TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Most people know Shifen in Pingxi District, New Taipei City, because it’s a tourist hotspot famous for trains passing through its quaint street and sky lanterns rising from the railway tracks.
Most people, however, don’t know that just a couple of kilometers from the village, there is an ancient trail with a mesmerizing beauty that equally deserves a visit.
It’s called the Shikongzi Historic Trail (石硿子古道) and is part of the central route of the famous Tamsui-Kavalan Historical and Cultural Trails (淡蘭古道), a century-old network in northern Taiwan connecting the Taipei and Yilan areas.
To access Shikongzi Historic Trail, visitors have to enter the country road from the Zunkou (圳口) bus station on New Taipei City Route 106 (市道106號), near TRA Wanggu Station (望古車站).
The trailhead is located at the end of the country road, which is about 2.5 kilometers from the bus station to the trailhead. There is a map at the trailhead, but the map is misleading.
Not far from the trailhead, visitors will pass a deserted hut before coming to an impressive three-layer bridge. This was built to transport coal decades ago when there were mines in the area.
There is a fork at the bridgehead, and visitors should take the right-hand fork that goes under the bridge. Don’t take the left-hand fork that crosses the bridge and leads elsewhere.
The Shikongzi Historic Trail basically follows the course of Huiyao Creek (灰窯溪). After walking a couple of hundred meters beyond the three-layer bridge, there is another fork.
Take the left-hand fork and follow the trail along the creek. The right-hand fork leads to Mt. Moumou (姆姆山).
From here, there are no forks to worry about, so just follow the trail and enjoy views of the plants and clear running water of the creek, as well as the peaceful feeling the natural surroundings inspire.
Visitors will delight in seeing a small and lovely waterfall just beside the trail, and later rejoice on finding the easily accessible and scenic Shikongzi Waterfall just 70 meters from the trail.
The deserted, moss-covered Earth God temple toward the end of the trail is obviously ancient and another object to arouse interest. Visitors have to cross the creek in front of the temple in order to continue hiking.
Following the trail to the end, which is about 2 kilometers long and in good condition, visitors will arrive at New Taipei City Route No. 38. Here they are recommended to turn back and take the same trail home.
The bus stop at the beginning of the road leading to the trailhead. (George Liao photo)
The country road leading to the trail head, left, off New Taipei City Route No. 106. (George Liao photo)
The trailhead of the Shikongzi Historic Trail. (George Liao photo)
The three-layer bridge. (George Liao photo)
A small waterfall beside the trail. (George Liao photo)
Shikongzi Waterfall. (George Liao photo)
The top of Shikongzi Waterfall is easily accessible. (George Liao photo)
The small and deserted Earth God temple toward the end of the trail. (George Liao photo)