TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Outdoor enthusiasts definitely don’t want to miss the Zhongkeng Historic Trail (中坑古道) in Shuangxi District (雙溪區), New Taipei City, because of its historic significance, secluded location, scenic surroundings, and tranquility.
The trail is part of the central route of the Tamsui Kavalan Historical Trail (淡蘭古道). It is a century-old network in northern Taiwan that connected Taipei and Yilan during the Qing Dynasty (1636–1912).
The trailhead for Zhongkeng Historic Trail is found off a country road to Panshankeng (盤山坑) that connects with New Taipei City Route 42 (北42), by Ganjiao (柑腳) community. Near the trailhead you will find a small, archaic Earth God temple.
The initial portion of the trail follows a slightly uphill terrain and passes through some pomelo orchards. A three-way junction appears a few hundred meters away from the trailhead.
Visitors can take either the right or the left fork because both paths join together at the end to form a circular route. Both routes go along a stream that separates them.
Visitors who opt to take the left route first have to cross the stream here by stepping on rocks.
Along the trail, there are plenty of abandoned rice terraces, which are now grazing land for water buffaloes. After passing all the terraces on both sides of the stream, visitors will come to the ruins of an abandoned stone house, which must be at least 100 years old. Hiking to the ruins and returning along the same route requires visitors to cross the stream several times.
The trail continues after the stone house and over more steep terrain to reach the top of the mountain and then continues down to Pinglin. At the top of the mountain is a four-way intersection, where there is another ancient Earth God temple.
The Zhongkeng Historic Trail ends at the temple. The total length of the circular route is about 6.5 kilometers, and it takes about three to four hours to complete the hike.
Because of the secluded location, not many people visit, so visitors usually have the trail all to themselves. This means they feel far away from all the cares of their metropolitan lives.
Words cannot really convey the serenity and beauty of the place. It’s only by being there that you can truly appreciate the soothing effect such a tranquil scene can have on your mind.
(All photos courtesy George Liao)