This week I decided I would 100% for sure hike to an easy peak. After a bit of searching, I came up with LiDingShan 笠頂山 in Majia 瑪家. It looked to take a few hours to hike to both the LiDingShan peak and also to the LiangShan ZhenLi Southwest peak 涼山真笠西南峯. It would have made for a nice easy day. But if you know me, I always manage to find something to make it more difficult.
In my search, I found a trail that goes from LiangShan ZhenLi southwest peak to Liangshan waterfall. I knew it would turn into an all-day thing, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to hike this trail.
The trail head to Lidingshan is about a kilometer past the police station in Jiayi 佳義, Pingtung. There are plenty of places to park if you’re driving a car, and more than enough room for many scooters. Though on the weekends I suspect the area is very busy.
I was told there is another trail head on the other side of the village. I believe there may be more, as well as a road to the top. From what I’ve read there is a network of trails up there, both easy and difficult. I’m pretty sure I chose the most difficult route.
I went on a Wednesday and honestly expected there to be few people. As you can see above, there were many cars already there when I arrived. Many hikers were coming down as I ascended. I was a bit surprised to find that I was the youngest of anyone hiking. But being younger didn’t mean faster. These old-timers were like machines. They never broke pace and passed me with ease. Hats off to them!
Not long after beginning I came across the remains of aboriginal houses, a common sight on many trails in Taiwan.
The way to the top is well worn, marked, and has ropes and other hiking aids throughout.
And it’s pretty rocky.
Along the way some of the trees were marked with numbers. They didn’t correspond to elevation; perhaps they measured distance.
Nearing the top I was finally awarded with a nice view for my hard work.
Final climb to the top!
At the top there were benches ready for the winded and cramped up hikers.
And for those hardcore hikers with energy to spare, you’re welcome to knock out a few reps on the bench press. 🙂
One thing I wasn’t expecting when I got to the top was…well…something that resembled a refugee camp. There was structure after structure everywhere. And by “structure” I mean anything from a ratty old tarp and some plastic tables and chairs to concrete floors, steel beams and metal cover. Just take a look!
If you’re wondering how they got all that up there, well, there’s a road.
Yep! You can drive right to the top!
Most of the structures where empty. But a few had people gathered within cooking and eating. I was invited to eat with one group, but I didn’t have time to stop.
In total it took about one and a half hours to hike to LiDingshan.
I met a gentleman at the top who helped me take this picture. Usually I have to balance my phone on my backpack and hope for the best.
People were coming and going from three trails that converge on this spot. There’s what looks to be an old radio tower next to the peak marker. The antenna has fallen and the only equipment inside are plastic chairs and a peak sign.
After a short conversation with the gentleman about diet and healthcare, we parted ways and I continued my journey to the next peak.
ZhenLiShan Southwest Peak 真笠山西南峰
Along the way there’s an NCC building that can be seen from down below.
The entire way to the next peak I came across more structures. It seems anyplace that offered a decent view was claimed by whatever group of people and built upon. This one in particular was by far the nicest. It had running water and bathrooms!
But most were just “average looking”.
From Lidingshan to ZhenLiShan Southwest Peak, it took me about an hour.
There’s a table and chairs to take a rest, flowers, and a nice view.
As usual for me, the weather wasn’t playing nice. But at least it wasn’t raining.
Had my adventure ended here, it would have been nice. I could have hiked back down, maybe explored some of the interconnecting trails, or found a group of people to share a meal with. Had it been a weekend I might have done this. It has to be pretty busy here on the weekends. From what I saw, I believe some of these places are selling food and drinks. This would make a perfect day trip on a weekend. But it wasn’t a weekend and I had some more hiking to do!
Liangshan Waterfall 涼山瀑布
As I had expected, the trail leading out the back of LiangShan ZhenLi Southwest peak was far less used. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was wild–you could almost always make out the trail–but it certainly wasn’t well traveled.
The trail was completely downhill the whole way. It got steep in places, but fortunately there were a lot of ropes – often doubled up.
It would probably be helpful if I could read Chinese. This sign warned of wild boar in the area.
Though in all my encounters with wild boar, they tend to make some noise and run away.
One interesting thing I found along the trail was this sign:
“Taiwan Ultra Runners”
Actually, I found several signs and areas roped off to try and funnel you in a particular direction.
Obviously some trail running event was held here some time ago.
Now let me tell you…whoever decided to use this trail for a trail running event is just crazy. Everything I saw told me they were going UP the mountain…not down. I would not want to hike this trail going up, no less RUN. It’s steep and dangerous in some places. To be honest, I’m very surprised anyone would pick this place to hold an event. But I can’t complain because their signs and ropes certainly helped out. 🙂
Everything was going smoothly until I hit a couple patches of overgrown sections.
I could have just pushed through, but there’s something about stepping where you can’t see what’s underneath that just bothers me. I had to do some machete work.
It had been about three hours of hiking since the last peak. I was nearing a stream, but came to a spot where some smaller trees had fallen and taken the ropes with them. I spent about ten minutes trying to figure out where to go. After a bit of slashing and hacking, I cleared the trail enough for me to find the ropes on the other side. Not long after that I was awarded with the stream!
I really wanted to stay and rest for a good thirty minutes or so, but as usual I was worried about making it out before dark. So I splashed some water on my face and continued on.
This water flows directly to Liangshan waterfall. I suppose you could follow it and take the plunge to the bottom. That would be the quickest way down. 😉 But I wouldn’t recommend it.
A little ways down the stream and across, the trail picks back up. This time with a slew of old PVC pipes to follow.
I hiked for another hour. It followed the stream for a time and then curved off and followed an old mountain road that had mostly been reclaimed. This road eventually connects up with a road that begins next to the entrance of Liangshan waterfall park. This is one route that can be taken to exit. The other exit is in the park itself.
At some point I found this interesting tree. To me it looks like a “natural sink”. haha But maybe it’s a toilet.
From the GPX track I was following, there’s a trail that splits off for about 300 meters that appears to go to the top of Liangshan waterfall. I really wanted to explore it, but I was worried about the time. That and for some reason I was REALLY tired. Like ridiculously out of energy. I had been eating, drinking and resting. I wasn’t pushing myself too hard and it wasn’t hot. I didn’t get a full eight hours of sleep, but I don’t think that was it. I was a tad bit sick several days ago. Maybe it was that. But whatever the problem, it really slowed me down.
So I passed the trail heading to the water and made my way down to Liangshan waterfall.
After carving my way through a wall of vines…
…I got my first and only view of the waterfall from above. I have never seen it from this angle before. It definitely feels different than when viewing it from below.
As I slowly made my way down, I could hear people having fun at the waterfall. This gave me a boost to pick up the pace. (That, and I think I had Metallica and Marilyn Manson playing on my bluetooth speaker. Those two will surely get you moving!)
The final descent into Liangshan was by far the most dangerous. I’d say it was roughly a 50 meter drop down a rocky “slide”. Maybe more. I apologize for the bad picture. But I was hanging by a rope and trying to take pictures in a pretty bad location. Everything turned out blurry.
It’s difficult to tell, but this is EXTREMELY steep. A fall here might be all she wrote. At the very least you’d be in the hospital for quite some time. Think carefully before deciding to exit at this location.
At the bottom…you’re in the park!
If you’re familiar with the park, this is where the stairs end and there’s a “pool” at the top where parents like to let the smaller children swim. Beyond this point is the rocky path to the waterfall.
I never noticed it before when I was there, but there’s a yellow ribbon marking the entrance/exit.
Personally I wouldn’t want to start the hike here. I can’t imagine climbing all that.
By now it was nearly 5pm…closing time. I would have liked to stop and rest for a good hour, but I felt I had to get out of the park before someone came up yelling at me. That took me about 30 minutes, which seemed darn easy with all the wooden steps.
In total I spent about 8 hours hiking and covered nearly 12 kilometers. I took a 15 minute rest at the entrance and guess what….? Walked back to my bike! 🙁
That was another hour walk on the road…about 6 kilometers…the last kilometer up a mountain road! Ugh…
I was tired but hey, it was a great experience!
DATE HIKED: 2018 October 31
GPX Track Download Instructions: Click the track on the map to see the download link