Distance: 3km

Time: in all we spent about 3¾ hours here, 50 minutes going down, 65 minutes going up and the rest relaxing in hot water.

Difficulty (new Taiwan hiker): 2.5/10 – just steep slopes and unpaved surfaces.

Difficulty (new Taiwan hiker): 5.5/10 – the shortness means that most able-bodied people could do this ok but it’s rather steep on the way back up, it’s also a littlehard to get to.

Water: depends on how long you plan to stay down there really, I got through about 0.8L on a hot winter day.

Shade: on and off, in winter the sun wasn’t a problem but as a semi-ginger I would take an umbrella in spring or summer.

Mobile network: not good, but don’t worry, you’ll be too busy in the water to miss it.

Enjoyment: The hike itself isn’t much to write home about, but who can complain about having a wild hot spring.

Other: you’ll probably want to take a towel and a change of clothes if you’re planning to go in the water. I took a light pair of sandals to wear in the water but that’s just my preference. Also I’d recommend that you plan ahead and take some food so that you can stay a while and enjoy the place – just remember to take all your rubbish home with you.

We parked in the carpark near the head of the trail. Actually the land belongs to a local peach farmer who take a $100 fee to park, he chatted to us a little bit before we headed off and told us that there’s no way we could get lost as there’s only one path.

Walking past the man’s green house the road goes left downhill through hills of scaffolded peach trees.

The route starts off as a farm track.

Although it was a full six months away from peach season when we went, (the peach trees were just beginning to bud), we did come across this fruit tree which I’m guessing must be a type of plum.

The road goes down a series of very steep switchback bends which pulled at the muscles in my legs.

At the first of two shelters the path starts to get narrower.

And by the time you reach the second shelter the road has been replaced by steps. At some point the distant sussuration of the water gives way to a full on roar as you climb ever deeper down into the valley. The steps eventually become a rock and dirt path which looked like it would be rather slippery if wet.

A couple of minutes before we arrived at the water we passed a couple of benches in an area which showed signs of barbecues. Sadly someone had left their barbecue tray behind.

As the path reaches the water there were more signs of people, this time a discarded bedding mat. It really is irritating that people come to these beautiful places to enjoy nature but then do things like leave rubbish around. If you carry it in then take it home. On that note, the Leave No Trace organisation has some pretty good ground rules for how to enjoy nature in a way that is responsible and will preserve the environment for others to enjoy, (although I think that in Taiwan the tip about not building any structures or furniture might be a hard sell).

Once at the water’s edge the path goes left, (aparently there’s another entry point up to the right too but we didn’t venture that way).

This last bit is a just little treacherous over slippery rocks but it’s very short.

Right before you make the final climb down to the water there is a makeshift shelter which has aparently been provided as a changing cubicle. As someone else wanted to use the cubicle we just got changed on the path.

The final descent is made by ladder to a rocky shore. The other group arrived pretty much the same time we did and promptly set up a small camp stove to prepare lunch. We’d brought baozi to keep us going which we ate whilst talking to a guy who was just packing up to go.

He said that the safest way across was following the line of rocks that forms a kind of shallow dam at the widest point. Just on the other side of the widest point was the first of two pools, a kind of long, oval shape. From there you could scramble across the rocks to the second bigger pool, they’re not nearly as slippery  as they look but you still have to be careful. As we crossed the cold river we saw that there were thousands fat little tadpoles dashing to get out of the way of our feet, it must be really noisy here around mating season.

This is the best pool of the two, it’s considerably hotter and it has the added bonus of a cold waterfall to give your back a bit of a massage . The hot water feeds in from a small stream running over the rocks to the right of the photo and it is seriously hot, I turned an unattractive shade of pink after a few minutes.

The view looking back up the valley as you relax is just lovely.

We were joined in the pool by the other group, they shared their apples with us and chatted about good places to go hiking. They stayed for a while and then left before us which gave us a bit of time to enjoy the lovely surrounds and without an audience we were able to dry off and change clothes on the rocky beach rather than having to find a small place where no one could see.

As we made the return walk I felt I would have preferred to walk up to the hotspring and then back down to the car because I was feeling too relaxed to want a serious climb, but it was definitely worth it.

Back at the car park the old man came out to ask us how we’d liked it and have a bit of a chat. Actually we got to hear most of his (pretty unfortunate) life story – three siblings, all dead, one from drinking too much, wife also dead after an illness, it’s pretty much just him and his dogs now. Despite that he seemed to have no complaints with life – he grows peaches to sell once a year in June, he gets by on that and by eating the produce that he grows and as he told us several times he never drinks beer because it’s bad for your body. He invited us into his house to try one of his oranges and by the time we left we’d been given a bag full of blood oranges and something more like a satsuma.

How to get to Galahe hot spring

Google maps address嘎拉賀溫泉停車場 336, Taoyuan City, Fuxing District, 25 – this takes you to the carpark at the start of the trail head. If you park here you’ll probably have to pay the guy.

GPS address:  N24 38.129 E121 24.335 – this is the address for the car park. N24 37.850 E121 24.658 is the location of the hotspring.

Public transport: I can’t find any buses that come here so you’d have to rely on taxis but in that case you’d have to have an agreement with the driver that you’d be picked up later otherwise you’d be a bit stuck.

My new words learnt on this hike were:

  1. 水蜜桃 / shuǐ mì táo / peach
  2. 你不相信我 / nǐ bù xiāngxìn wǒ / you don’t believe me
  3. 你來過這裡嗎? / nǐ láiguò zhèlì ma? / Have you been here before?
  4. 蚯蚓 / qiū yǐn / earthworm
  5.  / xī / stream

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