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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Immersing in Nature at Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

Taiwan has lots in store for those seeking nature. I am quite surprised that there were a number of easy hikes around the capital city, so there’s no excuse for those who are already living in Taipei not to go outdoors, given that mass transportation can easily get you to those places easily. I did another nature walk in New Taipei, in the district of Sandiaoling to chase some waterfalls.

sandiaoling waterfall
the biggest waterfall in Sandiaoling

One of the off-the-beaten tracks I discovered around New Taipei is the Sandiaoling Waterfall Hiking Trail  (三貂嶺瀑布群), it runs through the borders of Ruifang and Pingxi districts and known to have the feature three majestic waterfalls. It used to be part of the ancient Tanlan Trail which was an important trade route from Yilan to Taipei.

sandiaoling
the small community nearby of Sandiaoling

HOW TO GET TO SANDIAOLING AND START YOUR WATERFALL HIKE
The usual route is to start at Sandiaoling Station, which is part of the Pingxi Rail Line. What I did was from Taipei, I took the train to Ruifang and then transferred to Sandiaoling.  I have heard that there is a bus (bus #795) from MRT Muzha Station that also heads for the Pingxi Line but I haven’t tried this myself so I wouldn’t be able to comment about it.

taiwan local train
a look at the local trains in Taiwan

mangas at the train station, if I knew how to reach Chinese, I probably would have not left the station

From the station, you’d see signposts, it will be about 2.7 kilometer walk to the start of the actual trail. You should be able to see Keelung River on your left. Just go straight and follow the rail tracks. Another landmark is a short pedestrian underpass that you take to cross so you don’t actually have to walk along the railway tracks. Follow the Pingxi line until you see a small town on your right, you will see an old school and a map of the waterfall trail.

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

take this underpass
I initially thought this was the start of the trail, but my instinct prevented me from going here, turns out it I was right

the elementary school, you'd see the trail's map on your right

If you’re looking to veer away from the crowd then you have to try this nature trek. I was totally alone the whole time and only meet a couple when I was on my way back.to the station. Despite that, I had no problems navigating because the area is well marked with markers.

waterfall hike taipei
stairs, stairs and more stairs..

taiwan hike
the trail gets flat after a couple of minutes, but the trail got muddy from the intermittent rain

taipei hike
look at these cute flowers, you'd see a lot of these along the way

creepy branches..

I suppose it rained hard in Sandiaolong the previous day. The ground was wet and muddy so I was glad there were some parts of the trail that were cemented. The trail was flat and easy and it was after 30 minutes that I reached the first stop, Hegu Waterfall 合谷瀑布. Out of the three, it has the highest volume of water and also the tallest at 40 meters.

It was a little disappointing that I could only get this view from a wooden observation deck at the top. The area is filled with dense vegetation which also make it quite difficult to take a zoomed in picture. It is still majestic even just from looking at it from afar.

Hegu Waterfall
Hegu Waterfall

hegu waterfall sandiaoling
a bit out of my wits because this is the closest I can get to the first falls

waterfall taipei


you'd see two suspension bridges as you get to the second waterfall

I felt rain showers on my cheek as I continued my way and approached short suspension bridges. The path got narrower and I have to admit, I may have lost my balance a few times from the slippery forest floor (and also from only wearing sandals). It was refreshing to hear the loud gushing sound of Motian Waterfall 摩天瀑布 as its waters hit the big rocks at the bottom. One fun tidbit is that you can actually explore the crevice of this cliff, so you could see the waterfalls literally up close. The path leading to this gap is not that noticeable and I only saw it after coming from the third falls.

Motian Waterfall
Motian Waterfall

Motian Waterfall sandiaoling
the small opening, you could walk here without any problems
waterfall trail taiwan

set of stairs leading to the third waterfall
even with the rain falling, this wasn't that difficult. just use the ropes properly and you'd get there in no time

The path gets a bit challenging as you get close to the third waterfall, Pipa Cave Waterfall 枇杷洞瀑布. To get there, be prepared to climb through a metal staircase and another path that is only secured with ropes. Even though I was getting rained on, it was quite safe. It was with the untamed tree branches that I had problems with as there was only a small gap to walk through and you have to really squeeze to fit. This waterfall looked like the smallest of the bunch but beautiful nonetheless. It was kind of refreshing to be away from the crowds and have this view for myself.

Pipa Cave Waterfall
Pipadong Waterfall

Pipadong Waterfall sandiaoling

I only learned after the trip that there was a way to hike from the third fall to the neighboring towns of Houtong, commonly referred to as “The Cat Village”. But when I was in Pipadong waterfall, I did not see any pathway of some sort so I just took the same way back to Sandiaoling. The entire trip took me about three hours, I spent some time taking pictures but you could probably shorten this to two hours.

As it was already quite late and the drizzle turned into a downpour, I decided to cancel my plan of going to Pingxi and just head straight to Shifen, which is also along the Pingxi line.

this crazy blogger finishing this hike in the woods.. alone haha

It is nice to know that there are a number of day trip activities accessible from Taipei that it is not necessary to take long bus rides just to get to there. I have done a lot of interesting tours around New Taipei and happy to have made it to the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail even though I just decided to do it at the last minute. If you’re looking for a relatively short yet fulfilling hike, then I would suggest heading to this wonderful place.

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