Hiking the Central Taiwan Mountains – NengGao 能高

The mountains of central Taiwan are remote and beautiful.  Some friends and I recently made a two day hiking trip to the old NengGao Historic Trail 能高越嶺古道. Starting near Puli 埔里, Taiwan, the Nenggao hiking trail is a long but relatively easy ascent to the “Spine of Taiwan”… the high mountain “Backbone” that runs north to south through its center.

Most of our trek was cool (perfect for hiking) and foggy (not so perfect for seeing the nice views), but we had a good time and saw some interesting things, so I thought I’d share.

Giant Earth Worm on the Neng Gao Historic Hiking Trail

A hiker in the Central Taiwan mountains finds a giant earthworm.

The Neng Gao Hiking trail follows an old road built by the Japanese to help fight the Aboriginal resistance in the early part of the 1900’s.  They built several garrisons along it, and a few remain either in ruins or have been rebuilt as hiker cabins.  The trail was later used by the Taiwanese to help build their cross island power lines and is kept in good shape so that they can service those lines.

What’s great for us, is that this trail crosses some of the most beautiful and remote mountains that Taiwan has to offer.  The trail is also a relatively easy hike, without any particularly steep parts or the need of any rope work. It’s also one of the easiest trails to follow and has informative signs along the way to tell you about the history of the trail and the flora and fauna found there.

Hiking through a beautiful forest in Asia

A perfect, green hiking trail, found in Taiwan's beautiful central mountain on the Nenggao Trail.

Hiking across a wooden bridge

A hiker crosses a wooden bridge in the mountains of central Taiwan.

A Suspension Bridge in the remote forest of Taiwan

Trekkers take a break on a suspension bridge high above a small stream on the NengGao Historic Hiking Trail in Taiwan.

NengGao Hiking Trail - Central Taiwan 8

Hikers attempt to get a cell phone signal on a remote hiking trail deep in the mountains of central Taiwan.


A hiker in Taiwan crosses a giant landslide caused by Typhoon Morkot in 2009.

Most of our hike was clouded in… um, clouds.  The fog and mist rarely let way to the beautiful scenic views that we had hope for, but on the bright side, it was nice and cool and actually made for some dramatic pictures.

We crossed several suspension bridges along the way and saw a few beautiful waterfalls.

A Suspension Bridge in Taiwan

A remote suspension bridge hangs in the fog on central Taiwan's NengGao Historic Hiking Trail.

Hikers trek through a heavy fog.

Hiking in the mist, across one of the mudslides caused by Typhoon Morkot in 2009.

NengGao Hiking Trail - Central Taiwan

The trail follows a fairly level path built along a steep cliff.

When we got to the top, we were met with some ferocious winds and more clouds.  We found a nice spot, relatively protected from the wind, just a few meters below the ridge line and made camp.  The next morning, we awoke to more mist and clouds but set out for the South Mountain Peak anyway.  Reaching the top, our view was still blocked by the clouds, but it was still interesting to walk on “The Spine of Taiwan” and wonder what we might be able to see on a cloudless day.

NengGao Hiking Trail - Central Taiwan 6

Our camp sight, set on an observation platform and near the forest to help protect us from the harsh wind.

Hiking through the mist

Hiking down, through the mist on Taiwan's spine - The NengGao Mountains.

NengGao Hiking Trail - Central Taiwan5

Hiking along the spine of Taiwan in a heavy mist on the NengGao Mountains.

The Central Taiwan Mountains - The Spine of Taiwan

The view looking east from the spine of Taiwan, the Nengao Mountain Range.

For all the practicalities, another view on the hike, and some great photos, go over to Stu’s Hiking Taiwan.


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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Hiking the Central Taiwan Mountains – NengGao 能高

  1. dennis

    awesome pictures thank you neil

  2. absolutely spledid job…especially the last 1…
    it’s alike “chinese ink” style 山水画

  3. Have fun travelling through Taiwan and presenting its beauty to the world

  4. Great pictures! I especially like the suspension bridge pic.

  5. That is a challenging but a beautiful hike, especially through the peak of the mountain and mudslide area. I like the suspension bridge picture too!

  6. Pamela Smith

    Thank You so very much for the beautiful photo’s. If not for adventurous people like you, I would never be able to see parts of the world that are a wonder to behold. You are so blessed that you are able to do these things. It looks not only beautiful, but fun.(Especially that bridge)
    God’s Blessings,
    Pam Smith

  7. mark

    hi neil

  8. mark

    can u send me itinerary thanks

  9. Did this on mountain bikes a couple of months ago – was awesome, in all senses of the word. Great pics and info – was useful during our preparation.

    Some pics and info for riding bikes here: http://heresjonny.com/blog/2011/07/16/nenggao-mtb-the-return/

  10. Hi there, Beautiful site and great content and information,my compliments!

  11. Martin

    Hi, Great pictures, can you send me the itinerary please? Thanks a lot, M.

    • Hi Martin, here you go:

      Typical Itinerary

      Day 1

      Hike along the trail to the Tianchi Cacin (currently being rebuilt) crossing over the giant landslide and passing by the Haiyun Cabin, an old Japanese Police Station. We make camp either at site of the Tianchi Cabin or if hikers are still feeling energetic, hike up to the Tianchi Pond and camp on the ridge of the central mountains.

      Day 2

      From the Tianchi Pond there are two nearby peaks to visit, Cilai South Peak to the north and Nanhuashan to the south. After summiting, we pack up and hike back out.

  12. Nic Owens

    Hey Neil, do you (or friends) know where I can get topo maps for Taiwan? I gave a garmin and want the topos for it. I just don’t know where I can get them.


    • If you bought your Garmin in Taiwan, it should have come with them. If not, you can get topo maps for it at most of the hiking stores. I know Ting San Iou and Metroasis on Zhongshan North Road stock them.

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