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Wuliaojian: the Knife Ridge Hike from Scary to Stunning

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: May 29, 2022
Wuliaojian, Wuliao Peak, or Wu Liao Jian is the most exciting and fun hike in northern Taiwan that you can’t miss, ONLY IF you are not afraid of height. It involves rock climbing and scrambling, walking on the knife ridges, and descending a 30-meter-long slope. Yet, you will be rewarded with the most spectacular mountain views in Sanxia, Taiwan.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan

Table of Contents:

Trail Information

Trail Name: Wuliaojian Mountain 五寮尖
Distance: 5 km (3.1 miles)
Route type: Loop. You can do the bigger loop hikes, but I think most people come here for the exciting knife ridge hike.
Days/Hours Needed: 4-6 hours. I heard some seasoned hikers can do this loop hike in 2 hours.
Total Ascent/Descent: 789m/798m
Best Time to Go: All year-round, but it can be very hot in summer
Permits: Not required
Difficulty Level:
Peaks to Reach:
  1. Mt. Wuliaojian 五寮尖, 639 meters (1,768 feet) above sea level if you decide to go that far.
Gear to Bring:
  1. Prepare a pair of gloves to prevent rope burns when you grab the ropes to do the 30-meter descending.
  2. Wear a helmet if possible. I wore a helmet, but I was also the only one on that day.
  3. It can be scorching hot on the knife ridges. Please do sun protection when you go. I felt the heat on the ridges when doing it in winter.
Warnings before you go:
  1. This trail isn’t for people who are NOT OKEY with height.
  2. This hike is a total body workout. Please make sure you are fit enough to do it.
  3. Please don’t do this hike when it rains.
  4. Please ensure the ropes are sturdy enough before grabbing them at Qiao Bi Xiong Feng. The ropes broke, and a hiker fell off the cliff before. Some people lost their footing and fell to their death.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Qiao Bi Xiong Feng and Duli Rock

Personal Enjoyment

Things I Enjoy:

  1. The stunning views on the knife ridges.
  2. The descending of Qiao Bi Xiong Feng (Qiao Bi Xiong Cliff) is scary, but it's also exciting. I have to say that I'm proud of myself for finishing this hike.
  3. I told my friends that I would not do this hike again, but Cris from HolaTaipei pointed out that I said this a lot. Well, I can't deny it... However, I probably will do Wuliaojian again someday...
    Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
    There are handrails and ropes on the ridges, but it still makes my heart miss a beat.

Things I Don’t Enjoy:

  1. The crowds. Many people say they had to sit on the ridges waiting for their turn to descend at Qiao Bi Xiong Feng. I saw a girl carrying a shoulder bag and putting her puppy in it. I feel sorry for the poor dog if things happen to the girl.
  2. A guy blasted extremely loud music while doing this loop hike at least three times when I was there. According to other hikers, this dude does Wuliaojian often with his boom box blasting electronic music. It's very annoying.

Map/GPX Data

Date of Hike: Solo hike on August 22, 2021
I did this hike with my friend, Mt. Jeffery Chang 張建舫, who took me to Matsu Islands, and his friend, Mt. Day-Ruey Liu 劉代瑞.

Route map for 20220127 Wuliaojian 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.

How to Get There

Take one of the following buses at the bus stop, New Taipei City Sanying and Yingge Civil Sports Center. It takes around 5 minutes from Sanxia Old Street to the bus stop.
Get off at Hezuo Bridge Stop 合作橋站, which is next to the trailhead of Wuliaojian.
Click the schedule of Bus 807 and F627. F627 is a free bus service for residents in remote Sanxia areas.

My Itinerary

Brief itinerary: Trailhead near Hezuo Bridge ➔ Map No. 4 ➔ Wind eroded notches ➔ knife ridges ➔ Map No. 5 ➔ Qiao Bi Xiong Feng (the 30-meter descending) ➔ Duli Rock ➔ Map No. 6 ➔ Map No. 7 and Bishop wood ➔ Mt. Wuliaojian ➔ Map. No. 8 ➔ Map No. 9 ➔ back to Map No. 7 ➔ Shop ➔ Map No. 2 ➔ Yongda Coal Mines ➔ trailhead near Hezuo Bridge
GPS coordinates of trailhead near Hezuo Bridge: 24.884272,121.376952, 3.4 marker at Dapu Road.

08:44 Arrived at the trailhead next to Hezuo Bridge/Yuli Shop 玉里商店.
wuliaojian-01-trailhead-2-3.4-marker
08:50 Took the steps and started hiking.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
A lot of climbing after the steps.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan

Small Rock Climbing to Warm Up

09:33 Reached a ridge with ropes. While climbing the ridge, I saw words painted on the rock: Watch out for your head 小心頭.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
10:11 Reached a junction with a map. According to the handwritten texts on the map, this is No. 4.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
You can find the first-aid kit underneath the map.
We saw some great views through the trees.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
More climbing.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
We took a break waiting for the crowds to finish.
10:55 Then we reached the first ridge.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
My friend, Mr. Chang
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Great weather and spectacular mountains
I could see more knife ridges from the trail.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
The knife ridge in the distance pointed by the red arrow made my knees weak.
There were several notches under the rocks. According to our map, those notches were 風蝕洞, literally meaning wind-eroded notches. I can't find the official English names for those.
I did some research, and those notches were oceanic crusts pushed upwards during orogeny over the millions of years. So they should be called Sea caves or littoral caves. But please correct me if I'm wrong. I'm not a geology expert.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan

The First Taste of Knife Ridges

11:15 Then here came the knife ridges.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
We were fortunate to have gorgeous weather, and the views were taking my breath away.
I could see the distinctive peaks of Mt. Jinminzi and Mt. Saikuokeng nearby, and the layers of mountains in Sanxia and the other side.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
My friend asked me to turn around so he could take photos of me. I was scared but managed to pull myself together.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Photo by Day-Ruey Liu 劉代瑞
Lucky for us, we didn't come here on the weekend, but there were many people on the ridge already. I can't imagine how packed it will be on the weekends.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
11:21 Reached No. 5 spot.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan

Beautiful Water Lily Pond on the Ridge

11:27 Passed the cute small water lily pond on the rock ridge. I saw several small ponds on the knife ridges and was amazed by how they ended up here.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
More ridges before Qiao Bi Xiong Feng
11:35 Saw a handwritten map about what to expect, Qiao Bi Xiong Feng 峭壁雄峰, meaning steep slopes/cliffs. Duli Feng or Duli Rock 獨立峰 means a single protruding peak or rock.
wuliaojian-23-map-before-qiao-bi-xiong-feng
According to the handwritten map, there were three ropes to descend. To be honest, it was difficult for me to comprehend what we would face at that moment.
We also took a lunch break near the map.
You can take a detour to avoid the ridges for those who don't like climbing knife ridges or heights.

Last Chance to Avoid the Cliff

For those who are here to take on the ridges, you continue. I thought we had passed the worse section and had no idea what awaited us. I did homework before I came, but those things didn't click until I faced them myself.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
12:19 Back on the knife ridge again. We had to climb up several rocky slopes to reach the ridge. But no worries. You'll see many ropes to grab so you can balance yourself while scaling up.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan

Qiao Bi Xiong Feng and the 30-meter Descent

I saw Duli Feng (Duli Rock) and several people at the top.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Soon, I reached the devil, Qiao Bi Xiong Feng, the famous/infamous knife ridge. This time, it wasn't to walk on the narrow ridge, but to descend, a 30-meter descent, about the height of a 10-story building.
I thought the previous narrow ridge crossing was scary enough. This one is even ten times scarier.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Photo by Day-Ruey Liu 劉代瑞
12:23 My turn to do the 30-meter vertical descending. This photo was what I saw when I was trying to lower myself on the cliff.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
My turn...
Needless to say, I started to question my sanity and why I said I would join my friends' hike in the first place. I'm not okay with height...
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Looking at the cliff from Duli Rock
Lucky for us, we did this hike on the weekday, and each of us didn't queue on the knife ridge long. Wuliaojian Warriors or volunteers only showed up to help people on the weekends.
12:30 It felt like forever for my foot to touch the solid ground in one piece. I didn't embarrass myself, either. Then, I looked up to see what it was like from a different perspective.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan

Duli Rock with More Fantastic Views

After catching my breath in the saddle, I continued to take on Duli Rock.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Ready to tackle Duli Rock
Compared to the previous exciting descending, climbing Duli Rock seemed relatively easy.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
12:40 Climbing up wasn't difficult but walking on the top of this rock did make my heart skip a beat. I felt like Jack and Rose standing on the deck of Titanic, except that I was alone.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Those are the video clips shot by my friend Mt. Liu and I from the ridge to Duli Rock.
Then, I turned to look at the vertical slope we had just descended. To this day, I am still amazed by myself that I did this hike.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
12:59 We had to get down another rock slope.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
I took photos of my friend. You can see Duli Rock and the deck-like top on the top right.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
While continuing, I saw a mountain ahead, and this peak was our next destination, the real Wuliaojian Mountain.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Wuliaojian Mountain, 639 meters (1,768 feet)
On the way to Wuliaojian Mountain, it was endless ups and downs, like the contour of a closed fist.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
13:03 We reached No. 6, the junction to Hezuo Bridge Longshanyang (Longshan Rock) and Huzhu Bridge. If you are aiming for fun rock climbing, you can return to the trailhead from here.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
13:42 Reached a ladder. It looked sketchy to me, but I made it.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan

Old Bishop Wood and Mt. Wuliaojian

14:03 Reached a junction with a map and No. 7 spot. You can also return to the trailhead from here.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
There is a giant Bischofia javanica, or Bishop Wood, near the junction. It is said that this Bishop Wood is over 100 years old.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Bishop Wood 茄苳
We took a right at the junction. If you do a small loop hike like us, taking either one is fine because you will be back to No. 7.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
14:25 Arrived at Mt. Wuliaojian, 639 meters. When we reached the peak, many people were taking endless photos there.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Some hikers say we can see Taipei 101 if the weather is good. Unfortunately, when we got there, the weather turned gloomy. We couldn’t see much because of the clouds. So we didn’t stay long and left quickly.
14:35 We reached No. 8. We intended to take the bigger loop, but my friend’s ankle didn’t feel okay, and we were getting slower. So, we took the smaller one.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
If the weather is good, we can see as far as Mt. Qixing in Taipei City.
14:39 Reached No. 9 and the junction to Longshan Rock. You can turn here to take an even bigger loop here.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
14:56 We were back to No. 7 and the massive Bishop Wood. We took the trail that went downhill.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Photo by Jeffery Chang 張建舫
The terrain here was more slippery than in the previous sections. After a while, we walked along with a small stream.
I spent a little bit longer taking photos of flowers, so my friend whose ankle wasn’t okay could take his time. There were many beautiful flowers here.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Photo by Day-Ruey Liu 劉代瑞
15:48 We reached a junction saying 50 meters ahead before going to the industrial road.
15:54 We arrived at a small shop called Wuliaojian Shop 五寮尖山休息站, aka No. 82 Zuntou 圳頭82號. You can get cold drinks here. From here, we reached the paved industrial road.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan

Yongda Coal Mines

16:07 I saw the map with the No. 2 spot and a tunnel. I wonder if this tunnel was from the coal mines.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
A tunnel near the map of No. 2
16:13 I reached a junction with a handwritten map. The map said the right one would take me back to Huzhu Bridge and Yuli Shop faster. So, of course, I took this one. From here, I walked on the steps and a footpath again.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
It was a little bit slippery but manageable. Soon, I saw some noteworthy buildings. Those were the relics left from Yongda Coal Mine 永達煤礦遺址. Those old buildings were beautiful!
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
If you only want to see these relics, you can click here to see the map of Yongda Coal Mines.
16:19 We arrived at the trailhead, Yuli Shop, and finished this hike.

Last but Not Least: Wildflowers

Other than the water lilies I saw on the knife ridges, and I also saw other beautiful wildflowers.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
Water lilies 睡蓮
Wildflowers at Wuliaojian
Codonacanthus pauciflorus 鐘花草
Wildflowers at Wuliaojian
Ophiorrhiza hayatana 早田氏蛇根草
Wildflowers at Wuliaojian
Largeflower Pink-Sorrel 紫花醡醬草
Please check out my Flowers on the Trails page for more wildflowers I saw on the trails.

About Wuliaojian and Yongda Coal Mines 永達煤礦遺址

Mt. Wuliaojian

Wuliaojian Mountain, aka Cou He Mountain 湊和山, Fengjijian 鳳髻尖, or Jiulong Mountain, is in Sanxia, New Taipei City. Wuliaojian, Mt. Bijia 筆架山, and Huangdidian 皇帝殿 is named as one of the three rock climbing slopes/ridges in northern Taiwan.
The mountain's contour looks like a closed fist, with up and down ridges. The name of Wuliao came from the Quangxu Emperor of the Qing Dynasty, when Liu Mingchuan 劉銘傳, the then governor of Taiwan, built five huts to contain the Indigenous people.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
The contour of Mt. Wuliaojian looks like a closed fist.
Wu means five, Liao means huts, and Jian means sharp steep slopes or peaks. That's how Wuliaojian got its name.

Yongda Coal Mines

On our way to the trailhead back to Cuohe Bridge, we passed several huge buildings in the woods. During the Japanese Occupation, eight coal mines were operating in Sanxia. I found some relics when doing the Mt. Jinminzi trail.
Wuliaojian Knife Ridge Hike in Taiwan
The one near Wuliaojian is Yongda Coal Mine. During its prime time in the 1950s and 1960s, more than 3,000 miners worked here. It stopped operation in 1983.
Now, Yongda Coal Mine has become one of the popular locations for photographers to peruse fireflies in summer.

Related Posts:

On Taiwan Hikes

Mt. Jinminzi, Mt. Shilang, and Mt. Saikuokeng in Sanxia
Mt. Yuan in Sanxia
Zhuilu Old Trail: A Cliff Hike in Taroko

English Posts

Taiwan Trails and Tales: WU LIAO JIAN (五寮尖)
Foreigners in Taiwan: Wuliao Jian 五寮尖

Posts in Chinese Only

Hiking Biji: Wuliaojian Trail 五寮尖登山步道
Taiwan Hikes' Partner: HolaTaipei Travel
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