I haven’t been everywhere yet but here are 10 easy waterfall hikes to do with children or retired parents. There are also great for those that are a little out of shape or who want to have a lazy day. And I know all about lazy days. Let me know if you have done any easy and safe waterfall hikes that aren’t on the list.
I picked several criteria for these hikes.
First, it has to be a hike and I am setting the minimum distance at 2km round trip.
Second, there should be a good trail surface so young, old and less confident hikers are comfortable hiking. Likewise the trails should have minimal rocks, branches and other obstacles even though I really like these natural trails. Another big issue in Taiwan is slippery moss covered surfaces but I think the below list minimizes those surfaces but they are difficult to completely avoid.
Third, there should be modest elevation gain.
Fourth, there should be an awesome waterfall on the hike and this is perhaps the most important criteria.
- Shanfong Waterfall is part of Yushan National Park in Hualien. This is part of the much longer Walami Trail (and even longer but currently closed Batonggaun Trail) but dayhikers can hike up to the waterfall or campground (5km one way) w/o a permit. On the drive to Shanfong Waterfall you will pass Nanan Waterfall where many locals swim during the summer.
2. Baiyang Waterfall is one of Taroko Gorge National Park’s most visited places. The hike is along an old road that was built for a hydroelectric project that was cancelled (thankfully). The trail gives hikers an introduction to some spectacular high mountain scenery without the effort. Hikers should remember their headlamps (smartphones are adequate but not that great) for the 8 tunnels on the trail. At the end the Water Curtain Cave is a long tunnel that started leaking water and is now a tourist attraction. It is best to check the trail conditions before your trip because this trail is frequently closed (currently closed 4/2016). Trail conditions (link)
3. The road to Longgong (Dragon Palace) Waterfall might be challenging with dozens of switchbacks but the hike is incredibly easy. The most spectacular aspect is when the trail continues behind the waterfall and comes out the other side. In addition to Longgong Waterfall there are two additional waterfalls to see. Leiyin Waterfall drops 100’s of meters opposite Longgong Waterfall. Be warned though there are two trailheads to Longgong Waterfall. One of the routes is almost completely flat all the way to the waterfall and the other descends 350 meters of stairs in 2 km.
There is currently (4/2016) trail damage and you can’t walk behind the waterfall but you can see the waterfall as shown below.
4. Xinliao Waterfall is a very easy and popular hike in Yilan. They first built the trail in 2006 but it was destroyed by a typhoon a couple of years later and then rebuilt in 2009. For those looking for a more natural trail they can also check out the nearby Jiuliao Waterfall.
5. Shuiliandong Waterfall is one of my favorites in Taiwan. The hike goes over a REALLY high red bridge in a tight gorge and there is one more even taller waterfall at the end of this gorge. There might be some trail damage but I haven’t been there in 4 years. I think I need to go this summer.
6. The trail to Maolin Waterfall was destroyed in the devastating Typhoon Morakot 7 years ago. Nearly every bit of infrastructure in the Maolin and Duona area was also destroyed by that typhoon but they have slowly rebuilt the valley into a popular tourist destination. In 2013 they rebuilt the trail with two impressive suspension bridges back to the waterfall.
7. Wuling Farm isn’t the most convenient place to visit but if planned correctly you can see peach and cherry blossoms in the spring, hike through a beautiful cypress forest and visit Taoshan Waterfall. You can also use Wuling Farm for access to some of Taiwan’s best high mountain hikes like Snow Mountain and Wuling Sixiu.
8. Sunlinksea (hate the name – it should be Shanlinshi) Forest Recreation Area has two spectacular waterfalls. Chinglong Waterfall is a beautiful 116 meter waterfall that can be viewed from across the valley. Those wanting to do a few extra (A LOT) stairs can descend to a better viewpoint. Songlong (Pine Dragon) Rock Waterfall is located right next to a shuttle bus stop at the end of the road.
9. Yulan Waterfall used to be a bit of an adventure to access but they have built a wide trail and several bridges for easy access now. The forest on this hike is particularly beautiful and I could have spent hours taking photos.
10. Yunlong Waterfall is part of one of my favorite hikes in Taiwan. The Batongguan Trail starts in Dongbu Hot Springs, connects to Yushan and if it is ever repaired it can be hiked all the way to the Walami Trail in Haulien. The hike follows a deep V shaped valley with spectacular views. The trail is in good shape and easy to walk but almost the entire trail is next to a very steep cliff and may not be suitable for young children or for those with a fear of heights.
Honorable Mention: I believe Neidong Waterfall is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful waterfalls. Last August the entire Wulai region was devastated by Typhoon Soudelor and it is unknown how long it will be until Neidong Waterfall reopens to the public.
Some other easy waterfall hikes: