touring Taroko: biking to Baiyang

Taroko Gorge is possibly my favorite place in all of Taiwan. earlier this month I visited Taroko for the fourth time. [with all that there is to see in Taiwan, I'm sure that goes a way towards explaining how much I love this place.]

this time around, my sister-in-law was traveling with us. she loves to bike and we decided to rent some wheels from our hotel and explore. we had unintentionally booked our stay during the weekend of the Taroko Marathon, so the road was closed from Tianxiang to the park entrance. this meant that we had to head further west into the park, but also that fewer cars were out on the road.

we pedaled uphill for a few kilometers, stopping often to rest and take in the views. I'm not really an avid cyclist and it was pretty tough for me. soon we decided the road was getting just a bit too steep [and there were too many hairpin turns that cars might appear around] and opted to coast back down toward the hotel.

note: it's been about a decade since I coasted down a hill on a bike, and I forgot just how fun it is. I'd definitely recommend trying a bike up the road [if you think your legs can handle it.] it was a great way to see some new views, away from the tour bus crowds.

on our coast back down, we decided to make a stop at one of my favorite hiking trails.

due to its proximity to Hualien [one of Taiwan's most common earthquake epicenters] and the summer typhoons that always roll through the island, every visit to Taroko has been a little bit different. when I visited in spring of 2014, my friend and I discovered the Baiyang Waterfall Trail. and I promptly fell in love.

this time [early November 2015] the Baiyang Trail was only open for the first kilometer or so. it's always a challenge to find information on trail closures. not to mention accurate, up-to-date, and in English. despite the closure of the main portion of the trail, we managed to do some awesome exploring right down in the gorge.

this was technically not part of the trail. but it seems like some of the rules in Taiwan are more like suggested guidelines... and we spotted a family having a picnic down by the river so we figured it would be safe enough.

being able to get down in the gorge and see the rock formations up close was a nice consolation to missing out on the waterfall. I'm not a geology expert, but the layers in the rock are fascinating. it's also crazy to see so much marble in one place. the boulders here were smaller, maybe the size of cars, but elsewhere in the gorge they are as large as houses!

we hiked the trail for as far as we could. despite our earlier trek off the beaten path, we weren't about to mess with three rolls of caution tape and a hundred red flags. [this was actually the third time that day we were foiled by a closed trail. thanks, typhoon season.]

it was disappointing not to make it to the end of the trail. but I imagine that keeping this park and all the trails in working order is no small task. plus - I've hiked Baiyang before and I'll hopefully hike it again. the Baiyang Trail is still one of my favorites. and I would still recommend this trail to visitors, which is supposedly reopening by the end of the year.

until next time, Taroko, stay gorgeous.

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