10° / 3°

The best time to visit Daxueshan National Forest is during autumn (September-November). This is when the temperatures are cool, rainfall is less likely and the foliage begins to transition.

Spring, while subject to the plum rains in late May and June, is also a great time for blooming flowers and pleasant temperatures.

If you’re looking for an escape during the summer heat, Daxueshan is a great choice. With average highs around 20°C, the climate is much cooler and the air is fresh.

Admission into Daxueshan National Forest

Entering Daxueshan National Forest requires an admission fee. Paid parking for scooters, cars, and small buses is also required.

General admission is $200ntd / adult ($150ntd when booking online). Admission for seniors, students and children between 7-13 is $100ntd.

Visitors can purchase tickets online ahead of time using the Forestry Bureau’s ForestPass system. As of now the system is in Chinese only, but Google Translate works well. This is a paperless system, which issues visitors a QR code that can be scanned upon arrival.

Daxueshan National Forest Information

Address: No. 18, Xueshan Road, Heping District, Taichung City, Taichung City
Tel: (04)2587-7901
Opening hours: Park Hours 06:30-17:00
Pets: Dogs, cats and other mammals are currently prohibited in the park Animals enter. More detailed information 👉 Taiwan National Forestry Bureau

Published by Taiwan Outdoors

Taiwan Outdoors is the pre-eminent source for Taiwan's outdoor recreation and adventure-based experiences on the Internet.

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