If the Taroko National Park is the crown of Taiwan’s tourist attractions, the Zhuilu Old Road and the Baiyang Trail (Water Curtain Cave) are the two most treasurable rubies on the crown. So be sure to include these two trails in your itinerary if you are visiting the national park to make the trip most complete and memorable.
It would be a big pity if you leave the Taroko National Park without hiking on these two trails. The article will focus on application for entry to the Zhuilu Old Road as well as brief description of the two trails.
The Zhuilu Old Road
The Zhuilu Old Road was part of the old Cross- Hehuan Mt. Road during the Japanese Occupation and a narrow pass of 500 meters from the 2.6k mark to the 3.1k mark was chiseled out across the upper face of the tall Zhuilu Precipice, which is made of marble rocks.
Along the trail, there are a few tribal ruins and Japanese rule monuments of historical and cultural values.
Most hikers from home and abroad come to visit the trail just for the experience of walking along the 500m-long breathtaking narrow pass.
Along the stretch, hikers can overlook the Liwu Canyon and the Liwu River meandering through the canyon 500 meters below their feet. Walking on the stretch is often described as similar to walking in the clouds. Imagine you are walking on a narrow path at an altitude higher than Taipei 101. As this section is very challenging to hike, ropes, stakes and chains are installed to ensure the safety.
However, hikers with heart problems or acrophobia, pregnant women and infirm hikers are advised to reconsider taking the trip or take extra precaution.
Fatal accidents of hikers falling from this stretch down to the deep ravine below have happened in the past.
Hiking permit is required in advance. The application time for Zhuilu Old Road is before 10 a.m. the day before entering on Tuesday to Friday and before 10 am on Friday for Saturday to Monday entry. Three working days are needed to process the application (not including weekends and holidays), so it’s advised to apply for entry at least three days before the hiking day. Please consult the park's official website to look for more information.
The entrance of the trail is located near the Swallow Grotto.
The trail is 10.3km long, but due to landslides now only 3.1km is open, which includes the 500m narrow pass. Therefore, hikers have to go back where they came from.
Baiyang Trail (Water Curtain Cave)
Baiyang Trail (Water Curtain Cave), originally built by the Taiwan Power Company as a construction road, was rebuilt to be a flat and wide trail. It is about 2 km from the entrance to the Water Curtain Cave (Shui Lian Dong), passing through several tunnels and waterfalls. The scenery along the trail is magnificent, but the cream of the crops is still the Water Curtain Cave at the end of the trail.
Visitors are strongly recommended to take off their shoes and wear raincoats before they enter the cave if they don’t want to get soaking wet when they come out.
The entrance to the cave is a pleasing scene to watch as clean and cold water flows out of the cave, which has essentially been turned into a streambed. There is a walking path along the right wall of the cave, but some visitors walk on the streambed in the middle to feel the cold flowing water.
The water curtain toward the end of the cave is the most exciting part of the cave as waterfalls come down from the cracks on the ceiling of the cave, forming the water curtain.
It’s said that the waterfalls inside the cave were made possible unexpectedly when digging of the cave accidentally pierced through the streambed above the cave, causing the water to flow through the cracks and form the magnificent water curtain.
The entrance to the trail is located on one side of Provincial Highway 8 about 900 meters west of the Taroko Tianxiang Service Station and Visitor Center.
Entry to the trail does not require permits, but visitors should make sure the trail is open before they go as the trail can be closed depending on weather and trail conditions.