Yangmingshan, the national park closest to Taipei, is most famous for it’s hiking and breath-taking views, but it is also a great place for rivertracing. The Touqian River 頭前溪 to the north-east of the park is a particularly beautiful place to cool down and challenge yourself climbing some big waterfalls.
The Touqian River 頭前溪 is not an easy place to find. It isn’t signposted, and even though there are some signs for the hiking trail (Lukuping 鹿窟坪) that starts in the same place, the there’s nothing to mark the last few roads. It took us 3 attempts to find it but it was definitely well worth the effort.
At the end of the road (have a look at the map below for directions) there is a small, muddy car park. The trail begins here and we followed that up for about 5 minutes before succumbing to the heat and getting in the water.
The beginning of the river is fairly flat and easy going. The water was surprisingly clear given the amount of rain we’ve had recently with typhoons and afternoon showers.
After about the 10mins of tracing the river begins to get steeper and pretty soon we were climbing up some small waterfalls.
Half an hour in and we got the first of three larger waterfalls. The pool here is deep, probably deep enough to jump into. To the left there is a ledge and this is the best route for climbing the fall.
The next fall is the biggest and it’s impossible to climb directly. Typically, when rivertracing groups come here, the leader climbs up the cliff face to the right, as we did, and then ties a rope to a fixed iron rod at the top for the rest of the group to use.
The final fall has a large deep pool at the bottom of it and we had fun jumping in and swimming around here for a while.
At the top of this fall the river flattens out and becomes very tame. We kept tracing up and looking out to the right for a trail. Pretty soon we found a trial tag but the path wasn’t very obvious, most likely due to a summer of growth, and so we got back in the river and carried on.
Further upstream there was another tag to the right and this trail was much clearer. In an open clearing there was a red sign marking the boundary of the Huangzuishan Ecological Protection Area. The Lukuping Trail 鹿窟坪 is just behind that and we were able to follow it all the way back to the car park.
All we took were the river tracing boots that are available at any fishing store for around 300-600NT and a length of rope that we didn’t use. Though helmets would be a good idea.
As with any river save this one for a day when the weather is set to be good. This isn’t a place you want to be if the heavens open up suddenly.
The river is on a side road from the Daping Industrial Road. Look for the Daping Bus Stop.