The fantastic Baiyang Waterfall trail in Taroko Gorge was once an easy walk along a flat wide road, but since the mountain above the first tunnel collapsed, it’s now a much harder and longer climb to get there. The trail began it’s life back in 1984 when the Taipower Company built the road to explore the valley’s potential for hydroelectric power. Outrage at the planned damming and diversion of water led to the project being shelved and finally abandoned in 1986 when Taroko Gorge regained its national park status. The road was then opened up to the public as a hiking trail.
With the first tunnel closed, anyone wanting to hike to the waterfall must begin at Tianxiang, There are 2 entrances that very quickly meet up. The first starts behind the Church and other at the Houran Pavillion path next to the Youth Activity Centre.
It’s a very steep climb up with chains and ropes provided for the steepest parts. Near the top there is a flat section and this area was once a village of the Truku People, the aboriginal tribe that lived in Taroko Gorge. The Japanese forcefully evicted all the tribes people and all that remains now are some derelict walls and pits. It was interesting to learn that at one time over 193 villages could be found in the gorge.
For a about 1km the path flattens out and has some nice views of the valley below. It’s a little precarious in places where the path is less than a metre wide, but very beautiful too. After a steep walk down some steps, we arrived that the other side of the first tunnel. From there the trail goes through a further 6 tunnels before arriving at the waterfall.
The first tunnels had loads of bats in them which kept flying towards us. They seemed to be eating some kind of yellowy-orange bug and were exceptionally ugly!
It took us about 2 hours to get to the waterfall. Unfortunately the final concrete bridge that leads over to the viewing platform has collapsed and there’s no way to get across to the other side for a better view of the falls. I guess that it won’t get fixed until the first tunnel reopens and when that happens the trail will be overrun with people once again. Still it’s a great hike!
Take care on the climb up and down to the abandoned road. It’s steep and would be very slippery in the wet.
Don’t try to cross the river at the broken bridge, it’s not worth the risk.
The tunnels are fairly short, but you might want to take a torch anyway to help find your way through.
There’s a bus that runs up from Hualien and Xincheng to Tianxiang, however it is infrequent to say the least. I really don’t understand why a national park such as Taroko Gorge doesn’t have a free (or very cheap) shuttle bus system to reduce the amount of traffic in the gorge and to give people without transport a way to explore the park car free (rant over).