Sunday, 7 October 2012

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

I'm just gonna keep this one kinda short and let my photos do most of the talking. On Thursday we decided that it'd be a good idea to go for a hike – seeing that the weather forecast was good and winter is inevitably close. The weather was okay today, it was cool and it didn't rain, the visibility could have been better but it was by no means bad.

We decided to head to the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail which does exactly what it says on the tin. It is in a district of Ruiefang – or so the map in the area led me to believe at which I took only a glimpse. It took about an hour or so to get to the trail head from Taipei by train. There are actually some really good trails in the area and we did a hike earlier in the year from Houtong which is the stop before Sandiaoling and so all three of us were fairly familiar with the train route.

We hiked through a nice forested area for a while and from a distance you could see the first waterfall which was pleasant but unfortunately it wasn't possible to get close and we could just see it from a distance. After that we passed through a small grove of pomelo trees which are popular here for Moon Festival which was last weekend. The trees were nice, the air was fresh and it was really starting to feel good to be away from the hustle and bustle of Nankan. After hiking through another glen of trees for half an hour or so we approached the next waterfall which was probably the prettiest of the three. I was really relaxed this time around because I didn't have to think about how to get to the trail head as we'd been close before and Mike had the map and the information and – at least in comparison to my wobbling pace – was soldiering on ahead, so all I had to do was follow.

After the second waterfall we had to climb a fairly steep ladder fixed into the rockface. It wasn't as bad as it looked though and we were all up soon enough. It was a bit sketchy at the top for 30 seconds or so because some locals were cheering the efforts of Mike and Pete without really realising that there was a fat waster behind them trying to concentrate and I think I shouted at them “arrrrrrrrgggghhhhh”, but I smiled after and they seemed oblivious enough. Following the path at the top of the river we eventually came to the third waterfall. This was the highest and where some other local hikers had chosen to have their lunch for the afternoon. It was a nice spot but I admired one local old man sitting on his own who was sat on the edge of the first waterfall just perched on a rock reading the newspaper in his overalls and wellies. Among the other hikers there was also a funny topless old man and he actually had a way better physique than me... I was soooo jealous! :P

Eventually it was time to climb the next hurdle which was a steep – by my standards but not for a real hiker – rocky path and required the use of chains and ropes to steady your balance. There was a nice spot to take photographs posing in front of the waterfall at a different angle but eventually we had to soldier on and climb up the next and final ladder. It was fairer going than the first one though and we found ourselves on a mountain road which we followed to it's terminus but missed the turn we wanted. Eventually, we were called back by a group of local hikers who had made the same mistake but noticed the marker for the side path that we had been looking for. These local hikers stopped for a rest and we moved forward at a reasonable pace and the path got a bit slippy. Michael fell over and I laughed a little bit but he was fine, he just had a mud patch on his bum that looked like he'd pooed his pants. Nevertheless we trotted on and eventually came to a car park. This had a viewing platform of another waterfall and a shrine which was nice and apparently there was a side trail through something called Barbarian Valley but I for one was tired and we still had a fair bit of hiking to do so after a couple of photos of the final waterfall and the shrine we moved on.

Moving through the car park, past a rather eager guard dog we climbed some stairs into another wooded area to start the final part of the trail ending at the station we needed to be at to get home. On that section of trail the rocks were really slippy and I fell. I was watching my footing and paying close attention but literally as soon as I let my guard down... I fell. It's okay though. I was 1-1 in the karma game for laughing at Mike... and then I fell again. The second fall was harder and I fell on the same side. Again I was okay though just got a banged wrist and forearm, luckily there were plenty of rocks to cushion the blows. Despite being a big fairy and saying “Ooowwiiieee” a lot... and I mean a lot. We finally got onto a bridge that crossed a pretty, green river and led to the tracks that we needed to be at to get to the station. Despite getting shit up by a passing train I was happy because the final stretch was flat. The tracks followed the river and it was really pretty. In fact the villages – despite being typically Taiwanese and ugly in architecture – were very pleasant. I even had some local food which I think was some tough tofu but it tasted like five-spice pork so I'm not really sure what it was, but it was cheap and good. There were also some birds of prey circling above us and the weather had cleared up enough to see the green of the surrounding hills. All in all a good day trip :D... Even if it did look like I'd pooed my pants... twice!

Ta ta for now... Lee xxx


  1. Hi.

    Thanks for your description of the Sandiaoliang Trail. I would like to ask if this trail, especially to the first two waterfalls, is suitable for a city child (aged 4 1/2) to visit and walk? From the description to the third waterfall, that would make it unsuitable from that point on. But checking if the trail to the 1st two waterfalls would be.

    1. Hi there,

      I think as far as the second waterfall would be fine. The walking is pretty comfortable. There are a couple of sturdy rope bridges at the start and with your help the child should be fine. Further than the second waterfall probably isn't a good idea. I think a better option for a child of that age would be Wulai. There are some nice waterfalls in Neidong if you follow the road out of town towards the bridge and then walk from there to the Neidong Forest Recreation Area.