TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—Jiaoxi Township of Yilan County is a famous hot spring town in Taiwan with numerous hot spring hotels and visited by throngs of tourists from all over the world. Besides hot spring, Jiaoxi is also blessed with natural beauties of mountains, forests, clean streams and waterfalls. These incredible natural assets are accessible by four trails-- Paoma Historic Trail (跑馬古道), the Wufongchi Waterfall walking trail (五峰旗瀑布步道), Shengmu (Marian) Hiking Trail (聖母峰登山步道), and Linmei Shihpan Trail (林美石磐步道).
The Shengmu (Marian) Hiking Trail was featured in a story published by Taiwan News on April 16 in 2017. This time, the focus of the writing is on the Wufongchi Waterfalls. I visited the waterfalls several years ago, but I visited them again on Friday (Dec 22) afternoon before I participated in the Jiao Xi Hot Spring Marathon the next day.
The Wufongchi Waterfalls consist of three waterfalls—the third-level, second-level and first-level waterfalls. The waterfalls are located in the mountains on the southwest side of Jiaoxi, overlooking the downtown area. The waterfalls are remarkable because they are so natural and yet so close to the bustling hot spring town.
A map of the Wufongchi Waterfalls
It takes only about eight minutes to drive from the downtown area via Wufeng Road (Yilan County No 2 Route) to the entrance to the waterfall trail. Biking and riding a scooter are two other good ways of getting to the entrance, and some people even walked all the way from the downtown area to the trailhead, which takes about 40 minutes. I parked my car at a parking lot beside the Tetzekou Creek ( 得子口溪) and followed the signs to the entrance, where there are a few vendors selling Yilan specialties.
The Tetzekou Creek
The entrance to the Wufongchi Waterfall walking trail
The whole trail is actually a long winding concrete stairway that takes visitors up to the waterfalls. The first waterfall that comes into view is the third-level waterfall, which is the lowest level of the three waterfalls and the shortest, yet it is still beautiful to watch.
The third-level waterfall
The second-level waterfall is much taller and more magnificent than the previous one. There is a pavilion and platform at the bottom of the waterfall, where the coolness of the waterfall mist can be felt.
The second-level waterfall
The second-level waterfall
The first-level waterfall, which is also the most spectacular and the tallest of the three, is located at the top of the stairway. Long thick giant reed hang down from the cliff face on both sides of the waterfall, making it as poetic as a Chinese ink painting. It’s a pity that the first-level waterfall is still regarded as a rock falling and dangerous area by the local government.
A pavilion beside the winding stairway to the first-level waterfall
Part of the winding stairway to the first-level waterfall
The poetic first-level waterfall
The hiking to the waterfalls can be completed in 45 minutes, and after that visitors can continue hiking to the nearby Marian church, where visitors can relax and enjoy nice views to the surrounding verdant forests, the nearby first-level waterfall, the hot spring town and the sea below.
The Marian church
A view from the church
I walked down the cement trail from the church to the parking lot and completed a circular hike in about two hours, including the time for taking pictures and resting.
I stayed at a hot spring hotel in Jiaoxi and got up around five o’clock in the morning to get ready for the marathon, which started at six.
A scene from the Jiao Xi Hot Spring Marathon