Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: 2/10 – there’s not much to it, just some steps. It would probably be a little harder in wet conditions though.
Total ascent: 205m
Water: 0.5L should be enough if you’re not planning to stay for the afternoon.
Shade: on and off – shaded and short enough to be comfortable even in the sun.
Mobile network: pretty clear throughout.
Enjoyment: Pleasant waterfalls in pleasant surroundings.
GPX file available here.
This was my parents’ first introduction to walking in Taiwan, so we headed for an easy trail in order not to put them off for good. We parked up in the third carpark and walked right downhill until we met the trail entrance.
The entrance looks more like a road with an intriguingly phallic road block.
After a short while, the road terminates at a large watertank and becomes steps which lead down to a bridge.
We crossed over the bridge and continued up the steps on the other side.
Just before a second bridge, we passed a mounatin toilet stop. I wondered briefly where the waste is taken…into the river below perhaps? The body of water crossed here is the stream flowing down from one of the two falls.
A short spur leading up to the right will take you to the first of the twin falls: Feng waterfall.
There was no one else there when we arrived and we snuck through the fencing to stand at the edge of the pool just below the waterfall. There was a male plumbeous water redstart dipping and bobbing on the rocks around the stream – they’re very pretty little birds with slate grey and plump bodies and neatly fanned-out rust coloured tail feathers.
Waterfall photos taken, we headed back down the same way until we met the original path, we headed right and continued uphill.
Along the way we passed a huge number of these fluffy-looking purple flowers. Their scientific name is ageratum houstonianum, but they go by several much more evocative common names including: flossflower, pussy foot and Mexican paintbrush. It is native to Mexico and is an invasive species here – partly due in fact to its remarkably effective defense mechanism, it triggers early moulting in insects which moult and can cause sterility if they eat too much.
Just half an hour after leaving the car we made it to Long waterfall – actually the Chinese name is Dragon waterfall, but I’m not sure what’s so dragony about it. Besides the spectacular stream of water, the first thing we noticed was the giant glass walkway jutting out over the rock wall. This is Zhongliao Skywalk – a small U-shaped construction that you can walk over for $100.
Again we were the only ones there when we arrived which meant that we were free to throw our things down and clamber around on the rocks and at the water’s edge. We’d brought some wax apples that we’d cut up before leaving our Airbnb and mum and dad got to appreciate first-hand why they are one of my favourite hiking fruits.
After we’d finished playing around and taking photos, we headed back down almost the same way we’d come. The only deviation was that we crossed the water flowing down from Long waterfall a little before the two bridges which meant that there were no bridges to cross on the way down. It took about 20 minutes coming down.
How to get there
Google maps address: 541, Nantou County, Zhongliao Township – there is a free parking lot with an unnecessary amount of space at the bottom of the trail.
GPS location: N23 56.425 E120 48.680 – this is the location of the car park.
Public transport: not really – this is one you’d probably only visit of you were already passing through the area.
My new words learnt on this hike:
- 你去求他 / nǐ qù qiú tā / you go ask him or you go beg him
- 王子 / wángzǐ / prince – after knowing princess for so long, I guess it’s about time that I know the male equivalent.