Ultimate Guide to Dongyanshan National Forest (東眼山國家森林遊樂區)

Dongyanshan National Forest is one of 19 designated National Forests in Taiwan. Dongyanshan (meaning Eastern Eye Mountain in Mandarin Chinese) is a stunning protected park perched among the beautiful, yet rugged mountains of south-eastern Taoyuan.

Less than two hours south of Taipei, this park has been reforested and is now comprised mainly of Japanese and Chinese Cedars as well as some broad-leaved trees such as Beech, Oak, and Formosan Rhododendrons. Under the thick canopy, flora flourish including Giant Elephant Ears (Taro) and other lush ferns.

Wildlife is abundant in this park and if you’re lucky you can spot larger mammals such as Formosan Rock Macaques (台灣獼猴), Red-bellied Squirrels (赤腹松鼠), Formosan Hares (台灣野兔) or even the rare Taiwanese Pangolin (台灣穿山甲). Birdlife, smaller mammals, reptiles and amphibians are all commonly spotted including multiple kinds of toads, frogs and snakes.

Pangolin seen on the Self-Guided Trail in Dongyanshan National Forest

Introduction to Dongyanshan National Forest

The land that currently makes up Dongyanshan National Forest was originally inhabited and stewarded by the indigenous Atayal people (泰雅), who have lived in the region for thousands of years.

One of the unique features of Dongyanshan National Forest predates even these original landowners. The forest is home to a number of trace fossils found within the sedimentary rocks of the Dongyanshan region. These date back thirty million years ago, when ancient prehistoric shrimp and crab built small caverns in the sand on the ocean floor. These can be found along the Forestry Road leading out to Dongman Trail. Contrast these times with the present, where Dongyanshan National Forest is now home to over 280 species of plants and 43 species of wild birds.

Feathers found on the trail in Dongyanshan National Forest

Logging History of Dongyanshan National Forest

The area around Dongyanshan National Forest was once used for timber extraction by the Japanese between 1895-1945. In addition to interpretive signage provided by the Forestry Bureau, some of the relics of this bygone era still remain. Along the Scenic Trail, hikers will pass old timber rail lines, logging pulleys and stacks of fallen trees that have been left over the years. There are also a number of historic trails in Dongyanshan National Forest, including the Dongman Trail, which links Dongyanshan National Forest to the adjacent Manyueyuan National Forest.

The Logging relics found on the trail in Dongyanshan National Forest

This trail was used by the Japanese-authorized loggers to transport the fallen timber to the Manyueyuan area for easier removal. From this area, the local cedar and some cypress were transported to the town of Sanxia (三峽) in New Taipei City (新北市) and ultimately sent on to Japan.

The stretching cedars of Dongyanshan National Forest

However, this was not the original use for this trail. Two separate Atayal communities created the Dongman Trail in order to establish better relations between their villages. The hope was that the creation of this trail would lead to increased rates of intermarriage between the communities over time.

Dongyanshan National Forest is currently the largest national forest recreation area in northern Taiwan. Combined there are over 20km of trails located inside Dongyanshan National Forest. Many of these, are rated a level 1-2 difficulty (out of 5). 

Hiking Trails in Dongyanshan National Forest

The Japanese Cedar and two hikers on the Self-guided trail in Dongyanshan National Forest

Hiking the Dongman Trail 東滿步道

7.8km (one-way) | Linear two-way | No permit required | Level 3 difficulty rating

GPX File for Dongman Trail 東滿步道

Dongman Trail connects Manyueyuan National Forest and Dongyanshan National Forest through a stunning and remote forest. As a linear route, hikers can choose to hike Dongman out-and-back from one of the National Forests or arrange transportation on either end of the trail. Regardless of how one hikes this trail, the Dongman Trail offers one of best hiking experience less than two hours from Taipei.

The quietness of the Dongman trail in Dongyanshan National Forest.

The Dongman Trail itself takes between 3-5 hours to hike (one-way). While the official trail distance for the Dongman Trail is 7.8km, when you include hiking from/to the parking lots and accessing the trailhead, this distance climbs to around 15km. Combined, this can make a day out hiking reach between 6-7 hours. When hiking from Dongyanshan, most of the elevation change occurs while declining into Manyueyuan for the last 3km. It’s not technical hiking, but this can be quite tiring and hard on one’s knees, shins and ankles. A hiking pole is suggested.

The winding stairs along the Dongman trail in Dongyanshan National Forest

There is no cell phone service, no water sources, or washrooms available on the Dongman Trail itself. This trail is almost entirely shaded and covered by the forest canopy.

Beautiful forest trail in Dongyanshan National Forest

There is also a trail junction along the Dongman Trail that allows hikers to continue on to Beishatianshan (北插天山), however this is challenging hike and outside either of the National Forests. Please contact us if you’d like to arrange a private tour up Beichatianshan (北插天山).

Starting the Hike / 如何抵達東滿步道

Starting from the visitor center at Dongyanshan National Forest, we headed along the Scenic Trail. This trail is flag-stone and hard surfaced (maybe pavement in some spots?). It’s not slippery but can get a bit slick when it’s wet. Look out for the mossy sections. The first 20m has a little elevation climb and some stairs down, but other than that it is flat and winds through some really pretty secondary forests.

Stay on this path as you will then connect from the visitor center to the newly renovated restaurant along a relatively flat trail. This is a beginner & stroller-friendly trail (if you can get down the initial 12 stairs) that features some beautiful small bridges over mountain-fed streams and a great introduction into the beautiful temperate forests that make up this scenic park.

Heading away from the Visitor Center

Following the path to the right of, and behind, the Dongyanshan Restaurant, you’ll continue straight until you see a large metal and glass structure on your left. This isn’t the last washroom before the Dongman trailhead, but it is one of the coolest. To continue along you will walk to the right of the washroom and continue up a mix of stone and wooden steps. The wood gets slippery here when wet. Watch your footing. You’ll continue on this trail for another 500m as you pass through areas featuring old logging heritage. 

After the forest bathroom, stay to the right and follow the signs towards “Forest Ground” or signs for Qin-Zi Peak Walking Trail. Old logging relics left behind act as a memorial to the park’s heritage. Throughout the park, interpretation explains the significance of these artifacts. At the first intersection after the logging artifacts, keep going straight for the most direct route to the Forest Road and on to the Dongman Trail.

From here, follow the Forest Road as it meanders along the edge of Dongyanshan towards the Fossil Area. Take the time to stop here to grab a few pictures and to use the rest room. These are the last washrooms before arriving in Manyueyuan National Forest.

On to Dongman Trail / 東滿步道

It’s straight hiking from here with an estimated 20 minutes to the Dongman Trailhead. The trail starts where the Forest Road ends. The signs are a bit worn out but you’ll see information about Manyueyuan National Forest. The trail here turns from the crushed stone of the Forest Road to compact soil. If it has been raining along, it may get muddy, but in general there is pretty good drainage along this trail. 

This is where the real trail and hiking experience begins. At this point you would have already walked around 2.6km just to get to the trailhead. Drink some water or have a snack! For the next 1.7km, hikers will be climbing up towards the maximum elevation height on this trail of 1151m. From this spot, hikers will mostly be hiking down hill the entire way to the Manyueyuan National Forest Ticket Booth. There are some reminders that you’re on the right path, but for the most part there are few signs along this trail.

The distance and elevation changes of the Dongman Trail can tire the body out. At around the 5km mark of the Dongman Trail, hikers will begin the final descent into Manyueyuan National Forest. This might be the most exhausting part of the trail as visitors will have to manage short, and in some cases steep, steps for extended distances (probably around 3km). They are not particularly technical, but they tend to have an impact on joints and knees as you have to step down with extra weight on your back. Having a hiking pole isn’t the worst idea at this point. It’s a really beautiful section of the trail here.

Arriving in Manyueyuan / 滿月圓

You will know that you’ve arrived in Manyueyuan as signage is installed and the trail opens up quite a bit here. You’ll have two choices. Go left and you’ll follow along the “Self-Guided Trail”, which is about 1.1km back to the Manyueyuan Visitor Center and towards the ticket booth.  Go right to head further into Manyueyuan National Forest and towards Manyueyuan Waterfall. Read our Ultimate Guide to Manyueyuan National Forest to find out how to explore this protected area.

Hiking The Self-Guided Trail (自導式步道)

3.9km (return) – Linear two-way – No permit required – Level 2 difficulty rating

GPX File – Self-Guided Trail (自導式步道)

Shaped like a horseshoe, the Self-Guided Trail connects the Scenic Trail at two separate points in the park.  At 3.9km in length, the Self-Guided Trail reaches the highest elevation in the park at 1,212m. The entire route takes a beginner hiker about 2 hours and takes an advanced hiker about 1 hour to complete. Reaching the peak of Dongyanshan, by provides hikers the best views of the surrounding region in Dongyanshan National Forest. The trail surface changes between compact soil and wooden steps up to the peak. There is no technical climbing required, roped sections or rock scrambles. Hikers will experience a total of 277m in elevation gain and 276m in elevation loss throughout this hike.

Starting the Hike Up To Dongyan Peak

While facing the front of the visitor center, hikers can follow the trail that either runs to the left or to the right of the building (they both connect to the main trunk trail). Walking to the right, hikers will walk only 40m along the Scenic Trail (景觀步道) and take the first trail on your left. If you follow the “Self-Guided Walking Trail” signage, the trail that swings back to run behind the visitor center and is the beginning of the ascent.

This first section is mostly steps with some sections slightly steeper than others. This continues for approximately 400m before the first trail branches right (The Nature Forest Bathing Trail). Stay left on the main trail and continue climbing. This trail features some of the best scenery in Dongyanshan and the elevation gains does tend to reduce the number of visitors.

Wooden Stairs up to the peak at Dongyanshan National Forest

The peak of Dongyanshan is restricted by tree cover. The official triangulation point of Dongyanshan Peak is located at the junction of New Taipei City’s Sanxia District and Taoyuan’s Fuxing District. Many Taiwanese hike this trail to tick off one of 100 Small Mountains referred to as the Xiao Bai Yue (小百岳) of which Dongyan is listed as Number 22

Capture The Moment at the Peak!

Take a picture of the metal sign indicating you’ve reached the peak and then head up a short trail that is right next to the peak. Here you can climb 10 steps to a wooden observation deck. On a clear day, there are panoramic views across Taoyuan, Guanyin Mountain, Danshui River, the Greater Taipei area and even Taipei 101. Enjoy the stunning views and endless ridge lines across Taoyuan, including Sanxia Township.

From the peak, hikers will begin a descent down the mountain for about 1km. After hiking for about 30 minute or so, visitors will arrive at a simple forest rest area and clearing with very simple stone and wooden seating. A trail branches off right here and connects back to the beginning of the Self-Guided Trail. Stay left and continue down the mountain along beautiful, winding stairs.

Heading Down from the Peak

Another 20-30 minutes and visitors will reach an elevated washroom built out of shipping containers. Sounds odd, but it’s kind of a neat design. From here you can continue left along the Scenic Trail (景觀步道) and into the Forest Bathing area or turn right and head back to the restaurant and onwards to the visitor center.

The beautiful hike down from Dongyanshan National Forest.

Hiking The Scenic Trail (景觀步道)

6km (return) | Linear Two-Way | No Permit Required | Level 1 Difficulty Rating

GPX File for The Scenic Trail (景觀步道)

Starting from the visitor center, the Scenic Trail is a family friendly trail that is entirely hard surfaced. It’s not slippery but can get a bit slick when it’s wet. Be sure to watch out for the mossy sections. The first 20m has a little elevation climb and some stairs down, but other than that it is flat and winds through some really pretty secondary forests. There are some interesting forest art installments found near the the new restaurant which very Instagrammable for those interested in sharing their hiking adventures.

The distance between the visitor center and the restaurant is less than 1km. As you approach the restaurant from the Scenic Trail, follow the trail that runs to the left of the restaurant. At a small map kiosk, the trail forks. Stay to the right and head into the forest. As you climb a few stairs you will see what has to be one of the funkiest (in a good way) forest bathrooms in Taiwan (and there are some cool ones!). 

Elevated, glass washroom in Dongyanshan National Forest.

At this point, if hikers continue along the trail that stays right of the washroom, they will be connecting to the Foresty Trail.

Hiking The Forestry Trail (森林知性步道)

3km (one-way) | Linear Two-Way | No Permit Required | Level 1 Difficulty Rating

Starting from the elevated forest washroom, the Forestry Trail connects the Scenic Trail with a number of other trails in the southeastern part of the park. This trail is mostly shaded and features wooden steps and compact soil. These wooden steps are slightly older and can get slippery when wet. This trail is appropriate for beginner hikers. One-way, this trail takes about 1 hour.

Hiking is pretty easy along this well-maintained trail, allowing visitors to take in the beauty of the pin-straight Japanese Cedar forest. After about 20 minutes, visitors will reach a four-way intersection. Ultimately, all of these trails connect to the Dongyanshan Forest Road, which visitors can walk and make their way back to the Visitor Center or Dongyanshan Restaurant. To the left, visitors will head towards Parent-Child Peak Trail (親子峰步道), which then loops around and connects with Dongyanshan Forest Road and on towards the Dongman Trail.

Small, Connecting Trails in Dongyanshan National Forest

Parent-Child Peak Trail (親子峰步道) – 1.8km | linear two-way | Level 2 Difficulty

Parent-Child Peak Trail is a circular trail that climbs Parent-Child Peak (Qīnzǐ Fēng / 親子峰). The starting and ending points of the trail are located on the branch line of the Forestry Trail. The trail surface is mixed of wooden steps and compact soil. The ascent is steep in parts. This is why it’s been rated Level 2 difficulty. It should take a novice hiker about 20 minutes to complete. This trail is used to connect to the Dongyanshan Forest Road and on towards the Dongman Trail.

The Nature Bathing Trail – 600m | Linear two-way | Level 1 Difficulty

This is a short connecting trail between the Self-Guiding Trail and the Dongyanshan Restaurant. It is totally shaded and is a quiet trail with few visitors. The trail surface is compact soil with some wooden steps. The trail starts about 200m up the Self-Guiding Trail and pops out adjacent to the parking lot near the restaurant.

Dongyanshan Forestry Road – 4km | Linear two-way | Level 1 Difficulty

Running from the ticket gate to the Dongman Trailhead, this ‘trail’ isn’t so much a trail as it is a full-width utility road with a crushed stone surface. Vehicles rarely drive on this road. It is a family-friendly trail that can be a useful connection between the Trace Fossil area and Dongyanshan Restaurant.

Attractions and Services within Dongyanshan National Forest

Dongyanshan Visitor Center (東眼山遊客中心) – The main visitor center at Dongyanshan National Forest is located at the top of the large vehicle parking lot and is connected to the car parking above by a small trail. Two small rooms make up the interpretive centers for this protected area, however most of it is in Chinese. One of these areas also sells small commemorative items like decorative post-cards, hats and even Forestry Bureau branded facemasks. There is a water-refill station, a small vendor selling cold drinks, noodles, soup, and other light snacks. Washrooms available on site.  

Dongyanshan Restaurant (東眼山食堂) – This facility was renovated and reopened in 2022. The restaurant now features several set menus, as well as lite snacks such as french fries and desserts. Hot drinks such as Black Tea and a variety of coffees can be purchased to drink on-site or take out. Popsicles and fresh, local fruit are sold by the cashier. Indoor seating fits about 30 people, while shaded outdoor tables allows for another 20 or so people. Vending machines are located out front. Washrooms are not located at this site, but are located within 200m.

When To Visit Dongyanshan National Forest

Dongyanshan Nationl Forest is open to visitors all year long. The best time to visit Dongyanshan National Forest is between March and May and between September and November. While late May and June offer warmer weather, this is also the Plum Rain season.

Average Weather in Dongyanshan National Forest

Due to the mid-elevation of around 600m-1,200m, Dongyanshan can feel noticably cooler even in the summer months. Many of the trails are protected from by the surrounding forests and provide a comfortable micro-climate of sorts. On average, the temperatures can be expected to be anywhere between 2-5 degrees cooler than those found in urban Taiwan at lower elevations.

Month High (°C) Low (°C)

January – 18° / 10°
February – 18° / 10°
March – 20° / 12°
April – 23° / 15°
May – 25° / 18°
June – 27° / 19°

July – 27° / 20°
August – 27° / 20°
September – 26° / 19°
October – 24° / 17°
November – 22° / 14°
December – 19° / 11°

How to Get to Dongyanshan National Forest

Dongyanshan National Forest isn’t a particularly remote national forest. There are several ways outdoor enthusiasts can visit this natural protected area. Whether you drive, use public transportation, book private transportation, or join a tour group, Dongyanshan is a great day trip to add to any Taiwan itinerary.

Driving a Car to Dongyanshan National Forest

For those wishing to drive to Dongyanshan National Forest, you’ll likely use Google Maps to help you along the way. Use this reference point for Google Maps. Travel times from Taipei Main Station will be about 1.5 hours. From Taoyuan HSR, the travel times are only slightly shorter at 1 hour and 15 minutes. The road up to Dongyanshan includes a curvy two-lane road with several switchbacks for the final few kilometers.

There is ample car parking available at Dongyanshan National Forest, but visitors will have to pay an additional NT$100 to park a car. Payment is made at the main gate of the National Forest. Scooters and motorcycles cost NT$20 to park. Secondary parking lot is located behind the Dongyanshan Restaurant.

How to Get to Dongyanshan National Forest by Bus

Recent improvements now make it possible to easily access Dongyanshan National Forest by taking the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle (台灣好行) from Taoyuan Bus Daxi Terminal Station (桃園客運大溪總站). Visitors should note that there is still only one bus option with only three arrival and departure times on the weekday and five on the weekends. First guests must travel to Daxi District (大溪區).

Visitors can reach Taoyuan City using the Taiwan High-Speed Rail (HSR) and local express train (TRA) from any of Taiwan’s major cities. From this exact bus stop, take Bus 501 (Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Daxi Express) to Daxi. This bus takes about 50 minutes and will cost visitors NT$71 (one-way). Here is the reference link.

Once you have arrived in Daxi, take the Taoyuan Bus 506 from this exact bus stop location. This bus will make 11 stops before arriving at Dongyanshan National Forest Recreation Area. Here is the arrival and departure schedule for reference. With many of the public transportation options to Taiwan’s National Forests, there are limited arrival and departure times. Visitors should plan ahead and arrive at the bus stop ahead of the scheduled times to ensure they get a seat on the bus. This bus will take about 50 minutes and cost visitors NT$81 (one-way).

Hiring a guide and/or transportation to Dongyanshan National Forest:

Admission into Dongyanshan National Forest

Ticket prices to get into Dongyanshan National Forest vary depending on age, vehicle, and type of visitor. Admissions can paid at the main ticketing booth of the park or online at the Forestry Bureau’s website. If you book online, you will receive a NT$50 coupon that can be used at the Dongyanshan Restaurant.

Admission Prices:

Ticket TypePriceNote
Full PriceNon-HolidayNT$80– Weekday visits.
HolidayNT$100– Weekend and National Holiday visits.
Half PriceNT$50– Local Taoyuan Residents with IDs (foreigners included)
– Military personnel and police officer with valid ID card.
– Student with valid ID
– Children (age 7-12)
Group DiscountNT$80– Minimum group size of 20 persons excluding, person qualified for half price and discount.
DiscountNT$10– Citizens over 65 years old and with ID.
– Children (age 3-6).
– Field trip of elementary school pupils accompanied by a teacher on non-holiday, with official letter ratified by school.
– Tour guide with valid certificate.

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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