Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hualien (花蓮) - Taroko (太魯閣) Travel Series - Shakadang Trail (砂卡噹步道) [Travel in Taiwan 170610: Mysterious Valley Trail]



Shakadang. What a mysterious name for a stream in Taroko National Park! I first heard of it two years ago when my friends and I were planning our canyoneering adventure in Hualien. Shakadang was one of our options. However, its strange name wasn’t enough to give us a big reason to choose that place for river trekking. We decided to explore the Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷) instead and the place remained a mystery to me for a very long time.

Shakadang River



Shakadang Trail 

The Shakadang River is one of the tributaries flowing from the mountains in Hualien down to the Liwu River to become a bigger body of water. A trail runs along its edge made originally by the aboriginal people who once lived here. Visitors inside the Taiwan Tour Bus easily ignore this place after the public bus had passed through a tunnel from the Taroko National Park Headquarters. Those who pressed the stop button at the trail entrance are easily drawn to get close to its waters.




Stone lion dogs. I was quick to notice them upon getting off the bus. The Shakadang trail entrance is located on top of a red arched bridge with stone lion dogs sitting on both of its sides. They were there acting as little guardians of Shakadang. A few meters from the bus stop was an archway. It serves as a marker. A portal to an unknown realm.






Entering the trail was like going down to the underworld. With the bridge representing as heaven and the jagged edges of the stone roof of Shakadang trail as hell, the only way for humans to travel between them is the zigzag staircase tower. Warnings of snakes and other dangers are visibly seen by visitors as they go down the staircase. At the base, you become closer to the stream. Its crystalline blue waters is an endless temptation to all those who cannot resist looking at it. 





The Shakadang trail cuts through rocks along the edge of the river making it somewhat dangerous. If you are a tall person, then you need to watch your head. The stones above are a bit sharp that it can hurt your skull if you are careless. On a rainy day, the rocky portions of the trail become a waterfall curtain making it useless as a cover. 




Speaking of the rain, the trail is a landslide prone area. With nets providing protection against big rock rolling down from the mountain slopes, it is a solid evidence that the place is alive. There are also people living in Shakadang! Visitors are reminded that some areas are ancestral lands of the aboriginal people and no one should enter them. 




Stop, look and listen. The Shakadang Trail is not only a scenic spot in Taroko. Villagers use it as transportation route and motorcycles can sometimes be seen running in the 4 km “road”. It often happens early in the morning or during lunchtime and visitors are advised to stay on the sides if a vehicle is coming. 






With all of the marble-clad beauty of this scenic place in Taroko, what can be seen on the far end of the Shakadang Trail? According to Google Maps, there will come a point that visitors must make a U-turn back to where they came from. But do not get fooled by what you see on the internet because the Shakadang River can expand so rapidly during torrential rainfall and it can engulf portions of the trail along its banks. 







At the time of my visit, construction was being done on the low-lying portion of the trail and I managed to have some time on the stream. The water was so inviting but as the mountain tops become covered with dark clouds it becomes dangerous to stay longer. I tried to continue my hike but the sight of construction workers and the muddy walkway discouraged me and killed my eagerness to finish the trail. The rain then had started to fall. From small droplets, it had become bigger and bigger driving away visitors to finish their hike. It was like the famous scenic trail in Taroko has a mind of its own. It will always try to keep its secret whenever it sees the opportunity. 




Shakadang. The name means 'molar' in the Sedik tribal language. They are the big boulders in the river that took the shape of a molar tooth. Shakadang. It will always be Taroko’s mysterious valley trail. 

**************************************
Notes: Aside from the Taiwan Tour Bus Taroko Route (Bus 1133A), Shakadang Trail is also served by buses 302, 1126, 1133 and 1141.  The road going to Shakadang Bridge only runs in a single direction.  Visitors returning to Hualien Station or Xincheng Station must walk back to the Taroko National Park Headquarters through a tunnel or ride the next bus uphill to the mountains then ride a bus going down to the city.

From Xincheng Station: Bus 302 and 1133
[1] Bus 302 (Xincheng Station -> Tianxang)
*A one-day ticket costs NTD 150
Departure times from Xincheng Station: 7:10/8:00/9:40/10:30/11:20/13:00/13:50/14:40/15:30/16:20/17:10
[2] Bus 1133 (Hualien -> Tianxiang)
Departure times from Hualien Station: 10:50 and 13:50

From Hualien Station: Bus 1126, 1141 and 1133 
[1] Bus 1126 (Hualien New Station -> Luoshao)
*This bus starts from Hualien Station. Only one bus leaves at 6:30 am.
[2] Bus 1141 (Hualien→Taichung(Lishan))
*Only one bus leaves Hualien Station at 8:40 am. 
[3] Bus 1133 (Hualien -> Tianxiang)
Departure times from Hualien Station: 10:50 and 13:50

2017 Sakura Series - Taiwan
2017 Sakura Series - Japan
2016 Sakura Series - Taiwan
Taipei Attractions
New Taipei Attractions
Post a Comment
Copyright © 2014 Travel in Asia | Designed With By Blogger Templates | Distributed By Gooyaabi Templates
Scroll To Top