Updated: Sep 6
"I usually like to challenge myself, but sometimes even the most determined adventurers just need something fun, easy, and relaxing."
Introducing this week's adventure:
Bilin Waterfall (比麟瀑布): An Easy, Beautiful Day Trip in Hsinchu County
Bilin Waterfall in the Naluo River (那羅溪比麟瀑布) and Meihua Waterfall in the Meihua River (梅花溪梅花瀑布): Two beautiful waterfalls, including one of the best cliff jumps in Hsinchu county (新竹縣), that can easily be combined with a trip to Jianshi's Neiwan Old Street (尖石內彎老街) for an incredible day trip!
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Free Parking and Trailhead
Bilin Waterfall is a beautiful, easily accessible, beginner and family friendly waterfall just past Neiwan Old Street (尖石內彎老街) in the Naluo River (那羅溪) in Taiwan's Hsinchu County (台灣新竹縣). There are two ways to get to it: One is a beginner-friendly trace (starting from free parking) that's so beautiful, nice, and cool on a hot, summer day! The other is a simple, child-friendly, 5-10 minute walk down a hill from a cheap, pay parking area.
I was in Hsinchu on a RIDICULOUSLY hot summer day looking for something easy but fun to do, and I decided to combine this mini-trace with Meihua Waterfall (梅花瀑布), which is very close by, and make a day of it.
Looking down from the bridge, I couldn't wait to get out of the heat and into the water below!
I drove across the bridge to the trailhead with the free parking, parked my scooter, and just as I was about to start down the trail to the river...
...puppies? I have no idea way, but these three were just hanging out at the trailhead!
I stopped to play with them for a little while, but it was hot and I wanted to get on to the tracing.
I walked around the end of the bridge to the very obvious trail down...
...went under the bridge...
...and jumped right into one of the nicest swimming holes in the whole area!
The First Swimming Hole
I headed upstream across the first swimming hole (above) until I got to this section of rapids (below). The swimming hole is deep, but the current is not usually strong in good conditions and capable swimmers should be able to cross it with little to no problem.
The rapids can be a bit challenging for beginners, but most people with basic river tracing experience should have little to no problem getting past them.
It wasn't be too long until I reached this nice little swimming area. Locals bring their children here to play - that's what the little pool is for! Can you see the inflatable children's toy?
Keep your eyes open on the way - you might see some pretty cool things!
Bilin Waterfall and Swimming Hole
At that point in the trace, there's a stairway coming down on the right (river left - see below) and Bilin Waterfall is on the left (river right).
Bilin Waterfall itself is not all that tall, but what it lacks in height it makes up for with beauty, accessibility, and of course, the wonderful little swimming hole in front of it! While it's sadly not quite deep enough for a reliable jump, it's really great for a swim!
The trace to the waterfall had already cooled me down, but swimming in the swimming hole and feeling the waterfall come down on my head and shoulders was an even more amazing feeling!
Paid Parking, Trailhead, and Picnic Area
Now, if you have small kids, want an easy picnic and swimming trip, or even if you're just feeling a bit lazy, there's a second way down to the waterfall that's perfect just for you! Go to the second trailhead and pay a small fee ($50 per scooter, or $100 per car) to the owner of this shop...
...go through this gate...
...down the stairs...
...and have fun!
I met a group of visiting Filipinos swimming, picnicking, and generally having a great time. They didn't have any fancy tracing gear - just food, flip-flops, friends, and fun!
I usually like to challenge myself, but sometimes even the most determined adventurers just need something fun, easy, and relaxing. Having just come back from hiking five days at Xinkang Mountain - a story for another day - and had already visited Meihua Waterfall that morning, this was the perfect way to top things off before heading back to Neiwan for a nice meal. And as a bonus, well, I got to meet some really nice people - and puppies - along the way!
This post about Bilin Waterfall in the Naluo River (那羅溪比麟瀑布) is designed with a companion post about Meihua Waterfall in the Meihua River (梅花溪梅花瀑布). Together, these are two beautiful waterfalls, including one of the best cliff jumps in Hsinchu county (新竹縣), that can easily be combined with a trip to Jianshi's Neiwan Old Street (尖石內彎老街) and / or the Xiaojinping Hot Spring area (小錦屏溫泉) for an incredible day trip or full weekend adventure.
All recommendations, times, and other information are for average conditions with average water levels, and are for reference purposes ONLY. Please also see important safety notes for river tracing (below).
Length of trace:
Both traces are less than 1 km in, and so both are less than 2 km round trip total. The terrain is not challenging, and is appropriate for beginners (with all the appropriate, 'you know how to swim and/or have safety equipment and someone else there who ca n swim' caveats, of course...).
I take 15 minutes getting there; extreme novices may take up to 45 minutes.
30 minutes or so (tracing route); 10 minutes or so (walking r
Just bring your own! The area is surrounded by farms and roads, so you don't want to drink it even if you've filtered it.
Bring snacks, or a lunch, to enjoy on these traces. You could even have a nice picnic at Bilin Waterfall!
Gear and provisions:
River tracing-appropriate shoes and clothes (see remarks), helmets, waterproof backpack, life jackets for anyone who is not a strong swimmer, water (don't filter the water here, it's full of runoff from farms and other sources of pollution), a waterproof headlamp or flashlight, a lighter (always!). A basic rope may also be useful.
No, it's mostly shaded by forest.
Yes, it's highly exposed.
Meihua AND Bilin (tracing route from free parking):
Probably for children 8 and older on reasonably good shape, with proper safety equipment, and experienced adult supervision. Good swimming skills, and possibly life jackets, will be important.
Bilin from the paid parking area:
Yes - the locals even bring their toddlers for CAREFULLY SUPERVISED swimming by the river, though I wouldn't recommend taking toddlers across the river to the waterfall itself.
Yes, if you go down from the paid parking area.
GPX file 1 of 2: Bilin Waterfall - The Map Room 比麟瀑布-地圖寶庫
GPX file 1 of 2: Meihua Waterfall - The Map Room 梅花瀑布-地圖寶庫
GOOGLE MAPS LINK (MEIHUA WATERFAL):
Parking and Trailhead: 24.67392, 121.20824
GOOGLE MAPS LINK (BILIN WATERFALL):
Parking and Trailhead (free, must trace to the waterfall): 24.69608, 121.22060
Parking and trailhead (paid, but just walk through the gate and down the hill and you're there in 5 minutes): 24.69383, 121.22006
Check out the Map Room Members' Area for more maps, GPX links, and other members only perks!
This trace is entirely in a steep canyon the whole way, so helmets are highly recommended, and you should definitely not go during high rockfall conditions. There are a few places where you need to cross pools, so swimming skills, and possibly life jackets, will be needed.
Park right at the trailhead!
Park for free at the tracing trailhead at the bridge, or pay 元50 (scooter / motorcycle) or 元100 (car) to park at the walk down trailhead with the gate.
With roads and farms in the direct watershed areas of both waterfalls, it is not recommended to drink the water. It's best just to bring clean water with you.
River tracing gear and provisions (for basic not requiring rappelling and rock climbing skills and gear):
Clothes: Should be ok for swimming and getting dirty/torn, protect from scrapes. Quick drying, non-cotton, close fitting. UV reflective for hot traces, wetsuit for colder traces.
Boots: Neoprene or other river tracing specific boots (not shoes, NOT rubber or fishing boots!) to prevent blisters. High tops to keep stones out, soles to provide good grip and prevent slipping. I prefer felt soles for extra padding, especially after prior injuries. Some prefer alternatives which prevent organisms from being transferred between various streams and rivers.
Helmet: Designed for rock climbing.
Backpack: Waterproof. IPX 8 rating (protected when immersed in water over 1 meter / 3 feet) recommended.
Rope: Non-climbing rated, floating rope (that does not absorb water and get heavy) with knots is helpful, but NOT for doing serious climbs. Use ONLY for pulling weaker swimmers through more challenging stretches of water, and perhaps helping with scrambles up short sections of difficult terrain. For advanced climbing or rappelling, get advanced climbing rope, gear, and training!
Life jacket: If you are not a strong and confident swimmer.
Phone case: IPX 8 rating (protected when immersed in water over 1 meter / 3 feet) recommended.
Water filter or other water treatment options.
Waterproof headlamp or flashlight. IPX 8 rating (protected when immersed in water over 1 meter / 3 feet) recommended.
The Map Room recommends Fenix headlamps, and personally uses the 1600 lumen Fenix HM70R Headlamp - (Amazon affiliate link*)
Optional gear: A bandanna, headband, or other light cloth for wiping sweat is also often useful when you are not fully immersed in water.
When sourcing water in the wild, choose water from a fast moving, clean source. This kills certain parasites, like giardia. Check upstream for polluting factors (dead animals, droppings, etc). Look for signs of pollution (vehicle tracks, lots of footprints). It's best to filter, and possibly either boil or otherwise treat it as well.
The Map Room personally uses and highly recommends the Sawyer Squeeze water filter (NOT the Sawyer Squeeze Mini - Amazon affiliate link*)
Important river tracing safety notes:
Strength and water levels of rivers change with rain, seasons, and other factors.
ALWAYS check the weather in advance of a river trace. If there is rain upstream, it is not advisable to go, due to the risk of flash floods.
If it has rained recently, rockslides are more likely. If the sun then comes out and evaporates recent rain, they are more likely still. Wear a helmet, and be sensible!
Stopping to rest in rockfall areas, under rock overhangs, or near sheer cliffs is not advisable due to the risk of rockfalls. Look for a wider, open area with less steep rock walls.
So now you're ready to go! Get out there, enjoy nature, be active, and have an amazing time!
Loved this article? Make sure to check out TMR's growing collection of river tracing articles!
Got questions or comments? Can you think of something we missed? Join in the discussion and leave a comment below. At the end of the day, we're just outdoors enthusiasts like you, and we'd love to hear from you!
All information on this page is intended for reference only. Preparing adequate food, water, and gear for your adventure, as well as following local rules and laws are, of course, your own responsibility! Always make sure that you check the weather for outdoor destinations, be careful and sensible for enclosed spaces like tunnels and bunkers, and bring a lighter - you never know when it could save your life! Now... get out there and have an amazing time!
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