Duona Suspension Bridge (aka Duonagao Suspension Bridge 多納高吊橋) is the highest pedestrian suspension bridge in Southeast Asia, featuring amazing views of the Zhuokou River and Maolin's mountainous landscape. The bridge is part of a trail that connects the top of a ridge-line, giving hikers 360 views of the river valley and surrounding landscape.
The Duona Suspension bridge is the highest in Southeast Asia and the highest bridge in Taiwan. It is 232 meters long (761 feet) and 103 meters tall (338 feet). It was completed during the Japanese Colonial Era (early 1900's) and was the main connection between the Rukai tribe living at Duona Village to the rest of Taiwan. The bridge was renovated in 1997 and 2015. Car and scooter traffic have been officially banned after 2015, although local residents still ride over it.
Duona Great Bridge sits in the Eagle Valley (老鷹谷) next to Duona Suspension Bridge and allows two lanes of motor traffic. It was completed in 2012. Before it was built, another bridge that crossed the river there was destroyed during the floods of Typhoon Morakot (aka eight-eight flood or 八八水災).
Typhoon Morakot brought record floods to Taiwan because it slowly moved over the island delivering torrential rain. Nearly 700 people were killed during the disaster (to see what Maolin looked like right after the flooding, check out this blog here).
Basically all the bridges in Maolin were destroyed during Typhoon Morakot in 2009 except Duona Suspension bridge which is built so high that it would never be affected by floodwater.
Most all the bridges currently in Maolin were reconstructed after the 2009 floods.
How to get there:
Take Maolin Forest Road (Kaohsiung City Road 132) to Wanshan Village, after which turn left toward Meiya Valley 美雅谷 at the top of the ridge, and continue right until you come to the suspension bridge. Technically you should park your car there and walk to the suspension bridge, but there are also spots to park closer to the bridge.
Map: Please see below:
Duona is easily the most recognizable and biggest landmark in Maolin. I have visited the bridge every time I have gone, so probably like 10 times. There is a small entrance at the west side of the bridge where you can park a scooter or car, and sometimes they sell sausages near the entrance during busy days.
Drone Footage 空拍影片:
Check out the video above for some drone footage I took of the bridge.
The sign at the entrance says: "Duona Suspension Bridge"
"The Duona Suspension Bridge, standing 232 meters and rising 103 meters, was once Duona's primary connection to the outside world. It is also where villagers said farewell to visiting friends. During their occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945), the Japanese enforced a strict aborigine control policy that led to violent conflict; but Duona, being located deep in the mountains, was not subjugated. So the Japanese proposed to build the bridge, ostensibly for the transport of provisions but actually to facilitate implementation of their policy for governing aborigines. The bridge was rebuilt in 1998."
Looking at Duona Suspension Bridge from the west entrance.
View of Duona Great Bridge in the Eagle Valley below.
The river underneath the bridge is a popular swimming spot for visitors.
Looking east upriver where you can see a giant concave cliff face above the river.
Someone must have shook in fright so badly up here that their hat fell off.
On the other side of the bridge are some bathrooms and a hiking trail that goes along the ridge. If you are going to hike, I recommend parking on the ridge so you don't have to hike up and down the entire valley to get back to your vehicle.
Duona Great Bridge 多納大橋
At the bottom of the valley you can see the Duona Great Bridge (aka Duona Glass Bridge) which to this day is a popular Instagramming spot. This car in front of us was stopping for a selfie.
There is a giant eagle sculpture next to the bridge, to commemorate the eagles that often fly through the eagle valley.
Here is a picture of an Eagle I shot while on top of Wanshan Village.
You will notice that the ridge extends outward like a dragon, but the dragon's head (the small rocky outcrop where the above pavilion is located) is has been cut off. This is because the local people dynamited the mountain to divert the river away from Wanshan.
View of the Duona Bridges from the top of Wanshan.
Wanshan Drone Footage 萬山空拍:
You can watch the video above to get an idea of where Wanshan and the Duona Bridges are located.
This is the view I got when I pushed by drone a few hundred meters into the air.
Although it is technically banned, some Duona residents still ride scooters across the bridge to save time. I can imagine it is a scary experience.
Above is a video from Out Recording going across the bridge on a dirt bike.
At the bottom of the river valleys you can often see makeshift bridges made out of concrete pipe sections and gravel. These are easily washed out during floods, but they were all the people of Maolin had when Typhoon Morakot destroyed all the bridges in 2009.
Hiking Dragon's Head Mountain 爬龍頭山 (The Small Great Wall 小長城)
After you cross Duona Suspension Bridge you will directly step onto the trail to Dragon's Head Mountain, which is a sloping ridge that goes around Duona Bridge and looks like a sleeping dragon. This trail is also known as "The Small Great Wall" (小長城) because of its resemblance to hiking the Great Wall of China, which is often on top of mountain ridges.
The trail is easy, has great views, and is well made. But it wasn't always that way.
When I first visited in 2013, the wooden bridge across the road was completely rotten. One misstep would send you 20 feet to the road below. It was really scary, but we made it across in one piece. Luckily they have since changed the bridge to rot-resistant boards.
The views on top of Dragon Head Mountain are incredible, and it is definitely worth the hike.
Serpent's Head Mountain 百步蛇頭山
You can also see views of the nearby serpent's head mountain, which looks like a giant snake.
"Serpent Head Mountain"
"Serpent Head Mountain is classic meander topography. This was once a meander core, but the accumulation of rock and mud formed a neck that connected it to the hills behind, resulting in a shape that looks very much like a hundred-pacer snake lying coiled in the Zhuokou River. This is the origin of the name, Hundred-pacer Snake's Head Mountain. With the ongoing erosion continuing to cut away at the neck, however it is possible that the hill might once again become a meander core. Serpent's Head Mountain is revered as a sacred protector of the local tribes people, and for visitors it is one of Maolin's most famous landmarks."
That's it for this blog, although there is much more to explore around Duona Suspension Bridge. Stay tuned for some more blogs about Maolin coming soon.
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