The small local train on the Pingxi line was packed, and we wondered how many people would get off at Sandiaoling station to hike the waterfall trail. To our surprise, we were the only ones on the platform once the train pulled out. We walked a trail next to the train track, which offered good views of the rocky riverbed bed. When we reached a small village, took the stone steps leading us higher up the mountain. It turned out to be a very easy to follow trail, and almost deserted: we only saw a few individuals in a few hours time. The trail would often cut through the forest, and at times, offer views of the river below, the valley, and surrounding hills. There were several footbridges, barely wide enough to allow one person to pass at a time.
After hiking through the deserted woods for a while, we reached a small platform from where we spotted Hegu falls, the first waterfall on the trail. Being here in summer means less water, but Hegu still looked very pretty. We continued our way on the trail, crossing a footbridge, and hiked down the river for a couple of minutes until we reached the very top of Hegu. A quiet river, in which the surrounding trees were reflected, on one side, with a rocky ledge where the water tumbles down into the valley below. With only the sound of falling water in our ears, this was a particularly peaceful place. The trail continued through dense forest, past streams and small rivers. A fairytale experience. We stopped when we found ourselves in front of what looked like an open cave - from above, a subtle shower of water was falling down. Motian falls. Scrambling up a bit brings you to a narrow muddy trail which brings you almost directly under the fall of water, with an open view into the valley you have just crossed.
From here, a ladder of wooden logs brings you up the steep cliffs, to the stream that tumbles over the edge to form Motian falls. While there was not much water in the stream, the perfectly circular pools in the rocky river bed indicated that twirling stones must have shaped those pools here. With the water falling into the 30 metre abyss below, you can see Pipa Dong falls just behind you. Another curtain of water, falling into a pool of rocks. Another steep climb up a ladder took us to a small crossroads, where we hiked through a village, and found our way past an old pavilion offering views of yet another waterfall, to the train track which we followed through a tunnel until we reached Shifen falls; which we had already heard for awhile. Where all previous falls had a remote, nature feel, Shifen falls has a different setting. After paying the entrance fee, we entered the area with machines selling drinks, a bar, small temples, and viewing platforms where we found many more people than we had seen in hours. The falls themselves are much more serious, and when we reached the furthest viewing area and turned around, we saw an impressive waterfall on which the sun was setting. We continued on a large footbridge to the Eyeglasses falls, until we reached the village of Shifen, where people were releasing wishing lanterns on the train tracks. Time to have dinner, and head back to the metropole of Taipei.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail.
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