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The Complete Guide to Hiking Taiwan's Southern Three Stars Part 1: Discover Taguanshan

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: January 22, 2024
Amidst the tranquil beauty of Taiwan's Southern Cross-island Highway, you'll find Mt. Taguan, a gem in the Southern Three Stars. This peak, the loftiest of the trio, offers a serene yet invigorating hike.
Taguanshan hike
View on the way to Mt. Taguan
With the majestic gigantic trees by your side, the short trail up Mt. Taguan unfolds like a classic tale of adventure and natural wonder, culminating in views that'll leave you in awe.
It's a delightful, brief trek up the high mountain. You get all the adventure, yet you're back in time to sink into the comfort of your hotel. Moreover, the hiking permit is easy to apply.
Taiwan Hikes is an affiliated partner of HolaTaipei.

Table of Contents:

Trail Information: Mt. Taguan (Taguanshan) of Nanheng Highway Three Stars

Trail Name: Mt. Taguan (Taguanshan) 塔關山, listed as No. 72 in the 100 Peaks in Taiwan. Nanheng Highway is short for the Southern Cross-island Highway.
Distance: 4.4 km (2.75 miles)
Route type: Out-and-back
Days/Hours Needed: 3-4 hours
Total Ascent/Descent: 642 m/642 m
Best Time to Go: All seasons, but winter is also the snow season. Yushan National Park will ask for hikers to declare the snow season form.
Permits: A police mountain entry permit is required.
Difficulty Level: trail difficulty

Peaks or Places to Reach

  1. Mt. Taguan 塔關山, 3,222 meters (10,571 feet) above sea level. There's a Class 3 Triangulation Stone on the top. You can see Yushan/Jade Mountain, Mt. Siangyang, and other high mountains on the top.
Rugged terrain on the top of Mt. Taguan

Accommodations, Transport to the Trailhead, and Map/GPX Data

Hotels, Campsites, and Restaurants on the Kaohsiung/West Side

There are several hotels, B&Bs, and campsites near the Meishan Visitor Center 梅山遊客中心.
Meishankou - Yushan National Park
Meishan Youth Activity Center 梅山青年活動中心 is another option. If you stay here overnight, you can save driving time to the trailhead, which takes around one hour.
Meishankou - Yushan National Park
Meishan Youth Activity Center 梅山青年活動中心

Hotels, Campsites, and Restaurants on the Taitung/East Side: Siangyang Checkpoint

The closest hotels near Siangyang Checkpoint are in of Lidao Village Haiduan Township, Taitung, or Motian Farm. It takes around 1 hour from Lidao Village to the Meishan Checkpoint.
Siangyang National Forest Recreation Area

The West Side: Transport from Jiasian, Kaohsiung to Meishankou

Kaohsiung Bus 8029 goes from Jiasian Station 甲仙車站 to Meishan Village at 9:00 and from Meishan Village Stop at 12:25. It takes around 1.5 hours from Jiasian Station to Meishankou Stop (Or Meishan Mouth) 梅山口.
The bus stop is close to the Meishan Checkpoint of Southern Cross-island Highway 南橫公路西端梅山管制站.
Kaohsiung Joy Bus H11 Shuttle goes from Liugui 六龜 to Meishankou but the bus ride is long. Bus 8029 is faster.
Meishankou - Yushan National Park

The East Side: Transport from Siangyang Checkpoint of Southern Cross-island Highway 向陽管制站

There is no public transport to Siangyang Checkpoint.

Transport from Meishan Checkpoint of Southern Cross-island Highway to Mt. Taguan Trailhead

There is no public transport to the trailhead, either. Most people hire the pickup service from Kaohsiung. The cost is around NT$5,000-6,000 per day.
If you drive or ride a scooter, the parking area near the trailhead is at 33.5 km signage.

GPX Track

Click Menu in the map to download, print, or share the map.
You can see more options after clicking the Play button.
Click timer to change the speed to meet your condition.

Permit Applications and Southern Cross-island Highway Traffic Control

How to Apply for Police Mountain Entry Permits

Go to the National Police Agency's Mountain Entry Application System. Tick the box, put your ID/Passport number, put the correct verification code, and click "Submit". You will see the following page.
Put the required personal details.
Then, put your intended dates to hike. Click "Search for Destination".
Taguanshan permit application
Taguanshan permit application
Click "Roster" to fill out the form if you have other hiking partners. Then, click "Submit".

Traffic Control from Meishankou to Siangyang on Provincial Highway 20 of Southern Cross-island Highway

Check Yushan National Park's website for English information about traffic control. Click "Highway Traffic Control."
Or check Provincial Highway Real Time Information Service for the latest traffc control.
The section from Meishankou to Siangyang is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Vehicles are allowed to enter from both sides from 07:00 to 14:00. All vehicles must leave before 17:00. Vehicles with license plates are allowed to enter. Bicycles are not allowed in this section.
When the highway becomes icy because of the cold weather, the Southern Region Branch Office of the Highway Bureau will close the sections, too. Please check the Southern Region Branch Office's website for details (only available in Chinese.)
Or call for the latest news: +886-7-6751014 on the Meishankou to Yakou side in Kaohsiung (高雄市梅山口至埡口), or +886-89-811024 on the Yakou to Siangyang side (臺東縣埡口至向陽) in Taitung.
Red and White Minimalist Important Announcement

Itinerary of Mt. Taguan Hike

Brief itinerary: Trailhead to Mt. Taguan ➔ Daguan (Daguanshan) Police Station ➔ Mt. Taguan ➔ Daguan (Daguanshan) Police Station ➔ Trailhead to Mt. Taguan
07:00 Passed the Meishankou Checkpoint.
Meishankou - Yushan National Park
A long queue waiting at the checkpoint
08:00 Arrived at the trailhead at 33.4 Km on Provincial Highway 20 105 line. The altitude here is around 2,680 meters above sea level.
Taguanshan hike
I did this hike with LOHAS.
The parking lot is at 33.5 Km. It can be packed if you do this hike on the weekdays. We started our hike around 08:05. First, we were greeted with steps and majestic big trees.
Taguanshan hike
If you drive, here's the place to park.
08:24 We reached a forest with an unusually flat area. There are the ruins of the Daguan (Daguanshan) Police Station 大關山駐在所.
Taguanshan hike
Daguan (Daguanshan) Police Station
We took a short break and explored where the Mt. Daguan Incident happened. The Bunun warriors attacked and killed many Japanese police officers to fight against Japanese rule.
Taguanshan hike
Now no police station can be found. Only some ruins.
08:32 I reached the signage of 1.7 km to Mt. Taguan.
Taguanshan hike
We got 1.7 km (1 mile) to go from here.
While continuing my hike, I saw Yushan (Jade Mountain) behind me. The sun went through the patch clouds and cast incredible shadows on the mountains. Our guide, Mingshu 明樹, said those looked like bruises. He wasn't wrong.
Taguanshan hike
Yushan was almost covered by clouds.
Taguanshan hike
The sunlight seeped through the clouds and cast intricate patterns on the mountains.
We could also see Changchun Shrine on Provincial Highway 20.
Taguanshan hike
Changchun Shrine
There are some rock scramble sections, and they are steep.
Taguanshan hike
While I scaled up, the forest opened up. We could see more mountain views.
Taguanshan hike
10:10 Passed the signage of the last 200 meters.
Taguanshan hike
10:17 I reached Mt. Taguan, 3,222 meters above sea level. The weather was cloudy and gray before our hike, and I was worried that I couldn't see much from the peak.
Taguanshan hike
Mt. Taguan. This way goes to Mt. Konglongjian. I put my camera there to shoot videos.
I was so thrilled to know that I was wrong. Mt. Taguan decided to present the stunning sea of clouds.
Besides Yushan, I could also see Mt. Siangyang from the Jiaming Lake hike.
Taguanshan hike
The pointed peak is Mt. Siangyang, 3,601m.
The trail continues from Mt. Taguan, and it will pass the notorious peak, Mt. Konglongjian 恐龍尖山, 3,262 meters, literally meaning the dinosaur's peak mountain. The terrain is rugged with rock scrambles. One female hiker fell to her death.
We stayed there for 30 minutes and then took the same way back. Expect crowds when you do this hike. Also, expect mud.
Taguanshan hike
12:02 I returned to the trailhead.

About Mt. Taguan, Southern Cross-island Highway and Three Stars

The Guanshan Historic Trail and the Southern Cross-island Highway (Provincial Highway 20) 台20線

The Guanshan Historic Trail was built during the Japanese colonial period as a road for coercing the indigenous people. It starts in the Liugui District of Kaohsiung City 高雄市六龜區 in the west, crosses the Central Mountain Range, and ends in Guanshan Town, Taitung County 臺東縣關山鎮 in the east, spanning approximately 171 km, making it the longest ancient trail in Taiwan.
Southern Cross-island Highway
After World War II, the Taiwan Provincial Government used this ancient trail as a prototype to construct the Southern Cross-island Highway. As a result, most of the original trail has disappeared.
The most famous remaining section is the Zhongzhiguan Historic Trail between Zhongzhiguan and Tianchi. It took three years to rebuild the Zhongzhiguan Historic Trail, and finally opened in 1997.
Now, the Southern Cross-island Highway starts from Yujing Township, Tainan County 台南縣玉井鄉 in the west, crosses the Central Mountain Range through Kaohsiung City, and ends in Haiduan Township, Taitung County 台東縣海端鄉 in the east.
Siangyang on the Haiduan side
It is the shortest of the three highways that traverse the Central Mountain Range in Taiwan and is commonly known as Provincial Highway 20 台20線. The entire Southern Cross-island Highway is divided into eastern and western sections by Tianchi/Tian Pond 天池.
The western section is characterized by its reservoirs, mountain villages, hot springs, valleys, and mountainous landscapes. Meishankou is one of the prime sections, featuring the Yushan National Park Meishan Visitor Center, Meishan Native Plant Garden, Bunun Exhibition Hall, Meishan Police Station with its owl-shaped exterior, Meishan Camping Area, and Meishan Youth Activity Center.
Meishankou - Yushan National Park
Can you guess this owl-like building is a police station?
Meishankou/Meishan Visitor Center is the gateway to the Yushan National Park and the only service station on the Southern Cross-island Highway. The visitor center is mixed with the Bunan's slate house style. It's being renovated and will be open to the public again after April 2024.
Meishankou - Yushan National Park
The Meishan tribe is located in the northernmost part of Taoyuan, Kaohsiung City, on a high river terrace of the old Laonong River channel. The area was initially covered with Yellow Rotang Palm, known in the Bunun language as "Masuhuaz," the tribe's old name.
Today, it's divided into Meishan Entrance (Meishankou) and Meishan Tribe. Meishankou, at the foothills along Provincial Highway 20, serves as a commercial hub for locals and tourists. The Meishan Tribe can be accessed via a connecting road from Meishankou. Now, Meishan (meaning plum mountain in Chinese) is famous for the plum blossoms in winter.
Meishankou - Yushan National Park
Meishan's old name: Masuhuaz
The section from Siangyang to Guanshan Yakou (mountain pass) 關山埡口 is the most spectacular part of the Taitung section of the Southern Cross-island Highway. The landscape of cliffs and gorges is magnificent, complemented by forests and high mountains. The Southern Cross-island Highway is in a tropical zone, and due to its high altitude, it offers a cool climate all year round and the unique sight of red leaves typically found in cold and temperate zones.
Guanshan Yakou

The Devastation Brought by Typhoon Morakot 莫拉克颱風

Typhoon Morakot, hitting Taiwan in August 2009, is one of the deadliest typhoons in Taiwan's recorded history. It brought unprecedented torrential rains, triggering catastrophic landslides and widespread flooding across the region. The storm resulted in over 600 fatalities, causing roughly NT$110 billion (US$3.3 billion) in damages, with the village of Xiaolin 小林村 being almost entirely eradicated.
  1. August 8, 2009: Due to Typhoon Morakot, multiple sections of Provincial Highway 20 collapsed or were disrupted, which led to those sections being closed.
  2. January 12, 2020: Provincial Highway 20 was open eastbound to 105K (Meishan Entrance) and westbound to 149K (Xiangyang).
  3. January 13, 2020: The section from Meishan Entrance to Tianchi was conditionally opened for traffic.
  4. August 7, 2021: The Mingbakelu Bridge 明霸克露橋 was destroyed by floods due to the effects of the mild Typhoon Lupit.
  5. May 1, 2022, 7 AM: After nearly 13 years of closure, the Provincial Highway 20 was reopened with traffic controls and closures on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

About Mt. Taguan and Southern Cross-island Highway Three Stars

Taguan Mountain, at the border of Kaohsiung's Taoyuan District and Taitung's Haiduan Township, stands at 3,222 meters. Known as Daguan Mountain and part of Taiwan's Hundred Peaks, it's the easternmost peak of the Southern Cross-island Highway's "Three Stars." Its notable feature is the Guanshan Great Cliff.
Along with Mt. Guanshanling and Mt. Kuhanuosin, it forms the "Southern Cross-island Three Stars (or Nanheng Three Stars)" within Yushan National Park. Mt. Taguan is the tallest, marked by a prominent thousand-year-old Taiwan Spruce at its trailhead.
Taguanshan hike
The huge Taiwan Spruce at the Mt. Taguan trailhead

Other Attractions on the Southern Cross-island Highway

Even if you don't do hikes, Southern Cross-island Highway is a breathtaking highway that worth visiting. After we finished the hike, we saw the clouds floating around the valley and I wished we could just stop for a moment to savor the amazing views.
Those are the stops that you should go if you come here:
  1. Xinliguan Observation Deck 新禮觀觀景台. You will find toilets here.
  2. Tianchi (Tian Pond) 天池 and Zhongzhiguan Historic Trail 中之關步道. Tianchi is an alpine lake in Taoyuan, Kaohsiung, with an elevation of 2,280 meters. Situated behind the Changqing Temple on the Southern Cross-island Highway, Tianchi has a heart-shaped appearance. The lake's water source relies on rainfall and melting snow, with an average depth of 1.2 meters and an area of about 1,800 square meters.
  3. Changchun Shrine 長春祠, built in 1979, was to honor the 116 engineers and workers who tragically lost their lives during the construction of the Southern Cross-island Highway.
For the stunning views here, please see Yushan National Park's video about the Southern Cross-island Highway. Or click the image below.
Tianchi from Yushan National Park Headquarters
The heart-shaped Tianchi. Image from Yushan National Park Headquarters, National Park Service, Ministry of the Interior

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