Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area

Lion’s Head Mountain is located where the borders of Miaoli County’s Sanwan and Nanzhuang townships and Hsinchu County’s Emei Township intersect. Its main peak is 492 meters above sea level, it got its name because it looks like a lion’s head, and at its summit is a meteorological monitoring and communication relay station. In 2001, the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications designated Lion’s Head Mountain along with Taichung’s Li Mountain and Changhua’s Bagua Mountain as the Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area (參山國家風景區), with an area of around 20,000 hectares.
Lion’s Head Mountain
(Credit of all photos: The website of Tri-Mountain National Scenic Area)

Lion’s Head Mountain is known throughout Taiwan as a religious shrine, and it was listed early on among Taiwan’s 12 most celebrated scenic spots. From the late Qing period to the Japanese colonial era, Buddhist monks used the location’s ready-made natural cliff wall caves to build temples, and altogether there are 11 temples of different sizes. Among them, the Yuan Guang Temple, built in 1895, has the longest history. The Fan Yin Temple, built in 1902, was constructed at the bottom of Lion’s Head Mountain’s biggest natural cave, Shuilian Cave (水濂洞), where among the many temples it is the only one with a non-traditional temple architectural form. Lingxia Cave (靈霞洞), founded in 1917, is a stone temple built in a shallow cave whose most special feature is its baroque archway facade.
Yuan Guang Temple

Fan Yin Temple

Lingxia Cave

Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area also has many trails such as the Shishan Historic Trail and Tenping Trail that allow visitors to explore historical sites and enjoy the natural beauty. The most well known of them is the Shuilian Bridge Trail. Along this trail visitors can discover a landscape studded with potholes and also the hundred-year-old Nuomi (sticky rice) Bridge. This bridge was built in 1918, mainly out of stone – large rocks were cut into square bricks with sticky rice and sugar added to lime to make the cement. Built using the principles of mechanics to form an arch, the stone bridge’s overall shape and texture are simple and solid. In earlier times, before roads were opened on Lion’s Head Mountain, the bridge was an essential crossing point for residents of Beipu and Emei in Hsinchu coming and going between Nanzhuang on the Miaoli side.

As well as its fine natural scenery, Lion’s Head Mountain Scenic Area also boasts unique cultural attractions, making it an area of Hakka settlement that is well worth exploring.