Taroko Gorge was created two tectonic plates collided four million years ago and today, rivers carve their way through the marble mountains and tropical forests, fill every nook and cranny. It’s a nature lovers dream. Here are 10 things to do in Taroko National Park.
1 – ZHUILI OLD TRAIL
Without a doubt the coolest (and scariest) trail in Taroko, Zhuili starts with a stroll through the forest and across a suspension bridge, but the good bit comes later, when the path, cut into the cliff several hundred feet up, becomes incredibly narrow – less than one metre for the most part. This is one of the few trails in the park that requires a permit – easy enough to do, but numbers are limited and it’s often fully booked days in advance, so plan ahead. Also check on the park website that the trail is fully open before you reserve a spot,
2 – SWALLOW GROTTO (YANZIKOU TRAIL)
An easy meander along a trail cut into the rock face and running right next to the dramatic Taroko gorge, Swallow Grotto is named after the countless families of swallows who have nested in the potholes and crevices in the eroded marble cliff face that surrounds the trail. This is a short and easy walk and renowned as one of the best places from which to get a good view of the gorge itself.
Location: Click here | Distance: 500m (one way) | Time: 15mins | Permits: None
3 – LUSHUI TRAIL
A really cool and relatively easy hike, the Lushui trail takes you through lush forests, along a pathway chiseled into the rock, and through a short (yet completely pitch black) tunnel, before crossing a bridge and dropping down to Lushui, at which point you can either turn around or continue along the Lushui-Wenshan trail (see below).
Location: Click here | Distance: 1.6km (one way) | Time: 30mins-1hr | Permits: None
3 – LUSHUI-WENSHAN TRAIL
If you wanna extend excellent Lushui trail, keep walking and follow the path all the way to Wenshan. It’s a lovely, slightly wild trail with ropes to cling onto, taking you for the most past through the forest above the gorge, and one of the trails on which you’re most likely to see wildlife – I saw a young deer resting in a bush!
Location: Click here | Distance: 5.5km (one way) | Time: 1.5-3hrs | Permits: None
4 – BAIYANG TRAIL
One of the most popular trails in the park begins with a 400m tunnel cut through the cliffs, eventually coming out in a lovely valley and a pathway that leads to a waterfall and a cave with the well known “glass curtain waterfall”. It’s a nice and easy trail that only takes an hour or so to complete. Check the park website to see if this one is open – while I was there in April 2019 there was a 6.1 earthquake that brought huge boulders hurtling down the mountain(!) injuring many people, and since then part of the trail has been closed for safety reasons.
Location: Click here | Distance: 2.1km (one way) | Time: 1.5-2hrs | Permits: None
5 – CHANGCHUN TEMPLE
Near the entrance to the park is Changchun Temple, which looks like something out of a Chinese painting, with waterfalls cascading down rocks in the foreground and a classic Chinese temple standing majestically in the cliffs. Take the extra 2km trail (1 hour return) up the hill to the Bell Tower for one of the parks best views of the gorge (if the trail is open, it was damaged in 2018 and was still closed when I was there in 2019).
Location: Click here | Distance: 1.3km (loop) | Time: 30mins-1hr | Permits: None
7 – HEHUANSHAN
In my opinion one of the most stunning places in Taiwan, the Hehuanshan region is often described as “the Switzerland of Taiwan”, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a gorgeously dramatic area and genuinely one of my favourite places to hike in Asia. One of the coolest things about the area is how accessible the peaks are: it’s very doable to climb four or even five 3000m+ peaks in just one day. It’s only a two-and-a-half hour drive from Taichung or the Eastern Taroko Park entrance and the best bit is, you don’t need permits. There are many trails here ranging from 20 mins to 8hrs+ and although the trails are very popular and can get a little busy, it’s well worth it.
Location: Click here
8 – QINGSHUI CLIFF
A ten-minute drive up the coast from the Park’s Eastern entrance, Qingshui Cliff is the most dramatic section of Taiwan’s coastline, with sheer cliffs separating a 2000m+ mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. The view from the cliff is very popular as on one side, the ocean appears incredibly blue, and on the other the Qingshui Mountain rises, often with clouds nestled in between them.
Location: Click here
9 – TIANFENG PAGODA
A nice spot for lunch, Tianfeng Pagoda is within a Buddhist monastery complex and an easy walk across a suspension bridge and up a few steps. The view of the gorge is lovely and there is a small cafe and shop too, selling food and souvenirs. A perfect place to chill out for a bit in between hikes.
Location: Click here
10 – SHAKADANG TRAIL
Shakadang Trail is one of the longer trails in this list but still an easy one, entirely flat (aside from the staircase leading to it from the road above), and with a chance to swim in a beautiful emerald-green lagoon en-route. It’s one of the most popular trails in the park so expect a tour bus or two.
Location: Click here | Distance: 4.1km (one way) | Time: 2-4hrs | Permits: None
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