WENZHOU, China – Most Americans who have even heard of this city of 9 million know it as a manufacturing and export city, but it is trying to enhance its leisure visitor credentials and has one attraction of major proportions.
Towering above Wenzhou, a coastal city between Shanghai and Hong Kong, is Daluo Mountain, a trail-laced retreat from a bustling metropolis where the best job may be leasing construction cranes. The number of high-rise buildings under construction is almost indescribable, but those manmade towers can’t rival Daluo Mountain.
My group of American and Canadian convention attendees kept looking out the windows as our bus charged up a two-lane road hugging the side of the mountain as the city grew smaller and smaller.
The bus dropped us at a little village tucked into a divot in the mountain just 12 miles from city center. Vendors had lively businesses selling snacks, water and a few souvenirs. Westerners, of course, are unusual here. The trails’ primary users are locals. Especially evident when we visited were college students, presumably from a sprawling campus at the base of the mountains.
An hour-long, calf-challenging ascent was primarily on a concrete walkway through bamboo corridors and along ridges of deciduous trees that should have been showing autumn colors but that hadn’t started turning.
As we neared the crest of our chosen trail, views opened to several vistas that showed Daluo Mountain was part of a sizable ridge and canyon region.
Instead of doing an about-face for the expected out-and-back hike, guides told us to press on. We noticed that almost all of the local hikers who had been with us earlier had returned the way they came.
Our continuation was on a more traditional natural-surface trail, and our reward was a placid mountaintop lake, which popped into sight when we emerged from a stand of trees.
The descent from the lake put us back on concrete staircases similar to those at the start of the hike, testing a different set of leg muscles. A stream that flowed from the lake provided a soundtrack for part of the downhill walk.
Our hike became almost a full loop. Our motorcoach met us a few hundred yards up the road from the trailhead in the village we had left about three hours earlier.
Urban planners have a grand scheme for cable cars, trams and visitor facilities, but what’s available now works quite nicely.
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