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Shuiyang Forest – Hiking to a Mystery Lake Created by an Earthquake

March 14, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

A lake was formed in the Shuiyang Forest after the massive 921 Earthquake that struck central Taiwan on September 21, 1999. The quake measured 7.3 on the Richter scale, and caused a great deal of damage .

The forest is situated in a valley located north of the Alishan National Scenic Area. The earthquake caused a large landslide that blocked the original path of a river in the valley, causing the valley to flood and creating the lake.

The hike to the Shuiyang Forest and the lake (about 10km one way) begins at SunLinkSea(www.goto307.com.tw), a 40-hectare eco-park situated 1,600m above sea level in Nantou Country. After arriving at the park early one morning, we caught a shuttle bus to theSidebarcbc_468x220 trailhead proper, which is located around 4km inside the park.

The hike begins on the old, abandoned Shanlinxi Forestry Road. There’s a trail that starts at roadside and cuts straight up the side of the mountain, but it’s so steep that it’s better to stay on the road. After about 500m you’ll come across another trail that starts at roadside, this one tagged. This leads up Mt. Luqu(2,288m), and is well worth doing if you’ve got enough time. The trail is steep, and passes by a number of felled camphor and cedar tree. The small of these trees fills the air as you approach the peak.

We decided to climb up the mountain. When we came to the peak, the forest opened up and we were treated to an amazing view. It was late winter, and we could see the snow-peak of the Yushan Mountain Range to the east, plus half a dozen eagles soaring above the valley in front of us.

From this point, the trail headed down steeply and turned sharply. The change of direction was such that we began to worry we’d missed a turn somewhere, but at we continued hiking down, the forestry road that we’d left a couple of hours ago reappeared, and we knew we were on the right track.

After the steep climb up and down Mt. Luqu, we were grateful to walk through this beautiful section of forest on a flat and gentle path. All around us was the evidence of logging in the past, with the stumps of fallen giants littering the sides of the trail.

After a few kilometers of this type of scenery, the trail frops steeply down to the lake. This part of the hike is the trickiest. There are a number of fixed-rope sections, and steep drop-offs on one side. It’s very important that you take your time and watch your footing.

Once at the lake, we looked for a spot to set up camp. There’s plenty of flat ground, but it’s good idea to look for somewhere higher up. The lake can flood during heavy rain, and we didn’t want to wake up in water!

We got the tents set up and then set off to explore. There’s a small path that follows the shore of the lake, leading to the point where the lake empties out and the waters one again take the form of a river. As we walked around the dark clouds seemed to come down low, setting in amongst the ghosts of the many dead lakeside trees, making for a very eerie scene.

Early the next morning we awoke to find that the gloomy cloud cover had completely dispersed. The lake is set deep in the valley, with steep mountains all around, so that is little wind, meaning that the flat surface of the water creates perfect mirror-like reflections of the surrounding dead trees. We could have changing lights on the water, but knowing we had a long hike back out, we reluctantly packed up and started our return trip.

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