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Freshwater Supply - Scenic Lakes and Reservoirs around Taiwan

Like people everywhere else, the good people of Taiwan like to get away from the stress of urban living to frolic in and by placid freshwater spots. Beyond Sun Moon Lake, the main subject of our Feature section this issue, here are my five more tourist-friendly lake/reservoir destinations.

By Rick Charette

Shimen Reservoir
This reservoir, not far south of Taipei, is on the upper reaches of the Dahan River, the Tamsui River’s main source. It lies behind a tall dam – Shimen (“Stone Gate”) Dam – blocking the long, narrow gorge that opens onto the long, flat valley that leads toward Taipei. The area is rugged and dramatically scenic; visitors come for long lake cruises, walks on winding trails to well-placed pavilions, bicycling (rentals available), and meals at waterside eateries featuring reservoir fish in multiple ways. In spring, peach blossoms, cherry blossoms, and azaleas are in bloom, and in autumn maples planted to prevent erosion turn golden.
Not far to the east of Taipei is Feicui (“Emerald”) Reservoir, the city’s main drinking-water source. Severe restrictions on development have made this a prime spot for peaceful walks and hikes.

Liyutan (Carp Lake)
Just southwest of Hualien City, nestled in the eastern foothills of the central mountains, this is the region’s largest lake, about 104 hectares in area. There are pedal-boat and bicycle rentals, open-air eateries and cafés, a four-kilometer ring road for pleasant walking, well-marked trails shooting off into the nearby hills, and camping/picnic areas. Small motorboats can be rented (with driver) for cruises. The ring road, featuring easy grades, can be traversed in about an hour; fireflies abound in late spring/early summer. Pineapple and other tropical-fruit plantations surround the lake, and resort hotels are now going up in the area. Paragliders use Mt. Liyu, just to the lake’s east, as their launch-pad (tandem-flights with professional instructors available).

Deji Reservoir
On the Dajia River in Taichung, up in the central mountains, framed in many spots by sheer walls, this body of held-back water is 14-km long and 592 hectares. Tourists are permitted 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Its high, thin, hyperbola-shaped dam, Taiwan’s first arch dam, is a magnificent sight, peaking at 290 meters. Scenic Provincial Highway No. 8 runs alongside the reservoir (at present, the reservoir is only accessible by this highway from the east, since the highway is closed off to the west). Premier nearby attractions are the Lishan area and its alpine fruit orchards, including those at Fushoushan Farm, Taiwan’s highest tourist tea farm, which has orchards, eco-hikes, a museum, and other amenities.
Wanda Reservoir is to the south in the same general region, near Wushe town and Provincial Highway No. 14. Set amidst tall peaks, dense forest lines the shores. The area is known for hiking, bird-watching, hot-springs and, at Aowanda Forest Recreation Area, colorful autumn maples.

Wushantou Reservoir
In the western rural section of sprawling Tainan City, 30 waterways flow into Wushantou, which sprouts over 100 islands. The water flowing from the 6,000-hectare reservoir forms a lovely high waterfall. The intricate indentations of the shoreline have given rise to another name, Coral Lake. Other lake-area attractions are peaceful Zhongzheng Park, atop a hill, temple facilities, a barbecue area, camping area, lakeside trail, water park, and small aviary/garden.
Even larger Cengwen Reservoir, in the mountains not far to the east in Chiayi County, has camping areas, guest cottages, high observation platforms, outdoor-exercise facilities, an aviary, and a landscape-garden area.

Chengqing Lake
The Kaohsiung area’s largest lake, this reservoir, measuring over 300 hectares, is one of south Taiwan’s most popular scenic areas. “Crystal Clear” Lake has picnicking, boating, and a shoreline pathway and forest trails that connect its scenic sights together. Locals consider a relaxing day exploring the pavilions, pagodas, and pedestrian bridges a day spent within a poem. The lake’s myriad compelling beauties have brought it the name “West Lake of Taiwan.” The lake’s aquarium was originally a massive underground bunker; its 200-meter-long tunnel brings you to eight exhibits, on whales, exotic sea life, coral, shellfish, and more.

English & Chinese
Aowanda Forest Recreation Area 奧萬大森林遊樂區
Cengwen Reservoir 曾文水庫
Coral Lake 珊瑚潭
Feicui Reservoir 翡翠水庫
Dahan River 大漢溪
Dajia River 大甲溪
Deji Reservoir 德基水庫
Fushoushan Farm 福壽山農場
Liyutan 鯉魚潭
Mt. Liyu 鯉魚山
Shimen Dam 石門水壩
Shimen Reservoir 石門水庫
Wanda Reservoir 萬大水庫
West Lake of Taiwan 台灣西湖
Wushantou Reservoir 烏山頭水庫
Zhongzheng Park 中正公園

Provided by Travel in Taiwan Bimonthly May June Issue, 2012