My series of blog posts on hiking The Four Beast Mountains has become one of my most popular series since I’ve started blogging. Now that spring is back upon us, I’ve noticed that those posts are getting more and more hits. I can only guess that everyone is looking to get get some exercise!
So here’s a new post. It’s going to be mostly just pictures, but they are all from an area that I glossed over in the last three posts.
The general Yongchun area consists of two high schools, a small military base, several temples, and a few apartment building neighborhoods. The entire basin of this area (roughly 600m x 100m) was a shallow lake just a hundred years ago or so.
Think of Youngchun as a big cul-de-sac. You can walk in on Songshan Road and it will spin you right around and back where you started because it’s horseshoe shaped. As you do this walk though, you pass nearly a dozen different entrances to the Four Beast Mountains, and you literally pass each of the “beasts”. (This could also be called the Lion and Panther Mountains area) If you spent some time walking up the trails, looping around and down another, you can easily spend a whole day exploring this area.
One of the most interesting areas of Yongchun is around the Tianbao Temple 天寶聖道宮. I find the temple itself to be a bit boring, as it was built in the 60’s and that was probably the last time they painted it, but the gardens and trails that surround it demand a good explore. There can be found multiple terraces with sometimes beautiful, sometimes comical statues of all sorts of Buddhist and Taoist deities. These, although probably sculpted around the same time as the temple, have mostly been kept in good shape, and have even been repainted in recent years.
The highlight of the trails for me is always the 8 meter tall statue of 無極天王 (Translates as Promise King. If anyone can give me more information about this statue or historical figure, I would appreciate it). There are also many quiet places for meditation along the trails. Have a look down the trail on the other side of the temple for an old hermitage, more statues, and more meditation areas.
If you spend some time exploring the really small trails, you will undoubtedly come across well maintained shanty/shacks and terraces. I’m not really sure what people use these areas for, possibly morning Tai-Chi or meditation, because I’ve never seen anyone in them. These are actually found all over the Beasts, but Yongchun area has a few of the coolest. I’m thinking of making this shanty with a drawbridge my retirement home:
As you get to the tops of most of the trails that lead up the beasts from Yongchun, you arrive on a different Songshan Road (confusing, I know). This road is marked as a trail on many of the maps, but is big enough for cars to pass each other as they visit the dozen or so temples found along it. None of them are particularly famous or exciting, but they are all active and have a few interesting things to see.
Here is a big photo of a map of the trails.
Below is a Google Map of The Four Beast Mountains with the trails roughly marked off. Feel free to add photos or information to it. Be sure to click “VIEW LARGER MAP” for a larger image and much, much more specific information: