The Qilan Forest Recreation Area is home to the only grove of primeval Chinese cypress in Asia. The area is famous for having 51 gigantic Japan red cypress trees that are all more than a thousand years old. In recognition of their lofty character, all 51 of the old-growth cypress trees are named after a prominent and outstanding person from the history of China. The names were chosen according to the approximate age of the time the historical figure lived in. Not surprisingly, one tree is named after the great teacher Confucius who lived over 2,000 years ago. Other figures include Sima Qian and Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty.
The Qilan Forest Recreational Area has turned into a popular tourist destination in the Yilan County. Tours can be arranged where visitors will depart at the Qilan and Mingchi forest recreation areas as they head their way to the Chinese Historic Men Arboretum to know more about the great people who endowed their names to the thousand-aged old trees. The link of the area to history makes a visit to the Chinese Historic Men Arboretum a fun yet educational experience. After that, tourists will head their way to the renewal area of the cypress forest and then finally to the Center for Forestry By-products.
The rich and historic recreational area is located in the Datong Township of the Yilan County. The Qilan Mountain faces the Taiping Mountain Range which remains the convergence point of many streams in the northern Taiwan region. Spectacular scenery awaits of green mountains and crystal clear waters await visitors with an equally amazing view of the Langyang Plains from a distance. Indeed, visitors hiking along the area will be transported into the great outdoors with elegant orchids and the sounds of birds. At times, the forest will be enshrouded with clouds and fog turning it into an enchanting beauty that is just incomparable.
The grounds of the area are quiet and properly laid out with a terrace nursery where Cryptomeria trees lie. The Qilan Nursery also features a forest foot-path and a small Tarzan forest playground where kids can play in. It is also here where a cottage stands that was once known to be used by the late President Chang Kai-Shek himself.
Today, a number of trails and exercise facilities are available for guests to take advantage of. Guests who just can’t get enough of the natural wilderness of Qilan can stay at the European-style Qilan Villa that provides accommodations in hotel rooms or out in the wilderness in wood cottages. Aside from great accommodation, the Qilan Villa also offers exceptional food in their in-house restaurant with locally grown monkey-head mushrooms as their specialty.
The Qilan Forest Recreation Area is found 38 kilometers from the Northern Cross-Island Highway. Undoubtedly, there is no other place where you can appreciate ancient trees as amazing as the ones found in Qilan. Indeed, the Qilan Forest Area is but some of the few areas left of untouched land that continues to mesmerize people with the beauty of nature.