Time: 1 hour walking at a quick pace to keep warm.
Difficulty: 3/10 going up or 2/10 going down – you can’t really get lost here and the trail is paved the whole way. The only difficult comes from the slight incline and steps which become slippery in wet conditions.
Total ascent: 266m
Water: 0.5L for a quick winter walk was enough for me. There is a visitor centre at the end of the walk where you can get extra if necessary.
Shade: mostly shaded, a little more open towards the end.
Mobile network: ok, but with a few areas where it drops out.
Enjoyment: 8.5/10 (for the conditions I walked it in), not quite so high for a hot day. The path isn’t especially beautiful or fun to walk, but the waterfall is spectacular after rain, and being able to walk up to a place where you can enjoy hot coffee to warm you against the cold as well as dip your feet in a hot spring makes it extremely satisfying in cold weather. It is also public-transport accessible which is a positive.
Other: aim to be heading down mid afternoon in order to avoid the huge queues which form at the bus stops for the later buses – this is extra true if you go at the weekend or on a national holiday. Also, if you want to do more than just dip your feet in, there is a public hot spring bath you can use at Lengshuikeng, as long as you come suitably prepared. The opening hours are at bottom of this post.
GPX file available here.
Walk 15-20 metres up from the Juansi Waterfall bus stop and you’ll reach the entrance on your right.
It starts out as an easy meander following a man-made watercourse on a gently sloping up. I’d decided on the upwards direction in an attempt to keep warm in the cold, (as well as because that would leave me next to a cafe when I finished).
Given the recent persistent wet weather, there were a few places where what are (probably) normally small trickles run over the path. I was ok because I was wearing wellies, but even without, the paving slabs had been placed so that you would have been able to walk up without getting your feet that wet. One of the streams I passed was warm to the touch, but all the rainwater had diluted it so that it was no longer that hot.
The slope on the left stretches up above the path, and the right drops down towards the noisy Lengshuikeng creek. As the steps start to get a little steeper, the water turns white from all the little cascades and small channels that it’s forced through.
A little over 1km into the walk, the path arrives at Juansi waterfall. According to the sign placed nearby, the fall acquired its name because it resembles a thread of spun silk falling through the forest. After several days of rain, I can report that it looks more like a fat silk rope.
The path continues up on a path which would have been very slippery if I were wearing anything except wellies. There are a few sections with some steps, but nothing too taxing.
Just beyond where the path crossed a stream, I turned left towards Lengshuikeng. (Right goes towards Qingtiangang.)
Again, over the bridge I took the left path towards Lengshuikeng. The straight-on path goes towards the road and the path on the left (just before the bridge), goes up to Qingtiangang. Until this point, I hadn’t seen a single other person – a rarity for Yangmingshan Park – but as I headed up the fog-shrouded path, two Taiwanese people in those disposable plastic raincoats gradually detached themselves from the wall of white in front of me. I continued on, passing the moss-covered remains of an old cattle shelter from the time of the Japanese occupation. This section of the walk runs next to a small creek, maybe one which feeds into Lengshuikeng creek and the sound of the water is very soothing.
And then, on the floor, just on the side of the path, two bags which (until recently), had contained disposable plastic raincoats. I picked them up somewhat angrily to take out of the park with me. Perhaps it was an honest mistake and cold hands had shoved them now quite deep enough into a pocket, I hope that is the case.
The path opens out to an exposed clearing with a viewing platform (currently sans view), and the remains of defense pillbox number six. The structures sit at another crossroads. This time, I headed straight on towards Lengshuikeng.
The path drops through a stand of tall pines which have been planted to either side, forming a kind of grand tree corridor.
At the bottom of the tree corridor the path splits. Both routes end up in the same place, but the left one takes you around Lengshuikeng ecological pond.
I’m not really sure what marks it out as being ecologically special, but its presence somehow reminds me of foggy walks on the moors back home.
The path climbs ever so slightly before arriving at Jingshan suspension bridge. I am sure it looks beautiful on a clear day, but on a foggy day, there isn’t much to see except for fog, (not that fog isn’t beautiful, it is).
After crossing the bridge, you quickly arrive at Lengshuikeng visitor centre, but the park has one final intriguing spectacle to share: 牛奶湖 or Milk Lake. It was once a point of sulphur extraction, but since falling out of use, the minerals in the pit have coloured both the rocks and the water. It was a surreal sight, even whilst surrounded by more white. It must be even stranger on a bright, sunny day.
At the visitor centre, a muttering of tough old hikers in wellies and waterproofs gathered outside around portable stoves and steaming bowls of instant noodles, whilst the less suitably dressed (and shivering) youth congregated inside the building where it was warmer and drier. I ordered a coffee and ate the ‘toast’ pockets that I’d bought at a 7-eleven in Shilin.
Despite the chilly weather, I hadn’t felt cold due to an especially toasty coat, but even so, I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to warm my feet (the only part of me which had suffered from the cold), in the hot spring waters. There is a small pool where you can dip your feet just up the road from the visitor centre.
Unintentionally, I had timed my visit so that I arrived exactly when people were leaving to attend the afternoon bathing session. That meant that I had the whole pool to myself for a while.
How to get to Juansi Waterfall
Google maps address: 絹絲瀑布登山步道, 112, Taipei City, Shilin District
GPS location: N25 09.110 E121 33.726
Public transport: the S15 (a minibus), goes from just outside of Shilin MRT station. You need to get off at Juansi Waterfall/絹絲瀑布 – as far as I can remember, there is no english announcement for the stop, so either make sure you know where you’re going or let the driver know.
Further reading: this is the government website for this walk, it’s not amazingly phone-friendy though. Over here they provide a good example of how vexing the Yangmingshan buses can be to people who don’t read Chinese, they also do the walk in reverse.
My new words learnt on this hike:
- 引以…為傲 / yǐn yǐ…wéi ào / be proud of… – technically the structure is more like ‘because of…feel proud‘ – or at least thinking of it that way makes it easier to remember.
- 無所謂 / wúsuǒwèi / it doesn’t matter – 你對我來無所謂 is a very unkind thing to say, it means something like you don’t matter to me or you mean nothing to me.