Taiwanese-American blogging about his travels outdoors and occasionally his thoughts on life.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hiking Taroko Gorge, Hualien, Taiwan

Around 9am I headed to the train station to grab a bus to Taroko. The train station was bustling with people trying to get you to join their tour and some of them were pretty persistent. For about 230 TWD I got a roundtrip bus ticket to the park from Hualian.

At Taroko, there are many sights to see, I don't think you can see all of them in one day but you can definitely see the important ones before the sun sets. Supposidly, Taroko is the larged marble gorge in the world, more than 1,000 meters deep and it is because of the marble that the gorge still exists today.

I started off at the Taroko Park Headquarters, moved to Bulowan to hike the Swallow Grotto trail, and then finally to TianXiang to hike Baiyan waterfall trail. If I came here again, I would like to try the Shakadang trail.

There really isn't much to say about the first two places. The headquarter was pretty but nothing in comparison to the park itself.

The swallow grotto trail was nice as well but because I didn't complete the trail, I didn't get to see all it had to offer.

The very last bus stop is Tian Xiang. Tian Xiang is probably the most popular spot because that is where everyone has to go to begin their 2km+ hike to the waterfall caves.

To get to the trailhead, you need to walk along the mountain highway for less than 1km. There is no space designated for pedestrians, you just have to share with the cars.

Eventually, you come to the trail entrance which is nothing but a tunnel in the wall.

Beyond the tunnel though, the beauty begins.

Part of what makes the Baiyan trail interesting is the amount of tunnels you need to pass through. All of them are dark but because some of the are short, the light from the ends of the tunnel is enough to illuminate the way. For some of the longer tunnels however, you need a flashlight for sure.

The Baiyan trail is not difficult at all. It's flat the entire way and follows the river on its left side and the mountain on the right.

There are many places along the trail for hikers to stop but most of them choose to stop at the parts with waterfalls, after all, this trail is famous for its waterfalls.

As an aside, you absolutely need to bring an umbrella, sandals, or a swimsuit, to really enjoy the final sight which is the water curtain cave. The water on the ground is too high for your shoes not to get soaked and the water raining down from the cracks in the tunnel wall is too much to simply shrug off. If you don't plan on seeing the final sight on the Baiyan trail however, then don't worry about bringing something resists water.

I didn't know about this requirement so I was unable to see the water curtain cave. I tried going in but the water really was too much.

Tomorrow I head to Yilan to meet Sylvia, Cow Pig Fish, and Nicole.
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