【Light Travel】The North’s Most Primitive Route: Northern Cross-Island Ecological Journey 2017-10-03
【Light Travel】The North’s Most Primitive Route: Northern Cross-Island Ecological Journey
Many travelers often ask where should you go in Northern Taiwan in order to experience the most primitive mountains and forests. After staying in the city so long, you just want to run off into the wilderness. Travelers are always on the lookout for ecologically rich areas. In fact, there’s no need to travel too far: the Northern Cross-Island Highway is actually a route full of ecology. Stretching from Taoyuan to Yilan, the entire route is surrounded by mountains. Everywhere you go you can hear the chirping of birds. The high-altitude winds are also particularly refreshing. Those who wish to get closer to natural ecology should go on a trip across the Northern Cross-Island Highway!
The Northern Cross-Island Highway spans 129 kilometers. If you only have a half-day or single day, you may split the route into sections and experience all the different attractions. However for those with ample time on their hands, it is recommended to arrange for a two-day trip. Depart from Daxi and spend time roaming across the Northern Cross-Island Highway, so that you can have a distinct experience this way.
Departing from Daxi, you of course cannot miss out on the classic Daxi Old Street or Cihu. Back Cihu was once Chiang-Kai Shek’s own imperial garden and still possesses its own unique charm nowadays. Aside from Cihu, you may also make arrangements to tour Back Cihu, however you’ll need to reserve in advance. You may also wait in-line onsite, and hope for a chance of entry. It is still recommended for travelers to make reservations ahead of time to avoid any changes or disruptions to the itinerary. After leaving Cihu, you may also stop by Daxi Old Tea Factory along the way. See how local tea is produced, and those who are interested in tea production may also make reservations in advance to tour the factory. The factory also provides its characteristic healthy tea dishes that you may try, you can also have lunch here while you’re at it! And of course, you may buy high-quality tea leaves here as well~
After leaving Daxi, follow the Northern-Cross Island Highway and continue east. Reach Fuxing Township soon afterwards. Along the way on the roadside, there are plenty of classic sights and beautiful scenery worth stopping for. Find a place to pullover, and you will see lush green mountains everywhere. Almost the entirety of the Northern Cross-Island route is full of scenery like this. Pass by Jiaoban Shan as you travel as well as the Northern Cross-Island’s three bridges, and more. These are all well-known scenic spots. You can stay at any of these stops for a break, and enjoy scenery that you wouldn’t be able to experience in the city.
Continue onwards, and before long you will arrive at Xiao Wulai Scenic Area. Within the scenic area are waterfalls, the Wind Moving Rock, and many other eye-catching types of scenery. A must experience attraction is the Xiao Wulai Skywalk, designed specially to hang above the waterfall. Walking on the skywalk’s transparent flooring, you can see the waterfall flowing below. The feeling of being so high up in the air is both shocking and thrilling!
Located not far from Xiao Wulai is the Baling viewing platform. Here, you may overlook the entire Lala Mountain from a distance. All four sides are surrounded by forests, and each season brings with it a different vibe and atmosphere. Whether it be the sun shining through the lush trees or fog filling the air, they all possess their own individual beauty. The vast and picturesque scenery here never fails to stun onlookers.
Arriving at Baling, you must be feeling tired and weary. Baling just happens to be the Northern-Cross Island’s middle point, so it is recommended that travelers stop here for the night and search for lodging. Many aboriginal flavored snacks can be found here, in addition to many places of accommodation. Stay here for a night and take the time to experience the quiet mountain atmosphere. After replenishing your energy, continue heading east the next day.
Those who don’t get tired easily can wake up early and wait for the mountain sunrise. Although the sight is not particularly stunning or memorable, the first rays of sunshine peering through the forests are still very charming. The early morning air is cooler, so wake up early for breakfast or enjoy a hot cup of coffee. Find a comfortable spot and watch the sun rise up and reveal its face. The sunlight will gradually become more and more dazzling, and before long the entire mountain will be illuminated.
Once everything is settled, continue following the Northern-Cross Island Highway.  Soon arrive at Mingchi Forest Recreation Area. A vast and extensive forest can be found here. Mist also lingers here year-round, and the scenery is quite dream-like, earning itself the nickname of “Northern-Cross Island’s Pearl”. Those who want to absorb and take in the forest environment should come to Mingchi! Mingchi boasts the country’s largest red cypress trees, located inside the shenmu area. The shenmu (or divine tree) area features a ring-shaped trail, with both long and short routes to take. Travelers may choose one to hike, based on their one time constraints and physical strength.
Mingchi Forest Recreation Area is quite large, so travelers can choose how long they wish to stay. If you take your time, then taking an entire day should be no problem. After leaving Mingchi, travelers may either continue onwards to Yilan for a break and sightseeing, or head west for the return trip. For those who decide to head back, remember to stop by Baling Historic Trail along the way. Baling Historic Trail is quiet and secluded, and there’s also a butterfly museum, beetle museum, broad-leaf forest museum, and geology museum that can be visited. These are all exhibits based on the local environment and ecology. At the same time, hiking can also provide one with the opportunity to get to know the local ecology even more.

Those who want to immerse themselves in nature don’t need to travel too far, for the Northern-Cross Island Highway possesses plenty of beautiful sights. Wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life is not difficult either. Find a weekend, and within two days and one night, you can embark on a natural journey. Don’t hesitate, you can set out at any time!

Tips for Travelers:
 Recommended mode of travel: Drive
 Scenery Route: Day One- Cihu→Daxi Old Street→Xiao Wulai Scenic Area (closed on Tuesdays)→Baling Observation Platform// Day Two- Mingchi Forest Recreation Area→Baling Historic Trail Ecological Area 

Those who don’t want to drive or new travelers are also welcome to check out Xtreme Taiwan’s selection of one day travel packages: all the essential scenic spots and locations are already all prepared for you! All you have to do is let the experts guide you! → Click here for detailed travel content