The Three Stars of the South - Taipei Times

The Three Stars of the South – Taipei Instances

Simply accessible from the not too long ago reopened South Cross-Island Freeway, this mountain vary provides a number of the greatest excessive mountain climbing within the type of quick day journeys to be discovered wherever in Taiwan

  • By Tyler Cottenie / Contributing Journalist

A yr in the past, what’s arguably essentially the most stunning freeway crossing the island of Taiwan reopened after a 13-year closure attributable to hurricane injury. Throughout this time, three of Taiwan’s 100 Best Peaks remained inaccessible besides to these keen to sneak across the checkpoints at night time, disguise from police patrols within the bush, and climb these peaks illegally.

With the reopening of the street, the Tre Stelle del Sud () are legally accessible once more. Logistics are barely extra difficult now {that a} part of the street is closed in a single day, however that hasn’t stopped throngs of trekkers from climbing up right here to make up for misplaced time, scaling three (or 4) new 3,000m peaks over a weekend.

For non-hikers, the street journey is a journey price it, because the street passes by the majestic surroundings of Yushan Nationwide Park because it climbs as much as the best street tunnel in Taiwan and descends the opposite aspect.

Photograph: Tyler Cottenie

The Three Stars are situated on a slim part of the street from Meishankou () within the west to Xiangyang () within the east. Vehicles can enter this part 5 days per week (not Tuesdays or Thursdays) between 7am and 2pm, however should exit one among these checkpoints earlier than 5pm.

For a westward journey throughout the Three Stars, enter from Xiangyang and proceed on to the large landslides brought on by Storm Morakot in 2009. The final decade remains to be spectacular. Naked rock extends half a kilometer upwards from the freeway in some locations, and regardless of apparent efforts to carry again the forces of nature right here, one can not help however surprise how lengthy this street can survive.


Photograph: Tyler Cottenie

On the street’s highest level, the Daguanshan Tunnel (the best street tunnel in Taiwan) traverses the spine of the Central Mountain Vary from Taitung County to Kaohsiung. The path to the primary of the Three Stars, Guanshanlingshan (), is correct subsequent to the tunnel’s east entrance. If you happen to plan on self-driving, it is best to get there early, because the car parking zone right here is sort of small and there is nowhere else to park for a number of miles on both aspect.

The path climbs steeply by scree for some time earlier than reaching the spine of the central mountain vary above the tunnel. The trail to the summit turns proper right here to observe the ridge upwards, however trying rigorously forward, a touch of an outdated path by the bamboo remains to be seen. This was the Japanese-era Guanshan Cross-Island Path, one among many comparable ones constructed within the early twentieth century to attempt to management the indigenous inhabitants.

The remainder of the path to the summit is properly marked and apparent and takes about an hour and a half. On a weekend, count on many individuals right here celebrating their profitable ascent, as that is the simplest and hottest of the Three Stars. If you could find a spot to sit down, the view right here on a transparent day is properly price taking in: the farms alongside the freeway are seen deep within the valley beneath, and there is typically a stupendous sea of ​​clouds on the Taitung aspect of the mountains.

Photograph: Tyler Cottenie


The central peak of the Three Stars is essentially the most spectacular, each when it comes to the path and the view from above. After going by the Daguanshan tunnel, proceed to the trailhead at marker 33.4K. If there isn’t any roadside parking right here, there’s a bigger automotive park 200 meters additional alongside the street. For these planning on doing Taguanshan () after Guanshanlingshan on the identical day, concentrate on the time earlier than setting off, because the spherical journey takes three and a half to 4 hours for the typical hiker; do not forget that everybody should exit Meishankou or Xiangyang by 5pm.

In contrast to the absolutely uncovered path on Guanshanlingshan, this path is completely forested. In direction of the start, there are a number of massive photogenic Taiwan hemlocks proper subsequent to the path. A cover of hemlock and the Yushan reed bamboo forest flooring accompany hikers to the summit, the place the forest lastly opens as much as a panoramic view. To the east, the mountain descends right into a sheer cliff, whereas a naked and damaged rock ridge continues to the south, rising to mighty Guanshan ().

Photograph: Tyler Cottenie


Additional west alongside the freeway, the bridge at 28.3km marks the trailhead for the final of the Three Stars, Kuhanuosinshan (). Because the longest path within the Three Stars with the least inspiring view on the prime, a day journey to this peak hardly deserves a glowing suggestion. If you happen to’re not attempting to gather all 100 Taiwan peaks, you could be doing higher issues along with your time. Nevertheless, for these seeking to spend two days within the space, that is a complete different story, as there are different close by options that redeem this in any other case lackluster peak.

The path initially climbs a steep hill with many stairs. Hundreds of them, the truth is. If in case you have the bodily and psychological fortitude to get by this part, the path lastly ranges out on the prime of a ridge the place a Yushan Nationwide Park hut is situated. With superior request it’s attainable to remain in a single day right here. Spending an evening right here cuts the hike in between and offers you time to bodily (and mentally) recharge. The darkish night time sky and skinny air right here provide in a single day visitors a stargazing expertise in contrast to the rest within the metropolis. And eventually, the additional day permits for the ascent of close by Guanshan, which towers half a kilometer above the Three Stars.

Photograph: Tyler Cottenie

Simply behind the hut, there’s a fork within the path: the fitting one results in Mount Kuhanuosin, whereas the left path results in Guanshan. The primary may be finished on the primary day within the afternoon, whereas the second will occupy a lot of the second day. The Guanshan path is a mixture of forest and open bamboo meadow, with an exhilarating vertical wall climb in between. Once you lastly attain the highest (a broad, flat peak ideally suited for a picnic lunch) you might be on the southern fringe of Yushan Nationwide Park and all the park is in view. Head again to the cabin to choose up your gear for the night time and you need to be on the freeway in time to exit by the 5pm deadline.


Whether or not you’ve got one, two, and even three days to spare, there is a Southern Three Stars itinerary that is best for you. For in a single day journey, it’s not attainable to go away a car on the trailhead after 5pm, so hiring a driver for day 1 supply and day 2 pickup is the one sensible possibility. For day journeys, hiring a driver takes the effort out of discovering parking, however touring in your individual automotive can be attainable. Scooters are a lot simpler to park and are a way more participating approach to expertise the South-Cross Freeway, so this feature is very really useful. Touring by bicycle and on foot will not be permitted on this stretch of motorway.

Photograph: Tyler Cottenie

Police permits are required for all these mountains and may be booked on-line 5 days prematurely (Chinese language solely: or anytime in individual at Meishankou Police Stations and Xiangyang. A nationwide park allow is required for Kuhanuosin and Guanshan, for each day journeys and in a single day stays (English: Guided packages may be organized with Blue Skies Adventures (


Elevation: 3176 m

Climb: 450 m

Spherical journey time: 3 3.5 hours

Path: East Aspect of Daguanshan Tunnel

Permissions: Police


Elevation: 3222 m

Climb: 650 m

Spherical journey time: 3.5 4 hours

Path: 33.4 km east of Meishankou

Permissions: Police


Elevation: 3115 m

Climb: 950m spherical journey

Spherical journey time: 6.5 hours to/from the path

Path: 28.3 km east of Meishankou

Permissions: Police, Nationwide Park


Elevation: 3668 m

Climb: 650 m

Spherical journey time: 7.5 8 hours to/from cabin

Path: Kuhanuosin cabin

Permissions: Police, Nationwide Park

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