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Unlock the Advanced Matcha Mountain Wonder: A Thru-hike from Mt. Hongludi to the Enchanting St. Marian Hiking Trail in Jiaoxi

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: August 2, 2023
This is an advanced version of the matcha mountains in Taiwan, also called Lanyang Holy Ridge (蘭陽聖稜線). Take a hike through the captivating Mt. Hongludi (Jiaoxi, Yilan) as you trace the majestic ridges, and finish your journey at St. Marian Hiking Trail.
22-st-marian-trail-platform-matcha-mountains-2
You will see more Matcha mountains on this route.
Immerse yourself in a visual symphony of cascading mountains, ethereal mist, and vibrant emerald ridges, painting a picturesque landscape that promises a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is an adventure for people opting for challenges and embracing the nature wonder in eastern Taiwan.
St. Marian Hiking Trail

Table of Contents:

Trail Information

Trail Name: Lanyang Holy Ridge Thru Hike - St. Marian Hiking Trail + Mt. Hongludi + Mt. Sanjiaolun.

Distance: 13.26 km (8.3 miles)
Route type: Point to point
Days/Hours Needed: 10-12 hours
Total Ascent/Descent: 690m/1,375m
Best Time to Go: All year round, better not in summer.
Permits: Not required
Difficulty Level: trail difficulty

Peaks to Reach

  1. Mt. Hongludi 烘爐地山 (NOT the one in Zhonghe, New Taipei City), 1,166 meters (3,825 feet). A Class 1 Triangulation Stone is at the top with 360 degrees of view.
  2. Mt. Sanjiaolun 三角崙山, 1,029 meters (3,376 feet). This peak features a Class 3 Triangulation Stone and is listed as one of the Minor 100 Peaks in Taiwan. The round trip from St. Marian Shelter to this peak takes approximately 1 hour.
  3. Mt. Sanjiaolun Southeast Peak 三角崙山東南峰, 1,000 meters (3,281 feet).

Additional Information:

  1. This hike is also called Hong Sheng Thru Hike 烘聖縱走 or Sheng Hong Thru Hike 聖烘縱走, depending on which trailhead you start.
  2. Starting from the Cherry Orchard Cemetery side will be easier to take a bus or call a taxi when you finish at Wufengqi.
  3. This ridgeline trail is flanked by the Pacific Ocean and is in the subtropical climate zone. The weather patterns are rainy and cold in winter and cloudy and windy in summer. Please have a map or GPX trail on your phone.
  4. Most sections from the trailhead to the St. Marian Refuge Hut are exposed to the sun. It can be scorching hot in summer. Please do proper sun protection.
  5. There was a tragic accident in March 2021. A tourist went missing near Mt. Sanjiaolun. Three months later, her lower body was found upstream of Feicui Reservoir, more than 10 km away from her missing location. Her body showed signs of being mauled by animals. Please prepare well and do homework before doing this hike.
  6. Please read my post about what to do when getting lost on the trails in Taiwan.
  7. Details of St. Marian Hiking Trail.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
You can apply for a stay at St. Marian Refuge Hut overnight.

Transport to the Trailhead at Cherry Orchard Cemetery and Map/GPX Data

Unfortunately, No Public Transport to Cherry Orchard Cemetery

Your location ➔ Cherry Orchard Cemetery ➔ St. Marian Hiking Trail ➔ Jiaoxi Transfer Station or Jiaoxi Train Station
If you plan to do a thru-hike from Cherry Orchard Cemetery, the only way is to arrange a taxi. I did a check, and the taxi fare is around NT$600.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Cherry Orchard Cemetery was built in 2010.
If you find a taxi driver who overcharges, which unfortunately happens sometimes, please find another one. Ask the taxi driver to drop you off at Wei-Shui Chiang Memorial Cemetery 蔣渭水之丘. The driving time is around 40 minutes.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Wei-Shui Chiang Memorial Cemetery has become a popular IG spot, but the local government doesn't want people to sit at the edge.
The closest toilets near Wei-Shui Chiang Memorial Cemetery are down the hill next to a beautiful bridge, also a popular IG spot. But you will have to go back up to the trailhead. Therefore, please do your business before you call the taxi.

Return Home: Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Jiaoxi Route A

Check the bus timetable.
Bus fare: NT$20 (NT$15 if you use EazyCard or iPass)
The first bus of Jiaoxi Route A on the weekdays at 8:50 and 8:35 on the weekends and holidays.
Note: the last bus back to Jiaoxi Station is 19:24 on the weekdays, and 19:36, but the actual time might vary due to the traffic. Please check the live arrival time when you go. Please don't go to the trail too late if you plan to take public transport.

Return Home: Yilan Bus 112

Yilan Bus 112 is a loop route going from Jiaoxi Transfer Station to popular tourist attractions in Jiaoxi. The earliest bus leaving Jiaoxi Transfer Station is 10:30. Please check the live arrival time of 112.
jiaoxi-transport-station

GPX Track From Mt. Hongludi to St. Marian Hiking Trail 烘聖縱走

You can hike to Mt. Sanjiaolun from St. Marian Refuge Hut and return.

Route map for St Marian Trail From Mt. Hongludi - Advanced by Anusha Lee on plotaroute.com

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.

The Advanced Matcha Mountain Route, aka Lanyang Holy Ridge: from Mt. Hongludi to Wufengqi

I first did this thru-hike in June 2017. I remember it was sunny and hot in the morning, but it turned into a thundershower around noon. I saw several lightning strikes near us. There was nowhere to hide, and it was scary. Then, I got to do this hike again in May 2023.
08:45 We left Taipei at 6:45 am and arrived at the famous bridge for a toilet break and photos. If you hire a taxi, you can ask the driver to let you go to the toilet before the trailhead. Wei-Shui Chiang Memorial Cemetery is another IG spot.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
The toilets are under this bridge.

Started the Hike in the Cloudy Weather

09:06 Started the hike. On January 2, 2020, an army Black Hawk helicopter crashed near here. Eight military servicemembers, including the Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming 沈一鳴, were killed, and five were wounded. Several new roads were built to boost the rescue effort.
We saw many Taiwan Raspberries 刺莓 on the sides of the road. Those were delicious.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Taiwan Raspberries are tasty and juicy.
09:28 We reached a junction, which was the old trailhead years ago. If you do Tonghou River Tracing, you take this trail in the middle.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
We reached the junction to Mt. Hongludi and Tonghou River.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
This trail leads to Tonghou River.
09:50 We passed a swamp and reached another junction with several trails. If you follow the biggest trail, you will reach a small shrine 神武英靈紀念碑 built to commemorate the lives lost in the crash. We didn't go there.
We took a break again under a tarp, and I unloaded some items from my backpack. I wasn't feeling ok because of the heat. Although I wanted to see a blue sky on this hike, the cloudy weather helped us escape the heat.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail

Steep Ascending to Mt. Sanjiaolun

09:57 A lighter backpack made a difference. I felt much better when we resumed our hike. Unlike the expansive road we took, we entered the woods and took on the narrow trail. It was steeper and muddier from the junction to Mt. Sanjiaolun. I'm glad I wore my rain boots.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
The red arrow points to the trail to Mt. Hongludi, while the yellow one points to the chopper crash location.
We stopped at a swamp for a short break and an abrupt slope awaited us. That's the slope to Mt. Hongludi.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Most trails are muddy in Yilan.
The vegetation changes into tall grass, exposing this section to the sun. But this doesn't mean the trail terrain is dry. It's still muddy.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
A huge ascending awaited us before reaching Mt. Hongludi.
10:19 We reached Mt. Hongludi, 1,166 meters. There is a Class 1 Triangulation Stone on the top. When we arrived there, the weather was partially cloudy. At least we could see some views; not complaining. Our guides told us we could see Mt. Sanjiaolun when the weather was good.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Our guides from LOHAS. The one with a hat was our lead guide, Ying-Zuo. The one in black is Xiao Tsai, whom I often go hiking with.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
This photo was taken on my previous hike to Mt. Hongludi.
10:55 We returned to the junction, where I unloaded my items. Our guides decided to let us have a 30-minute lunch break.
Our guide, Ying-Zuo, told us he had done this hike at least five times and only saw a blue sky once. The weather in this area changes very fast, even though the weather forecast predicts good weather.
After the lunch break, we continued the hike. Soon, we hiked on the ridges covered by grassland. At first, our surroundings were blanked by the clouds. I was disappointed.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
The disheartening weather when we first hiked on the ridge.

Unveiling the Enchanting Matcha Mountains

Suddenly, a gust of wind swept away the mist, revealing the majestic green mountains. The undulating terrain stretched out before us.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
The weather cleared up slightly.
The vibrant outfit of my fellow hikers formed a vivid procession along the sharp ridgeline, highlighting its steepness.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Glancing back at our companions trailing behind, I admired how small we are against the vastness of those mountains.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Our hiking mates looked so tiny on the hill.
The interplay of fog, clouds, and sunlight persisted as if engaged in hide and seek, showering us with delightful moments of wonder.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
The distant mountains teased us with a fleeting display of magnificence, only to retreat behind a veil of mist once more.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Blessed with impeccable weather, we were spared from the searing sun while still beholding the mesmerizing contours of the landscape.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
One of my favorite photos from this hike
14:03 We arrived at the idyllic vantage point, offering breathtaking sights of the renowned Matcha Mountains and the nearby scenic platform.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
The advanced version of Matcha mountains
The name "Matcha Mountains" aptly captured the grandeur of this spectacular landscape. Our arrival couldn't have been more fortunate. Wisps of clouds cascaded over the ridges, gracefully meandering into the valleys, leaving us spellbound by the sheer beauty unfolding before our eyes.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
The clouds took over the mountains again.
In an attempt to capture the mesmerizing scene through a timelapse video, I soon realized that nature had other plans. The clouds swiftly rekindled their dance, putting everything under its veil again.
Accepting the gentle nudge from Mother Nature, I resumed my hike, eagerly reaching our next destination.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Mt. Sanjiaolun and her southeast peak can be seen from here.
If you take this route, numerous slopes pose a challenge with their steepness and slipperiness. Take your time, and navigate them attentively.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Endless ups and downs on this route

Back to the St. Marian Hiking Trail

14:38 Following the grueling journey through the mist-shrouded terrain, I stood before the long-awaited platform.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
One more climbing to the platform
In a display of enchantment, Mother Nature waved her metaphorical wand, transforming St. Marian Hut and the fire suppression pond into a captivating fairyland.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
View of St. Marian Refuge Hut from the platform
While most of our hiking mates ventured to Mt. Sanjiaolun, I remained at the hut, relishing a tranquil moment with a steaming cup of Matcha tea. Our thoughtful guide, Ying-Zuo, brought everyone a package of Matcha tea. After all, we were at Matcha Mountains.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Having matcha tea at matcha mountains
Since we are back at St. Marian Hiking Trail, I keep the description brief in this post.
17:00 We were back at Tongtian Bridge.
17:53 We passed the catholic church.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Wufengqi St. Marian Catholic Church 五峰旗聖母朝聖地
17:53 I saw the beautiful sunset by De Zi Kou Creek.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
De Zi Kou Creek at Wufengqi Scenic Area
18:20 We returned to the De Zi Kou Creek parking lot, bidding farewell to an eventful day of adventure.

About Mt. Hongludi, St. Marian Trail, and Lanyang 5 Famous Mountains

Lanyang 5 Famous Mountains 蘭陽五大名山

Five famous mountains are located between Wulai, New Taipei City, and Yilan. They are Mt. Yingziling 鶯子嶺山 (943 meters), Mt. Sanjiaolun 三角崙山 (1,029 meters), Mt. Hongludi 烘爐地山 (1,166 meters), Mt. Dajiaoxi 大礁溪山 (1,161 meters), and Mt. Ayu 阿玉山 (1,419 meters).
St. Marian Hiking Trail
Me at Mt. Sanjiaolun
They belong to Xueshan Mountain Range 雪山山脈. Xueshan Mountain Range is the northmost mountain range in Taiwan and extends to Sandiaojiao. There's a beautiful lighthouse in Sandiaojiao, and Sandiaojiao is the eastmost point of Taiwan.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
Beautiful woods on the way to Mt. Hongludi
Nestled on the border between Wulai, New Taipei City, and Jiaoxi, Yilan County, Mt. Hongludi is the only one with a Class 1 Triangulation Stone among Lanyang 5 Famous Mountains. It is also a compelling point for avid hikers before tackling the thrilling Tonghou River Traversing Trail.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
There is a Class 1 Triangulation Stone at Mt. Hongludi.

St. Marian Hiking Trail and Brother Luigi Pavan

St. Marian Hiking Trail was built by an Italian monk, Brother Luigi Pavan, and volunteers in 1979. They carried all the materials to the top and built the platform for worshiping.
Mt. Hongludi Ridge Hike to St. Marian Hiking Trail
The Jesus statue at the platform
Brother Luigi Pavan devoted his life to patients, especially those suffering from TB, at Saint Mary's Hospital in Luodong, Yilan, for over two decades. He passed away on February 9, 1984, at the age of 68. Later, Brother Pavan's bust was built next to St. Marian's statue at St. Marian Refuge Hut, overlooking hikers and Yilan.
St. Marian Hiking Trail
Brother Luigi Pavan devoted his life to TB patients in Taiwan.
You can watch this YouTube video about those five hikers' encounter of seeing St. Marian and story behind this trail.

Free Guide: How to Apply for Hiking Permits in Taiwan

Do you plan to hike high mountains but don't know how to apply for hiking permits? Look no further! Download this complimentary guide with instructions to help you navigate the application process seamlessly.

Customized Hikes from HolaTaipei

If you are lookig for customized hiking trips with an English or Spanish-speaking guide and save time on traffic, my friend Cris from HolaTaipei's guided hikes might be for you.

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Tonghou River Traversing Trail

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Hiking Biji: Sheng Hong Thru-hike (From Shengmu Hiking Trail to Mt. Hongludi) 聖烘縱走(聖母山莊縱走烘爐地山)
I hope you enjoy this post. Have you done St. Marian Hiking Trail or the thru-hike? Are you planning to do it? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
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