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San-Yuan Hike: A Pleasant Tung Blossom Trail between Two Hakka Towns, Sanyi and Tongluo in Miaoli

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: July 10, 2021
Sanyi Tongluo Hike in Miaoli
Sanyi Tongluo Hike in Miaoli
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Table of Contents:

About San-Yuan Hike, Sanyi and Tongluo Townships

This is a ridgeline hike starting from Sanyi to Tongluo via Mt. Sanjiao, Mt. Changkeng, Mt. Shuangfeng, Mt. Shuangfeng North Peak, and ending with Mt. Yuantun. To make it easier to remember, hikers take the first word of the first and last mountains and call it San-Yuan Hike.

Sanyi and Tongluo

60% of people in Miaoli and 15% of the total population in Taiwan are Hakka people or Hakka Han 客家, literally meaning Guest Families in Chinese. Hakka Han are a Chinese subgroup and came from southern China provinces.
Hakka people have their own language, distinct culture, architecture and foods. In Sanyi and Tongluo, 94% of the population in each township is Hakka people. If you have been to Taipei and take MRT, you must have heard of Hakka language because the voice announcements in the trains include Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka and English.
Sanyi is famous for the wood sculpture making because of many camphor trees in the old days. There are 4 townships in Taiwan certified as “Slow City” by Cittaslow, and Sanyi is one of them. Actually, Miaoli has two townships listed, and the other one is Nanzhuang.
There are several tourist attractions in Sanyi, and some of the famous ones are Longten Broken Bridge 龍騰斷橋 and Mt. Huoyan or Huoyanshan 火炎山.
about_Longten-Broken-Bridge_20171021_03
Longten Broken Bridge
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Longten Broken Bridge is actually quite large.
Mt. Huoyan is famous for the spectacular landscape that consists of conglomerate and sandstone layers, and later was designated as a Nature Reserve Area. There’s a hiking trail to Mt. Huoyan, but there are several accidents near the cliffs because of the fragile geological structure. Please DO NOT get too close to the cliffs when you are trying to take photos.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Mt. Huoyan is very popular among tourists and hikers.
Like Sanyi, Tongluo is a famous Hakka town, and there are many delicious Hakka restaurants in Tongluo. Mt. Shuangfeng is located within the border of Tongluo and also the highest mountain in the township. If you want to know more about Hakka history, you can visit of Hakka Yard 客家大院 when you get there.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
A map of Tongluo's attractions

San-Yuan Hike: A Relaxing Ridgeline Trail

You can also start from the Tongluo side, and the trail is much easier than the Sanyi side. Just follow the steps and you’ll reach Mt. Yuantun 員屯山. The other trailhead near Mt. Yuantun is from the back of Hakka Yard 客家大院, but this one was closed when I went there.
If you enjoy tung blossoms, you can’t miss this trail in April and May. San-Yuan Trail is one of the popular places to see the snow-like blossoms in Miaoli.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
I didn't take this one on San-Yuan Trail, but you get the idea of what the blossoms look like.
Other than tung blossoms, you can see the second highest mountain, Mt. Xue Main Peak (aka Mt. Snow, Mt. Sylvia), height 3,886 meters, in Taiwan from the ridges. This trail terrain isn’t too rugged or complicated. Occasionally you’ll have to walk through some narrow ridges before reaching Mt. Shuangfeng. It’s a point-to-point hike and both sides can be accessed by train.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Very thrilled to see Mt. Xue from the trail
Mt. Shuangfeng is listed as one of Miaoli Eight Scenes 苗栗八景. During Japanese Occupation, it was said the shape of Mt. Shuangfeng looked like Mt. Fuji. Therefore, it was also called Miaoli’s Mt. Juji. I didn’t get to see the shape of Mt. Shuangfeng from the distance, so I can’t comment whether it really looks like Mt. Fuji.
You don’t have to go through the whole trail. The new friends I made on my second trip were planning to turn back after reaching Mt. Sanjiao, which can be done within 30 minutes from Lantern Earth God Temple.

How to Get There

You can take Local Train and get off at Sanyi or Tongluo Train Station. If you want to drive a car or ride your scooter to either train station, you can park there and take the train back to your car or scooter. It takes only 7 minutes from Sanyi to Tongluo or Tongluo to Sanyi by train, but 5 hours on the ridgeline on foot.
This is probably one of the very few point-to-point hikes that can be done without the need to arrange pickup transport.

Peaks and Places to Reach

Lantern Earth God Temple: 燈籠福德祠, height 336 meters (1,102 feet). This is also the entrance of Mt. Sanjiao behind the parking lot. One of the big trees behind this temple is camphor tree 大樟公 and is said to be over 100 years old. You can also find toilets there.
Mt. Sanjiao: 三角山, height 567 meters (1,860 feet). There’s a Class 3 Triangulation Stone, not much to see on the peak.
Mt. Changkeng aka Mt. Sanjiao North Peak: 長坑山 or 三角山北峰, height 560 meters (1,837 feet). You can see Provincial Highway 13 台13線 and Tongluo Science Park 銅鑼科學園區 from there.
Mt. Shuangfeng: 雙峰山, height 538 meters (1,765 feet), the highest mountain in Tongluo.
Mt. Shuangfeng West Peak: 雙峰山西峰, height 538 meters (1,765 feet). You won't see this peak, unless you turn to Cihui Temple at the junction. No views here.
Mt. Shuangfeng North Peak: 雙峰山北峰, height 450 meters (1,476 feet).
Mt. Yuantun: 員屯山, height 339 meters (1,112 feet). There is a Class 3 Triangulation Stone.
See the map and itinerary first

A Pleasant and Easy Ridgeline Hike to Enjoy Mountain and Township Views

Distance: 12.2 km (7.6 miles), including the distance from the other trailhead to Tongluo Train Station, 2.2 km (1.4 miles).
Brief itinerary: Sanyi Train Station (Height 266 meters) ➔ Mt. Sanjiao entrance (Height around 336 meters) ➔ Mt. Sanjiao (Height 567 meters) ➔ Mt. Changkeng (Height 560 meters) ➔ Mt. Shuangfeng (Height 538 meters) ➔ Mt. Shuangfeng North Peak (Height 450 meters) ➔ Mt. Tungyuan (Height 339 meters) ➔ Tongluo Train Station (Height 185 meters)
GPS coordinates of parking lot near Mt. Sanjiao: 24.421786, 120.779057
GPS coordinates of the trailhead near Tongluo Train Station: 24.473855, 120.796251

Before We Start: Same Trail on Different Times and Seeing Different Things

On my first hike in February 2020, my friends and I started from Sanyi Train Station, reached Mt. Sanjiao, Mt. Changkeng, and Mt. Shuangfeng, and then we took the turn to Cihui Temple at a junction to have a lunch break. From there, I forgot to turn back to the junction, took a wrong turn and we ended up getting off the trail. We had to walk back to Sanyi Train Station and one of our friends drove us around to see the tourist attractions nearby. That's how I got the photos of the ridgeline from the distance.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Watching part of the ridgeline of Sanyi Tongluo Hike from a distance
On my second hike in October 2020, I met a couple and we started hiking together after Mt. Changkeng and had lunch near Mt. Shuangfeng. For some unknown reason, I passed the transmission tower next to Mt. Shuangfeng but missed the triangulation stone. I didn't see the junction to Cihui Temple, either.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
I met a super friendly couple on my second hike.
This is a point-to-point hike and can be done in 5 hours. I started from Sanyi Train Station for my both attempts. It took me one hour from my place to Taipei Train Station, and 2 hours and 44 minutes to Sanyi Train Station from Taipei. It had been raining a lot in northern Taiwan in 2020, and it was no exception when I left home in New Teipei City on both mornings. When the train arrived at Sanyi, I was excited to see the sunny blue sky.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
A small train station
As usual, having a map or GPX track with you is a must, especially when you need to get to the trailhead from Sanyi Train Station. There were many marks on the way to the trailhead, but they were all in Chinese. I turned right after leaving the train station and saw a big sign pointing to Mt. Sanjiao next to an underpass on my right. So, I turned right again.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
You'll have to turn right twice to see this underpass.
You'll have to make several turns before reaching the trailhead of Mt. Sanjiao, but, lucky for hikers, there are many signs and a map telling us where to turn.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
You'll see a small tunnel on the right of this map.
After 10+ minutes, I arrived a parking lot and the trailhead.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
The trailhead was at the end of this parking lot next to the blue structure.

Start with An Earth God Temple with A Cute Name and Quicky to Mt. Sanjiao

There was an earth god temple above the parking lot, called Denglong Earth God Temple 燈籠福德祠, or Lantern Earth God Temple. I didn’t see this on my first hike. I’m thankful that my new friends took me there and they also pointed the toilet to me. There were two big trees that were over 100 years old behind the temple. You can go there to take a look before your hike.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
I missed this temple on my first hike.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
You'll see this map in Chinese and English at the trailhead.
Very soon I reached the first junction on this trail and I turned right.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
The sign said turn right to Mt. Sanjiao.
The trail was obvious to recognize with steps, and some of the steps were made of sandbags, which could be very slippery if those got wet.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
It must be very tiring to carry those sandbags to build this trail.
I just followed them and stopped once in a while to see the views.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Looking at National Highway No. 1 中山高速公路
Then I reached a very steep slope with ropes to help hikers getting up or down. I’d say this was the steepest slope on this hike, but it just took a few minutes to finish it.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
The only slope that made me out of breath.
Following the trail, I saw a huge transmission tower painted with tung flowers on my left and I continued.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
A huge transmission tower before reaching a pavilion
san-yuan-01-ridgeline-hike-arrows
I wonder whether that was the one on the trail (the red arrow). Those flowers pointed by the yellow arrow was the only Fire-cracker Vine Flowers I took on my first hike.
After making a turn and passing a pavilion, I reached the first peak, Mt. Sanjiao. There was a relatively big space on this peak, but not much view so I quickly left.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Mt. Sanjiao with a Class 3 Triangulation Stone

Mt. Xue Range Kept Me Company to Mt. Changkeng

From there, I started to hike on the ridges. On my right, I could see layers of mountains. Those are sections of the famous Mt. Xue Range 雪山山脈, and this range goes all the way to the easternmost Taiwan, Sandiaojiao 三貂角.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
The pointed one close to the center was Mt. Xue Main Peak.
The ridgeline hike was up and down and up and down, but there weren’t many huge ascending and descending.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
It was quite pleasant to walk on the ridges.
My new couple friends and I I reached Mt. Sanjiao about the same time, and we ran into each other again on this trail. Then we struck up conversations. Their Plan A was to hike to Mt. Sanjiao, enjoy their time there and go home. After having a conversation with me, they decided to join me to do this point-to-point hike together.
Sometimes, there were several narrow ridges to pass through, and some small steep slopes to climb up. Other than those, this hike wasn’t difficult at all.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
There were several narrow ridges before reaching Mt. Shuangfeng.
Very soon, I reached Mt. Changkeng, aka Mt. Sanjiao North Peak. There was an opening on the west side of this ridgeline, and I could see Tongluo in the distance.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Mt. Changkeng and my new friend was enjoying the view.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
This was what my new friend was looking at, Tongluo.
I could see Cihui Temple from the trail, too.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Cihui Temple's golden roof
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To Mt. Shuangfeng, Supposedly

After hiking for about one hour, there was a slope with a flimsy looking ladder hanging on a steep slope. It looked a little bit scary, but it wasn’t too bad.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
I was worried the flimsy ladder couldn't hold up my weight.
Then I passed another transmission tower, where Mt. Shuangfeng was.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
The transmission tower near Mt. Shuangfeng
But for some unknown reason, I didn't see the sign and Class 3 Triangulation Stone. At least, I got to see it on my first hike.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
Mt. Shuangfeng
On my first hike on February 8, 2020, my friends and I reached Mt. Shuangfeng right after climbing the flimsy ladder and saw a junction, one to Cihui Temple and the other to Shuangfeng Road.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
The trees at this junction were beautiful.
On the way to Cihui Temple, we saw Mt. Shuangfeng West Peak. Nothing much to see here.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
You won't see Mt. Shuangfeng West Peak if you don't turn to Cihui Temple, but nothing much to lose.
We went to Cihui Temple to have lunch and totally forgot about returning to the junction. As a result, my first hike ended with Mt. Shuangfeng, and we had to walk back to Sanyi Train Station to get my friend's car. It took us around 70 minutes from Cihui Temple to Sanyi Train Station.
san-yuan-19-stairs-from-Cihui-Temple
The long steep stairs are waiting for you if you want to get off Cihui Temple.
The people at the temple are very friendly, but it's better to let them know your intention polietly. They let us cook lunch and use the toilet inside the temple. If you want to have lunch here and continue your hike later, remember to return to the junction.
san-yuan-20-Cihui-temple-from-the-bottom
When I realized I made a wrong turn, it was too late. We didn't want to get up again.
On my second hike, my new friends and I saw a small platform like cliff with a beautiful view, and we decided to have a lunch break to enjoy the scenery together.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
The place on the right was a great spot to have a lunch break and enjoy the view.
However, I didn’t see Mt. Shuangfeng on my second hike, nor did I see the junction. I check other hikers’ blogs and it seems the local government set up new signs. This is still a mystery to me and can only be solved by a third attempt.
san-yuan-21-a-great-spot-for-lunch-3
The best spot to have a lunch break
Although I missed Mt. Shuangfeng on my second try, I got to use my PeakFinder app to see where Mt. Xue Main Peak was after passing Mt. Shuangfeng. I accidentally turned off my phone's rotation function, so I have to an app to make a collage of those screenshots.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
I forgot to turn on the screen rotation before using the app.

Mt. Yuantun North Peak and Finally, Mt. Yuantun

After lunch break on my second hike, my friends and I continued. The trail terrain became much milder, and we arrived at Mt. Shuangfeng North Peak within a few minutes.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
Mt. Shuangfeng North Peak
The trail was well maintained, and I saw several stones carving with numbers and millages like this one.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
Several stones like this were marked with distance.
Looing through the trees, I still could get glimpses of mountains and the highway.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
Mountains and highway through the trees
Then, we reached our last peak on this trail, Mt. Yuantun. There wasn't much to see here, either. So, we continued our hike.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
I finally reached Mt. Yuantun.
After Mt. Yuantun, we passed a hexagon pavilion within 2 minutes. From there, we hiked mostly on steps.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
A hexagon pavilion after leaving Mt. Yuantun
We passed a fence with a relay staion in the middle. There were three signs on the fence, the one on the right pointing to Hakka Yard, one pointing to Mt. Yuantun, and the third one pointing to Tongluo Train Station. We headed to the direction of Tongluo Train Station.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
The trail on the right will take you to Hakka Yard.
Within a few minutes, we exited the trail, and my new friends arranged a pickup for us to do more sightseeing before getting back to Sanyi Train Station.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
The other trailhead near Tongluo Train Station
The distance from the trailhead to Tongluo Train Station is 2.2 km (1.4 miles) if you walk on Taiwan County Highway 119 and pass Tongluo Fire-cracker Vine Flower Park 銅鑼炮仗花海公園. The blossom season of Fire-cracker Vine is in February and March, which is about the time of cherry blossoms.

Bonuses from Both Trips: Cherry Trees Trail in Yuanli and Beautiful Sunset on Mt. Hutou in Tongxiao

Although I didn’t get to finish the whole hike on my first trip, we drove to nearby attractions to see Cherry Trees Trail in Yuanli Township and got to see the ridgeline we hiked earlier.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
Beautiful cherry blossoms near Cihui Temple in February
We saw Taiwan High Speed Railway trains passed by, too.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
Taiwan High Speed Railway in the distance
As to my second trip, my new friends were so warm and friendly. In fact, most Taiwanese hikers are very friendly and willing to help hikers in need. My new friends arranged a pickup, and their friend, Mt. Lee, took us to his cabin to have snacks and Chinese tea. Mr. Lee was a retiree, but he had a very busy and colorful life. He let us visit his cabin located in remote Miaoli, and it was such a great getaway to enjoy the country life.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
My new friends took me to visit their friend.
Later, my new friends took me to Mt. Hutou Trail 虎頭山步道 and enjoyed sunset on Mt. Hutou 虎頭山, in Tongxiao 通宵. This is probably the shortest hiking trail I’ve ever been, only 600 meters round trip. Hutou literally means tiger’s head in Chinese.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
There was a monument to commemorate Taiwan Restoration from Japan, but the monument looked like a cannon to me.
The height of Mt. Hutou is only 93 meters (305 feet), more like a small hill, but you can see the panoramic view of whole area.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
The beautiful sunset from Mt. Hutou with Tongxiao Power plant in the distance
There is one Class 2 Triangulation Stone and a Class 3 one, but I only saw the class 2 one. There was a Tongxiao Shrine 通宵神社, but it was already closed when we got there.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridge Hike
I reached another peak!
By the way, there are 5 mountains with the name of Hutou in Taiwan, and the locations of the other four are: Guishan District of Taoyuan City, Puli Township of Nantou County, Kenting (Checheng Township) of Pingtung County, and Tuisui Township of Hualien County. The one in Kenting is actually called Mt. Dinghutou 頂虎頭山. Ding means top in Chinese.
All those Mt. Hutou are very easy to hike.
Later, my friends took me to Tongxiao Train Station and ended this wonderful day.

Thoughts about This Hike: A Trail Worth Doing Again

Although this trail is far from Taipei, I will love to do this hike again. It’s so relaxing to hike on the ridges and see the mountain and city views from both sides, and very easy to get to both trailheads by train.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
You can see layers of mountains on the east side.
It will be much easier to get there by driving or riding a scooter if you want to visit other attractions after this hike. There are several ways to do this hike, too. I can start from the Tongluo side and hike to Mt. Shuangfeng and return to Tongluo.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
A photo of tung blossom from my other hike
The other way to enjoy this hike is to start from the Sanyi side, and also hike to Mt. Shuangfeng and return. Then I will put Mt. Houyan or Longteng Broken Bridge on my itinerary.
Sanyi Tongluo Ridgeline Hike in Miaoli
If you are going to visit Miaoli and want to find an easy hike, this one is definitely for you.
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Map and Itinerary

Group Hike or Solo Hike: Solo hike
Date of Hike: October 25, 2020

Based on my hike on October 25, 2020

09:48 Left Sanyi Train Station
09:49 Turned at underpass with the sign pointing to Mt. Sanjiao
09:53 Saw the map and entered the tunnel
10:02 Turned to a parking lot and saw the entrance of steps with a map of Mt. Sanjiao, Mt. Shuangfeng, and Tung Flower Trail
10:10 Saw a junction and turned to the right
10:28 Reached the steep slope with ropes
10:35 Passed the transmission tower
10:39 Reached Mt. Sanjiao and started hiking on the ridge
11:32 Reached Mt. Chengkeng, aka Mt. Sanjiao North Peak
12:02 Reached the wooden ladders
12:05 Passed the transmission tower where Mt. Shuangfeng was
12:31 Found a great spot with wonderful views for lunch. If I didn't miss Mt. Shuangfeng, it would be about time to reach it. It would also be about time to see the junction to Cihui Temple.
13:31 Resumed the hike
13:34 Reached Mt. Shuangfeng North Peak
14:14 Saw a stone with "0K 495M"
14:16 Reached Mt. Tunyuan
14:18 Passed a hexagon pavilion
14:27 Passed the fence with signs pointing to Hakka Yard and Tongluo Train Station
14:31 Exit the trail
Total time: 4 hours 43 minutes, including long breaks

Recommended Blogs and Resources:

Chinese only:
Hiking Biji: San Yuan Hike 三員縱走
Brother Hui's Sky 輝哥的天空: San Yuan Hike in Miaoli 苗栗三員縱走
San Yuan Hike from Tongluo 三員縱走 (銅鑼~ 三義火車接駁)
San Yuan Hike: Tongluo to Sanyi 銅鑼-三義
English posts:
Things to Do in MIAOLI COUNTY
Foreigners in Taiwan: What is there to do and see in Miaoli?

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