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Tonghou Traversing Trail: Discover the True Beauty of Rivers in Taipei

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: February 2, 2021
Last update: November 4, 2021
Tonghou Traversing Trail is a must-do hike to experience the true beauty of rivers near Taipei. The trail is in remote Wulai, but the reward of driving there is worth it. The rich vegetation and Tonghou River also make this place a great campsite to enjoy the wilderness in Taiwan.
Tonghou Traversing Trail infographic
Tonghou Traversing Trail infographic

Table of Contents:

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About Tonghou Traversing Trail and the North Section of Mt. Xue (Snow Mountain)

According to a famous Taiwanese hiker, prolific author and YouTuber, Tony Huang : “You won't know how beautiful the rivers in Taipei are, unless you visit Tonghou 不至桶后,不知台北溪流之美”. After doing Tonghou Traversing Trail myself, I can say his statement is totally fair. I'm not new to Tonghou River, but I'm still amazed by her striking beauty every time I come into her presence.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
Beautiful Tonghou Traversing Trail is finally open to the public again.

One of the Famous Indigenous Historic Trails

When we talk about Tonghou Traversing Trail, it's necessary to mention the three famous indigenous historic trails used by Atayal People for hunting and commuting in the old days: Happen Traversing Trail 哈盆越嶺古道, Fuba Traversing Historic Trail 福巴越嶺古道, and Tonghou Traversing Trail 桶后越嶺古道. There is no public transport to get to those trailheads, and you have to apply for permits to hike on Fuba Traversing Trail.
Tonghou Traversing Trail is a very short and easy trail between Wulai in New Taipei City and Yilan, but worth to spend time either sitting by the river quietly to enjoy the tranquility or strolling in the woods. Tonghou in Chinese means behind the bucket, and the bucket here refers to Mt. Datong. So, this trail is literally located behind Mt. Datong. During Japanese occupation, the Japanese government rebuilt this trail to transport logs.
A map to see the trails I've done related to Tonghou River
WuTong Trail
Mt. Datong Hiking Trail. I also hiked this one in 2020.

Lanyang Five Famous Mountains 蘭陽五大名山

There are five mountains in Yilan and are labeled as Lanyang Five Famous Mountains 蘭陽五大名山:
Mt. Sanjiaolun: 三角崙山, 1,028 meters (3,373 feet). I hiked Mt. Sanjiaolun before, but I don't remember much about this trip. I'll need to do it again.
Mt. Yinziling: 鶯子嶺山, 943 meters (3,094 feet)
Mt. Hongludi: 烘爐地山, 1,166 meters (3,497 feet). You can read my Tonghou River Source Hike to know more about the details.
Mt. Dajiaoxi: 大礁溪山, 1,161 meters (3,809 feet)
Mt. Ayu: 阿玉山, 1,420 meters (4,659 feet)
Mt-Ayu in Yilan Taiwan
I hiked to Mt. Ayu in March 2021, but it was cloudy on the peak.

The North Section of Mt. Xue 雪山尾稜

If you zoom out the Google Maps here, you'll see those mountains I mark on the map almost align from the northeast Taiwan to Mt. Xue (Mt. Sylvia on Google Maps). This is because those mountains are part of Mt. Xue Range 雪山山脈.
The white building in the photo is Sandiaojiao Lighthouse. I took this one in February 2020 during my hike to Mt. Longlong.
The mountain close to the easternmost tip of Taiwan, Sandiaojiao Lighthouse 三貂角燈塔, is Mt. Longlong 隆隆山 with height of 433 meters (1,420 feet), and there is a popular trail called the North Section of Mt. Xue 雪山尾稜. If you want, you can start from Mt. Longlong, those Lanyang Five Famous Mountains, and all the way to Mt. Xue.
This is a short post, and this hike only scratched the surface of Tonghou River area. There are so many trails that are connected to Tonghou Traversing Trail, but we only hiked a little bit due to the group hike schedule. I hope someday I can come back here to hike more.
Mt. Longlong is very close to the easternmost tip of Taiwan, Sandiaojiao Lighthouse
I joined Dudu's trip to this trail. This is my third trip in this area. You can check out my trips to Mt. Datong 大桶山 and Tonghou River Source to learn more about beautiful Tonghou River region.
Tonghou River source hike: a great trail to embrace the hot summer in Taiwan
Beautiful Tonghou River
Before you go, please remember to check the trail condition in case the trail is closed.

How to Get There

There's no public transport to get there. You have to drive or hire a car.

Peaks to Reach

There are no specific peaks to reach on this trail if you just want to enjoy the woods and the river. However, if you plan to hike Mt. Dajiaoxi and Mt. Xiaojiaoxi, or even Mt. Hongludi, the following is the information of those three mountains.
Mt. Dajiaoxi: 大礁溪山, height 1,161 meters (3,809 feet). If you want to hike Mt. Dajiaoxi, you need to apply for permit.
Mt. Xiaojiaoxi: 小礁溪山, height 1,147 meters (3,763 feet)
Mt. Hongludi: 烘爐地山, height 1,166 meters (3,825 feet). There is a Class One Triangulation Stone, and you can see the 360° view on the peak.
See the map and itinerary first

Anything to Do with Tonghou Is Great and This One Is No Exception

Distance: 9.1 km (5.7 miles)
GPS coordinates of the trailhead: 24.836228, 121.647824

A Bumpy Long Ride to the Beautiful Trailhead

We left Banqiao at 7am and arrived at Xiaoyi Police Station 孝義派出所 around 8 to take a toilet break. Before December 16, 2017, hikers had to apply for permits to hike here. Now, hikers can go whenever they want as long as the trail is open.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
Xiaoyi Police Station. No need to apply for permits now.
From Xiaoyi Police Station, it took us another hour to the trailhead. There were many cars heading to the same direction because Tonghou Traversing Trail was finally open to the public after being closed for a long time due to damages brought by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
People can get close to this trail again.
Although the road condition was very bumpy, we got a wonderful sunny weather. After we got off the cars and ready for the hike, Tonghou River let us take a peek through the trees first.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
The first glimpse of Tonghou River
Then, our guide took a brief stop at the old suspension bridge and gave us a short introduction about this trail. I wanted to take a closer look at the old bridge, but we had to get going.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
The old suspension bridge was close to the trailhead.

Junctions to Mt. Dajiaoxi and Mt. Xiaojiaoxi

This trail was well marked. Within a few minutes, we reached the junction to Mt. Dajiaoxi. As I mentioned before, this mountain was one of Lanyang Five Famous Mountains. I made a mental note of doing research about this mountain later.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
You can take a loop trip to Mt. Dajiaoxi from here.
While continuing the hike, we passed a sand dam.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
We had to cross the river several times and passed a sand dam.
Soon I saw the junction and the trail to Mt. Xiaojiaoxi. This one and the one to Mt. Dajiaoxi are connected. So, you can enter either one and make a loop hike and get back to Tonghou Traversing Trail later. After doing some research, hikers said the views on those peaks were great, and I've put this on my list of trails to hike in the future.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
The junction to Mt. Xiaojiaoxi

Lush Jungles along the Winding River

We hiked along the beautiful Tonghou River for a while and then turned to a sidehill. You can take the trail by the river if you want. But our guides just wanted us to be safe.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
We took the sidehill and went up.
Most of the sidehill were paved by big pebbles as steps. To be honest, it wasn't easy to hike on those man-made trails because those pebbles got loose easily, which made each step unstable.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
Watch out when you hike on those steps paved by pebbles.
After a while, those pebbles were either pushed out of position by hikers or washed away by rain. I complained a lot about the lousy user experience on the trails in Taiwan, but I have to say this wasn't the worst.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
Beautiful tall trees mixed with jungles.
Aside from the steps, the woods here were amazing. The tall trees mixed with the jungles, and sometimes we had to cross small streams.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
Your shoes might get wet when hiking on this trail.
The end of this sidehill was a 3-story steel staircase, a very narrow one, so narrow that your shoulders will bump into other hiker's when trying to walk on the stairs at the same time. Then, we were back to the beautiful Tonghou River. We took a break here again waiting for our hiking mates to catch up.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
There was a steel staircase to make the descending eiser.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
But it was also very narrow.
When we were there, it was in mid-summer. Many people were having fun in the water to escape the heat. Standing there watching them, I was so tempted to take off my heavy rainboots and join them, but I had to follow our group's schedule.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
Many people were enjoying the cooling water in hot summer. Very tempting.

Had Lunch near the Junction to Mt. Houludi

From here, the trail was very flat, and it was very relaxing to stroll on the trail listening to the water flowing by.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
Most part of the trail was well maintained.
After passing the junction to Mt. Hongludi, we continued to hike. Then we reached to the river again, our guide told us to have a lunch break by the river around 11:30.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
If we continued, we could reach Mt. Hongludi.
This was a great spot to have lunch and take a break. Some of our hiking mates started swimming in the river.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
Time to have fun in the water.
I found a quiet spot, took off my rainboots and changed to my sandals. When my feet finally touched the cold water, it was so soothing and relaxing. It felt like I could just stand there forever.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
It felt so great to dip my feet in the river after a hike.

Hate to Say Goodbye

We stayed there for about one hour and had to get back to our cars. I felt sad because I hadn't enjoyed enough, especially when we had such a wonderful weather. One of the benefits to hike with a group is you don't have to worry about the transportation, but the drawback is you can't change the schedule.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
I felt sad to leave here so soon.
We followed the same trail back, and I couldn't help but admire Tonghou River again. Tonghou River had been very kind to unveil her beauty to us and allowed us to get close to her.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
We were very lucky to have such a great weather.
When we were on the way to our cars, we saw a guy trying to remove some plants from the fallen trees. It turned out those plants were orchids, and he was trying to save those precious plants to a safer place so they could grow properly. I was so moved by his dedication.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
A guy was trying to save those orchids to a safer place, but I forgot the name of those orchids.
When we reached our cars, I saw many tents camping on the campsite. I also ran into some guides I know from LOHAS, and they told me they were also camping there for one night. What a great idea to enjoy Tonghou River.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
You can camp here to enjoy more.
When our cars reached Xiaoyi Police Statin again, it started to rain. We were really lucky.

Thoughts about this Hike: Have to Visit Again

I can tell you that this is definitely a trail I'd love to visit again and again. It's pity that my trip to Tonghou Traversing Trail was so short, but this also gave me some ideas for my future hikes. Those are several ways to enjoy this trail.
Tonghou Traversing in Wulai, Taiwan
The old suspension bridge near the junction to Mt. Hongludi.
1. Do a loop hike including Mt. Dajiaoxi and Mt. Xiaojiaoxi and get back to Tonghou Traversing Trail to the junction to Mt. Houludi. Then, take the trail along Tonghou River back to the parking lot. Please note that the loop of Mt. Dajiaoxi and Mt. Xiaojiaoxi will be more challenging than Tonghou Traversing Trail.
2. Do point-to-point hike from the trailhead to Mt. Houludi. You'll have to hire a car to send you to the trailhead and pick you up at the other.
Tonghou River source hike: a great trail to embrace the hot summer in Taiwan
View from the peak of Mt. Hongludi.
3. Camping by Tonghou River and just relaxing.
If you get a chance to hike this trail, please stay by the river longer if possible. You won't regret it.

Now, Let's Talk about the Translations

The translations from the websites made by Taiwan governments are notoriously messy, which not only drives international visitors crazy but also makes my brain hurt when I'm trying to write posts. As a local Taiwanese who reads both Chinese and English, I can imagine the desperation non-Chinese speakers have to go through when seeing those translations.
While trying to figure out the translations of Yueling 越嶺, I came across this issue again. Thus, I've decided to write something to explain the possible versions of translations you can find about the names of the trails, mountains, locations, streets, etc. And I definitely need a drink for this.
Thanks to the help from Twitter friends, Yueling 越嶺 means mountains/ridges traversing or traversal. I've found at least 4+ versions of 越嶺 from just ONE government website:
Cross Mountain, example: Hapen Cross Mountain Trail 哈盆越嶺古道. Please note that this trail will not open to the public until August 1, 2021.
Messy translations
Cross Mountain Trail is used on the page of Hapen
Mountain-crossing, example, Fubayueling Historic Trail 福巴越嶺古道. However, the content says The Fuba Mountain-crossing Trail. Sometimes you will see Bafuyueling Historic Trail 巴福越嶺古道. They all refer to the same trail, but each starts from different trailhead.
Messy translations
The title Bafu is Yueling.
Messy translations
However, you will see Mountain-crossing in the content, and two different translations are used on the same page.
Yueling, example: Tonghuoyueling Trail 桶后越嶺古道, which is literally translated the pronunciation from Chinese. Not sure those who don't speak Chinese can understand what yueling means.
Messy translations
Yueling is used on the page of Tonghou Traversing Trail
Cross-Ridge, example: Nenggao Cross-Ridge Historical Trail 能高越嶺古道.
Messy translations
Now we have cross-ridge.
Messy translations
But, the sign on the trailhead of Nenggao Trail says different things. See the translation of Nenggao becomes Neng-Kao?
So… I hope you survive after reading so many versions of translations. Our government's websites have a big issue of being consistent. I might have made mistakes like this on my website. To make the trail name easier to understand, I decide to use “traversing” to make it easier to understand.
Back to About Tonghou Traversing Trail and the North Section of Mt. Xue
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Map and Itinerary

Group Hike or Solo Hike: Group hike with Dudu
Date of Hike: July 11, 2020

Route map for Tonghou-crossing by Anusha Lee on plotaroute.com

Click Menu in the map to download, print or share the map.
Click timer to change the speed to meet your condition.
My GPS track may not be totally accurate and is for reference only.

Based on my hike on February 23, 2020

08:17 Arrived at Xiaoyi Police Station
09:13 Arrived at the trailhead
09:15 Reached the old suspension bridge
09:28 Passed 0.5k mark
09:31 Passed the entrance to Mt. Dajiaoxi
09:35 Passed the entrance to Mt. Xiaojiaoxi
10:23 Reached the steel staircase and took a break
10:44 Reached a bridge
10:52 Arrived at the junction to Mt. Hongludi
10:54 Saw 3k mark
11:32 Passed the junction to Mt. Hongludi and had an one-hour lunch break
13:21 Back to the steel staircase and took a break
14:39 Back to the trailhead and our cars
Total time: 6 hours 22 minutes, including long breaks

Recommended Blogs and Resources:

Chinese only:
Hiking Biji: Tonghou Traversing Trail 桶后越嶺步道
Tony Huang: Wulai, Tonghou River and Tonghou Traversing Trail 烏來.桶后溪.桶后越嶺古道
Mt. Dajiaoxi 大礁溪山
Mt. Dajiaoxi, Mt. Xiaojiaoxi and Tonghou Traversing Trail 大礁溪山,小礁溪山,桶后越嶺道
English posts:
Tonghouyueling Trail

Related Posts on Taiwan Hikes:

Songluo Lake
Mt. Datong in Wulai
Tonghou River Source and Mt. Hongludi Hike