This hike is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you’re scared of heights or have really bad cardio, I suggest you avoid it altogether.
The ZhuiLu trail is located inside Taroko National Park, Taiwan and runs along the Taroko Gorge. The trail is not open to just anyone, and you will need to apply for the appropriate permits in order to gain access to this hike. See my super helpful post about the permit application process.
Once you obtain the permits for your group and make your way to the starting point at Swallow’s Grotto, find the tent with the guy sitting at the table. He will take your permits and copies of your passports so make sure you bring everything with you. The guy will walk to you to the locked wooden gate in front of the ZhuiLu suspension bridge, unlock it, and you will get to pass through to the envious stares of all the tourists. It was at this point that I felt like I was gaining access to something exclusive and exciting, even though the hike is actually quite tortuous and grueling LOL.
Then you take pictures.
After you cross the suspension bridge, the terrain becomes super steep and you’re basically hiking straight up the mountain. Hence the cardio. Brings LOTS of water, especially if it’s hot.
We started the hike around 9am but almost everyone else we ran into had started earlier than that. Be sure to check the weather the same day, because it was supposed to be 60F the day we went, but around midday it was around 80F… not fun.
Half of the trail was actually closed due to the tornado earlier in the year, but we were still able to hike the first 3km (2 miles). That doesn’t sound like a long hike, but it took us 3 hours just to get to the 3km mark because the trail is super steep (and we were taking lots of photos); you’re ascending 2,710 feet very rapidly.
Eventually, you emerge from the forest and experience this:
It’s quite amazing in person. No rails or anything. Past the 3km mark, you enter the forest again and there’s a large clearing where people had stopped to eat lunch and rest. Beyond this area, the trail had been taped off due to damage from the tornado earlier that season. This was our final destination.
I’ve heard that the the rest of the trail is easy, so we’ll have to come again to finish it. This time, we had to turn around and come back the way we came. Going back was shorter and only took us 2 hours, probably because it was downhill. Halfway down the mountain we saw monkeys in the trees!
There were TONS of monkeys of different sizes and colors just climbing around on the trees above us. Pretty cool! Definitely keep a lookout for these guys on this hike. You’ll hear them doing their monkey calls to their monkey friends.
I saw on TripAdvisor that you can pay $100+ to do this trip with a guide. I highly recommend saving your money and doing it yourself. It’s not something that you need to pay for at all, and even the permit process is free.
All in all, hiking the famous ZhuiLu Old Trail was a SUCCESS and well worth it. Definitely recommend if you’re in Taroko! Oh, and there were plenty of single hikers (who spoke English) so you don’t need to come with a group. The path is very clear and quite peaceful to climb.