The Hehuanshan is a fairly popular attraction in Taiwan that is found at the center of Taiwan in between the Nantou and Hualien Counties. Hehuanshan is actually an area found on the western edge of Taroko National Park and is characterized by green rolling hills that seemingly disappear into the clouds. The equally famous Hehuan Mountain is the main attraction of the area.
Hehuan Mountain has a total of seven peaks with the East Peak and the North Peak being the most popular ones. The East and North Peak are about 3,421 meters each and are actually taller than the main peak of the Hehuan Mountain.
A road was constructed around the mountain so visitors could easily reach the mountain peak. However, the Hehuanshan Road only goes up to Wuling, which is the highest point in all of Taiwan that paved roads can reach. From here, visitors will then have to walk a kilometre-long trail to reach the main peak of Hehuanshan. Because of its altitude, the weather here is much cooler than other parts of Taiwan making it a nice getaway from the heat of the Hualien coast.
Hehuanshan is one of the few locations in the county that experiences snow during the winter time. During summer time, the Hehuan Mountain can be abundantly green with a vast landscape of verdant meadows and dark rocks. During the winter time, however, thick coats of snow cover the mountain peaks, making it the coldest point of Taiwan. Locals who would love to see snow head on up the mountain during the winter, which is why the peaks can get crowded during the weekends of December to February.
A ski-lift used to help visitors up the mountain but was later on removed due to the inconsistency of snow fall in the region. The mountain was then no longer a skiing destination leaving the ski-lift to be abandoned. However, a snow resort can still be seen on top of the mountain that can accommodate visitors with or without the presence of snow.
There are several different activities to do in the Hehuanshan area that all have to do with hiking. Hikers can choose from a variety of hiking activities that range from easy hiking to the more extreme ones. Going up Hehuan Jian Shian is a short but steep walk but can be a good choice if you are pressed by time and are not into too much hiking.
The busiest peak in Hehuanshan is the East Peak because of the stunning views it produces at the top. It takes about two to three hours to get to the top depending on which trail you choose. The equally enchanting North Peak takes about three to four hours to complete making it a favorite of people who like hiking for leisure. The trail is not as hard to do expect for a small portion at the beginning of the trail.
The West Peak is the most challenging of them all and takes about eight hours to finish. Anyone who attempts to climb this peak should be in good shape. Although the peak has almost the same height as the other peaks, the ridge is shaped like a camel back with five huge bumps, making it quite a difficult task to hike up.
Regardless of whether you decide to comfortably sit in your car and admire the scenery from afar or if you take on the mountain head on by hiking, the views from Hehuanshan are truly rewarding. In fact, it is precisely because of Hehuanshan that Taiwan was dubbed the “Switzerland of Asia”—quite a testament to how charming this area can get during the winter months.