2018年6月4日 新店銀河洞 - 三玄宮山 - 樟山寺 日本からの友人と気楽な山行 Easy hiking over Maokong with a friend from Japan

樟山寺付近から貓空を望む、中間鉄塔のある山が三玄宮山 Maokong viewed from near Zhangshansi temple


Start from the south part and hike over the mountain to Zhengzhi Uni. in north
Hike elevation profile
Members at Mt. Sanxuangong shan
MRT Xindian bus terminus
Maokong (貓空) is a hilly southern area of Taipei Municipality and well known for its tea production.  It is easily accessible by Maokong gondola (貓空纜車) or public buses. It holds many hiking trails over its hills and valleys, some of which are designated as official hiking roues and maintained by the municipal office as well as dirt foot paths that used to be walked on by local residents in the past. There is a cave, Yinhhedong (銀河洞), on the west side of Maokong and belonging to Xindian district (新店區) of New Taipei city (新北市), which was discovered and converted to a Taoism temple more than a hundred years ago. A trail leads to the cave temple and further ascends to Maokong. I first visited this place seven years ago and have since visited several times. I chose this route for a hiking with Mr. Dogura, who is a well-known Japanese alpinist and made a visit to Taiwan this time.

Yinhedong road by Beiyi highway
The Yinhedong trail steeply goes up by a small stream to the cave and beyond.  After it levels out, another dirt trail by the water connects it to a over-pass trail between Mt. Sanxuangong (三玄宮山) and Sifangyan (肆方巖). We followed it to the junction and take left to Mt. Sanxuangong. At the end of gentle ascend along the stream, it climbs steeply to a pass just below Mt. Sanxuangong. There are Maokong gondola station as well as bus stops at the foot of Mt. Sanxuangong. If you don't want to go down on foot, you can take either a gondola or a bus down. There are several trails to go down from Maokong to Muzha (木柵) if you chose to walk down, which we did so to National Zhengzhi University (政治大學).

At Yinhedong trail head
We meet at 8:00  MRT Xindian station #G12 bus terminus (綠12), which leaves at 8:15. All participants including Mr. Dogura are already there waiting in a queue. Today is a week day and the queue is not long, which becomes very long on weekends. We have 9 people in total, which is more than I expected. The G12 bus promptly leaves Xindian terminus and heads south. After passing through busy commercial and residential section along the Beiyi highway (北宜公路), which once was a major artery to Yilan(宜蘭) before the express way #5 (五號國道) was open, the bus starts ascends and we come to Yinhedong bus stop at 8:27.

We head for the junction for Yinhe road (銀河路) and cross the Beiyi highway, where a big stone statute of Buddha stands. It is already hot under the June sun to walk on the paved road, which gradually raises its incline. As the valley narrows, we can see Yinhedong hanging on the mountain wall in the far end of the valley. We come to a trail head at 8:55 and have some rest. I take off the bottom part of my pants. I am already wet with sweat.

View from Yinhedong
Lu xianzu (呂仙祖)
Looking down from the top of temple
Cool air welcomes us as we enter the dark valley. We hear nice sound of water stream. The stone steps are covered with moss and seem never dry. A sigh board warns us to watch steps as they are wet. The steep climb luckily ends only in a matter of a few minutes and come under the cave temple. While some of the members are resting, I guide Mr. Dogura up to the temple and to the highest point where a deity statute of Lu xianzu (呂仙祖) stands. Daoism has many deities who actually existed in the history of China and Lu xianzu is said to have lived in early Ninth Century and have contributed to expansion of the religion. The water fall just in front of the cave is with a little water falling as we have little precipitation this year in Taiwan.

Very little water falls on the right
Three-way junction
End of the trail by stream with a wooden bridge 
We go down to the entrance and resume our hike along the trail, which ascends steeply by the cave.  In a few minutes we come to a less gradient section of the trail and see the stream down on our left side. We pass by a farmer's old shed and come to a three-way junction at 9:36. The Yinhedong trail goes straight and over the stream with a wooden bridge. We take the middle path. The one on right goes steeply up to Mt. Liufenshan (六分山). Our middle trail goes along the stream. This is not a part of the officially maintained and is much narrower but very clear and apparently well walked on. This must have been one of old trails that local residents used in the past for daily life. We cross twice the stream with a little running water and at 9:49 come to a junction where a steep path coming down from right. An abandoned wooden bridge hangs over above our head.

Path goes along the stream with very little water
Ascend a steep path
We cross the stream and follow the path going left side of the stream. In a few minutes we come to the end of level part and the trail starts steeply upwards. It first goes through a dried gutter with stones and then climbs on the side of mountain.  We struggle for more than ten minutes and 10:10 arrive at the pass where a pavilion Degaoting (德高亭) stands. We have some rests there and go up to a pavilion just below the summit of Mt. Sanxuangong. This is the highest point in our hike. We take a long rest here. Some members bring out cold beer and share it with others. Cold drink feels very good. We have a good view from there over Maokong, where many gondolas are moving like small toys. Beyond Muzha at our feet the scenery becomes blurry and Yanmingshan mountain range is not discernible.

View from Mt. Sanxuangong shan
Stone trail under repair
After a long break of an hour or so, we start descent. The stone steps are now under maintenance and hand rails on both sides are taken down. We come down to a viewing platform at 11:22. We can see a road leading to Zhangshansi temple (樟山寺) over tea gardens where we will head for. Mr. Dogura finds no problem with his waist pain so we will keep our hike down. We take left at a junction below the platform. We soon cross a car road and continue on Zhangshu trail (樟樹步道).  This well-maintained trail has a couple of attractions like a small park with a pond and pavilion surrounded by objects like water buffalo statutes and a wagon, rebuilt small rice storage houses, an old brick house and so on. It is a kind of educative as well as refreshing to hike on the trail. We run into a group of kindergarten kids.

View from the platform under Mt. Sanxuangong san
Zhangshu trail with a rebuilt rice storage
View of Muzha from Zhangshansi temple
Trail to Zhengzhi University
We walk through the trail and come to the car road at 11:49. In front of us is a road to Zhangshansi temple, which was visible from the viewing platform under Mt. Sanxuangong shan. We arrive at 11:55 Zhangshansi temple. We have a rest under its roof. You can use tables and stools placed at the corner in front of the shop. We take them out and sit by the table having lunch. An air raid drill is to be carried out between 13:30 and 14:00 today, during which you are supposed not to walk on streets. We stay until 13:30 and start down the trail to Zhenzhi university. We come down to Huanshan road (環山路) at 13:47, which is in the university's property. There is more time before the drill is over so we have a rest at the platform by the road.

Rest by Zhengzhi University Huanshan road
Go down steep steps
Upon hearing a siren of the drill end, we start up to a little hill behind us. We come to a wide open area with a big concrete pavilion. We walk down very steep steps of Xinjiandao (行健道) beyond the pavilion. A few hundred steps bring us down to a corner of the university campus. We continue our walk through the campus to the main gate. At 14:20 the main gate shows up and we cross the road to the bus stop, where we ride a #236 bus back to Gongguan (公館) in the city.

Main gate of the university

We spent about 6 hours (including rest) to cover 8 kilometers. We ascent a total of 620 meters and descent, 660 meters. It was really an easy hike as its half time was breaks!! It is getting hot lately. The first half of the hike is near water and it is still OK. You can hike this route throughout a year, but I recommend you to hike anytime but summer, which may become unbearably hot.

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