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Taiwan's Beigang River: Huisun Hot Springs - in a cave! 台灣北港溪:山洞中的惠蓀溫泉!

Updated: Oct 29, 2023


 
 
 

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Huisun Hot Spring / Beigang River Area Map


Hot Springs in Taiwan Master Map


 
 

Taiwan's Beigang River: Huisun Hot Springs - in a cave!

台灣北港溪:山洞中的惠蓀溫泉!


River trace through a deep canyon gorge in Taiwan to a one-of-a-kind hot spring in a cliffside cave!


The parking area at the trailhead. We were charged 元200 (roughly $6.60 USD) per person to enter the park in this vehicle.

Rockfalls and dangerous creatures are common all over Taiwan. If you're used to being outdoors here, you shouldn't have much new to worry about!


The view of the valley as you hike in. After leaving Huisun Hot Spring (惠蓀溫泉) trailhead, hike about 20 minutes over a hill along the small road from the trailhead. Go through the gate when you see these signs...

...then pass through the gate and look for the bridge.

We took things at a nice, relaxing pace, but the trace could be done much faster (see above).

Fellow Map Room Explorer Johan works on his video for his project,

Discover Taiwan with Johan. Go check him out and follow for more great videos!

The first part of the trace is pretty, but it starts to get really spectacular once you pass the first campsite (below)! Notice the amount of water in this picture. This is from our first trip to Beigang River (台灣北港溪) on the way to Huisun Hot Spring (惠蓀溫泉). It was winter, so water levels were relatively low, but our second trip was during a drought, so you will see even less water in those pictures! Make sure you're aware that there can be much more water than this, depending on the season and recent rain (see remarks).

No matter how many times you go to the same outdoor destination off the beaten track in Taiwan, there's always something new or interesting to see and do. This time, we found this Taiwanese serow skull along the way.

Camping /overnighting options:

Camping in Taiwan and river tracing in Taiwan go hand in hand! There are plenty of campable spots along the way. The two best ones are:

The first campground, as seen from the air. There's a nice waterfall water source here even during droughts, and large, flat rocks for camping out.

We've camped here on two separate trips and loved it both times.

After the first camp site, the canyon suddenly gets deeper, steeper, and more dramatic!

Inside a small cave in the side of the canyon. Watch for it on the right just after the first campsite!

There are several beautiful Taiwanese waterfalls along the way, and one special place with two right next to each other!

Johan stops for a picture at the twin waterfalls while river tracing in Taiwan's Beigang River to Huisun Hot Springs (台灣北港溪惠蓀溫泉)

River tracing and adventure in Taiwan

Crossing a river in Taiwan's Beigang River on the way to Huisun Hot Springs

There was once a road leading all the way from the trailhead to the hot spring, and even further on to a dam. It was washed away in a massive storm, but keep an eye out on the right for remnants of it. Each one is well marked, with flags and cairns (stone piles), and will make your trip to the hot spring MUCH faster and easier!

Watch as you pass by, there's plenty of nature to see! This little guy is masquerading as a bee... but don't be fooled!

Not all nature you will meet along the way is friendly, though. Watch out for stinging nettles - appropriately called, 'the cat that bites people' (咬人貓) in Mandarin - along the way!

Most sections of the trace are not terribly difficult. Some, however, like this one, require strong swimming skills to cross. On our most recent trace, we found an innertube tied up with a rope for crossing here, so one of our strong swimmers went across and threw it back for the weaker swimmers, who were also wearing life jackets.

We encountered strong currents and high waters on our first river trace at Taiwan's Beigang River (台灣北港溪).

But by working together, we were able to make sure everyone got to the hot spring!

There is plenty of evidence along the way of the destructive power of Taiwan's typhoons! All along the battered and broken remnants of the now impassible road were reminders that, not too long ago, we could have just driven all the way in!

Once we got close to Huisun, we started to see - and smell - signs of the hot spring. This was close, dug out of the ground, and most times it would have been a stand-alone destination. But we knew better...

...we were there for the hot spring in the cliffside cave!

Yeah, THAT'S the one! Accept no substitutes!

Scenery reflected in the waters of Huisun Hot Springs in Taiwan's Beigang River - in a cave!

台灣北港溪:山洞中的惠蓀溫泉!

The hot spring isn't the end of the trip though. Just a little further on and you will find this old, abandoned dam. It's where the road used to lead to, and there's plenty of fun and interesting stuff to see here as well. Consider this the bonus level: don't miss it!

Once you get to the dam, head around the left hand side. It's not hard at all to get up, and once you're there you will have an amazing view!

Looking down from above the left hand side of the dam

Past the first dam, you will quickly come to this series of smaller ones. Notice the structure up on the right. It even has its own, smaller hot spring (just big enough to soak your feet in) inside! Check out the video (above) for amazing drone views of the area...

Abandoned vehicles, stranded after the storm that destroyed the access road

...as well as the secrets hidden in the tunnels below!

Once we finished checking out the dam and the hot spring, we headed back for one more relaxing night at the campsite. Huisun was definitely worth going back to for a second visit, and a third time would be worth every minute as well!



THE NITTY-GRITTY


IMPORTANT NOTE:

All recommendations, times, and other information are for average conditions with average water levels. Please also see important safety notes for river tracing (below).


Length of trace:

Roughly 21 km there and back.


Time:

3.5 - 4.5 hours one way, depending on the fitness and swimming abilities of the group.


Water sources:

It's one big water source the whole way! Of course, it's better to take from a side stream (there are many), given that many people trace through here all the time. There is a great waterfall water source at the first camp site, for example. See also notes on water (below).


Food:

Bring enough for a full day hike, or overnight if you plan to camp over.


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 filter or other treatment options (see below), a waterproof headlamp or flashlight, a lighter (always!). A basic rope may also be useful, but our group did not find it highly necessary on either visit. There is one place where it is very helpful, but there is currently a rope and innertube in place there. Details below.


Sun protection:

Highly recommended!


Yes for teenagers 13 or older. Families who regularly do outdoor activities like hiking and river tracing together could try with children as young as 8, though they may find this strenuous. This will likely be strenuous for adults or teens in less than good physical condition. Good swimming skills, and possibly life jackets, will be essential. Use your best judgement.


Dog friendly:

Possibly, for larger, fit dogs with outdoor experience. You will need to lift them with harnesses at points. Use your best judgement.



GPX file 1 of 2: Huisun Hot Spring 1 Entrance to Camp - The Map Room 惠蓀溫泉登山口-營地-地圖寶庫

Huisun Hot Spring 1 Entrance to Camp - The Map Room 惠蓀溫泉登山口-營地-地圖寶庫
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Download GPX • 23KB


GPX file 2 of 2: Huisun Hot Spring 2 Camp to Hot Spring and Back - The Map Room 惠蓀溫泉營地-溫泉來回-地圖寶庫

Huisun Hot Spring 2 Camp to Hot Spring and Back - The Map Room 惠蓀溫泉營地-溫泉來回-地圖寶庫
.gpx
Download GPX • 11KB


Remarks:


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*)

  • Lighter (always!)

  • Optional gear: A bandanna, headband, or other light cloth for wiping sweat is also often useful when you are not fully immersed in water.


Drinking water:

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.

 

Loved this article? Make sure to check out TMR's growing collection of hot spring articles!

 

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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