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Learn to Hike in Taiwan 5: Jiali Mountain Part II, The Hakani Mountain Loop (加里山 - 哈堪尼山縱走)

Updated: Feb 14, 2022


 
 
 

INDEX

 



Welcome to The Map Room's Learn to Hike in Taiwan series!


This is the fifth, and final, in a series of five articles designed to take inexperienced hikers from raw novice level to ready to try their first Baiyue (台灣百岳, the top 100 mountains in Taiwan, all 3000+ meters / 10,000+ feet), all while touring around northern Taiwan. Don't worry if you don't live in this part of the world, though - you can still enjoy the pictures and get an idea of the kind of hike you should look for to take the next step in learning to be a better hiker!


Hikes in this series:

Don't worry if you don't live in this part of the world, you can still enjoy the pictures and get an idea of the kind of hike you should look for to take the next step in learning to be a better hiker!


Introducing this week's mountain:

Jiali Mountain Part II: The Jiali Mountain - Hakani Mountain Loop (加里山 - 哈堪尼山縱走)


What's the same as Jiali Mountain Part I: There and Back Again (加里山) (skip this if you've read the article):

Located in Miaoli's Nanzhuang County, Jiali Mountain (2220 meters / 7283 feet) is arguably one of the best hikes in northwestern Taiwan that does not require a permit. Relatively easy access by car or scooter, beautiful pine forests, giant, mossy boulders, abandoned Japanese era small gauge rail lines, views of the Taiwan Strait to the west and the Central Mountain Range to the east, and a significantly more demanding uphill section than Gaotai Mountain and the three Daotian Peaks mean that the first section of this trail is both well suited for intermediate level hikers and a worthwhile day hike for the more experienced.

View of Jiali Mountain / Jialishan (加里山) from the Unnamed Peak

 
 

What's new:

People will tell you to go up Hakani first, then down Jiali. Don't! No matter what they say, just don't! Go up Jiali and come down the other side - it's much easier and more enjoyable!


Once on Jiali Mountain peak, check your map very carefully. Though the first section is a challenge for an intermediate hiker, and a nice excursion for advanced hikers, the full Jiali-Hakani loop is far more demanding. Three trails converge at the peak, including the one you just came up.


Sign pointing towards the incorrect trail from Jiali peak

If you see this, you're going the wrong way!


From there, the INCORRECT, but more obvious, trail (above) leads through bushes and small arrow bamboo to the southwest / to the right / in the direction of the coast (visible from the peak on a clear day). This trail will take you to over Dujuanling, then over Tiger Mountain, and finally to the Taian trailhead. The CORRECT trail (below) leads immediately over the edge of a cliff with lots of ropes to the southeast / to the left / in the direction of the Central Mountain Range (also visible from the peak on a clear day).


Rope section down the correct trail to Hakani Mountain from Jiali peak

"This hike demands that you be in good physical condition! You don't have to be a world class athlete, or even have experience with multi-day hiking, but if you do it will definitely help you out.

After this, there are several more rope and cliff sections, plenty of arrow bamboo on an up-and-down ridgeline.


Downhill on the ridgeline behind Jiali Mountain

View of Hakani Mountain (left) and the ridgeline trail towards it (center) after Jiali Mountain Peak

Be prepared for arrow bamboo! While it's not as bad as this any more, it's still a real and present nuisance, especially when wet.

View from the back side of Jiali Mountain


On the section after Jiali Mountain Main Peak (加里山主峰), the trail is suddenly and drastically different. Despite being a highly experienced hiker, I have slipped and even sustained minor injuries on several occasions when pushing fast and hard to challenge myself here. I have also seen people coming out in the dark without headlamps, losing cameras on rope sections, underestimating the section immediately behind Jiali (down several minor, short cliff sections with ropes) and the Hakani downhill section (doable, but also with ropes and demanding of respect), and going down from the peak on the wrong trail to name a few. The arrow bamboo and trail can also be a bit wet and slick from fog and dew even if there has been no rain.



Further along is a tricky intersection in a clearing / camp area (no water source) where you need to be careful not to get lost.



Follow the signs for Hakani Mountain (哈堪尼山), taking care not to go the wrong way - otherwise, you'll end up at Jiali Mountain Southeast Peak (加里山東南峰). This is NOT a place you want to go without pre-planning, experience, extra food and water, and advanced trailfinding skills.



Follow the trail to the left of these markers. Look for the RED ARROWS which lead towards Hakani. Be careful not to follow the green arrows towards Jiali South Peak.


(Yes, I look funny in this picture...

...and yes, it's on purpose!)


Just past the clearing / camp area, you will climb up a small amount of elevation to a minor, unnamed peak (1957 meters / 6420 feet).


It's easy to miss this sign for the minor peak!

View of Jiali Mountain from the unnamed peak

View of Hakani Mountain (left) from the unnamed peak


Next, there is a steep, though pleasant, forested downhill passing the old, narrow gauge railway tracks again just above the river and its amazing, remote campsite.


The path down from the unnamed peak

Cherry blossoms in bloom

The small gauge track area on the far side of Jiali Mountain. For our most recent hike we planned ahead of time to enjoy a bit of night hiking, but make sure you don't do this by mistake!

The narrow gauge tracks as they appear in the daytime. Once you reach here, you are just minutes away from the campsite!


Once you arrive at the campsite, it's an easy creek crossing (no need to change your shoes) and then up similar terrain to Hakani mountain (or, you can follow the river out as an emergency exit - see remarks).



Past the campsite, you will come to the uphill section towards Hakani. Look for this log along the way!



Finally, it's down a long section of sometimes rocky, scrambling trail that (mostly) follows a ridge down the other side of Hakani and back to the parking area.


You never know what you'll see out here!


Further Remarks:

Route notes and safety concerns:

First let's get the most important thing out of the way: This hike demands that you be in good physical condition! You don't have to be a world class athlete, or even have experience with multi-day hiking, but if you are it will definitely help you out! If you are just getting in shape, be ready to work for this. If you are out of shape, please seriously consider doing the easier hikes in this series and working your way up to this first.

If you find that you can't handle another mountain, follow these signs downriver from the campsite back to the parking area for a much easier exit rather than going up Hakani.


Good trailfinding skills will be extremely helpful on the sections after Jiali peak. There are trails going further into the mountains, such as the hard-to-follow one to Jiali South Peak, and other places where you might lose the trail if you don't watch carefully.

Even in the dark, the emergency exit route along the river (below) is VERY well marked!



THE NITTY-GRITTY

Skill level: High intermediate


Length of hike: 9.5 km


MY Time: Track time, 5:38 for the whole loop. Anecdotally, I believe I average around 6 hours.


IMPORTANT: I am very fast, and I was moving fast. I advise leaving early in the morning, dedicating the day for it, coming back in the evening, and having a head lamp just in case.


Water sources:


Inbound:

You can get water from the creek on the way, in, but it should be filtered and boiled or treated due to the high volume of hiking traffic in the area. Honestly, you're much better off just bringing your own water on this part of the hike (and perhaps just the whole thing, to save trouble).


Outbound:

Once you rejoin the river in the valley between the Jiali (2220 m / 7284 ft) and Hakani (1991 m / 6532 ft) peaks, you can filter and drink the water from a fast-moving part of the stream, no problem. It is likely to be cleaner, as this is deeper in the mountains and less trafficed. NEVER drink water from slow moving or still sources without treating it first, as fast moving water is cleaner and kills various nasty little creatures that could otherwise make you sick.


Even if you don't see water in the 'dry' riverbed, just walk upstream a couple minutes. Even when Taiwan's historic 2021 drought was literally making world news, I have always found plenty of water here.


Gear and provisions: Good hiking shoes, hiking-appropriate clothes (see remarks), enough water (see above), a lighter (always!), a headlamp or flashlight, lunch and snacks. Hiking poles highly recommended.


Sun protection: Not generally necessary on this well-shaded, forested hike, but useful at points - particularly on and near the peak.


Family friendly: Yes. One of The Map Room's team members, who has hiked Jiali Mountain with young children, says children 8 or older should be able to do this loop. His family regularly spends time outside, though, and this will likely be strenuous for them, so use your best judgement. Adults in less than good physical condition will find this hike strenuous as well.


Dog friendly: Absolutely not! Though somehow dogs have gotten up Jiali Mountain (as in the video above), the very first thing beyond the main peak is a sheer cliff that involves rope climbing (see the main picture at the top of this post).


Camping /overnighting options: There are several overnight options for Jiali Mountain. The most useful are:


GPX file 1 of 2: Jialishan (Jiali Mountain) 1 - Hakani Mountain Loop Hike - The Map Room 加里山-哈堪尼山縱走 - 地圖寶庫

Jialishan (Jiali Mountain) 1 - Hakani Mountain Loop Hike - The Map Room 加里山-哈堪尼山縱走 - 地圖寶庫
Download • 17KB


GPX file 2 of 2: Jialishan (Jiali Mountain) 2 parking lot to main campground (via the river) - The Map Room 加里山停車場-露營地(跟著溪流)地圖寶庫

Jialishan (Jiali Mountain) 2 parking lot to main campground (via the river) - The Map Room
.
Download • 15KB


Remarks:

Emergency exit:

If you get down the back side of Jiali Mountain and realize the hike ahead is going to be too much for you, there is an emergency exit of sorts. Once you reach the riverside campsite, you can skip Hakani and follow the river bed north / to the left / downstream / downhill. A much easier, well-marked, and easy to follow trail follows the river and takes you directly to the exit and the parking area. Even if you lose track of the trail markers, just follow the riverbed and you will get to the trail you began the whole hike on much sooner, and with much less effort.


Parking:

You have to pay the owners of the pay campsite 元30 (roughly $1 USD) to park a scooter at the trailhead. I have been told that the price for a car is 元100 (roughly $3.33 USD).


Clothes:

Regardless of the hike, it ALWAYS pays off to have appropriate hiking clothes! These should be clothes you don't mind getting dirty and/or messed up. Pants, shirts, socks, and underwear should all be quick wicking to get sweat off of your skin and quick drying to get it off of your clothes. For these reasons, you should NEVER wear cotton hiking! Sports pants and a sports shirt are a good place to start, but hiking pants have many advantages. A bandanna, headband, or other light cloth for wiping sweat is also advisable.


Water:

For this hike, I personally drink 2 liters per day in winter, 2-3 in summer, but I drink a lot of water and you may drink less than me. It's better to have extra than too little, though.


So now you're ready to go! Get out there, enjoy nature, learn to hike, and have an amazing time!


Missed the previous installment in this series? Check out Learn to Hike in Taiwan 4: Jiali Mountain Part I: There and Back Again (加里山), and read the whole series here!

 

Ready to learn more about the Taian area? Check out the whole series here!


Got questions or comments? Can you think of something we missed? Join in the discussion and leave a comment below. At the end of the day, we're just outdoors enthusiasts like you, and we'd love to hear from you!

 

All information on this page is intended for reference only. Preparing adequate food, water, and gear for your adventure, as well as following local rules and laws are, of course, your own responsibility! Always make sure that you check the weather for outdoor destinations, be careful and sensible for enclosed spaces like tunnels and bunkers, and bring a lighter - you never know when it could save your life! Now... get out there and have an amazing time!

 

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