Located just outside of Songpan in the Mounigou Gulley Scenic Area is the breathtaking Erdaohai Lake. While this is not the only lake or scenic spot located in the park, it is one of the two most famous places in the Mounigou Gulley, ensuring the park is known by this name (The other park in Mounigou Gulley is Zhaga Waterfall.)
Known for its stunning colour, this lake is set at an altitude of 3,385 meters above sea level and covers an area of approximately 16,027 square meters. With karst caves located underneath, the plateau sink-lake is fed by the surging undercurrent. At its deepest point the lake is approximately 28 meters deep, and it is this changing depth of the mountain water that gives the lake its vibrant and shifting colours. Located at such a high elevation, the lake not only reflects the forest around its edges, but the living sky above.
Other Attractions Within the Park
In Erdaohai Park, there are actually a number of different lakes/pools that guests like to visit. Each of the lakes or pools is a different colour, and the sparkling clear mountain water displays the interesting elements of each place. This includes: Lovers Emerald Pool, Jade Lake, Toudaohai Lake, Swan Lake, Singing Spring, the Travertine Annual Rings, Jade-Dropping Pool, Grass Lake, and Hot Spring Lake.
Besides these, one of the lakes is known for the algae that grows in it that looks like the branches of a pine tree, while at another point in the park there is an actual pine tree that seems to grow straight out of a rock face. Also, worth spotting amongst the trees is the Karast Cave Group, with several of the caves extending deep into the earth. No matter where you look the park is beautiful with the forest, wildflowers, occasional animal, and the wide open sky.
When going to Erdaohai Lake, your best option is to take a taxi or private vehicle out of the town. We took a taxi, and for the price quoted us, he was willing to wait for us for the three hours we wanted to spend in the park. At the time of writing, the entrance ticket to Erdaohai Lake cost ¥70, but to see the stunning colour of each of the lakes is well worth it.
Inside Erdaohai Lake
Once inside Erdaohai Lake, the walk will take approximately 2-3 hours depending on the speed at which you want to walk and the amount of times you stop to take in the view. The lakes themselves are set further back into the park with the first appearing after about 15 minutes of walking.
A smooth wooden boardwalk leads visitors through the park making it a nice walk, however, for those with mobility issues, there are a number of steps in the park. Essentially the park tours a mountain side, so the height of the terrain changes as you go further in, but the boardwalk takes it from being a hike to a walk. When walking in the park, you will come to a couple of forks in the road, however, the entire park is set up as a loop, so by taking one road over the other, you aren’t actually missing anything.
If you walk right to the back of the park, guests are rewarded with a hot spring in which you may choose to dip your feet for a few minutes. However, don’t be surprised: the hot spring might not be as “hot” as you expect. The spring deserves this title because it never dips below 10°C in a year, which at the elevation is significant enough to differentiate it from the surrounding lakes. (To the amusement of those who sat at the pool longer, we saw more than one guest startle at their initial test of the water.)
When visiting the park, dress for the weather, and make sure you bring a water bottle. There are gazebos and benches scattered throughout the park if you want to enjoy a picnic lunch, but to do so will require you to bring the food with you from town as there is no place to buy it there.