Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail
Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail information
The upstream watersheds of the Keelung River receive more than 6000mm of rain a year and have more waterfalls than any other system in Taiwan. On the wonderful Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail, once part of a trade route between Ilan and Taipei, you can see half a dozen of the biggest, most beautiful falls in the north in their natural glory.
To get to the trailhead, exit Sandiaoling station and follow the tracks south until they split. Cross under and follow the tracks to the right (the Pingxi line). After a few minutes you will see the wooden signpost (in English) for the trailhead. The trail is simple and clear to follow, at least as far as the third fall (about an hour away).
The first waterfall is Hegu Falls (合谷瀑布, Hégǔ Pùbù, Joining of the Valleys Falls). The trail runs over the streams that feed this waterfall and you can wade down to sit on top the rocky ledge and look down 40m to the base. Next up are two 30m falls that look almost identical and are in remarkably close succession: Motian Falls (摩天瀑布, Mótiān Pùbù) and Pipa Dong Falls (枇杷洞瀑布, Pípádòng Pùbù). You can get right in behind Motian via a cave formed by the overhang: it's like something out of The Last of the Mohicans.
If you have the afternoon or the whole day, you can continue along trails and sweet back-country roads all the way to Shifen station. There are more falls to see along the way, including the 40m-wide Shifen Waterfall (十分瀑布, Shífēn Pùbù), the broadest fall in Taiwan, and a large section of rare kettle holes near the end. The holes are formed by small pebbles that are spun around in the river current, wearing circles into the limestone riverbed. See Richard Saunders' Taipei Escapes 1 for full details.