Hiking the Wuling Quadruple (武陵四秀)

Introduction

Last weekend, I finally managed to schedule in the Wuling Quadruple (武陵四秀). After having to cancel a number of hikes due to inclement weather this year, it was awesome to get back on the trail and do a trek that has been on my list for a couple of years.  

The Wuling Quadruple is a group of four mountains along a long ridge in the Wuling area in Taichung. This hike is located in Sheipa National Park, and it’s right next to the second tallest mountain in Taiwan, Snow Mountain (雪山). It consists of four top-100 peaks (百岳) as well as a fifth peak that is not considered a top 100.

a beautiful view from Mt. Tao

The Wuling Quadruple in Chinese can be roughly translated as the four beauties (aptly named) due to the stunning scenery you can see from the ridgeline and the peaks—these astounding vistas stay with you for most of the hike.

These are the four included top-100 peaks:

Mt. Tao (桃山) 3325 m

Mt. Kalaye (喀拉業山) 3133 m

Mt. Chiyou (池有山) 3303 m

Mt. Pintian (品田山) 3524 m

Getting Permits

If you want to do this hike, you will need to apply for mountain permits on the Sheipa National Park website. As of the time of writing this blog, you do not need to apply for police permits separately.

Note that both mountain houses, Taoshan Cabin (桃山山屋 ) and Xinda Cabin (新達山屋) are very popular, so you will need to apply early to get a guaranteed spot inside either of them. We got lucky and got in due to cancellations, but DO NOT rely on this.

a list of mountains you can see from the top of Mt. Tao

Make sure you bring two copies of the permit with you to Wuling. You will need to drop them off at the Wuling Villa, one when you enter and once when you leave the trail. If you forget, they may end up calling your emergency contact to inquire about your whereabouts.

Preparing for This Hike

I did this hike with a new friend, and we both had ample experience with other multi-day treks and top-100 hikes. As far as top-100 hikes are concerned, I would put this at an intermediate level. Being a three-day hike, it’s harder than a typical trip to Jade or Snow mountain, but it is far more beginner friendly than the section hikes in Taiwan.

Be sure to be physically fit; you will need to be able to carry a heavy bag. Sometimes the cabins have no water (be sure to check this); I ended up carrying 6.5 liters of water up with me just in case. That proved to be a good amount as I left the trail with just 0.5 liters of water.

climbing down a scramble on the way to Mt. Chiyou

Lastly, the cabins are quite warm, but if you are sleeping in tents (especially during the winter months), you can expect to be sleeping in weather that is close to the freezing point. Bring clothes for both hot and cold weather.  

Choosing Your Route

If you want to bag all four Wuling Quadruple peaks, there are two routes to choose from. The entire hike looks sort of like a “T” shape, and there are two trails that lead back to the Villa.

This first route is the more popular option. You will head up the trail towards Sancha Campground, Mt. Chiyou, and Mt. Pintian. You will summit Mt. Chiyou D1 then sleep at Xinda Cabin. On D2 you will summit Mt. Pintian then cross the ridge to Taoshan Cabin. Finally, on the third day, you will do Mt. Kalaye as a side trip, hit up Mt. Tao on the way back, then head back to Wuling Villa from the peak.

climbing up a hill on the way to Mt. Tao

The advantages to this first route are that Xinda Cabin has a more consistent water source than Taoshan cabin, and the trail down at the end of the trek won’t be quite as long and steep.

The second possible route (which we took) was to go up to Mt. Tao on D1 and sleep in Taoshan cabin. On D2 we did Mt. Kalaye then crossed the ridge, doing Mt. Chiyou as a side trip, then finally arrived at Xinda Cabin. On D3 we climbed Mt. Pintian, returned to Xinda Cabin then headed to Sancha campground and finally, back to the Wuling Villa.

The advantage to this route is that your D1 will be easier, but I have to admit that the descent on D3 is pretty brutal. If you do Kalaye on D1 instead of D2, that might balance the hike a bit more.

Our Itinerary

D1: Wuling Villa –> Mt. Tao –> Taoshan Cabin

07:00 We arrived at Wuling Villa, dropped off the permit, then started the hike.

07:20 We took the trail to the right towards Mt. Tao. From the actual trailhead, it is 4.5 km to Mt. Tao’s peak.  This trail starts off fairly flat, but it gets steep fast, and there is very little flat or downhill after that.

the sign that points to Mt. Tao and Taoshan Waterfall

10:10 We arrived at the 2.7 km marker, which is a helipad. This is a giant grassy field and makes for a nice spot for a break and a bite to eat. From here, you can expect gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains for the rest of the day. You will see Nanhu, Zhongyangjian, Snow, Dabajian, and a few other prominent mountains.

the grassy helipad on the way to Mt. Tao

10:40 Around the 3 km mark, the trail starts getting much steeper. This next km was really slow going and took us about an hour to finish. While it’s tough, there are plenty of amazing spots to take a quick rest and marvel at the seemingly boundless beauty of the landscape.  

11:40 Around the 4km mark you can see the peak of Mt. Tao. This section is still steep but a lot easier than the kilometer that preceded it.

12:15 We arrived at the peak of Mt. Tao. There were a lot of people doing Mt. Tao as a single day hike. We took some pictures then took a break and enjoyed the view. When we got there, the clouds were starting to roll in, but we returned later that day and were treated to an even lovelier vista.  

a group of people on the summit of Mt. Tao

12:45 We arrived at Taoshan Cabin. The cabin is just a five-minute walk from the peak of Mt. Tao. This cabin is quite small, but it does have a nice bench outside as well as a gorgeous view of Mt. Dabajian.

We rested for the rest of the day. There were a lot of people to talk to, and we returned to Mt. Tao to soak in the beautiful weather and scenery. Day one was by far the easiest day of the hike.

19:00 Surprisingly, Taoshan Cabin has lights, which are generated from nearby solar panels. The lights remained on until about 20:00. I was relatively warm, but I had a haggard night of sleep for whatever reason (maybe altitude).

D2: Mt. Kalaye –> Taoshan Cabin –> Mt. Chiyou –> Xinda Cabin

05:10 We woke up at 4:45 to climb Mt. Kalaye, which we heard was a five-hour trip. The Mt. Kalaye trailhead is literally on top of Mt. Tao’s peak, so it was close. This is a long 7 km trail that runs through alpine forests. While there is less to see on this trail than the rest of the hike, it is a fairly relaxing trail that is less of an ascent or descent than the rest of the trek. My hiking partner called it a nice morning walk.

06:00 We arrived at Mt. Malun. It wasn’t much of a peak. There was a small sign, but it looked much like the rest of the trail. It is surrounded by trees with no real view, which is probably why it wasn’t considered for a top-100 peak despite it being 3,200 m.

06:35 We arrived at a gorgeous open field with a bunch of alpine grass. This is also the best sea of clouds I saw on the whole trip. We took a break here for a few minutes and snapped some photos.

a view of alpine grass and a sea of clouds near Mt. Kalaye

07:00 We made it to Mt. Kalaye peak. It was mostly secluded though there is one spot with a view. All in all, it is the least impressive of the four Wuling peaks, but I still enjoyed it, especially since the sun was starting to come out and warm us up.

two men standing on the summit of Mt. Kalaye

09:00 We made it back to Mt. Tao. The side trip to Mt. Kalaye ended up being a four-hour journey, but we took only short breaks and didn’t stay at the peak for very long.

We went back to the cabin to pack our things and have some hot coffee. We ended up meeting a few new friends and chatting for a while.

10:45 We finally departed Taoshan Cabin and headed for Mt. Chiyou. This was a more difficult section of the hike. There were a lot of fallen logs, small scrambles, and ropes to deal with. It was fun but slow going compared to anything we did on day one.

12:30 I forget the exact time, but you will see the famous husband and wife tree on the left side of the trail between Mt. Tao and Mt. Chiyou. These two trees have clearly been with each other for a very long time and have become a famous attraction for passing hikers.

the famous husband and wife tree on the wuling quadruple ridge

12:55 We arrived at the Mt. Chiyou trailhead. We could have taken our heavy bags and kept going since this trail is a loop and reconnects with the Pintian trail, but instead, we dropped them, took daypacks, and walked another 11 minutes to get to the peak.

13:06 We arrived at Mt. Chiyou’s peak. We had splendid weather. So far, we were three-for-three with the peaks having amazing weather and views. You probably have the best look at Dabajian and Xiaobajian from Mt. Chiyou, and the clouds floating through the valley below were simply stunning.

a man sitting on the peak of Mt. Chiyou

13:35 We departed Mt. Chiyou after admiring the peak and having a quick lunch. We went back to get our bags then continued towards Xinda Cabin and Mt. Pintian. The terrain still had a lot of small scrambles, but it was easier than the section before Mt. Chiyou.

14:50 We were very close to Xinda Cabin. There were a lot of small alpine lakes to admire, with the best and biggest being the closest to the cabin. We actually set up out tent since we didn’t have permits for the cabin (there were vacancies due to cancellations, so we took the tent back down later).

13:15 We arrived at Xinda Cabin. It was still early, so we had a lot of time to relax. There were a lot of friendly people at the cabin who were happy to converse with us. However, the weather started getting dark and cloudy. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in and out of the cabin and talking to some of the Taiwanese hikers.

a view of Dabajian mountain at sunset

19:00 This cabin does not have any lights. Once it gets dark, everyone is pretty much in bed. There is no cell service inside the cabin, so I ended up playing some old phone game for a while until I felt sleepy. Almost everyone fell asleep before me.  

D3: Xinda Cabin –> Mt Pintian –> Xinda Cabin –> Sancha Campground –> Wuling Villa

05:00 I got better rest—still not great—the second night. We woke up around 5:00 and planned to head out around 5:30 to summit Mt. Pintian. The weather was cold and cloudy, with some actual flakes of snow/hail falling.

05:30 We headed off to Mt. Pintian. The roughly 2 km trail begins right next to the cabin. It begins with some very relaxed winding paths through open terrain. If the weather were nicer it would have been very pleasant.

06:20 We arrived at the infamous cliffs of Pintian. A fall off would have resulted in a likely death, but there were plenty of footholds. Having lost a glove, I had to hold the ropes with my bare hands, which were really cold. I found this to be the most challenging aspect of the cliffs. If you go slow and remain vigilant, they are completely safe.

a man climbing ropes up the Pintian cliffs
a man sitting waiting to ascend the pintian cliffs

06:50 We arrived at the top of Mt. Pintian. All we saw was a wall of white, and there was no real sunrise that morning. Since everything was cold and wet, we took our pictures, chatted for a couple of minutes then quickly decided to head back to the cabin. We didn’t even take a break on the way back.

a man standing on top of the summit of Mt. Pintian in cloudy weather

07:40 We arrived back at Xinda Cabin. We packed our stuff, drank some hot water, and grabbed a bite to eat.

08:40 We departed Xinda Cabin towards Xinda Cabin, the last waypoint in our journey to the trailhead.

09:45: We made it to Sancha Campground, which was just an open area in the forest. It would make for a decent campground, but with Xinda Cabin being just an hour away, it isn’t worth it for most hikers. Sancha Campground is 3.5 km from the trailhead, but there is over 1,000 m of descent getting back to the trailhead, so it is very steep and very brutal on the toes.

11:50 We made it to the trailhead. We took very few breaks—the breaks we took were very short—and descended at a fast pace. Once you get to the trailhead, you still need to walk about 3km on the Taoshan Falls trail to get back to the Villa. This trail is totally flat and paved, and there were a lot of casual hikers taking a scenic stroll to the waterfall. I took off my boots here in favor of my camp shoes since my toes were annihilated by the ascent.

12:35 We made it back to the villa. I dropped off the second permit with our exit time then we made it to the car. Finally, homeward bound!

Other Options

Despite this hike being called Wuling Quadruple, a lot of people only opt to do one or two of the peaks.

  1. You can just do Mt. Tao as a one-day hike. It would probably be about eight hours of hiking. If you wanted more, you could add the waterfall. If you wanted a really long day of hiking but didn’t want to camp, you could even add Mt. Kalaye and go back down, which would probably be around a twelve-hour day.  
  2. Many hikers chose to do Mt. Chiyou and Mt. Pintian then went down on either D1 or D2. Mt. Chiyou is a short side trip, and it’s on the way to Mt. Pintian anyway.
  3. A couple of hikers we met went up Mt. Tao D1 and were planning on crossing to Mt. Chiyou then go down (skipping Kalaye completely).
a beautiful green and yellow fir tree in Taiwan

I recommend doing all four peaks, but if that just doesn’t jive with your schedule or desires, there are a lot of ways to shorten the trip by a day or two and still get the essence of the experience.  

How to Get There and Where to Stay Day Zero

You need to drive to the Wuling Farm area. The trailhead is at the Wuling Villa.

You can stay at a decent hostel that is a 20-minute drive away on your day 0. This hostel has showers, beds, and the staff was very friendly and accommodating. It’s nothing fancy, but you won’t need to play with a tent or take out your gear.

Name: 光果農莊-登山協助站

Phone Number: 0975-218556

Many people will also opt to camp right in the parking lot at Wuling. We came from Taipei, so it was a fairly long drive, and we really just wanted to crash when I arrived. The hostel seemed like the cozier, less time-consuming option.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed the Wuling Sixiu, and in my opinion, it is a great gateway hike from day/weekend hikes into multi-day treks. Regardless of your level, this is a beautiful trek with some fun trails, and I think anyone can enjoy it.

a view of clouds and mountains from Mt. Chiyou

Get out there and pave your own adventure, and if you find any inaccuracies or have any suggestions for this blog, please contact me on the site. See you on the next trek!

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