by Robert Minor
Mt. Dabajian is an iconic mountain located in Taiwan’s central Xueba National Park. Learning how to hike Mount Dabajian is easy. The hike into the area takes 3 days and hikers stay for 2 nights at the famous 99 Cabin. Mt. Dabajian is ranked #28 on Taiwan’s 100 Peak list. Hikers can actually peak 4 of the 100 Peaks of Taiwan on this hike. Above, Mt. Dabajian on the left and Mt.Xiaobajian on the right.
How to hike Mount Dabajian-Getting to the Trailhead
In order to do this hike you must get a National Park permit from the Xueba (Sheipa) National Park website. (See link below) The park site has an English version.
Most people do the Mt. Dabajian route in 3 days. You apply for the hiking route to Mt. Dabajian that goes from Guanwu Forest Park to the 99 Cabin on Day 1. Day 2 is your hiking day up to the peaks area and back to 99 Cabin. Day 3 is walking out back to Guanwu. Once you get your permits, you need a police permit as well,. When you head to the trailhead on Day 1, bring 3 copies of your permits as there are 3 checkpoints. The picture above is the police checkpoint at Guanwu Forest Park. They will allow you to drive to the trailhead after you check in.
* One note: The drive to Guanwu can take a long time depending on where you come from. The drive up the mountain road Route 122 is winding and 60km long and ends at Guanwu. There a lots of small hotels you can stay at on the 122 the night before you begin the hike. We stayed at one just 10km from Guanwu.
The Trailhead at Dalu Foresty Road
Once you have showed your permits to the police at Guanwu, you can drive down the park road about 2 Km until you come to the forest road trailhead. (See below). There is a parking area here, however, you can also drive 300 meters more up the road and park nearer to the next police checkpoint. The one thing about how to hike Mount Dabajian is the long flat walk to start and end your journey.
Forest Road Distance-19km!!
A little history about this hike: This is actually not the Mt.Dabajian “Trailhead”, but it is the trailhead to the hike. In the days before the big 2008 Morakot typhoon, hikers could arrive on this road and drive or take a shuttle 19km to the real trailhead at the Malawan River. However…..
…after several typhoons and landslides along the road, the park closed the forest road and the hike to Dabajian fore several years. When it reopened, the park no longer allowed cars or a shuttle bus service to take you the 19km. Thus, hikers need to make the walk themselves up and back. This added an extra day to what was once a weekend excursion for people.
As you walk 300meters down the road from the parking area, you will come to checkpoint #2. The park rangers will want to see 2 copies of your Shei-pa National Park Permit.
The Long Walk Begins
Once you are checked in, off you go. The Dalu Forestry Road is windy and flat until the end when it winds down to the river and old trailhead.
The walk is pretty and there are nice views of the mountains. The trail can be a bit hard on the feet as it is made of flattened stones. Look out for the beautiful blue Mikado Pheasant while on this road. We also saw a pair of brown female Swinhoe pheasants as well. The walk took us 4 hours and 30 minutes including stops for snacks and water.
Waterfall along the Dalu Foresty Road
There are a few pretty waterfalls along the forest road.
The End of the Road….phew!
After 4 and a half hours, we finally made it to the trailhead. Someone had told us of a shortcut at the 17km marker. There is a trail with ropes that drops down to the bridge. It took 5 minutes and saved us 20 minutes of walking on the road. Look for it….
Old Trail Checkpoint
A typhoon in 2012 ravaged this area. The water rose so high it took out the suspension bridge and the front end area of the National Park Office. In August, 2016, the trail opened again with a new bridge (not a suspension) and the still standing unused office.
New Bridge River Crossing
A picture of the new bridge leading to the forest trail across the Malawan River.
The Old Suspension Bridge
The old suspension bridge lays on the river bed below. It is amazing to think how high the water was during the storm. Incredible.
The Hike Up To The 99 Cabin
After crossing the river, the trail heads up and becomes beautiful forest. It is a 4km hike to the 99 Cabin. The forest trail is well groomed and quite pretty. It is a steady hike up for most of it.
99 Cabin Hike- Great Trail
Some steps along the 4km hike up to 99. This part of the hike took us 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Well Marked Trail-Another Sign To The 99
You Have Arrived 九九山莊
Once you reach the ridge, you will come around the bend and be at the 99 Cabin (Hut). It is hardly either, but more like a compound. It is the most unique one in Taiwan. There are 2 large bunk dorms and several yurts for groups. Total bed space is around 300.
It’s a big place and you can guess how popular this hike was when you could drive along the forestry road to the river trailhead.
The 99 Cabin (Compound)
The corridor walk into the 99 Cabin- Once you are here, you need to find the supervisor to check in. He will find your name on the list and give you a bunk space. You must also pay 200NT for each night you stay here. Don’t forget your wallet.
Cooking and Dining Hall
There are bathrooms and sinks to wash and brush your teeth. Above is the kitchen and dining area. It is a hopping place at dinner time. Bring your stove in and fire it up. Apparently, online you can book dinner/breakfast for 900NT. The dinner food looked quite good, but we went for the DIY option.
There is plenty of water at the 99 Hut. We were told to boil ours just in case. So it is a good idea to have a stove and gas. If you ordered breakfast and dinner, there will be a large container of boiled water for you to use.
Sleeping Quarters at the 99
We were put into one of the dorm bunks. They weren’t full and we had plenty of space to stretch out. It can get noisy in there, so if you are a light sleeper, bring some earplugs or eye shades. Expect people to be getting up at 3-4 in the morning to prep for their hikes. Continue on to Part 2 of how to hike Mount Dabajian.