- CaoLing X 10000 Year Gorge Summary:
- Ride Motivation
- Start: ZhuShan
- Into the Mountains
- CaoLing Pass & Tunnel
- CaoLing & ShrBi
- Also Recommended:
- [Cross Mountain Riding] MeiShan Tea Loop 梅山高山茶騎
- [ Back Road to Taiwan’s Highest Peak ] Tataka Challenge 挑戰塔塔加
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CaoLing X 10000 Year Gorge Summary:
- Ride myself.
- Starting Location: Near ZhuShan Cultural Park 竹山文化園區, Nantou
- Bike Length: ~ 88 km. Elevation gain: ~ 1700 m.
- Hike Length: ~ 1 km
- Hill profile: One big hill with a few dips.
- Good for: MTB clipless, cross training.
- Route Highlights:
- Caution: Bad road. Sooooo many potholes!
There are three big river extension of Taiwan’s biggest river ZhuShui River (濁水溪) going north to south. The first one is along State #21 to Tataka, the smallest one to XiTou. This time we will ride along the third one to CaoLing (草嶺).
The big #149 river valley road to CaoLing.
Similar to MeiShan, CaoLing also features multiple-peak terrain with many geological wonders. The area now has less tourist traffic due to heavy damage from the big 921 earthquake, but still a popular place for adventurers.
This trip I also took the opportunity to test the more walkable MTB clipless shoes, hiking down one of CaoLing’s secret spots: the Ten Thousand Year Gorge (萬年峽谷).
The gorge hidden at an (broken) #149 extension in CaoLing.
My ride started at the beginning of #149 from ZhuShan 竹山. It literally means “Bamboo Mountain”, and is famous for its bamboo production.
River valley farm scenery.
Crossing a small extension.
As also part of the main Taiwan tea production area, ZhuShan also had lots of tea fields along the valley.
Big wide river.
Local farm association branch. For politicians farm associations are important for securing votes.
Clear water, hence the name of this river as “Clear Water Creek (清水溪)”, in contrast to ZhoShui River, which means “Muddy Water Creek”.
Some sort of reservoir.
Cool statue with yellow “Do not cross!” tape. Typical Taiwan government sense of beauty.
Into the Mountains
Soon after passing the reservoir #149 started to deviate from the main river gorge and began climbing up towards the mountain.
The road below was for trucks mining river sands and stones.
River gorge became quite steep at this point.
CaoLing bamboo welcome sign.
Some local point of interests.
Just like AliShan, CaoLing here was full of steep cliffs.
Great undeveloped valley.
Mobile coffee truck!
Notice the giant rocks right down the bridge, showing CaoLing’s unstable terrain after the 921 earthquake.
Our road under giant cliff.
Road work, or “Cliff work” ahead.
Can you spot the two workers on the cliff?
CaoLing Pass & Tunnel
After passing the cliffs was a stunning open space with surrounding mountain walls at three sides. I called this the “CaoLing Pass”, as we would soon crossed a tunnel through these walls and reached CaoLing.
Beautiful, mountain surrounded pass.
Looking back at the opening. Below was the water draining route, with teeth to hold rocks.
Another water draining route.
Viewing the mountain wall and the road we went up.
CaoLing & ShrBi
Passing the tunnel, we entered CaoLing at the other side of the mountain. Great river valley views as we saw from MeiShan appeared, just this time we were viewing from the other side of the river.
The buildings were the main CaoLing town.
CaoLing Geological Park.
As we mentioned before, CaoLing was heavily damaged in 921 earthquake and lost many tourist traffic. Throughout the town you could see the decline of the town.
Sign with words fall out.
Not sure what the deer and duck were for…
As I wanted more climb in my trip, soon I passed CaoLing and upward towards ShrBi, a hillside tea production region north of CaoLing.
See the strips on the mountain? That was where we were heading, a nice Z-shape climbing road.
Great multiple peaks.
Above was a tunnel.
Hmm… metal roof didn’t look very safe. Usually Taiwan’s tunnels were concrete-made.
ShrBi Community welcome sign.
If you looked closer, there was a giant rock as part of the right building. Wonder if the rock of the build came first.
Small tea process place.
Table made by fallen rock.
Local production: coffee, bamboo sprouts and tea.
My climbing ended at an old Lagerstroemia subcostata deity tree (九芎神木), a big tree with a small temple at its side.
The deity tree.
This offering paper furnace looked like to burst…
Having reach the highest point, it was time now to get back.
Probably some sort of water tank.
Light rail at tea field for good transportation.
Before heading back to CaoLing I decided to check out a “ShrBi Gorge 石壁仙谷”, a giant stone riverbed.
At the way back there was also a coffee plantation field at road side.
What were you doing here?
At my way back I decided to visit a cool local school here: CaoLing ecological elementary. It was a school at top of a hill.
School’s front side.
Very elegant Japanese style building.
There was a small outpost you could climb up and ring a bell.
Finally at my way back I took another detour and visit the famous Ten Thousand Year Gorge 萬年峽谷. The gorge was at an extension of #149 (#149 Jia), which its end was destroyed during the big earthquake and up till now still not fixed.
The gorge’s entrance was right at the exit of a tunnel.
The path down to the gorge was not paved, so I decided to walk down with my MTB clipless shoes. The shoes worked great on dirt/gravel surface but not on concrete stairs, so st some sections I had to go bare-foot with my socks on 🙂
You could image how this giant stone got here. Must be shaken down from the mountains.
A glimpse of the gorge.
The 10000 year Gorge was originally a riverbed made by one single stone. Years of water flowing through carved out a gorge in the middle of the riverbed stone.