Hiking matters #177: Shakadang Trail traverse to Dekalun Trail in Taroko Gorge National Park (太魯閣國家公園) in Taiwan

The high peaks of Hehuanshan were amazing, but the most stunning views in the entirety of our Taiwan trip were those of Taroko Gorge (太魯閣國家公園), perhaps the most popular natural attraction in the whole island of Taiwan. We passed by the gorge by bus from Hehuanshan then Dayuling, descending almost 3000 meters through narrow mountain roads carved in what is a marvelous feat in engineering.

To more than glimpse at this natural wonder, we took the most famous trail in the Gorge – the Shakadang Trail. The trail was relatively flat and quite easy, but it was truly breathtaking. The rock of the cliffs hung above us, as though the trail was carved from stone. Beside us was the Shakadang River, with its crystalline waters, and above it lay the misty mountains of the gorge. What a splendid sight indeed!

Once we reached the end of the 4.4 km trail, instead of backtrailing, we traversed to the Dekalun Trail, passing by Dali village – one of the extant communities of the Taroko aboriginal people. We had a brief interaction with the people, before continuing in the trail.

To our surprise, however, we ended up in a very steep descent, with some parts requiring the assistance of fixed ropes! But as we could already see the end of the trail, we decided to just accept this surprise challenge as part of the adventure.
After finishing the trek by 1400H, we were toured by Uncle Su to some of the highlights of Taroko Gorge. Most memorably, we came to the Tunnel of Nine Turns which is considered one of the engineering marvels of the entire country, and the views within are truly spectacular. It was a unique interaction with geology and nature.

There are more challenges in the Gorge, including the opportunity to trek not beneath it but above it, but some of these treks require time and permits – things we did not have at the moment. So they will have to wait for my next trip to Taiwan – and for this there are plenty of reasons. Taroko is one of them.
Pictures taken in Taroko Gorge on May 15, 2011.

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