Taiwan Hikes

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Bitou Cape Trails: Where the Sun, Mountains, and Lighthouse Meet in a Short Coastline

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: August 21, 2020
Bitoujiao infographic
Bitoujiao infographic
Disclaimer: Please note some of the following are based on my personal condition, and I will try to provide the latest and correct information as possible as I can. Please feel free to let me know if I make any mistake and thank you for reading. Please also note that your safety is your own responsibility.
Update: In August 2020, New Taipei City government announces that Bitou Cape Lighthouse Trail is closed for good due to the danger of the steep slopes and fragile geologic structures. This news released after I almost finish this post. I still want to show people how beautiful this area is, and I’m sure you can see most of it from Bitou Cape Valley Trail. Please stay safe.
Note: Trails in Bitoujiao or Bitou Cape are very popular among local and international tourists because the spectacular ocean and mountain views. Bitou Cape is also a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling. I visited Bitou Cape twice to hike different trails to finish this post.

How to Get There

Option 1: Kingbus 1811 or 1812

Take Kingbus 國光客運 1811 or 1812, and you can find the ticket booth near North 1 Exit at Taipei Railway Station. You can queue up at the bus stop, but it’s better to get a seat number at the ticket booth first to ensure you’ll have a seat during summer. The bus driver told us that they will let passengers with the seat numbers to get on board first. If the bus is full, you’ll have to wait for the next one. It takes around one and half hours to get to Bitoujiao Stop 鼻頭角站.

Option 2: Keelung Bus 791

Or take train to Keelung Train Station, take Keelung Bus 791 to Fulong direction and get off at Bitoujiao station.

Option 3: Gold Fulong Shuttle Bus 856

You take this Taiwan Tourist Shuttle at Reifang Train Station, old Fulong Shuttle Bus 856. If you take this one, you get off at Bitou stop, which is very close to Bitou Cape and you will see Bitou Harbor first.
After you get off the stop, you will see 鼻頭海港 Bitou Fishing Harbor on your left, and the sign to 鼻頭國小 Bitou Elementary School in front of you. You can take the overpass next to the bus stop to get across the road to reach 鼻頭路 Bitou Road to get to either of both places.
Please note that Kingbus 1811 or 1812 doesn’t have many buses in the late evening, so you have to go to Bitou Stop (25°07'26.6"N 121°54'48.9"E) near Bitou Service Area and a temple on Bitou Road to take Keelung Bus 基隆客運 791 or 886 if you want to spend more time here. But please also bear in mind that 791 might come once in an hour in the late evening, and 886 stops services after 4 pm. There is also a 7-11 convenience store if you need food and drinks before you get back.
Bus 1811
Bus stop near Taipei Trai Station

Peaks to Reach

The highest peak among those trails is 118 meter (387 ft) above the sea level, but I didn't go there on both trips. You get to see the wonderful coastal views on the ridgeline.
See the map and itinerary first
Or read the challenging lighthouse trail first

Bitou Cape Valley Trail: The Short and Easy Trail to See the Unique Geological Formation and Sunrise/Sunset

There are several trails at Bitou Cape, but the most popular one is Bitou Cape Valley Trail, which is 1.1 km (0.68 miles), but you still get to see the amazing coastline in northeast Taiwan.
Bitoujiao-flyover
Bitou Cape flyover is next to the bus stop
After getting off at Bitoujiao Stop, you will see a flyover next to the bus stop. Take the flyover to across the road and take the right. After a few minutes, you will see Bitou Elementary School.
Bitou Elementary School: Taiwan lilies were planted in the front door.
Bitou Elementary School: Taiwan lilies were planted in the front door
There's a striking picture near the front door of this tiny elementary school. Many small elementary schools in Taiwan locate in special places, and Bitou Elementary School is one of them. Before the pandemic, visitors could enter the school on the weekends.
Bitoujiao: a striking bird's eye view of Bitoujiao
A striking bird's eye view posted next to Bitou Elementary School
Our guide told us that there’s a spot near Bitou Elementary School that can allow you to see the sunrise and sunset on the same day. I might try to see whether it’s true someday.
Bitou Elementary School campus and you can watch sunrise and sunset exactly here.
Bitou Elementary School campus and you can watch sunrise and sunset exactly here
You will find the trail next to the school easily. I’ve been here a few times and I didn’t have a GPX, which is fine. Just follow the trails and people.
Bitoujiao Valley Trail: the beautiful ridgeline
Bitou Cape Valley Trail is easy to hike. You can see Keelung Island on the left.
If you want to see the unique rock formations created by Mother Earth, you can follow the signs and visit Geological Attraction Area. For some unknown reasons, I missed the entrance at least three times. But you can always see those amazing rocks along the northeast coast highway.
Bitoujiao: beautiful geological formation on the shore
Bitou Cape: beautiful geological formation on the shore
After passing Bitou Elementary School for a while, there is a public toilet and several pavilions for you to take a rest. There’s also a small detour on the right if you want to get closer to the coast from a cliff.
Bitoujiao: a small detour to a cliff
A small detour to a cliff
Back to the trail and you will see two trails, one going up to the ridgeline, which is the valley trail, and the one on the right to the Bitou Cape Lighthouse. Now, this trail is closed for good.
Bitoujiao: trail fork to the valley trail and lighthouse trail
A trail fork to the valley trail and lighthouse trail
I was lucky enough to hike there but I don’t recommend this trail after I panicked at the scary slopes. I'll explain more later in the challenging section.
Bitoujiao: signing saying the lighthouse trail was closed
Bitou Cape: signing saying the lighthouse trail was closed
Even so, the views on the valley trail are already stunning enough. You get to see the ridgeline winding on several hills from both sides. When you stop at the pavilion and look on your left, you will be amazed by the fjord like mountains.
Bitoujiao: the beautiful valley trail on the ridgeline
The beautiful ridgeline on Bitou Cape Valley Trail
When I first visited here many years ago, I didn’t know what I was looking at. After hiking around this area several times, I'm thrilled that I’m able to recognize some of those peaks. You can click Mt. Teapot and Mt. Keelung to read my posts about hikes to those peaks.
bitou-12-fjord-like-mountain-names
View of the fjord like coastline in the northeastern Taiwan from the ridge of Bitou Cape Valley Trail
There is an old marine base on the hill, but now it's been transformed into a tourist spot, called Tingtao Camp 聽濤營區, meaning listening to the waves. After May 1st, 2020, you can go there to have a cup of coffee and enjoy the beautiful views.
Bitoujiao: old military camp on the left
Tingtao Camp
I could also see the trail I took and the big cave I rested during my last hike in 2019 from the ridgeline of the valley trail.
Bitoujiao: looking at the queue from the top
Looking at the small queue from the top
After admiring the views at the last pavilion, I took the wooden stairs going back to Bitou Harbor.
bitou-37-wooden-steps
Took the stairs back to the harbor
You can also start your hike from this side. There’s a temple, Xinxing Temple 新興宮, and signs for you to follow the trail. I will suggest you start your hike from Bitou Elementary School, because you can have some local food after your hike. Nothing much to eat near the school.
Bitoujiao: another trailhead near Xinxing Temple 新興宮
Another trailhead near Xinxing Temple 新興宮
If you want to continue your next destination, you can turn left here. Just follow the road and you will get back to the bus stop or visit other places nearby.
Bitoujiao: get back to the bus stop
Get back to the bus stop

Bitou Cape Lighthouse Trail: The Challenging One That Is Not for People Who Are Fear of Heights

When I took the lighthouse trail, I started from Bitou Elementary School. I have to warn you that if you start from the school, you will end up with the rock-climbing like hike and I hope you have a strong heart.
Bitoujiao Lighthouse
Bitou Cape Lighthouse
Bitou Lighthouse Trail was still open when we hiked there in 2019.
bitou-16 trail to the lighthouse
Trail to the lighthouse
As I said earlier, the first section of the trail was easy, just strolling on the trail to enjoy the view. When we reached the lighthouse, we climbed up the hill behind the lighthouse. This hill was very steep and there wasn’t much for you to grab. I decided not to reach the top and stayed in the middle to take photos.
Bitoujiao: climb up the hill behind the lighthouse
Climb up the hill behind the lighthouse
To my delight, the views from the hill were so striking. I got to see the ocean and the geological park on my right, and Mt. Keelung and Jiufen on the left. I’m sure it would be a 360° view on the top, but I was content staying there.
Bitoujiao: breath-taking coast in northeastern Taiwan
Breathtaking line in northeastern Taiwan, Bitou Cape
The white Bitou Cape Lighthouse with the deep blue sea in the background was astonishing, and it looked like a pearl being wrapped by a blue velvet. You can also get a bird’s eye view of the rock formation on the seashore. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos. I only shot one shaky video. But if you think the view from the video is amazing, it will be at least 100 times better if you get a chance to be there.
I also saw the trail we were going to take next. The deep blue sea and vivid green layers of hills made me excited and wonder what we would see next. However, please remember that the trail was very narrow. It would be very dangerous if two hikers try to pass with each other at the same time. I can understand why the local government wants to close this trail.
Bitoujiao: narrow trail
Narrow trail ahead

Queueing up on the Trail

It was a gorgeous sunny day in autumn when we were there, and no wonder so many people wanted to hike on the trail. The steep slope also made the ascending/descending much slower. At some points, we had to stop and waited. Thus, we got a traffic jam. This is one of the things sometimes you have to endure when hiking in Taiwan.
Bitoujiao: queuing to descend
A long queue waiting to descend
At this section of the trail, you need to grab the ropes to get down the slopes. While waiting in the queue, I looked up to see how far we had gone. I was amazed by how Mother Nature could have done such an incredible job.
Bitoujiao: looking at the ridgeline from the cave
Looking at Bitou Cape Valley Trail on the ridgeline from the big cave on Bitou Cape Lighthouse Trail
We found a place to have lunch after reaching to a bigger place. Sitting here and enjoying the beautiful rocks was a great delight. There was a rock in front of us and it looked like a penguin standing up. Many hikers took photos with it.
Bitoujiao: a rock that looks like a penguin
A rock that looks like a penguin
I guess this photo is the best example of people mountain people sea. It's normal to have so many people on the trails if you hike on the popular ones in Taiwan. Since we are all stranded in Taiwan because of Covid-19, there will be more people on the trails.
Bitoujiao: a very crowded trail
People mountain people sea
While sitting there, you can also get to see what the waves did on the rocks over the millions of years, although those may not be good for people with typophobia.
Bitoujiao: a rock that might trigger trypophobia
A rock that might trigger trypophobia
After lunch, we hiked on the big rocks, which wasn’t difficult at first. There were so many spectacular rocks, and we took as many photos as we could. Then, we reached the slope.
Bitoujiao: stunning rock seashore
Stunning rock seashore

Breaking Down on the Trail

It’s not easy to describe how scary the slope was without pictures, but I was too scared to take any, because I was trying to get down safely. Basically, the place where you could put your feet was very narrow, and there wasn’t any strong trees or tree roots for you to grab, only some fragile grass. It was also impossible not to look down, because you just had to look down to descend. After several attempts, my frustration grew bigger and bigger and it reached to a breaking point.
Bitoujiao: descending a scary slope
This one was taken on my follow up trip in April 2020. A group of hikers were trying to pass the scary slope.
I was surrounded by many guides and they knew I was in distress. They tried to encourage and assure me it was safe to go, but I didn’t believe I could make it. Then they offered their hands to help. However, I was so scared that I would drag them down with me if I fell off the slope. So, I panicked. The fear of height and endangering other people’s lives took over me and I got stuck there for several minutes. At that time, it felt like forever.
Bitoujiao: descending a scary slope
More photo of scary slope.
Finally, I crossed the scary slope in one piece, and I was able to take a photo to show how scary it was. Then, I saw a small group of people were trying to get down but decided to turn back. I wish I had done the same thing, because what was waiting for me was even scarier.
Bitoujiao: descending a scary slope
This one was taken right after my embarrassing moment in October 2019.

Another Blow

When I thought I finally passed the most difficult part, another trial was awaiting me. I saw the those rocks I had to pass. The guides told us the technique to descend was to extend your arms and legs among those rocks like the Spiderman. It's difficult to describe how it worked in words, and again I was too scared to take photos. Those photos were taken later.
As you can imagine, this was not a proud moment for me, and I could sense the two guides who were trying to help me were losing patience. I don’t blame them at all. They had given a warning before the trip, and I didn’t know it was that terrifying.
Bitoujiao: another scary descending
The little boy was much braver than I was. This was taken in April 2020.
After the last scary rock climbing, we passed through some huge and beautiful sea cliff caves. The following photos were taken in April 2020. I was still in shock and frustrated from the scary climbing. You will get to Bitou Beach Park soon after those caves to finish your hike.
Bitoujiao: big sea caves formed by the waves
Huge sea cliff caves formed by the waves
Although I was embarrassing myself on that day, I still got to see the most stunning views. The striking hills and tortuous trail spanning across them, not to mention the superb weather made this so remarkable. All the embarrassing moments were still worth it.
Bitoujiao
The trail is very beautiful but also very narrow. You must proceed with caution.

An Alternative That Might Be Less Challenging and Dangerous But Still Not Recommended

There's an unofficial trailhead next to Bitou Beach Park. There is not trail path on this side and you have to check the tidal waves before you visit. Some tourists were swept off the beach and got drowned. The local government considered to close off this trailhead. You are responsible for your own safety if you take this one.
Bitoujiao: turn this way to see the big caves
This is a shortcut to see the big caves
Although the shore is dirty, the magnificent sea cliff caves still stand out. The cliffs have been eroded by the sea for millions of years and those are like a masterpiece. When I visited here again in April 2020, I wanted to get a closer look at those caves. So, I stayed at the caves a little longer to admire them before moving on.
Bitoujiao: big sea caves formed by the waves
Impressive sea cliff cave near Bitou Harbor
While walking on those big rocks, I noticed there were so many plastic bottles on the shore. I didn’t recall there were so many plastic bottles when I hiked here last time. After a closer look, those were washed up from the ocean. There were too many to be cleaned up. So sad...
Bitoujiao: marine debris
Marine debris
It didn’t take long for me to reach those slopes that made my legs shaking. There was a big group of hikers trying to descend. Among them I saw some little boys successfully getting down, which made me cringe even more. Those kids are tough.
Bitoujiao: brave hikers descending from the rocks
Those scary rocks were not a big deal for those brave hikers.
After taking enough photos, I decided to call it a day. The weather wasn’t as good as my previous trip, and it was going to rain. But I was still very happy to visit Bitou Cape again.
Bitoujiao: looking at the trail from my last hike
Beautiful hills on Bitou Cape trails

Some Thoughts about This Hike

I actually don’t recommend you take the lighthouse trail because it’s really dangerous. I was lucky to have several guides to help and support me.
bitou-40 a special spot near Bitou Cape Lighthouse
A special spot near the lighthouse
Other than that, Bitou Cape is a wonderful place to visit and you can take the easy trail without making your heart skip a beat.
Bitoujiao: old military camp will be open to the public
The old military facilities near the valley trail
Not just for hiking, Bitou Cape is also a place for people to go fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. Please expect a huge crowd if you go snorkeling in summer.
Bitoujiao: enjoy snorkeling
Bitou Cape is also a popular place to go snorkeling in summer
Since the trails in Bitou Cape are short, you can visit nearby attractions like 龍洞 Longdong. Longdong is also a popular destinition for rock climbing. There is a pedestrian path in Bitou Tunnel and it’s not too far to walk there from Bitou Cape. There is a hiking trail in Longdong, too.
Bitoujiao: nearby attractions
Taking a bus trip to see the northeast coast of Taiwan used to be one of my favorite things to do
Another attraction is Jiufen. You have to take the bus and get off at Shueinandong 水湳洞 and enjoy the mining culture and more trails in Reifang.
Bitoujiao: nearby attractions
The map shows you the nearby attractions to visit
The northeast part of Taiwan is my favorite place to visit, because the coastline is so spectacular. Before I started hiking seriously, I took the bus here just to see the amazing coastlines. If you can stay in Taiwan for a longer period of time, you definitely have put this part in your itinerary. If you hike here in summer, please remember to protect yourself from the sun, because there's not much shade on the trails.
Bitoujiao: view of Shueinandong from the bus
You'll see the famous old coal mines from the bus on the way to Bitou Cape. This was taken near Suinandong 水湳洞 bus stop.

Map and Itinerary

Group Hike or Solo Hike:
My first hike was with Taiwan Mountain LOHAS Association (LOHAS) on October 6, 2019
My second hike was a solo hike on April 11, 2020.
I decide not to put the GPX of the lighthouse trail since it's closed. As to the valley trail, it's very easy to get around by following the stairs.

Based on my hike on the valley trail I took on April 11, 2020

09:30 Got off bus
09:36 Arrived at Bitou Elementary School
09:38 Reached at the point where you can see sunrise and sunset at the same location
09:48 Went to the small cliff to take a look
09:55 Saw the sign of Bitou Cave Valley Trail at the fork to the lighthouse
10:00 Reached the entrance of the military camp
10:08 Reached the pavilion
10:14 Looked down at the big cave where I took a short break from my hike on the lighthouse trail
10:29 Reached the sign at the fork to Bitou Fishery Harbor and to the pavilion
10:30 Reached the pavilion
10:34 Got back to the fork and headed to the harbor
10:41 Arrived at the sign of the other trailhead
10:45 Arrived at Xinxing Temple 新興宮
10:47 Arrived at Bitou Beach Park and headed to the coastal trail
10:53 Saw the arrow painted on a dolos
10:56 Reached the big caves and took photos
11:05 Arrived at the bottom of the scary slope and stayed there taking photos
11:31 Got back to Bitou Beach Park and called it a day
Total time: 02:01

Recommended Blogs and Resources:

Chinese only:
Mark Choo: 東北角諸角頭小山
Hiking Biji: 鼻頭角步道
English posts:
Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area Administration in Taiwan
Foreigners in Taiwan: Bitou Cape 鼻頭角
Foreigners in Taiwan: Long Dong 龍洞
Josh Ellis Photography: Bitou Cape (鼻頭角)
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