Changed the rating—after a visit with the GPS tracker we found the trail shorter than we were told: just about 4.5km, with 520m of ascent. New rating is a Level 3, because even though it’s short there are a lot of stairs.
The hike starts at the little gate of a small scenic area near the start point of our White River hike.
We’ll walk up past some temples and cave dwellings and start on the stairs that take us up to the top trail.
Part of the way up the stairs we’ll take a detour to look at Master Gu’s cave, hidden in a crevice in the cliffs below a trickling waterfall.
After the detour we’ll continue up the main trail passing through shady forested areas. Parts of the hills here were cultivated as orchards, and we’ll see old terraces and the remains of farmers’ shacks.
The top trail takes us across the face of the mountain, and here’s where the views start to open up—mountains all around, and a glimpse of the White River far below.
We’ll hike across and then down to complete the loop, taking a look at the temples on the way out.
“Master of the Ghost Valley”
Master Gu was a philosopher who lived during the Warring States period (475-221 BC). He’s known for a collection of writings called “Master of the Ghost Valley”, presumably named as such because he lived in ‘Ghost Valley’.
The actual location of Ghost Valley is debated and it’s very unlikely that the canyon and cave we’ll hike today is where Master Gu actually lived, making this more of a based-on-a-true-story type of situation.
But as the story goes here in the park area, Master Gu had a cave here and was visited by disciples for consultations on military strategy.
This being maybe not the actual Ghost Valley means the temples we’ll take a look at are maybe not 1800 years old as they say. But maybe they are? It would make for a nice story, anyway.