Huoyanshan (literally Fire Mountain or Mountain of Flames) is a quickly eroding mountain in Miaoli County that has deep canyons and red coloration due to mineral seepage. It's unique landscape is popular with hikers and instagrammers, and also has great views of Taichung and the surrounding area.
Like much of the area around it, Huoyanshan was formed when the land was lifted up due to tectonic factors, but the side of the sandstone mountain has been eroded away by heavy rainfall and the Da'an River creating a large canyon. Discoloration due to laterization (leaching and oxidation due to heavy rain) of minerals in the sediment has made the rocks near the top of the mountain here orange-red.
The Mountain at its highest point is 614 meters above sea level, and is one of Taiwan's 100 lesser peaks (小百岳).
In 1984, the area was made into a protected nature reserve, andclosed off to the public due to danger from erosion. Now that is reopened, it is a very popular hiking and bird watching destination.
Anyone travelling north on National Freeway 1 will have a great view of the mountain on the left as they leave Taichung into Miaoli.
Time needed to hike (round trip):
3-4 hours, easy hike
How to get there:
By Car: Travel south on provincial highway 13 in Mioali until you reach Bogongkeng (伯公坑); at that point you can park on the side of the road and head up Bogongkeng Village, the trail head starts at the top of the road.
By Bus: Take Hsinchu Bus 5665 from Sanyi TRA station to the Bogongkeng bus stop.
Please see below:
I have always wanted to climb Huoyanshan, ever since the first time I saw it travelling north on National Freeway 1 out of Taichung. However, it is a bit off the beaten path and the nearest exit off National Freeway 1 is quite far from the mountain. On one trip to Miaoli, with limited time (no time for a three hour hike) I decided to explore the mountain via drone.
Check out my drone footage above.
If you plan to hike, the entrance is right off provincial highway 13 at Bogongkeng.
We saw plenty of hikers on our way there. Someday I will get around to actually hiking it too and update this blog. If you want to see what the hike is like, check outthis blog by Josh Ellis.
I drove down by the levee on the Da'an River and set up to start flying. It was very very windy, but I took off anyway.
The view of huoyan mountain from the levee.
Closeup on the sedimentary rocks.
Another pile of quickly eroding sandstone.
So I took off with my drone, not realizing that I had accidentally still had it in sport mode (sport mode makes it go faster but you lose GPS). It was really windy, like I'd say 40 mph winds. I tried to fly up and forward, but ended up only going up. There were strong southerly winds pushing me back. But up there I took a 360 view of the surroundings. These views are similar to what you would see hiking to the top of Huoyanshan.
View of the Da'an River looking west.
View of Taichung to the south.
View of the Da'an River and National Freeway 1 looking east.
Another view east, this time my drone was struggling against the wind. As you can see it was going backward toward the river bed, being blown away with no GPS to keep it in one place.
View of National Highway one looking north.
View of the rocks and rubble coming off the mountain. They have built a tunnel underneath this rubble for traffic to get through.
By the time I had realized my drone was not moving forward, the battery was already low. I tried to fly it back home but the wind was too strong. I had to land. With less than 45 seconds of battery left, I luckily avoided large boulders and moving water in the riverbed and landed near some grass. But I didn't know how to track my drone at the time.
Just to give you an idea of how windy it was, look at the grass here being pushed almost 90 degrees.
It was a scary experience searching for a tiny little drone in such a large area.
Finally I spotted the drone on a sloped patch of sand, unscathed. I was lucky that day. I learned that you should never fly a drone in high winds, especially not in sport mode.
FYI, later I crashed my drone at another mountain in New Taipei, you can read about it here.
These lessons though have helped me become a much better drone pilot.
Obviously I plan to climb this mountain someday for real and I will update this blog when I do.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts on Miaoli to come!
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