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Your Ride to Get Outside

Are you keen to explore hiking trails outside of Taipei? Not sure how to get there? Having trouble persuading the family to join you? Parkbus is one solution.

This organization takes all the hassle out of getting to trails not conveniently situated next to an MRT station or bus stop. In addition, if the hike requires a permit they take care of that as well. You just hop on the bus, snooze for an hour or two and before you know it you’ll have arrived at the start of the trail. There’s always a guide on these trips but you don’t have to follow their pace if you don’t want to. Just make sure you are at the finish point in time for pick up.

If your navigation skills are not particularly great though, I would recommend sticking with the guide. Then you don’t have to worry about where to go. Or whether you’re going fast enough. You can just relax and enjoy the scenery. At the end, you hop back on the bus and rest until you’re back at the starting point. If you live in Taipei, they offer a good selection of day hikes such as Pingxi, Caoling and Taipingshan, all starting from Taipei Main Station. However, they also offer day hikes from Taichung, Chiayi and Hsinchu. Their one and two night outings are also great options, with trips to Jade Mountain being the most popular. 

My first ‘ride to get outside’ Parkbus hike

In April I joined my first Parkbus hike, along with a couple of friends, and it was a pleasant surprise to find that Dory, one of the guides for Center hikes, was in charge. After a two-hour drive towards Wulai, we reached the start of the walk. The first 12 km was along a narrow road which is closed to traffic. The road accompanies the river all the way to the Tonghou trailhead, so it was a relaxing stroll with the sound of the burbling brook and a light breeze rustling in the trees.

PHOTO: TAIWANOUTDOORS.COM/PARKBUS TAIWAN

At the trailhead we stopped for a snack by the river and then set off on the more challenging section of the hike. The trail was not too steep, but with tree roots and some narrow parts in places it did require more concentration than the road. It also meant the scenery was even more beautiful, with thicker forest, more vegetation and birds chirping. We stopped for lunch by the river where we could refresh our feet in the water. All in all, we walked around 20 km, ending up in Yilan county, where the bus was waiting to scoop us up and return us to Taipei.

In July I did the Fuba Cross-Ridge Trail which was 22 kilometers of walking through a green wonderland. After a 3-hour drive, the last hour or more on a windy road going up and up, we finally approached Lalashan National Park on a narrow road lined with stalls selling juicy peaches and packed with cars. As it was Saturday morning and the school holidays, we left the bus just outside the park to avoid the queue waiting to get to the car park inside the park. We wandered through the park past some of the giant cypress trees and then out onto the trail.

Six hours later

Six hours later we ended up in Fushan having passed just one other group of hikers. The noisiest encounter on our hike was the cicadas which reached a crescendo at about kilometer 16. Those creatures really can pump up the volume! The first 15km were along a fairly wide trail headed in a gentle downward direction enveloped in trees, including many large cypress. Some just shoot straight up to the sky. Others have taken a more artistic direction with two trunks, a hollow inside, or branches that drape over the trail.

For the last 6 km or so, the trail narrowed with a drop on one side and a steep wall-like slope on the other. There were a few sections where there had been landslides, so the path was not so smooth and it required more concentration. The undergrowth was thicker too, making it even greener. Finally, we reached a small suspension bridge over a river where we could look back up at the hills and saw our driver waiting for us. We had time to head down to the river to revive our feet in the clear, cool water before heading back to Taipei.

‘Your ride to get outside’

As the Parkbus motto says, this is ‘your ride to get outside’. I love the idea of exploring further afield than Taipei, but don’t always want to drive myself to a trail. Especially on the weekends it can be hard to find parking or when I’m too tired to drive home. This is also the perfect way to do trails that start on one side of a mountain and end up at the other, as there is no need to hike both ways. The added bonus is that it’s safe as there’s a guide who knows the way. Plus, you don’t need to persuade reluctant family members to join you. You can go solo and make new friends along the way.

Once you register for a hike online, they confirm your spot and keep you up-to-date on the progress of permits and any troubling weather reports. So, if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure check out their website now and see where Parkbus can take you.

https://parkbus.com.tw/C/us/home

Lucy Torres is the Programs Manager at The Center and enjoys organising different activities and events that cover topics from Taiwanese culture to environmental awareness.

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