Situated in Hopin Township, Taichung County, Great Snow Mountain National Forest Recreation Area is a 3963-hectare mountain ranges consists of dense lush forests that bring nearly 200,000 visitors every year. Also known as Dasyueshuan National Forest Recreational Area, it sits 1000 to 2996 meters above sea level and is an excellent recreational spot with its humid and cool environment at 12 degree Celsius average annual temperature.
The area can be found at the endpoint of Snow Mountain, joining Anma Mountain, Shiaoshui Mountain, Shaolai Mountain and Boat-shaped Mountain ranges. The area offers 360° views of Taichung County, particularly from Yakou Observatory. When viewing from the observatory, visitors can witness a striking panorama of the adjacent Baigoudashan going all the way to the secluded Jade Mountain, while seeing the sea of clouds, blue sky and various mountain ranges.
Like other nature parks in Taiwan, Great Snow Mountain National Forest Recreation Area has been a logging station before and after World War II. Dasyueshuan means ‘big snow mountain’ in Chinese, yet other romanizations may call it Xiaoxueshuan or Syaosyueshan. After logging activities stopped, the Dasyueshuan area became a recreational park open to the public. Fortunately, numerous patches of giant ancient trees and virgin forests have been preserved.
Dasyueshuan National Forest Area is not as popular and commercial as Alishan and Hsitou yet many people still come during weekends, mostly bicycle enthusiasts or serious hikers. The biking trail reaches over 2600 meters of altitude with long tough climbs, making it no less than other extremely challenging alpine rides in Taiwan.
Access to the national forest area is only through the long and snaking Forest Road 200. Forest Road 200 begins in Dongshih, Taichung County particularly in Hakka Town. All of the hiking facilities and beginning points start here so it is quite easy to find. The trail beginning point is found on the parking lot, located after the one-way Henglingshan Tunnel. Km 27 or Yuanzueishan Shaolaishan trail starts after getting through the tunnel. The first stage is quite rocky and steep yet short followed by a challenging trail going to Yuanzuei Mountain using fixed ladders and ropes. The entire trail from Km 27 to Km 35 takes about 4 to 5 hours.
Another trail is Km 43 or Anmashan where a small mountain village is located with a Recreation Area Headquarters, a wooden cottage and restaurant. It is 2275 meters in altitude and has a ‘misty forest’ with fogs that stays until afternoon and rain often comes. It has the longest yet the best trail to the Small Divine Tree, a stunning red cypress on the south slope of Anmashan crest. Other interesting spots in Dasyueshuan National Forest Recreational Area include the 3-storey Yakou Observation Deck at Km 48, the Tienchih Lake and the Big Divine Tree, a supposed 1,400-year old majestic red cypress tree.
Getting to Great Snow Mountain National Forest Recreation Area is easy as one can get there by car, by scooter, bicycle or by bus. Several hiking clubs and birdwatching organizations in Taichung organize day trips to the mountains. It is generally open daily from 8am to 5pm