TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The historic Dongshige Trail (東勢格越嶺古道) showcases great natural beauty and the heritage of New Taipei’s Pingxi District, famed for its sky lanterns and coal mining.
The trailhead is opposite Pingxi Junior High School, the venue for this year’s Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival on Feb. 1. Sky lantern festival revelers are recommended to arrive early and hike the Dongshige trail.
In the old days the trail was part of an artery connecting Pingxi and Dongshige villages. It also led to hair-raising hikes such as those to Mount Xiaozi, Cimu Peak, Mount Putuo, and Zhongyang Peak.
The trailhead is a flight of stairs, at the top of which is a fork. Take the left and go up another flight of stairs to reach a gravel road that goes along the mountainside.
Take a right and follow the flat gravel trail. Ignore the left branches at a couple of forks to reach the remains of a mining office and a mine shaft filled with deep blue water.
The gravel road leading to the mine was once a rail trolley route for transporting ore out of the mine. The trail continues along a creek and not far from the mine shaft are two small, stone-made temples, with the one across the creek being an earth god temple.
The 3.4-kilometer trail is made of totally natural materials, including earth, rock, and creek beds. After the mine shaft, two trails branch left to Zhongyang Peak and Mount Choutou.
Another trail a bit further along branches right to Fengtou Peak. These trails involve a longer and more adventurous journey.
The Dongshige trail passes an isolated farmhouse (Dongshige No. 13), in front of which is a vegetable field. The trail then crosses a small bridge, turns left to pass another earth god temple and ends up at another farmhouse (Dongshige No. 10), where the trail meets a road.
Hikers are advised to turn back here.
Dongshige No. 13
Taiwan News/George Liao photos