Curves in the topographic grain of active orogenic belts typically parallel faults and lithologic contacts in part because of linkages between uplift rates and the structural development of the overriding plate. However, in the Taiwan collision zone, the topographic grain trends nonparallel to mapped faults and folds in the central portion of the belt along the southwest flank of the Hsüehshan Range. Here, the northern side of the Puli topographic embayment trends ∼345°, forming a topographic break that lies at a high angle to the structural grain but is nearly parallel to an underlying continental margin fracture zone in the downgoing plate. We analyzed fault-slip and other structural data, extracted normalized steepness indices from streams within the Tachia, Peikang, and Mei River basins, and integrated the results with recently published precise leveling data in order to understand the spatial and temporal variation in uplift and the structures that accommodated that uplift. Stress inversion reveals a NW-SE–trending maximum compression direction for an early-stage fault population and an ENE-WSW–trending maximum compression direction for a late-stage fault population. River steepness indices delineate a NW-trending boundary in incision rate that coincides with an increase in rock uplift rates derived from independent geodetic measurements. This NW-trending boundary is consistent with the late-stage maximum compression direction, suggesting that uplift of the Hsüehshan Range relative to the Puli topographic embayment has been accommodated by the late-stage faults. Our results suggest that a continental margin promontory has slowed underplating beneath the Puli topographic embayment and that the topographic grain of active collision zones is closely linked with the architecture of the downgoing plate.