Commonly known as simply Fenrui Historic Trail, the 7km route described in this article actually incorporates two historic trails. Starting from the north, the Ruitai Historic Trail continues south for about 2.5km before connecting with the Fenrui Historic Trail.
Like many historic trails in Taiwan, the Fenrui Historic Trail was developed during the Qing Dynasty. The 7km stretch between Fenqihu and Ruili was primarily used by farmers and trades people carrying their products to sell in the market at Fenqihu. This 7km linear trail runs through thick bamboo groves and skirts the foot hills of Taiwan’s majestic Central Mountains. With the scenic mountain village of Fenqihu located at the southern terminus of this trail, hikers can enjoy a combination of fantastic hiking and cultural sightseeing.
What you need to know about the trail:
Map & GPX File for Fenrui Historic Trail (奮瑞古道)
Hiking the Fenrui Historic Trail (奮瑞古道)
The trailhead for the Ruitai Historic Trail begins this journey from the north, heading south to Fenqihu. Like many historic trails in Taiwan, the trail begins simply with a wooden map kiosk and trail sign on the side of County Highway 166 (166縣道). While likely not the original beginning of the trail, many historic trails are now shorter than they were originally, cut short by modern development. Leaving from the trailhead in Ruili on the northern end of this historic trail, hikers will pass under a wooden sign and enter a dense, subtropical forest and immediately begin climbing a series of wooden and stone staircases.
The first 1km or so consists of moderate, but steady, elevation climbs through broad-leaved forests, transitioning into the bamboo forests that make this trail so famous. At the conclusion of this rise in the trail, hikers will come upon a wooden gazebo and shelter. Without knowing the history of this place, many hikers stop for a rest and move on to the next section of the trail.
Yin Yang Temple Ruins (陰陽廟遺址)
This shelter was built on the trail to acknowledge a lesser known cultural site, known as the Yin Yang Temple Ruins (陰陽廟遺址). In the past, many local residents lived at the whim of Mother Nature and the challenging environments she created for those living a primarily agriculturally-oriented lifestyle. In an effort to pray and give offerings to the mountain and land gods, the locals established a Tudigong Temple here. As is a common site along many trails in Taiwan, Tudigong is a local Earth God and one of his tasks is to make sure that crops and livestock are productive.
This Tudigong Temple was moved during the Japanese occupation period, leaving behind a simple stone shrine on its foundation. The wooden structure was built to protect the site. It is a great place to rest and take shelter from the rain. At this stage there is a trail junction, but hikers headed to Fenqihu will continue on the (obvious) trail that continues up towards an opening.
Not long after leaving the wooden pavilion around the Yin Yang Temple Ruins, hikers will leave the forest canopy and enter into an opening of the trail. A beautiful tea farm abuts this part of the Ruitai Historic Trail. The views across the rolling rows of Oolong tea plants to the mountains of Alishan Township in the distance are spectacular. Take a few pictures here. The tea plantations and mountains are such a beautiful and distinct characteristic of hiking in this part of Chiayi County.
The Bamboo Forests of Alishan
Hikers will reenter the forests and begin hiking a more consistent bamboo forest experience. The climbing continues until around the 2.5km mark and then the trail begins to even out at around 1600m elevation. Approximately 450m of elevation is gained over the first 2.5km of the Ruitai Historic Trail. It can be tiring for many, so take your time and enjoy the experience. The highest point along the Fenrui Historic Trail is 1647m, which is a perfect altitude to experience the famous Sea of Clouds in Alishan.
The bamboo forests are certainly one of the biggest draws of the Ruitai/Fenrui Historic Trails and hikers will enjoy long stretches of these. As the wind moves through them, the sounds of the waving bamboo fill the forest. On sunny days, the light sneaks in through the canopy and generally makes this some of our favorite sections of the trail. From here, there are several sections along the Fenrui Historic Trail that feature small wooden benches. Stop, take a break, and soak it all in!
Not far along the trail, the forest transitions back into a mixed forest and features several mid-sized Stout Camphor Trees. There is a small gazebo and resting spot at a location called the Valley of the Seven Step Echo. This section of the trail follows a narrow valley between two mountains. This area creates a unique echoing phenomena for those who hike the trail on a quiet day. Or so the legend goes.
IMPORTANT TRAIL JUNCTION #1
Not far after the gazebo, hikers will arrive at a trail junction with wooden stairs heading up and off to the right. There is a sign here indicating that the stairs actually begin the Fenrui Historic Trail. Hikers wishing to end their hike in Fenqihu, must turn right and follow the stairs up. Continuing straight is the remainder of the Ruitai Historic Trail.
The Fenrui Historic Trail continues climbing wooden steps amidst the bamboo forest. At around the 1.9km marker there are some wooden benches to catch your breath. With about 4.5km remaining until you get to Fenqihu, the trail narrows and follows a short ridgeline with a drop off the right side of the trail. Stay on the trail. Watch your footing as you continue to climb up some stone steps that may get slippery when wet.
IMPORTANT TRAIL JUNCTION #2
At around 2.75km into the hike, hikers will arrive at a “T” junction. If you turn left, you will follow a short “O” route up the peak of Yunzai Mountain (雲載山). This is one of the higher peaks along this trail at 1634m. If you turn right, you will continue along the Fenrui Historic Trail. There is a wooden sign here, but the writing is in Chinese.
Shortly after this junction, hikers will continue along a concrete section of the trail and arrive at another “T” junction. Stay right if you are heading to Fenqihu. There is signage here and the writing is in English. There are a few trails that lead off to the right along this following section, but hikers will stay on the main concrete road/trail. At about the 3.5km mark, hikers will arrive at a crossroads with options to follow the concrete road left or right. Hikers will see a large green sign (in English) indicating that you continue straight to Fenqihu. The trail continues along a compact soil trail that now traverses the left side of a mountain ridge, giving views through the bamboo forest looking east.
Heading down to Fenqihu
The natural trail transitions back onto a concrete road and at 1.3km from Fenqihu, the trail begins to climb again for a short distance. At the top of this climb, hikers will find a small wooden pavilion at a trail junction. Here, guests can take the 0.8km “Cake Thief Trail” or continue along the Fenrui Historic Trail for another 1.3km. We suggest taking the Cake Thief Trail because of its scenery and unique history.
The Cake Thief Trail is a short, but steep descent on shallow stone steps. This section of the trail is filled with ferns and more bamboo trees. During the Qing Dynasty, bamboo was the major crop of the area. Farmers of Meishan Township would carry bamboo shoots along the Ruitai and Fenrui Historic Trails and sell them in Fenqiihu. As legend would have it, there was once a farmer who gambled and lost all the bamboo shoots he had. Broke and hungry, the farmer got caught trying to steal cakes from a local cake shop. The owner of the cake shop showed pity and did not want to send him to the police. As retribution, the thief had to build a trail and carried over 1000 stone steps from a local quarry and placed them along this trail. Be careful walking down, the stones get slippery when wet.
At the end of Cake Thief Trail, hikers will connect to a wooden boardwalk. Turn right and continue down the boardwalk and mountain road that eventually passes the northern end of Fenqihu Village.
Best Time to Hike the Fenrui Historic Trail (奮瑞古道)
The best times to hike the Fenrui Historic Trail (奮瑞古道) are in the early spring (March to early May) and in the Autumn, between late September to late November. These times are when it rains less and is cooler for hiking.
Weather along Fenrui Historic Trail (奮瑞古道)
Temperatures in the Winter typically range from 13° / 5°, while Summers can reach 25° / 15°. The climate in this area is humid and damp. Like many mountainous areas in Taiwan, the weather along the Fenrui Historic Trail can change rapidly. Please check the Central Weather Bureau‘s weather forecast before hiking.
What to Bring when Hiking
When hiking in Taiwan, consider your capabilities before heading out. When it comes to the kinds of equipment or resources one should bring when hiking this trail in Taiwan, we’ve provided a list below:
- Water – About 1.5L of fresh drinking water, depending on the time of the year. There are no drinkable water sources on the trail.
- Food – There are no food services located along any sections of this trail. If you are hiking north-to-south, ending in Fenqihu provides hikers with a great final destination with plenty of food stalls and restaurants.
- Washrooms – There are no toilets available on this trail.
- Sunscreen – This trail is 30% unshaded. Depending on how sensitive you are to the sun (and it’s pretty strong in Taiwan), you’ll want to bring some sunscreen as there are sections that offer no shade.
- Camera/Phone – Reception is not very good along the Fenrui Historic Trail, particularly along the middle sections. We suggest downloading our GPX file in advance and a preferred mobile app that can run offline to help navigate without the Internet.
- Clothing / Gloves / Equipment – It really depends on the time of the year you are hiking, but always consider the weather when preparing for your hike. We advise bringing rain gear and warmer clothes in the cooler, winter months. Bringing a pair of gloves is not necessary as there are no roped sections along this trail. Hiking poles are not necessary unless preferred by the hiker.
Booking Private Transportation or a Tour (Coming Soon)
Interested in visiting Fenrui Historic Trail, but need some support? Whether you require a bilingual guide and/or transportation services, please contact our partner’s at Parkbus Taiwan. We’re working tirelessly on getting our booking system online!
How to Get to Fenrui Historic Trail
This is where things get a little tricky. Hiking in Taiwan is a very accessible activity with many hiking routes located within a short transit ride from major urban and suburban areas. Then there are hiking experiences in Taiwan that are remote and difficult to get to.
Getting to the southern trailhead of Fenrui Historic Trail is not difficult to do without your own vehicle. The issue are the departure times. Hiking the trail end-to-end as a thru-hike is difficult without two vehicles.
Booking a taxi or private transportation to the trailhead of Ruitai Historic Trail: Hiking end-to-end is certainly the best way to experience the Fenrui Historic Trail. Visitors will need to book a van or sedan to drop off and pick up on either side of the trail. Taiwan Outdoors has coordinated a number of local operators that are able to support your travel plans. Contact us to coordinate this service for you (coming soon).
How to get to the Meishan Township-side of Fenrui Historic Trail
Bus: This journey will begin from Chiayi City at the City Fountain Bus Station. Catching the 7315A bus, the entire trip will take about 2.5hours. After 104 stops, visitors will get off at the stop titled Cing Ye Villa and have a 1 minute walk to the trailhead of the Ruitai Historic Trail (瑞太古道).
Driving a car: If you are renting a car or have access to a private vehicle, you can set this location for your navigation. From Chiayi City, the travel time is estimated at about 1.5 hours. You will have to park at the side of the road near the trailhead.
How to get to the Fenqihu-side of Fenrui Historic Trail
Driving a car: If you are renting a car or have access to a private vehicle, you can set this location for your navigation to Fenqihu. From Chiayi City, the travel time is estimated at about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There is ample parking for about 20 cars.
Bus: Visitors can take a number of buses to reach Fenqihu, but their departure times are limited and space can fill up quickly during popular weekends or hiking times.
Bus 7329a: The Chiayi High Speed Rail Station is the first pick up location of this route. Buying tickets in advance is possible at the 7-11, but only day-of. Passengers can also buy tickets when boarding the bus. The bus fee from Chiayi HSR to Fenqihu is NTD$106 one-way. Either use an EasyCard or pay the exact fee amount and ride the bus all the way up. From thе Ніgh Ѕрееd Rаіl (НЅR) ѕtаtіоn, visitors can expect an approximately 2-hour buѕ ride tо Fenqihu.
Taking Bus 7322d to Fenqihu: Chiayi Train Station is the first pick up location of this route. Buying tickets in advance is possible at the 7-11, but only day-of. Passengers can also buy tickets when boarding the bus. The bus fee from Chiayi Train Station to Fenqihu is NTD$93 one-way. Either use an EasyCard or pay the exact fee amount and ride the bus all the way up. From Chiayi ѕtаtіоn, visitors can expect an approximately 1-hour and 45-minute buѕ ride tо Fenqihu. Use the TaiwanTrip website as a reference and a guide.
Bus 7302: Visitors can board the 7302 bus right in front Chiayi Train Station. This bus comes every XX times per day. The cost of this trip is $175ntd. There are 75 spots along the way and it is estimated to take 1 hour and 45 minutes. This bus runs Daya Stop: 09:00 – 17:00 (2) Fenqihu Destination Stop: 06:55 – 14:55
Bus schedule from Fenqihu to Chiayi Railway Station
Bus departures from Fenqihu are limited and hikers will have to manage their times closely. We would suggest aligning your departure with the 7322d bus, as this is likely going to give you enough time to hike from the trailhead for Ruitai Historic Trail to Fenqihu.
Taking Bus 7322d from Fenqihu to Chiayi Train Station: The most likely departure time to leave Fenqihu will be the 3:10pm bus. Buy your ticket in advance or be waiting at this exact bus spot early to reserve your spot.