Shuishan Giant Tree is not only the biggest tree in Alishan National Forest Recreation Area but also one of Alishan’s new eight scenes.
Shuishan Line in Alishan National Forest Recreation Area was a branch line railway built during the Japanese colonization of Taiwan for transporting lumber. After the operation was permanently terminated, the route was turned into a trail including the section of Shuishan Station with a total length of about 1.6 km. Although not very long, the trail features multiple landscapes of the reminiscent railway and millennium-old giant trees. Passing through vivid green scenery, the mostly flat trail is easy enough to hike. Also, soft wood chips fully covering the central way between the rail make the road conditions easily accessible for people of all ages.
The entrance of Shuishan Trail is next to a railway behind the Alishan Police Lodge, a 5-minute walking distance from Zhaoping Station. The trail follows the old curvy railway, and the section under the shade of tall trees on both sides is even cooler. Mostly flat, the trail is covered by a mass of small flowers and the widespread groundcover plants. Also, there’s a hollow giant tree that is estimated to be 1,200 years old, looking just like the home of Miyazaki Hayao’s Totoro. Moreover, people can see Tashan, regarded as the holy mountain of the Tsou tribe and the disappeared Mianyue Line.
After a 30-minute walk, hikers can reach the wooden structure of Shuishan Station, built in a primitive and simple style. Next to it, there’s a vintage cypress trestle bridge. Go past the bridge and take the stone stairway 200 meters uphill, and Shuishan Giant Tree will come into sight. It’s a 2,700-year-old Taiwan red false cypress with a height of 30 meters and a circumference of 16 meters. Notice the distinctive and beautiful burls on the tree growing into bizarre shapes. Shuishan Giant tree is the largest tree in Alishan National Forest Recreation Area; it is still vibrant and alive. As a consequence of being the source of water during the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, the place is named “Shuiku Giant Tree.” It’s amazing to come across this magnificent giant tree.
Comparing it with the well-known and popular scenic spot, the Giant Trees Park Trail, Shuishan Trail is a secluded and secret destination; it has not yet been seen or visited by many people. Tourists can sit, lie down, or stand in the shade of the trees surrounded by the tranquil and natural atmosphere—a joyful conversation connecting their feelings with the mountain forest.
To make the tourist experience more impressive and to satisfy all five senses, Shuishan Trail is temporarily closed beginning from September 1, 2020, for trail clean-up and resurfacing. The estimated reopening date to the public is around the end of April 2021. Please keep an eye out for the upcoming new Alishan Spotlight destination.
- Location：Alishan Township, Chiayi County
- Altitude：2,292 – 2,317 m
- Road Condition：Railway, Stone Stairway
- Length：1.6 km
- Difficulty Rating：Easy
- Best Season to Visit：All year round
- Spotlight Attraction：Cypress Giant Trees
- Hike Duration：1 hour (round trip)
- Route：Chaoping Station→ Walk along Shuishan Line→Shuishan Station→ Shuishan Giant Tree→ Return via the same route→ Zhaoping Station
- Notes：The stone stairways are covered with moss, and the frequent rainfall in the mountain area causes much humidity. Keep yourself safe while walking.