Mount Bilu and Yangtou are located near the top of Taroko Gorge National Park. Both peaks are above 3000m and can be done as individual days hikes, a mad single day traverse or a 2-3 day traverse with camping.
It’s a long drive from Taipei to Dayuling for the start of the hike. With the restrictions on the Suhua Highway, we had to come via Lishan and it took almost 6 hours to get there. The trailhead starts next to the Dayuling Tunnel which is the intersection for Lishan, Hehuanshan and Taroko Gorge.
The first 9km of trail are along an old abandoned forestry road. It’s flat and pretty easy going for the most part. There’s just the odd landslide to negotiate. It took us around 2.5hours to reach the campsite where we spent the night. There’s a good water source in the way of a small waterfall, but this is the last chance for water and so the next day we needed to fill up with enough to last us for the next two days.
Shortly after we arrived at the campsite, another hiker came along. He had been up Bilu that day and was making his way off the mountain. He looked in a terrible condition, walking painfully slowly. We chatted for a moment, but it was already 5.30pm and it was getting dark quick. He still had the 9km of the forestry road to complete and we spent the next 2 days worrying about whether he would be OK or not. However, when we got back to the trailhead, his car was already gone and so I assume he made it.
We woke up at first light and slowly ate breakfast and pack up the tent. The day before had been a relaxing walk along an old forestry road, but this day’s hiking would be in complete contrast. The trail heading up to the ridge that connects Bilu and Yangtou is incredibly steep. It’s an 800m ascent over no more that 1.5km of trail. It’s relentless and with 5 litres of water, a tent and enough gear to survive below zero temps it was a really tough climb.
Along the way, we spotted loads of large pine cones that had been split down the middle. We couldn’t work out what had happened until we spotted two black and white birds hammering away at the cones on a nearby tree. I tried to get a picture, but with the low light of early morning, the image came out a little blurred.
It took around 2.5 hours to reach the ridge line which looked spectacular. Overnight, drops of water from the clouds had froze onto the trees covering everything in thick white ice. The clouds had cleared away as the sun rose and we were treated to some amazing views. We dropped packs and made the short walk to the top of Bilushan (3371m).
From Bliu, you can see the whole of the ridge all the way to Yangtoushan. From there it really didn’t look like it would be too difficult, but the ridge is covered in small cliffs, some of which need to be climbed with fixed ropes. It reminded me a lot of the Holy Ridge, but thankfully there was no snow on the ground this time.
We arrived at the campsite just passed Jushan (one of the peaks on the ridge) in the early afternoon. We had originally intended to spend the night there, but we got there far too early and neither of us fancied sitting around for the whole afternoon in near freezing temperatures. Whilst researching the hike, I spotted a campsite marked on a map that was located below Yangtoushan. It wasn’t marked on our map, but we decided to climb Yangtou and then head down to find that campsite anyway.
The trail gets a bit easier after the campsite and our wobbly legs were grateful for the break. We got to the fork in the trail for Yangtou, downed packs and made our way to the end of the ridge. It took longer than we expected. I think at this point we were pretty much exhausted, but we struggled on and made it to the top of Yangtou. The clouds were beginning to come in and we didn’t spend much time at the top.
When we got back to the packs, it was beginning to get late and we didn’t really know how far down the trail the campsite was. Luckily it was only another 800m and we made with plenty of daylight still left. The campsite is OK, but not particularly flat, and with the noise from all the animals that passed by at night, it was difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
Having already come down off the ridge the previous day, we only had a short 2km walk to get back down to the number 8 highway. The finish and start of the hike are some 20km apart and we were going to wait for the one bus that passes by, but we were lucky enough to get picked up by some locals on their way to Hehuanshan.
The weather had been terrible through the night and continued to get worse, with hail coming down as we arrived back at the car. It seemed that we were incredibly lucky with the weather and managed to be on the ridge in near perfect conditions the day before.
Also, we spotted this thing below on the trail. I think it might be from a weather balloon. If any knows any better, I’d love to hear what it is!
The trail for Bilushan starts at the north end of the tunnel by Dayuling. The trail for Yangtoushan starts at Cien, 20km down the road towards Taroko Gorge.
You need a park entry permit and a police permit for this one. You can apply for the park entry permit at the Taroko Gorge National Park website. Beware, the site only works in IE. Also, the park won’t allow foreigners to lead a hike, nor will they accept foreigners as the emergency contact. You’ll need a Taiwanese person for both, along with their DOB, telephone no, ID no and address. Once you get the park entry permit, they apply for and send you the police permit via email.
Other than the waterfall at the campsite on the Bilu Forestry Rd, there are no other sources of water on the trail. My map has one marked on the Yangtou trail, but it’s not reliable.
After Jushan (there’s no trig point so it’s hard to work out which one it is!). There are a number of spots that could be used as a campsite.
The bus come from Hualien and goes to Lishan. It arrives at Cien around 11am(ish).