Jhiben Forest Recreation Area
Jhiben is best known for its hot springs but it is also the location of an excellent network of trails in a lush forest. Of course there is a waterfall but the giant banyan trees are the main attraction. Most people hike clockwise in the park but I preferred going to the waterfall first and then did the trails counter clockwise. This allowed me to gain elevation using the gently sloped Shaded Banyan trail and then go down Brave Man’s Slope trail. Taiwan is a nation of mountains so it’s normal to encounter a trail named Brave Man or Hero slope and usually they are absolutely exhausting to go up. At Jhiben, the Brave Man’s Slope trail goes up 150 meters in just 320 meters of horizontal distance. Strangely very few hikers took the Forest Path trail which switch-backed through a beautiful mahogany forest and gave some relief to part of Brave Man’s Slope trail. If you have knee problems then perhaps you would prefer to go up Brave Man’s Slope but at least take the gently sloped Forest Path trail. The top offers views of Taidong and the Pacific Ocean and it is worth the effort.
Jhiben Waterfall that they refer to simply as ‘The Waterfall’.
Some bamboo on the Shaded Banyan trail
Perhaps this is too big but this would be an awesome place to rest during Taiwan’s frequent rain showers.
One of the seventeen 100 yr old White Banyans that are also called “Thousand-root Banyans”.
I can’t tell if the photo is leaning to the left or the right since the trees and trail slope go in opposite directions.
A little more up on the Shaded Banyan Trail.
The view going down Brave Man’s Slope
The Forest Path trail that very few people take to avoid Brave Man’s Slope
Baiyu (Bright Jade) Waterfall is one of several other waterfalls located in the Jhiben Hot Spring Area. This waterfall frequently shows up in travel guides and maps but I found it a little disappointing and the part you can’t see includes several waterpipes supplying water to the Jhiben community.
This is the view from a short hiking trail near the hot spring campsite that I stayed at. This is the absolutely last spot on the road that goes through Jhiben Hot Springs. It’s a little tricky right now but you can make it down to the river and it should be an outstanding hike upstream.
I was initially a little upset about needing to negotiate down to an 800NT price (27 USD) for one night of camping for one person but they are building a very nice no frills hot spring campsite with basic cabins. Possible justifications for the high price are a holiday surcharge (common) and even though I am one person I occupied one campsite. Currently they only have separate male/female hot springs but they are constructing at least 6 hot springs like this so perhaps that will change.