Alishan Forest Recreation Area, Alishan Township, Chiayi County 605, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Blessed with abundant rain and mist-covered peaks all year round, Alishan is home to the rich forests of precious trees. Giant Tree Trail is the most acclaimed highlight of Alishan, where the millennia-old trees like cypress, yellow cedar and spruce dominate the sacred forests.
The landscape here changes dramatically from season-to-season. When the fog starts to roll in, Giant Tree Trail is often shrouded in a mist of mystery. When the weather is fair, rays of sunlight creep through the breaks in the dense foliage, creating a tinge of poetic tranquility. The trail is divided into two sections, respectively departing from Shenmu Station (神木車站) and Xianglin Giant Tree (香林神木). An online voting was conducted in 2006, and the 43.5-meter-high Guangwu cypress (光武檜) located next to Xianglin Elementary School was selected to be the second Sacred Tree of Alishan after the fall of the first one. Having been standing for more than 2,000 years and measuring 13.1 meters at its trunk circumference, this Guangwu cypress was later renamed “Xianglin Giant Tree.”
And what about the first sacred tree? In 1906, a Japanese technician found a 53-meter-high, more than 3000-year-old Formosan cypress standing next to the Alishan Forest Railway line. This giant tree measured 23 meters at its trunk circumference and required 16 adults to reach around it, so huge that it was revered as the sacred tree. In 1956, the Formosan cypress was struck by lightning twice, causing it to burn inside out. On 1st July 1997 – the day Hong Kong was handed over to China – the sacred tree that had been standing throughout the history finally succumbed to the ravages of time, toppling with a loud crash amidst a torrential downpour. A year later, the Forestry Bureau decided to log what remained of its trunk for safety considerations, and it was laid down at the place where it once stood.
A trip to Alishan is always a soothing one. Visitors get to enjoy a natural forest bath, breathing in phytoncides released from trees and taking in negative ions to relax and refresh their bodies and souls.
The entry fee to Alishan National Scenic Area is TWD200 for Taiwanese nationals and TWD300 for foreign visitors.
- Entrance free is included in TWD200 ticket of Alishan Forest Recreation Area.