Taroko National Park is a natural wonder and one of Taiwan’s most visited tourist attraction. It’s incredibly stunning waterfalls, mountains, gorges, ravines, tunnels and rivers are worth exploring – on foot. So while you are here, factor in the time you will require for hiking some of the best trails here – in fact, I suggest staying here overnight to make the best of your visit here.
Taroko Gorge can be visited as a day trip from Taipei, but I strongly recommend spending longer here. That way you will not only connect with place differently, you will fall in love with its beauty because of how it affects your senses.
During my visit to this side of the country, I was fortunate enough to explore some of the best trails (mostly easy ones). Here is a complete list of trails that I hiked on.
Where to stay
If you want to go luxurious, Silks Place, Xiulin is the best option. Plenty of budget options are available in Hualien City.
Let’s hit the trails…
Baiyang Waterfall Trail
Towards the end of the trail, you will come across this. Notice the three waterfalls.
About 700m from Tianxiang is the beginning of this trail. First you go through a tunnel (a torch/flashlight will be required) – and that won’t be the first or the last tunnel on this trail either. The leisurely walk/hike through well-maintained path will bring you to a bridge, on the left side of which, you will see a suspension bridge and a series of waterfalls beyond. Going straight, you will reach the end of the 2.2 km trail – but the end is actually the fun part.
At the end of the trail is the water curtain, which I would describe as a ‘cave with water pouring down from the top’. You probably will get drenched unless you wear a rain coat or something. There were a few ponchos (disposable rain coats) hanging by the entrance, it looks like it was left behind by a tour group, I wouldn’t trust them to be there if I were to visit again.
Bring some sort of waterproof jacket to keep your belongings dry while you walk into the water curtain and appropriate footwear.
For obvious reasons, I have no pic of myself here! (This pic is from the official Taroko Park website)
The trail does not require any climbing. Views are stunning and you can enjoy at your own pace. be aware of falling rocks, especially inside the tunnels.
Trail length: 4.1km.
Also called the Mysterious Valley trail, it is built along the river.The entrance to this trail is located at the exit of Shakadang Tunnel and includes a parking lot. Great way to experience nature at its best. Marvel at the crystal-clear waters. The trail passes through Truku tribal village. Enjoy a spot of refreshment at the small market that features local art and food vendors. Try the delicious sausage, if it is the only thing you want to eat on your hike.
This hike is suitable for all age groups. No toilets along the track (bathroom facilities can be found at the parking spot at the trail head).
Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail
This is one of the best trails for taking photos. It’s a short 40-minute hike from one end to the other and features cliffs, running waters, marble gorges, and plenty of wildlife. If you only have time for one short hike, then this would be your best option.
Please note that sections of this trail may be prone to rockfall; please do not linger within these sections.
Highlights: Peer over the railing along the trail to see a rock that resembling a fish leaping over the Dragon’s Gate on Kelan River!
This naturally depends on where you are starting from, but I’ll take Taipei as the starting point.
Take a train to Hualien city from Taipei Railway Station. The journey takes 2 hours 13 minutes. From Hualien, you can rent a scooter and explore the area by yourself.
Fly to Hualien City in 20 minutes from Taipei.
Regular buses run from Taipei to Hualien
The private tours are available from Taipei (although this might limit your hiking options because they tend to run on tight schedules)
Once you have arrived in Hualien City, take a bus from Hualien train station that runs directly to Taroko National Park Headquarters and then onto Tianxiang (right by the gorge). The bus to HQ takes about an hour, while it takes another 30 minutes to Tianxiang. You can check schedules here.
If you take the train to Hualien City, then it’s pretty easy to rent a scooter and head up towards the gorge yourself. The road on the way up to the gorge winds up the mountain road, is narrow in places – so exercise caution when negotiating these roads.
The entrance to the parks is free. The only costs you need to consider are transport to/from Hualien, food, stay and rentals if any.
What to bring
There might be things you need for your hike, so be aware that inside the National Park itself, there are very few options to buy things such as torch, rain jackets and other essentials. So, make all your purchases in town (like mosquito repellent, rain jacket, SD cards, torch/flashlight or batteries).
The park is an all-year-round destination and is accessible at all times. However, Taiwan is prone to typhoons (May to September) and heavy rainfall, so plan your trip accordingly. In case of heavy rainfall, some of the trails and sections of the park might be closed.
Do look at the official Taroko National Park website for updates.
None of the trails mentioned above require permits of any kind, but if you want to explore the park further, you may need to apply for permission from the park authorities.