Shhh... world's first certified 'quiet' hiking trail opens to light-footed explorers

Cuifeng Lake, Taiwan
The trail hugs the edge of Cuifeng Lake, Taiwan (Image credit: Getty)

A hiking route in Taiwan has become the first officially recognised 'Quiet Trail' in the world, with explorers urged to be humble and appreciate the sounds of nature while causing as little disturbance as possible.

The Cuifeng Lake Circular Trail skirts the edge of Taiwan's largest alpine lake between Taiping Mountain and Dayuan Mountain, with spectacular views across the water. As CNN Travel reports, the route follows an old forest railway line that passes through dense cypress forest that acts like natural sound insulation.

A 300-meter wooden walkway takes hikers to a view of the lake, but most turn around rather than pressing on, which has allowed the remainder of the 3.95km trail to remain peaceful.

The route was awarded 'Quiet Trail' status by Quiet Parks International, a nonprofit based in the US that has a mission to "save quiet for the benefit of all life", and preserve the natural soundscape of land. The organization granted the trail its special status in a ceremony including prayers and performances by the Hagaparis tribe of the indigenous Taiwanese Atayal People.

"For a densely populated island to have the world's first certified 'Quiet Trail' carries special meaning for Taiwan," said Lin Hua-ching, director of the Forestry Bureau.

Tread softly

So just how quiet is quiet? Over a three-year period from 2015-2017, researchers used scientific instruments to record sound on the trail for five minutes every hour to ensure it never exceeded 25dB (a very soft whisper, or the rusting of leaves). 

For the trail to continue to meet QPI's standards, there must be no more than one audible human-caused noise every 15 minutes. That might sound difficult, but it's hoped that the Quiet Trail will help boost tourism in Taiwan, which has been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.