Let your feet wander among Taiwan mountains of Matcha

聖母山莊步道位於宜蘭礁溪五峰旗瀑布風景區,是一條國家級六星步道,全程6公里的路程海拔上升770公尺,享受芬多精森林浴的同時,蘭陽平原之美盡收眼底。| Located in Yilan’s Jiaoxi, the Sacred Mother Trail at the Wufengqi Scenic Area is a national-level six-star trail that rises 770 meters above sea level for a distance of 6 kilometers. While enjoying some “forest bathing” in Fenduojing , a panoramic view of Lanyang Plain opens before trekkers.(Courtesy of Lu Hung-ming)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Sweeping through social media in 2019, a Japanese photographer shot a series of mountain ranges in Taiwan that surprisingly resembled matcha ice cream.

It turns out that this beautiful “ice cream” mountain is actually the “Sacred Mother Mountain” (聖母山) in Yilan’s Jiaoxi Township and its newly reopened six-star hiking trail.

Even better, no professional photography equipment is needed to snap the shot. As long as the weather is fine and sunny, you can use any cell phone to photograph this peculiar rolling mountain range.

This “Matcha Mountain” has become the most talked-about location among online celebrities this year and instantly going viral all over social media.

Located in Yilan’s Jiaoxi, the Sacred Mother Trail at the Wufengqi Scenic Area is a national-level six-star trail that rises 770 meters above sea level for a distance of 6 kilometers. While enjoying some “forest bathing” in Fenduojing, a panoramic view of Lanyang Plain opens before trekkers. (Courtesy of Lu Hung-ming)

The “Sacred Mother Trail” (聖母山步道), located in Jiaoxi’s Wufengqi Scenic Area, is a national-level six-star trail.

The entire 6-kilometer journey rises 770 meters above sea level, where trekkers can enjoy some nature therapy in Fenduojing’s forests, while also admiring the panoramic beauty of the Lanyang Plain (蘭陽平原).

Starting from the parking lot of the Wufengqi Trail, the first half is a gentle slope of about 4.3 kilometers, making it an easy hiking route for families to walk through its subtropical forest of broad-leaved canopies and trickling flows of streams.

After this hour-long walk through the forest trail, Matcha Mountain appears as you arrive at the trail’s entrance located at the Sacred Mother Peak.

From here, the real hiking challenge begins.

Climbing all the way up the stairs to Sacred Mother Peak is the price that “pilgrims” must pay.(Courtesy of Elisha Liao)

Although the steps are very steep, they still possess their primeval flare.

Since the Sacred Mother Trail was listed as a national trail, the wooden and earth steps were all made of small logs and built with natural engineering methods, integrating the steps into the natural landscape and adding to its wild feel.

After climbing the steep slope for about an hour and a half, trekkers finally arrive at the Sacred Mother Hut (聖母山莊) and a small hill next to it called Sacred Mother Peak.

Climbing further up will bring you to a viewing platform with a crucifix statue erected in the middle, which complements the marble statue nearby of the Virgin Mary, revealing the sacredness and history behind the Sacred Mother Trail.

As you ascend the peak, the legendary Matcha Mountain unravels before your eyes.

What draws so many to come here and take countless snapshots are the furls of mountain ridges that perfectly imitate greenish matcha ice cream.

This “Matcha Mountain” is actually named Sanjiaolun Peak (三角崙山), which belongs to the Xueshan Range (雪山山脈).

If you try to look out towards this mountain range, you’ll notice that it seems to stretch out infinitely.

The presence of grass slopes is usually only seen in the mountains above 2,000 meters, but these vividly green hills are only at 900 meters high, all thanks to the strong northeastern monsoon, which blows into the mountain vegetation and transforming it into an emerald carpet of grassy slopes.

The Sacred Mother Hut’s history can be traced back to 1979. It was funded by the Italian monk, Br. Luigi Pavan, and the statue of the Virgin Mary was erected as a resting place for climbers and pilgrims, alike. The Luigi Pavan has dedicated more than 20 years to the Camillian Saint Mary’s Hospital Luodong (羅東聖母醫院), and has done 26 years of missionary work in Taiwan. Luodong has since become his second home. (Courtesy of Lu Hung-ming)
Crucifix statue (Courtesy of Lu Hung-ming)
The monk Br. Luigi Pavan often kept healthy by hiking the Sacred Mother Trail, he then later received a revelation from the Virgin Mary that the Holy Spirit would bless all those who wandered this trail. After spending much of his savings, he built the Sacred Mother Hut. (Courtesy of Lu Hung-ming)
A bird’s eye view of Sacred Mother Hut (Courtesy of Lu Hung-ming)
As night falls and the crowds are gone, you may choose to stay overnight at Sacred Mother Hut to enjoy a splendid night view of the Lanyang Plain, and enjoy matcha mountain mists rising up in the early morning hours. It’s a great experience to be had with the whole family.(Courtesy of Lu Hung-ming)

This section of the hiking trail takes about half a day back and forth and belongs to the elementary-level hiking route.

However, for those who rarely ever walk into the mountains and forests, the trek might leave their legs feeling numb.

Matcha Mountain, located in Jiaoxi, Yilan, is the best entry-level experience for mountaineering.

Don’t be worried about cramping up when climbing, because below the mountain there’s one of Taiwan’s top-quality hot spring resorts.

Tangweigou Hot Spring Park (Shutterstock)
The outdoor spa at Guan Xiang Century Hotel has multiple massage oil pools.(Courtesy of Guan Xiang Century Hotel)
Hot springs at the Guan Xiang Century Hotel (Shutterstock)