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Outdoor recreation is gaining in popularity around the world. They also play an important role in sustainable development of the tourism industry. Taiwan is only 36,000 square kilometers in size, but nearly 60% of the island is covered by forests with rich and varied landscapes and natural resources, attesting to the unusual tenacity of life. Tropical, subtropical, temperate, and subfrigid zone plants can all be found in Taiwan, fostering an equally diverse animal kingdom.
The forest areas of Taiwan are also steeped in fascinating history and culture, adding another dimension to the forest recreation environment. The following forest recreation areas are currently open for public enjoyment in Taiwan:North: Taipingshan, Dongyanshan, Neidong, Manyueyuan, and Guanwu Central: Dashuishan, Baxianshan, Hehuanshan, Wuling, and Aowanda South: Alishan, Tengzhi, Shuangliu, and Kenting East: Zhihben, Chinan, Fuyuan, and Xiangyang
In northern Taipei, the magnificent mountainous scenery and canyons are connected with Wulai. There are many waterfalls in the park and the most famous is Xinxian Waterfall, which has 3 levels. Along the tour track, visitors can enjoy the dense forests, the birds and the butterflies. Flora and fauna in the park are conserved very well. In addition, the park has different views in different times of the year and is worthy to visit.
Nanshi River runs across the Neidong Forest Park and in the south there is Neidong River. The rivers form many waterfalls in the park. The most famous is the 3-level Xinxian Waterfall, which presents a grand spectacle. There are camping sites and barbeque sites near the waterfall. The rail-cart, which was used for transporting timber, is now a tourist attraction. The distance between Lansheng Bridge to Wulai Waterfall is 1.3 km and it takes about 6~7 minutes on a rail-cart to finish the trip.
Manyueyuan Park is famous for its waterfalls. The special geography has helped for spectacular waterfalls in the park. The hills and mountains are of different heights, altitude ranging from 300 to 1700 meters. Flora and fauna in the park are diversified and there are abundant birds here. In addition, along the Ruizai River, there are groups of butterflies. Hikers can enjoy the forests, watch the birds, and appreciate the waterfalls in the park.
Manyueyuan Park has abundant cryptomeria trees, which was introduced from Japan in 1896. It is reported that the trees are good for health, especially for respiratory tract. There is a tour track as long as 1,210 meters, along which visitors can appreciate the maple leaves and beautiful birds. There are 16 guide boards, explaining the natural environment in Manyueyuan Park.
As it looks like "a hung eye looking toward the east," when seen from afar, it is often called by this name. In this area, there are fir trees which visitors come to see. Footpaths are accompanied by information boards which educate tourists on the area's eco-system. It is an ideal place for hiking.
Guanwu Park is located on the border of Wufeng District, Hsinchu and Taian Township, Miaoli. As the mists here are very thick and dense, it is also called the country of clouds. Entering Guanwu Park from Zhudong, Hsinchu County, the scenery along the road is fascinating with special clouds and mountainous views. Guanwu Park has an altitude of 1,800 meters and is the entrance to Dabajian Mountain. The Hsinchu Forest Bureau has built many tour tracks, leading to ancient trees as old as 2000 years old, forests and waterfalls. In addition, the forests also have several species of mountain birds, endangered plants and animals.
The most famous scene in Guanwu Park is the Zhenshan Track, along which are tall trees. The track is 4,130 meters long and it takes about 3 to 4 hours to finish the track. Climbing up to the top of Zhenshan, 2,439 meters in altitude, visitors can appreciate and admire the spectacles of the Xue Mountains and the Daba Mountains.
This forest recreation area, located in the mountains of Heping District, Taichung City, offers spectacular scenery that changes with the season: a sea of peach and plum blossoms in the spring, a harvest of alpine fruits and vegetables in the summer, red maple leaves among the dark evergreens in the autumn and snow-capped peaks in the winter. Its Taoshan Waterfall is one of the most famous alpine waterfalls in Taiwan, and the route to it gives views of Tao Mountain and Xue Mountain as well as Wuling Farm. The Qijiawan River and its watershed are a reserve for Taiwan's rare land-locked salmon.
Long an important logging area in central Taiwan, Daxueshan National Forest Recreation Area retains few virgin stands and the current forest ecology is composed mainly of second-growth temperate and warm zone species, forming a typical mixed coniferous-broadleaf forest.
The upper level of the forest is dominated by Taiwan cryptomeria, red cypress, Taiwan yellow cypress, Taiwan spruce, hemlock and Taiwan red pine. The local hemlocks are huge and have broad-reaching boughs. The forest is also the most abundant mid-elevation bird habitat in all of Taiwan.
Daxueshan maintains an average year-round temperature of 12 degrees centigrade, making it a popular summer destination. The spring blooms, autumn maples and winter frosts complete the area's seasonally changing scenic attraction.
Once one of Taiwan's three major forest reserves, Baxianshan Forest Recreation Area is located at Bo-ai Village, Heping District, Taichung City. The highest peak in the Mt. Baxian group has an elevation at 2,424 meters and total area around 2,397 hectares. Standing on the top of highest peak, you have great views of Mt. Jade, Mt. Nenggao and Mt. Qilai. This forest recreation reserve contains a perfectly preserved forest and crystal-clear streams and rivers whose adjoining terraces and tablelands are broad and wide. With its stark and pristine views, this recreation area is an ideal place for mountain climbing, forest baths, and birdwatching.
Taipingshan is situated in the northern county of Yilan and is one of Taiwan's three major forest recreation areas. With a moist climate and abundant rainfall, it has nurtured an environment rich in ecological resources. The forests that cover the area consist of such valuable trees as Taiwan cypress, Taiwan hemlock, and Japanese cypress. The area is also blessed with geothermal energy at the Renze Hot Springs, the largest alpine lake on the island (Cuifeng Lake), and a variety of other enchanting scenery. Entry to the Taipingshan Forest Recreation Area requires a B-class mountain permit, and an A-class permit is needed to proceed on to Cuifeng Lake. You can get your permit to the forest recreation area by presenting your ID card or passport at the Taipingshan inspection post.
Mt. Hehuan, despite its altitude of more than 3,000 meters, has a road that goes right across it, making access very convenient. It is the best place to see snow in the tropics. In as little as one day, you can travel the highest road in East Asia, and take the many hiking paths that lead off the main road. Mt. Hehuan, Taiwan's "tourist mountain", rivals the island's other high peaks in scenery and atmosphere, yet it is easily reachable by car or on foot. Accommodation is offered at Hehuan Cottage. At the same time, it is the starting point for one of Taiwan's most challenging and exciting treks, Chilai Ridge, a two-day ""ultimate experience"" that involves negotiating a knife-edge ridge with many dizzying pinnacles. Although the road scares away many of the birds and animals for which Taiwan is known, a short walk along the trails leading off the main road, particularly those in the direction of Chilai, will reveal their presence."
Aowanda is famous for maples. It is canyon in the west of the convergence of Danan River and Wandapei River, which are the origin of Wushe Reservoir. Every autumn, maple leaves in Aowanda turn red and flutter in the air. Aowanda has different faces in different seasons. From February to September, tourists can enjoy the comfortable weather, the forests and the flowers. In May, there are many fireflies shining at night. Autumn and winter are the seasons to appreciate the beautiful maple leaves and plants. Aowanda is perfect for hiking, bird-watching, and contacting the nature.Aowanda is famous for its beautiful maple leaves. With the river running in the woods, the scenery is tranquil and peaceful. Coreopsis has been introduced in recent years, attracting more tourists. Besides the maple trees, Aowanda also provide Aowanda Hot Spring, Wandanan River Hot Spring, and Wandapei River Hot Spring.
The Chinan National Forest Recreation Area is located on the mountain slopes to the east of Carp Lake. Its attractions include verdant forests, enchanting mountain vistas, and a pavilion area which provides excellent views of the lake. Facilities include a visitor center, forest paths, a grass-skiing slope, and a children's playground. A cableway, railway engine, and other old equipment are preserved and provided with explanatory plaques to illustrate how this area once operated as a logging camp. In addition, there is a small forestry museum with exhibits, multimedia shows, and old photographs that illuminate the development of the forestry industry in Taiwan.
The Sister Ponds are supposed to be the manifestation of two aboriginal girls who died for love. The two ponds are about 50 meters apart. The larger is 528 square meters in size, with an island on which there is a cypress tree stump that has been converted into a pavilion. It can be reached by a bridge from the edge of the pond. The second pond is only 66 square meters in size. To its right is one of the most densely grown natural cypress forests in the whole area.
The Fuyuan National Forest Recreation Area is located in the mountain foothills three kilometers to the west of Fuyuan Village in Ruisui Township. In addition to having the largest stand of camphor trees of any recreation area in Taiwan, its 190 hectares also features a butterfly valley (where the butterflies swarm from March to August) and scenic waterfalls. Fuyuan Stream, which runs through the recreation area, offers an abundance of boulders in interesting shapes as well as intermittent hot springs. Following the stream upwards into the gorge and you will soon come to a series of waterfalls that cascade over sheer cliffs.
Located in the periphery of 147-158 km of the Southern Cross-Island Highway, Siangyang National Forest Recreation Area ranges about 2300-2700 meters above sea level and covers an area of 362 hectares. This is the upper reach of Xiwulu Creek where is a mountainous recreation area. Beautiful scenery, typical cool-temperate climate make here the best place for summer and ideal choice for hiking in southern Taiwan. The peak of Southern Cross-Island Highway, Daguanshan Tunnel, is the best place to watch the sea of clouds, cloud waterfall and mountain mist. From here to Siangyang there are beautiful mountains with mostly Taiwan red pine and Taiwan hemlock living on the cliffs or steep slopes.
Tengzhi Forest Park has an altitude ranging from 500 to 1804 meters. Hence, the plants in the park are diversified. Average temperature in the park is 10 degrees Celsius lower than that on the ground. There are plenty of cryptomeria trees, maples, and cherry trees.From the outlook balcony, visitors can see the magnificent Yushan, Dagang Mountain, Dawu Mountain and the clouds. With the forestation, currently, Sub-Montane Evergreen Broad-Leaved Forest occupies 50% of the total area and is the best-preserved natural forest in Taiwan. The forest track is 4300 meters long. Visitors can appreciate the best-preserved natural forest and the results of forestation. In addition, there are rare wildlife and birds in the park as well. The park also breeds various insects and butterflies.
Located in the middle reaches of the Zhiben River, this forest recreation area is rich in natural scenery including hot springs, waterfalls, many-rooted banyan trees, and tropical forests. From the deep-red 80-meter bridge that spans the river and gives access to the recreation area, you can look into the riverbed and see its wild primitive nature. The "Tough Man Slope" here is named for the steepness of its incline. It is only 320 meters long, but it rises 150 meters and has 792 steps, making it a fine place to test your stamina. The recreation area contains forests with many types of trees, including camphor and fir as well as bamboo; and along the shaded pathway, of course, you can see the awe-inspiring "thousand-root banyan."
Shuangliu Forest Park is situated next to the southern highway and features the beautiful rivers. The origin of Fenggang River is inside the park and Shuangliu Waterfall is over 20 meters in height. The pounding sound and dense mist of the waterfall is the most famous scene in the park. There are thick forests in the park, making it a perfect place to expose oneself to the nature. The track from the entrance to the waterfall has beautiful scenery and is suitable for recreational activities. There are chairs, pavilions and trash cans. Ma Tze Shan is the highest point in the park, 650 meters in altitude; standing here, you can overlook the mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the Taiwan Strait. Shuangliu Waterfall is 3,650 meters away from the entrance and is the origin of Fenggang River. Visitors can enjoy the fresh water, the butterflies and the beautiful scenery in the park.
Kending (Kenting) National Forest Recreation Area in Hengchun Township of Pingtung County is located in the center of Hengchun Peninsula where the southernmost tip of Taiwan is. The elevation is 200-300 meters above sea level and the area covers an area of about 150 hectares. The more than 1,000 species of plants grown here are arranged according to type, with areas for medicinal plants, tropical fruits, rubber trees, and so on. Sites not to be missed include the Looking-glass Tree, which is over 400 years old, with unusual buttress-shaped roots that grow above ground; the Fairy Cave, a 137-meter-long cave of stalactites and stalagmites, lit up by lamplight; the observation tower, a 27-meter-high tower from which the southernmost tip of Taiwan and far away Orchid Island can be seen; and the Valley of the Hanging Banyans, whose walls, overgrown by aerial roots, form a wonderland all their own.