Huoran Pavilion Trail
By Nicholas Cowham, Special to The China Post
August 18, 2005, 12:00 am TWN
This is a short but torturous trail — climbing 550 meters in just 1.9 km. What it lacks in length is more than made up for in rapid elevation. Although the trail head is located at the Huoran Pavilion, most people opt to make a return journey starting from the Tienhisang Youth Activity Center.
Hiking from the Huoran Pavilion, one is first struck with majestic views of the Taisha River and surrounding mountains and an almost bird's-eye view of Tienhsiang. The 119 precipitous steel steps which mark the trail's beginning give the hiker a taste for what's to come.
As one soon starts a decent along a knife edge ridge, the rope fences seem of little comfort. Within a short distance the path seems almost impassable as the hiker is required to scale down an almost vertical rock face.
Just as one is starting to question their sanity however, a large open lookout comes into view. The surrounding blossoms make the view of the Baiyang waterfall just that little more spectacular. It must be noted however that to truly appreciate the distant falls, binoculars are a necessity.
After returning to one's senses, the hiker is faced with continuing their descent. Within a short time one notices a dramatic change in fauna while entering a large bamboo grove. Light flickering through the leaves seems to have a mesmerizing effect and one can almost believe it's possible to fly through the branches as in some famous kung fu movies.
Before reaching the trail's end, there is yet another dramatic change in scenery as the bamboo gives way to tall grasses and sweat inducing climbs.
The trail takes approximately one and a half hours one way. For those not up to making the return journey — the Hualien Bus Company makes regular passes of both entrances. If planning to return on foot, just remembering the mountain of stairs at the beginning of the trail may bring you to your senses.