Hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道)

So you want to hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道)? Let’s take a quick minute to learn about this historic and culturally significant trail in Taiwan. The Pingxi Historic Trail was once an important travel route in northern Taiwan. Connected with other historic trails in the region, such as the Shikong Historic Trail (石空古道), these historical hiking routes were used extensively during the Qing Dynasty period for those trading and traveling between the Tamsui (淡水) and Kavalan (噶瑪蘭族) prefectures of northern Taiwan. In present time, these areas fall within Taipei City and Yilan County. These connected trails make up a network of trails called the Tamshui-Kavalan Cultural and Historic Trail Network (淡蘭古道中路). There are three major sections of this trail network; northern, middle and southern sections.

After the establishment of the Taipei-Yilan Highway, these historic hiking trails became less frequented. While they no longer are used for commerce or commuting, they are popular hiking trails for those looking to explore the local areas in Shuangxi Township in New Taipei City and Toucheng Township in Yilan County. For those looking to connect these two trails will enjoy a beautiful walk in a coniferous forest that is intersected by small creeks and offers stunning views across Yilan County, the east coast of Taiwan and out toward Turtle Island.

Hiking Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道)

The route outlined here to hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道) will take hikers along a linear trail from the Wushan N0.62 Campsite Trailhead to the small peak of Taihe Mountain (太和山), connecting to the Shikong Historic Trail (石空古道) and down to the beach community of Wai’ao (外澳).

What you need to know

Hiking Xianshan 仙山 Trail Distance
Trail Distance: 10.5km
Hiking Xianshan 仙山 Trail Conditions
Trail Conditions:
Compact soil, stones, asphalt road
Hiking Xianshan 仙山 Altitude
Altitude: 602 meters

Degree of Difficulty:
Easy (2/5)

Time Required: 5-6 hours
Trail Type: Linear

Map & GPX File for Hiking the Pingxi Historic Trail

Hiking the Pingxi Historic Trail

For those who want to hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道), you’re in for treat. But is it for you? This trail is suitable for those with beginner to moderate hiking experience and moderate fitness levels. The terrain is relatively easy and there is nothing technical about this hike. That said, guests must be comfortable hiking 10km over a full day. The hike itself may take between 4-5 hours, while it may take a little longer for others. There are little elevation gains and in fact the last two thirds of this hike are a slow and steady decline. We suggest bringing either a swimsuit and a small towel to dry your feet (or body) as there are several stream crossings that are needed during the Pingxi Historic Trail section of this experience.

Follow the signs when you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道).

Beginning the Hike in New Taipei City

This hike begins at the small parking lot of Wushan No. 62 Campsite (烏山62號露營地). There is a washroom available here and parking costs $100ntd for those parking their car. A short walk along a small creek will take guests to a beautiful, arched stone bridge. Crossing over the creek, guests will see the first and only map kiosk along this trail. Signage along this trail isn’t the best. We’ve covered the important information you need and highlighted the sections to be aware of below. We think you’re ready to hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道).

When you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道), the first section is easy going.

After a short hike along this double-track trail, hikers will arrive at the first of three small river crossings. There once was a log that offered hikers an option to cross the river without taking off their shoes. While the log it still there, it was washed out. It is also slippery when wet, so if it is back in place, please use caution.

Crossing this river does require hikers to take off shoes and roll up your pants. At its peak, this river can get up to one’s knees. Bring a pair of water shoes and a small towel to dry your feet after crossing.

The trail then continues as a well-trodden double track trail that is lined with pin-straight cedars and some deciduous trees. This section of the trail is shaded and covered by a high canopy. After about 600m, hikers will arrive at a second river crossing. This crossing has a thin rope for balance, but hikers will be required to take off their shoes here. The water level is typically about shin-high.

Find tranquility when you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道).

Hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道): Views of Turtle Island

After the second of three stream crossings, the trail continues through a lush, green forest. Here hikers will experience the quintessential dense underbrush and beautiful ferns of northern Taiwan. After about another 600m, hikers will be provided the first views over Yilan County and Turtle Island.

This is the reason you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道).

The trail then continues for another 500m towards Taihe Mountain. Hikers will pass a trail junction on their left, but will continue straight. While the trail gets narrow, it is still easy to walk and stunning meander through this dense jungle forest. Once hikers arrive at a “T” junction, they can choose to go left towards towards Shikong Historic Trail and Wai’ao. Turning right, takes hikers towards Taihe Mountain. After a short section, visitors will pass a small Tu Di Gong Temple (土地公) on their right. Continue down a small decline and stay left on a trail that immediately starts to climb.

Hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道) and witness the stunning Silver Grass of Taiwan's East Coast.

This section of the hike is a short but steep addition to the hike. The 200m ascent up Taihe Mountain offers views of the interior of the Coastal Mountains of Taiwan. This is one of the reasons we suggest you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道). Well worth the extra effort on a clear day. Similar to the Caoling Historic Trail, this section offers hikers views of the famous Silver Grass in the late Autumn. The views from the peak of Taihe Mountain are unobstructed and present great views of the East Coast. Looking south, hikers will see the town of Toucheng and the Lanyang Plains of Yilan County. On a clear day, you’ll spot Turtle Island (龜山島), a dormant volcanic island that last erupted on 1785. A new building is being erected at the top of Taihe Mountain, which sits 705 meters above sea level. This is apparently home to Zhenwu Xuantian (真武玄天), a powerful taoist god.

The views are spectacular if you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道).

Hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道): Enjoying Mt. Taihe Peak

Spend some time at the peak, enjoy the views, catch your breath, and begin your hike down. Watch your steps along the way, as the trail is steep and the loose surface dirt/rocks can become slippery. You’ll pass the small forest Tu Di Gong and see the path you came along on your left. You will continue straight.

Find views like this when you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道).

The hike here continues its descent toward the coast, along a wide compact soil trail. As the trail switchbacks down, it becomes a hard surface asphalt road. While the descent is only about 150m, this section can be hard on the knees and feet after the decline off of Taihe Mountain. This section is a mix of shaded and unshaded trails.

Groups love to hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道).

Hikers, as they approach the point where the trail opens up, will pass a historic building on their right-hand side. Crossing a small stone bridge and connect with a roadway leading up a short distance. On your left-hand side, you’ll see a set of stairs that leads down towards a small, but well-kept temple known as Huang Jin Ling Fude Temple (黃金嶺福德祠). Here you will find a washroom and a sink to wash up. To continue on, follow the path on the far side of the washroom, towards the coast. You’re now hiking on the Shikong Historic Trail (石空古道).

Hiking Shikong Historic Trail to the Coast

The Shikong Historic Trail features a mix of shaded and unshaded sections and as hikers get closer to the coast there are lots of open areas. After leaving the temple, the trail begins to narrow and becomes slightly more challenging with more uneven sections with larger, loose rocks. There is nothing technical about this section, however, the steep descent from Taihe Mountain (太和山), combined with longer, but less steep descent from Huang Jin Ling Fude Temple (黃金嶺福德祠) can be hard on the knees and ankles, even for experienced hikers. But don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded for the effort.

The hike along Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道) offers picturesque sections.

This section of the trail, about 2.5km is spectacular, as it meanders along a small creek amongst the ferns and jungle. There is one final, small creek crossing before hikers start to get spectacular views across the Pacific Ocean. As hikers continue, there are more frequent views over the popular Wai’ao Beach (外澳沙灘). Nestled between the Coastal Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, the village of Wai’ao offers visitors a ton of great services, including restaurants, cafes, bars, as well as small hostels and B&B’s. There is also a train station, where hikers can connect back to Taipei or head further south along the east coast.

If you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道), you'll be rewarded with stunning views.

Arriving in Wai’ao and the East Coast of Taiwan

Passing through some small coastal farms, hikers will arriving at the Wai’ao Train Station, where they’ll walk up and over the tracks and arrive at the eastern terminus of the Shikong Historic Trail (石空古道). Here hikers will have the opportunity to head out to the beach for a swim or grab a bite to eat or a drink to relax. If you’ve booked transportation, arrange Wai’ao Train Station (外澳車站) as your pick up location. If you are taking the train back, it is suggested that you purchase your ticket at this time and plan the remainder of your day around that departure time.

What to Bring when you Hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道)

When you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道), there are some beautiful river crossings.

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 (there are water sources on trail, but we suggest you don’t drink from the stream or the taps along the way)
  • Food – There are no services on the trail, however depending on the way you hike this linear trail, you might end up in the beach community of Wai’ao. Here you will find several restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores.
  • Washrooms – There are two toilets available on this route. One at the parking lot of the campsite and one at Huang Jin Ling Fude Temple (黃金嶺福德祠) about 7.5km along this route.
  • Sunscreen – It is recommended hikers wear sunscreen and proper sun wear (hat or long sleeves). About 50% of the trail is unshaded. If you plan to spend time at Wai’ao Beach at the end of your hike, you’ll want to bring some sunscreen.
  • Camera/Phone – Reception is not very good along most portions of this trail, until you begin the descent into Wai’ao. 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 on this trail, however hiking poles may come in handy.

How to Get to Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道)

There are a few ways to get to and hike the Pingxi Historic Trail. If you have a car you can drive, but you’ll be required to double back the entire 10+km if you want to hike the trail in its entirety. There is also an option to take public transit with an additional 2km along a quiet, mostly shaded single-lane road. Finally, you can book private transportation or join a group trip; arguably the most convenient.

Driving to Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道): If you are driving to Wushan No. 62 Campsite (烏山62號露營地), you can set this as your location – HERE. The second half of the drive is along a windy rural road and takes approximately 1.5 hours. Ample parking is available at Wushan No. 62 Campsite (烏山62號露營地). As always, be careful while driving in Taiwan. 

Taking public transportation to Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道): If you wish to take public transportation to hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道), take the TRA regular train to Shuangxi Train Station (雙溪車站) in New Taipei City. From here, walk across the street to the local bus stop and take Bus No. F815, which runs for 14 stops until you get to Pingxitou (往平溪頭. Pingxitou (往平溪頭) is a bus stop at the official entrance of the Pingxi Historic Trail. Although there is still a 2+km walk, the cedar trees tower above and the walk is actually quite nice. Click here for the transportation schedule from Shuangxi Train Station.

When you hike Pingxi Historic Trail (坪溪古道), there are some beautiful river crossings.

Published by Taiwan Outdoors

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