- Starting Location: ZhuoLan Township, MiaoLi (卓蘭,苗栗).
- Length: 86km. Highest elevation: 1890 m.
- Hill profile: Deceivingly Very Difficult: a 27km steady upward followed by 12km very steep climb of 8.3% averge grade (similar to Taroko-Wuling hill variation).
- Although the overall elevation gain is not high (2165 meter), there is a 12km very steep slope climb near the end.
- Consider the last 12km steep section dangerous. The road from MeiYuan (梅園) to ShueJian (雪見) is narrow and not well maintained. There are lots of pot-holes, the growing grass/falling leaves make the road even narrower, and a few big roadside rocks makes descending dangerous.
- The overall traffic is little. However the narrow road makes descending an unpleasant experience, especially when many Taiwanese drivers drive irresponsibly and leave little space for descending.
- Thus it is recommended you ride with others and arrange down-hill transportation.
- Good for:
- Practice long and very steep hill climb.
- Getting a taste of how the Heaven Road (last 10km of Taroko-Wuling climb) feels like.
- Stamina management practice for Taroko-Wuling like hill profile.
- Route #140 ideal for sprinting practice.
- Route Highlights:
Of all the national parks in Taiwan, The Shei-Pa National Park is the hardest one to reach via cycling.
One factor is that there are no state routes inside the park: State Route #8 and #7 only skimmed outside of the park’s south and east sides.
Shei-Pa National Park Area.
Furthermore, the west bound State Route #8 is closed only for locals due to road damage. State Route #7 has to be entered from YiLan (宜蘭), which is at Taiwan’s east coast.
Thus from the west one has to reach Shei-Pa only through local county roads. The two routes are:
- QuanWu (觀霧) Visitor Center: From HsinChu on Route #122, then to DaLu Forest Road (大鹿林道).
- ShueJian (雪見) Visitor Center: From Miaoli on Route #140, Local #47, and ShiMaShien Forest Road (司馬限林道).
Notice that all these two routes go onto forest roads. This shows how remote Shei-Pa is from populated areas.
The route to Shei-Pa is so remote that it requires a Mountain Entrance Permit.
This time I decided to tackle the No.2 route first to ShueJian. The starting point is ZhuoLan (卓蘭), a town at the border of MiaoLi and TaiChung, and one of the most important fruit production area in Taiwan.
ZhuoLan is located within a mountain valley. The early morning wind from the mountain is freezing but good for raising fruit.
It said “Most Yummy Orchard, good quality grapes (left), guaranteed sweet (right).
Taking a detour into the fields.
The route went onto #140, a nice wide road along the river levee with scooter lane, perfect for some sprinting practice (except there was strong wind against me all the way…).
Big wide #140.
The river levee.
Truck unloading bags of fertilizer.
Looking through the levee on the bridge. The big river is DaAn River separating TaiChung and Miaoli.
After a while there was a detour forcing me to again ride into the country road.
What are these fruits?…
The sign said “Passion fruit and sweet persimmon”.
Wild country road with grass taller than humans.
Back on #140 again.
Swag farming car.
Light dims as the route gets closer to the mountains.
A fruit store.
At the end of #140 the road merged with another road and began crossing the big DaAn River.
ZhouLan’s iconic fruit statues. The right one is star fruit.
Cliff-like hills at the river’s two sides.
Once we crossed the bridge the route abruptly turned left and continued along the river valley.
Massive cliff carved out by water and wind. Such steep cliff/wide river valley is one of the great characteristics in this route, and great demonstration of Taiwan’s powerful river.
As the route continued into the valley, signs of aboriginal villages began to appear, first at a red bridge that crossed over the river’s tributary.
A hard-to-see aboriginal-theme wall art.
I accidentally took the wrong way and crossed that temple gate. It leads to nowhere.
The right is a bear statue holding a persimmon. Persimmon is grown throughout the valley.
Crossing the red bridge we went further into the river valley with cliffs at the side. As this area is a major persimmon production site and now is the season, there were lots of persimmon fruit stores along the way.
(Unfortunately they don’t make it into juice : -( )
The red/orange signs are all persimmon store signs.
The red-word sign is a persimmon pun. Persimmon in Mandarin is the same pronunciation as “Thing”.
River valley with yellow wild grass.
Da Guan Aboriginal Tribe (達觀部落) sign.
Crossing small village town.
Cliff under treatment. Likely having a recent slide here…
A bit further into the valley, the route went to an open place. At the center is a big dam called the Shilin Dam.
The dam is in the far middle.
Lively red mountain flowers.
It’s dry season now so there was very little water.
TaiAn County welcome statue. The major population is the Atayal (泰雅族) aboriginal people. The status depicted their hunting scene.
Swag posture and nice packs.
Green dam water.
River valley seen on the dam.
Water stairs for the fishes.
Having enough of the dam, we continued follow the river upward.
The elephant statue indicates the local area called “Elephant Nose”.
River still wide even though we are quite deep in the mountains.
Local bus stop.
Shortly after the dam the route entered DaAn Aboriginal Tribe (大安部落). This was a quite authentic aboriginal area, with people speaking in tribe languages and wearing traditional clothing. Also lots of dogs along the road.
Tribe welcome sign.
Community basketball field.
Kao Chin Su-mei’s (高金素梅) TaiAn Service Office. She was a regular Legislative Yuan member and an aboriginal group advocate.
As the road passed the tribe center, the road again fell back and followed next to the river.
Crossing the rainbow bridge.
Giant blocks on levee.
The last bridge we crossed the giant river and left the river valley.
Taiwan style Smokey Bear. However the main message is about preventing unlawful tree cutting. Shouldn’t the bear carries guns to make the message more effective?
Unlike the previous bridge, this bridge is very close to the river surface.
And river below…
After crossing the bridge we left the river valley and started climbing the mountain, passing through two aboriginal tribes: MeiYuan (梅園) and TianGo (天狗).
MeiYuan Tribe welcome sign.
Here marked the start of the brutal 12km, 8.3% average slope.
TianGo Tribe welcome sign.
Shooting the sun!
Here was the Miaoli Police Station, MeiYuan Department. The rule required that we needed to apply for a Mountain Entrance Permit before going to ShueJian Visitor Center, but I think I’m the only
good citizen retard who actually did so…
The police station.
Three Hagrid and one Potter.
The Mountain Entrance Permit.
“ShiMaShian Forest Road All Clear!”
Local store where I resupplied my water.
After ascending more came finally the sign toward ShueJian.
Shei-Pa National Park Goes Right!
ShiMaShian Forest Road look.
Here you can see the great river valley from above.
Along the way was the remain of WanTien Battery, an old battery built during the Japanese Occupation against the TianGo tribe.
At this ride I really underestimated the steep slope and had to stop several times for my cramp. After some struggling I finally made myself up to the Shei-Pa National Park Entrance Sign.
Mountain viewing platform. Here you can see (hard to tell from the photo) the famous “Holy Ridge” (聖稜線), the tree ridgeline that passes through many Shei-Pa’s great mountain peaks.
The Shei-Pa Sign marked the end of suffering. Continued forward for a bit and we reached the ShueJian Visitor Center.
Snakes & Bees warning sign.
Food/coffee stand in a national park visitor center, a thing you see only in Taiwan.
After resting a while it was time to go downhill. I was fortunate to capture a (tiny) image of the famous DaBaJianShan, the vertical slope peak that appeared as Shei-Pa’s park symbol.