Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail is one of the best waterfall hikes in Taiwan. Not only are there 3 great waterfalls on this trail but there almost another 10 nearby waterfalls that can be combined as part of your dayhike. Typically most people start their hike at Sandiaoling Train Station and end it at Shifen Waterfall but I have suggested a different and in my opinion better route in my waterfall guide. Shifen Waterfall looks great in photos but it is filled with mobs of people and the entire area is concreted. The other problem is that if you end your Sandiaoling hike at Shifen then you have to walk through a railway tunnel. I have done this before and it kind of freaked me out (no trains came). It is also very illegal to walk through the tunnels although many do.
Instead I recommend that hikers start at Dahua Train Station. If you have time you can take a short walk down the tracks and view the Dahua Potholes (photo above) at the exit to Yerengu (Wildman Valley). Yerengu was a famous attraction with 4-5 waterfalls until a typhoon wiped it out over a decade ago. I would love it if they were able to open the area up again someday
The red bridge crosses the Keelung River just downstream of Shifen Waterfall and can be reached from Dahua Train Station. This bridge and trail used to connect to Yerengu but now it is the longer version of the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail.
After the red bridge you ascend almost 1/2 km up what I call ‘The Stairs of Death’. These kind of stairs covered in moss are found all over Taiwan and are probably one of the most dangerous parts of hiking here. I strongly prefer walking up stairs like this instead of down. At least they have installed a railing for part of the route now.
After hiking up ‘The Stairs of Death’ you come to the large parking for Yerengu. The gates are locked but you can access a small Tudigong Shrine with a view of Xinliao Waterfall.
The next part of the hike is a mix of roadwalking and small trails until you get near Pipadong Waterfall. You can easily make a few wrong turns between Yerengu and Pipadong Waterfall but hopefully my waterfall guide is clear enough to follow.
Before reaching Pipadong Waterfall you will have to climb down a ladder similar to this one. This ladder was between Pipadong and Motian Waterfall and has been replaced with a metal staircase. I don’t think it would be fun in the rain but it looks scarier than it actually is to use.
Pipadong is the first waterfall that you will reach if you start at Dahua Train Station. The water falls over an impressive overhang and there is a small pool below. The water isn’t very deep but this is probably the best swimming opportunity although there are some nice pools downstream of Motian Waterfall.
At Pipidong Waterfall you can see potholes being hollowed out. The rocks are stuck in the holes and during heavier rains they move around in the hole. These potholes are everywhere in the Pingxi area.
The rope-log ladder might have been replaced by metal stairs as shown below but that doesn’t mean that it is an easy trail between the two waterfalls though. Overall it isn’t that difficult but some might be comfortable hiking here. The trail from Sandiaoling Train Station to Motian Waterfall is quite easy to hike and doesn’t involve any ropes or ladder climbing. That is an excellent option for those that are less confident in these situations.
Motian Waterfall is frequently called Sandiaoling Waterfall but there actually isn’t a Sandiaoling Waterfall. The trail is named after a local village and the 3 waterfalls have different names.
At Motian Waterfall you can hike in a small cleft in the rock wall behind the waterfall. Here is a rare photo of me.
There are two cool rope bridges pass over small streams near Hegu Waterfall.
There might be some old trails that lead to the top of Hegu Waterfall but most only see the waterfall from the viewing platform. One improvement is that your view isn’t as obstructed as much at the viewing platform as before and you can see most of the lower tier at Hegu Waterfall.
My version of the hike ends at Sandiaoling Village although for most it starts there. The old school has been turned into a small museum. There are bathrooms at the school and some snack and drink vendors are now in Sandiaoling on the weekends. Don’t expect much but several years ago there was nothing to buy in the village.