Zhuilu Old Road Trail
& Permit Application Process
Zhuilu Old Trail road is one of the most beautiful hikes in all of Taiwan. The trail takes visitors on a suspension bridge over the gorge, through lush forests and leads up to the Cliff Outpost, a narrow terrace trail with a spectacular view of Swallow Grotto and the surrounding mountains. While more difficult than other trails in the park, this trail should be on every hiker’s Taroko to-do list. A permit must be obtained before entry in order to ensure hiker safety as well as reduce their impact on the environment.
The process of applying for a permit is quite easy but requires some advanced planning. Only 96 people per day are allowed to enter the trail on any given day, except on holidays which allow 156 people. The permit is only valid for one entry on one day so it is best to choose the day you want to go and apply for your permit early as the slots fill up fast. During low season, 2 weeks in advance of your date is a good amount of time to apply but during high season, it is best to plan ahead as much as possible; pick a date and submit your application 3-4 weeks in advance.
The application process requires you to fill out a form for each member of your group including names, contact information, nationalities and passport numbers - as well as emergency contact information from someone outside of the group planning to enter the trail. Once your permit is approved, the park service recommends printing two copies of the permit to have ready on the day you arrive.
To apply for hiking permits, click here:
The entrance to the trail is located at the same entrance road to Swallow Grotto. There is a bus stop as well as some parking at the entrance so it is easy to access. To sign in, go to the small booth on the left side. Sign-in requires a paper copy of your permit, your passport (or a paper copy of your passport) and $200NT entry fee in cash. Once you are signed in, one of the park staff will unlock the entry gate and allow you onto the suspension bridge that leads to the best hike in the park. Access to the trail is strictly between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. only. The trail entry and exit points are in the same spot: park staff will meet you here to unlock the gate and sign you out. The latest check-out time is 5 pm.
The other trails in the park are more like walkways and uniform stairs but Zhuilu Old Road Trail is an actual trail. It is an uphill climb most of the way to the terrace with a few steep, rocky patches and if it has rained, the trail is slippery in parts. It isn’t recommended for anyone with mobility issues or heart conditions but is manageable for most people with a moderate fitness level. Most hikers spend 3-5 hours on the trail.
The terrace walk at the top is the most beautiful part of the trail but it should be noted that the trail is very narrow in most places. There is a rope running along the mountainside of the trail and in most areas there is no railing or guard on the cliff side. Passing other people or groups should be done with caution.
Wildlife sightings on the trail changes throughout the year. Monkeys are often seen along the trail year round. During the summer months, hikers should be wary of venomous snakes and insects in the area.