TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A walk along the Pingxi Historical Trail (坪溪古道) will refresh and delight the senses due to the therapeutic effect of clean air and “forest bathing” in negative-ions along the tree-lined trail.
If you don’t drive, take the New Taipei City Bus F815, a free community bus that runs from Shuangxi railway station to the community of Wantan. Get off at Pingxitou (坪溪頭), which is the stop before the destination, but do tell the driver or he may pass the stop.
The stop is located at a fork. Take the left-hand fork to Pingxitou. From the bus stop to the entrance of Pingxi Historical Trail is a stretch of asphalt-surfaced road that is about 2 kilometers long.
The first half of the road is lined with tall cryptomeria trees on both sides and is reminiscent of a European landscape. After a pleasant walk along the forest road and by the stream, a simple looking residence with spacious lots around the house is in sight.
This is Wushan No. 62, where people who drive mostly park their car. Walk past the house, follow the stream, and you should see an arch stone bridge.
The bridge is the entrance to Pingxi Historical Trail, which is part of the centuries-old Tamsui-Kavalan Historical Trail network. Walk across the bridge, which straddles Pingxi River, to start hiking the 1.8-kilometer historic trail. There are two maps beside the bridge showing the hiking trails in the area.
From here, the broad path meanders through thick forests of cryptomeria trees and along the Pingxi River, which means “flat stream” in Chinese, because this is its most striking feature, along with the slowly flowing water.
In the past, the trail was widened to allow trucks in for logging purposes. The numerous coniferous trees along the trail are said to have been planted decades ago, after the original trees were logged.
The path proceeds on a gently undulating terrain and meets the stream twice. Here, walkers have to cross the stream, either on stepping stones or by wading over.
During summertime, tents are often pitched in the shade on the trail. Camping is becoming more popular as people have discovered the scenic trail and quiet stream have a wonderful ambience.
Though connected to many other trails in the area, the path is clear and easy to follow. The end of the trail is a scenic lookout where Turtle Island can be seen in the distance, if the sky is clear. From the lookout, there are two trails leading down to the coastal communities of Toucheng and Wai’ao.
(George Liao photos)