An Easy Firefly Viewing Trail in Neihu District

If you check online for the best places to see fireflies in Taipei, then one of the locations that appears in many of the lists is Dagouxi Waterfront Park. This walk does indeed start there, but you won’t find any fireflies in the park itself, since (as with most things worth experiencing), it takes a little more effort than that…although thankfully not all that much effort.

Distance: 2.8km

Time: Walking to the falls from the MRT station and back should take around an hour and a quarter, but I’d give yourself at least two and a half hours if you want to enjoy the fireflies and all the nocturnal sights and sounds.

Difficulty (regular Taiwan hiker): 2/10 – No lighting, some slippery trail surfaces, otherwise very easy.

Difficulty (new Taiwan hiker): 3/10 – There are a few side trails, but they’re well signposted, slight elevation gain, but it’s very gentle, quite a long way to walk in the dark if you’re not used to it.

Total ascent: About 100m, but it feel like less than half that.

Water: A single small bottle should suffice.

Mobile network: As soon as you leave the park and enter the trail there is virtually no signal.

Enjoyment: Having this firefly view spot all to myself was rather special. It’s a great location to come for a night hike too, every time I visit there is lots to see.

Other: This trail has no lighting, so you’ll need to take your own torch. Make sure it’s one which has red light capabilities so as to not disturb the fireflies. There are snakes and mosquitoes around, so it’s better to wear sturdy shoes and clothing that covers your skin.

Route type: There and back.

Permit: None needed.

Jump to the bottom of this post for a trail map and GPX file.

The entrance to Dagouxi Park is at the end of a sleepy residential street close to Dahu MRT Station.

Although there’s no trailside lighting, the first section of the walk remains relatively well lit on account of the streetlights on the far side of the park. Take the little path over the bridge and follow the creek upstream away from the city.

The trail leads you to a wide flat area that’s popular with families on hot weekend afternoons, and then it takes a sharp right up a few steps.

There are then two more stream crossings in very quick succession. Follow the trail as far as you can with the water on your left until you reach the bridge in the left photo. Cross over then bear right and head straight for the bridge in the second picture. There’s a noisy dog that lives in the house just beyond this bridge, but it’s usually tied up at night, and even if it’s not, it’s noisy, not aggressive (it does sound pretty mean though).

On the far side of the bridge keep following the water upstream until you reach these steps. From this point on is where you really need a torch, because otherwise you’re going to be treading on a few toads.

Cross the sheltered bridge. On this occasion I glanced down to the right, shining the beam of my head torch over the water, and was rewarded with a brief glimpse of something four legged with a fluffy tail and bright, reflective eyes. Judging by the size and shape of it, I’m pretty sure it must have been a masked palm civet.

Keep following the path with the water on your right. (The steps on the left here take you up Carp Hill/Liyu Shan in the direction of Bishanyan Temple.)

Towards the latter part of the walk, the trail runs directly beside the water, through a cavernous tunnel of trees. In the day-time it’s beautiful and peaceful, at night it feels darkly magnificent in a whole other way.

Head over a smaller tributary and you’ll find yourself in the garden area that has been constructed around Yuanjue Waterfall.

This is where I set up shop for the evening. I placed my tripod by the low wall facing the direction that I’d just come from since most of the fireflies were flitting around the steps leading up to Yuanjue Temple.

The walk to get here had taken me less around thirty minutes, but I spent at least double that time taking photos of the fireflies. With my torch turned off, my eyes soon grew accustomed to the dark, and I was able to relax into enjoying myself. (This was my first time actually heading onto an already dark trail by myself, so I wasn’t sure if I would be up to it or not.) I didn’t see a single other person the whole time I was out there – no doubt because I visited on a weekday evening, weekends would certainly by busier.

When I thought I’d got what I wanted, I packed up my kit and headed back the same way I’d come.

The walk itself was uneventful, save for the ridiculous number of hoppy and crawly critters that I crossed paths with. On the left is (I think) an olive frog, whilst the brute on the right is a Chinese edible frog – the first one I ever spotted in the wild.

There are also quite a lot of these tree frogs – if you hear a small explosion in the bushes beside you then the odds are that your presence has just sent one flying.

But by FAR the most common are these chaps. They space themselves at regular intervals along the path (some right in the middle of it, so be careful not to squash any). This one hopped right onto my foot when I’d stopped to look at something in a tree.

The final find of the evening were these fresh-out-the-box dragonflies caught in the act of emerging from their larval form. There were a few of them on the rocks by the water at the star of the walk.

How to get to Yuanjue Waterfall Firefly Viewing Spot

Google maps address: The trail starts from the entrance to Dagouxi Waterfront Park. There’s plenty of scooter parking near the trailhead, but car parking spaces are limited.

GPS location:

  • Trailhead – N25 05.320 E121 35.915
  • Firefly location – N25 05.830 E121 35.660

Public transport: Take the Wenhu (brown) MRT Line and disembark at Dahu Park Station. Leave via exit one, turn right out of the exit then right again onto Dahushanzhuang Street, then from there just follow this street all the way to the entrance of Dagouxi Waterfront Park (about a 10-15 minute walk at a fast pace).

Where to see fireflies in Taipei and New Taipei

Yuanjue Waterfall Fireflies Trail Map

GPX file available here on Outdoor Active. (Account needed, but the free one works just fine.)

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