Secret trail on S.W. Taiwan's Alishan open to permit holders

Trail that follows deserted forest railway crosses elevated bridges, tunnels, stunning primeval landscapes

(Chiayi Forest District Office photo)

(Chiayi Forest District Office photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The 9-kilometer hiking trail along the deserted forest Mianyue Line (眠月線) in Alishan National Forest Recreation Area in Chiayi County has become a popular hiking route over the years due to its seclusion, but a Forestry Bureau official warned Wednesday (June 24) that visitors are now required to obtain entry permits before embarking on the adventurous hike.

Chiayi Forest District Office official Huang Xiu-duan (黃秀緞) said the Mianyue Line ceased operations after the 921 Earthquake in 1999. Since then the hiking trail — which winds through a number of elevated bridges, tunnels, and old-growth forests — has become a hot spot for hikers, especially on weekends and holidays, CNA reported.

As the Mianyue Line traverses the Taiwan Pleione Nature Reserve area, visitors must apply for entry permits five to 60 days in advance. The permits have been capped at 500 a day. The cap has been reached for the entire long weekend of the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, according to Huang.

A total of 2,684 applications were filed in May, of which 1,077 were approved, she said, adding that some hikers arrived without permits — though Chiayi Forest District Office personnel usually dissuade them from entering. Visitors who enter the trail illegally face a fine of between NT$30,000 (US$1,000) and NT$150,000.

The Chiayi County Fire Bureau said that several sections underneath the Mianyue Line railway have collapsed due to earthquakes, becoming waterfalls during heavy rains. The bureau reminds visitors to assess their physical ability and equip themselves with proper gear before giving it a go.

So far this year, three visitors hiking the trail have been injured in three separate incidents, according to the bureau.

(Chiayi Forest District Office photos)

KENT FAN photos)

(alexwhite21 photo)