Yilan Longtan Lake is a famous tourist attraction located on the calm and quiet outskirts of Jiaoxi Township in northern Taiwan’s Yilan County. It was one of the “Lanyang Twelve Scenic Wonders” due to its spectacular scenery and unique ecosystems. In addition to its natural beauty, one of the most commendable features of the lake is its fascinating walking trails and the eco park that helps Distoechodon tumirostris return upstream to spawn.
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Originally called “Dapi” or “Dapo Lake” (big pond), Yilan Longtan Lake is surrounded by mountains on three sides. With an area of about 20 hectares (49 acres), it is the largest among the five natural lakes on Lan Yang Plain. When Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945), the Japanese government designed and constructed the agricultural irrigation canal system to use the water of the lake to irrigate the rice fields in Jiaoxi Township.
Yilan Longtan Lake and the adjacent area were designated by the Yilan County Government as Longtan Lake Scenic Area in 1986. Since then, the local government has acquired ample funds from the Tourism Bureau and Ministry of Transportation and Communications to make this scenic area a more enjoyable place to visit, including constructing wood boardwalk trails, an eco park, and other leisure amenities, as well as renovating the road surrounding the lake.
The beauty of the lake
Upon arrival, visitors cannot help being enthralled by the idyllic beauty of a vast expanse of lush green grass stretching from the Roystonea regia palm trees at the entrance to the lakeside, where the eye-catching steel art installations of a ship and an igloo are erected.
On the two sides of the lake, there are nicely paved wooden boardwalks winding along the lakeside in different widths. With some lookout platforms protruding from the water, the winding boardwalks are perfectly connected by two curved boardwalks in the middle of the lake.
The two curved boardwalks across the lake are conjoined above the water as if they were two ropes tied together and stretched in the lake, which forms a fantastic vista. On top of that, there are some striking steel art installations of fish on both sides of the boardwalks, making these walking trails even more fantastic.
Apart from the boardwalks, there is a beautiful and tranquil road surrounding the lake. Spanning about 2.8 km (1.7 miles) in the shade of lush trees, this path is a great location for hiking, biking, and bird-watching.
Another interesting feature of the lake is a big bowl slide that can be found by the lush lawn adjacent to the entrance. It is one of the 15 featured slides in Taiwan. With a height of about 3 meters (9.8 feet), this unique slide is not only for toddlers or kids, but also for adults.
The unique eco park
In addition to the natural beauty of Longtan Lake, another commendable feature of this popular scenic area is its Distoechodon Tumirostris Eco Park (龍潭湖鯝魚生態園區). Located on the lakefront, the eco park is the only one of its kind in the world.
In this unique eco park, there is a 30-meter-long fish passage with wooden fish ladders that allows Distoechodon tumirostris to swim upstream to spawn. Many people visit Longtan Lake around May every year for the sole purpose of watching the fascinating display of tens of thousands of Distoechodon tumirostris ascending the fish ladders at the same time.
Therefore, it’s great to have a relaxing stroll around the whole lake in order to explore the beauty of nature and the unique eco park with fish ladders at Longtan Lake. If you are going on a fine day, chances are that you may come across buskers playing soothing music for gratuities by the lakeside too.