Nanzhuang is a popular little tourist town situated in the north-east of Miaoli County. And being only a short ride from Provincial Highway number 3, one of the best ways to get there is by bicycle.
Heading out from the south of Sanwan Township, after a small descent and crossing of a large bridge, you approach a large intersection. It’s quite wide and hard to miss, but don’t expect to see any signs indicating what road you’re crossing, instead look for this brown tourist sign for “Sianghu Lake Recreation Area”:
If you’re heading up from the south, you’ll want to keep an eye out for this sign just off to the right:
You can see the bridge heading north that leads into Sanwan Township in the background so remember, if you cross a huge-ass bridge you’ve gone too far!
The Sanwan to Nanzhuang bicycle trail follows a quiet two lane road and apart from a few bridges and one minor hill is a relatively flat 10kms of peaceful quiet.
The road quality is superb with wide bicycle lanes on either side to ride on.
Scenery wise as you begin the 10km ride, you have the giant wide river that circles Lion’s Head Mountain on your left and mostly farmland on the right.
And that’s oldschool farming mind, none of this motorised stuff. We stopped and watched this dude and his ox (?) plough the rice fields…
Knee-deep in sludge following a stinky cow… totally not for me but props to those that don’t mind!
The river on the other side of the road provides a nice backdrop to ride against:
However getting to it is a bit of a pain. You actually have to stop and climb over what appears to be a floor barrier:
Unfortunately the barrier cuts off the view of the river entirely along the trail, which as you can see is a damn shame!
Traffic wise we were riding the trail on a Saturday, but still only a few cars went past every so often (most take Route 124 on the otherside of the river). The relatively quiet roads didn’t stop this guy from setting up shop though:
Totally a waste of time (couldn’t have been more than 50 cars going past every hour), but a great spot to while away the afternoon if you’ve got nothing better to do!
One thing to look out for along the trail are the random stretches of flowers:
We rode the trail in June and there were quite a few in bloom. Something to keep in mind if you’re planning on visiting the area.
A few kilometres in and we crossed our first bridge:
That building on the right is a temple in construction. Some of the buildings in the area were quite nice. Others, well…
Dunno exactly what happened there but it looks like the remains of a really big fire.
Meanwhile the bridges rolled on:
Most of the Sanwan Nanzhuang trail is intersection free, however there are a few minor hiccups along the way:
I don’t really know why you need traffic lights on roads as quiet as this but they are there, so keep an eye out.
About halfway into the trail you’ll run into a long but gradual incline, followed by a rather steep decline that dumps you onto Route 124 (the main road on the otherside of the river):
This “T” intersection was quite busy so be careful (hit the brakes coming down!). Towards the left you have Lion’s Head Mountain and to the right Nanzhuang, so you’ll want to take a right here.
This portion of the trail is a bit busier,
but does open up and show you stretches of the river as you ride along:
Much of the trail here is a gradual descent into Nanzhuang,
which eventually ends at this fork:
Both routes will take you into Nanzhuang, so we just opted to press on along Route 124. We came back on the other road (leaving Nanzhuang from the south), founding it was a bit flatter and quieter.
What the quieter road didn’t have though was a view of the river, which by now you’ve crossed over so it’s on your right side:
And then before you know it… Nanzhuang pops up on your left:
Riding into Nanzhuang if you keep to the main road head towards the police station.
There’s a neat little “bicycle station” there, which provides a sheltered table and place to lock your bike if you want to explore Nanzhuang.
I believe the police station also has an air pump to use if you’re in need of one.
Trail wise the Nanzhuang Bicycle Station marks the end of the formal trail route. Here you can wander around Nanzhuang or press on into the mountains. We opted to explore Nanzhuang so stay tuned for that in a later post.
The mountains surrounding Nanzhuang look a bit menacing but I might tackle them at a later date and see what’s out there (apparently an Aboriginal village or two).
Heading back to Sanwan is pretty much the reverse of heading to Nanzhuang, although you can opt to follow Route 124 instead of turning right at the T intersection along the river road. This route is a bit more hilly but it does have some neat downhills as it follows the western face of Lion’s Head Mountain.
Either way the Sanwan to Nanzhuang bicycle trail is a rather neat little ride, and if you stay in Nanzhuang makes for a nice weekend getaway.
Oh and don’t worry about getting lost along the trail, every few hundred meters or so there’s one of these signs:
Up top you’ve got a visual on how far along the trail you are, and down below the distance in kilometers you’ve come and how far there is to go.
It’s really a shame more well planned out and maintained travelling tourist routes like this don’t exist in Taiwan.