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Xiaojinping: 5 Hot Springs, 3 Waterfalls, 2 Mountains, 1 Hot Destination! (January 2023 update)

Updated: Oct 29, 2023



 
 
 

Index

 

Xiaojinping Hot Spring Area Map

Taiwan Hot Springs Master Map


IMPORTANT UPDATE:

January 14, 2023

The first Xiaojinping pool suffered a catastrophic collapse in a landslide, and there was one fatality. As of January 2023,the other hot springs are all intact. Here is a gallery of the current situation.




 

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Introducing this week's adventure:

Xiaojinping: 5 Hot Springs, 3 Waterfalls, 2 Mountains, 1 Hot Destination! 小錦屏:五個溫泉,三個瀑布,兩座山,一個超棒的地點!


With five hot springs, three waterfalls, one easy hike and an advanced hike, the Jinping River (錦屏溪) area in Hsinchu's Jianshi County in Taiwan (台灣新竹尖石) is both a relaxing, family friendly, river tracing and camping destination and a challenge for more advanced adventurers. In a word, this place truly has something for everyone!


The Hot Spring Area

 

Jinping Creek and the surrounding are are a great outdoors destination in Hsinchu County's Jianshi, Northern Taiwan. With extremely easy access to at least five hot springs at the time of writing, trails to two mountains, lots of waterfalls, and good river tracing options, there's definitely something for everyone here!



There is a road leading directly to the hot spring, though some sections are steep and rough. However, recent renovations mean that the worst - and previously almost completely impassible - parts of the road have been re-paved and replaced. Be prepared for some seriously steep uphill and downhill sections on the way, though!


Look closely and you can see one of the waterfalls from this hilltop on the road!

Parking/camp area along the road. You can see Jinping Creek Waterfall (錦屏溪瀑布, below) when standing here.


There are a number of easily accessible camping areas. The only real challenge here is to make sure that you can find a space - the ease access means that just about everyone wants to come out here on any weekend or holiday.


Finding a place to camp can be a challenge, as the area is easily accessible and very popular


Asher soaks in the oldest hot spring

THIS HOT SPRING WAS DESTROYED IN LATE 2022, but the others are intact. We will update this if it is restored.

The oldest hot spring

THIS HOT SPRING WAS DESTROYED IN LATE 2022, but the others are intact. We will update this if it is restored.


Though this is a free, wild hot spring, it needs to be dug out regularly after large storms. The local community is very active in maintaining and expanding it, and you are likely to see old men, in their 60's or older, digging, moving rocks, and pouring cement. This does, of course, mean that you won't see even a little bit of the beautiful greens, whites, and other colors of some hot springs, so if that, or privacy, are what you're after, it's probably best to go elsewhere.



This is the smallest 'hot spring.' It's actually a bath tub with a bit of natural hot water flowing slowly into it. Don't count on being able to use it though - this old gentleman basically lives there, and I've never seen it without him in the tub!




This newer hot spring, though shallow, is still a good temperature and well covered. The rooves serve two purposes: Blocking the small rocks that frequently fall down from the cliffside above, and keeping rain out during bad weather.




This new addition is the largest of the bunch. It may not be beautiful, but when we last visited it definitely did a great job of keeping the icy rain off! We also had a chance to chat with the locals.




There's even a little changing area off to the side.



Now, of course, this is not the ideal kind of hot spring for every visitor. If you are one who prefers unspoiled nature, seclusion, or just less cement and more dirt and stone, you may be disappointed. If you're looking for a good, easily accessible, wild, and free hot spring, though - perhaps to bring a small child, or even toddlers or babies to - this may be a destination for you!


The waterfalls and river tracing

 

The hot spring area is only the beginning of the adventure though! There are several rivers to trace and a number of mountains to hike as well. Just trace upstream towards the suspension bridge (below) and within minutes you will come to a fork where two rivers come together.


Jinping Creek Waterfall (錦屏溪瀑布)





Head under the suspension bridge and stay on the main river first. This will bring you Jinping Creek Waterfall (錦屏溪瀑布). It's beautiful, easily accessible, and rewarding, and best of all, it has a big, beautiful, azure swimming pool right at the base!


Jinping Creek Waterfall (錦屏溪瀑布)


It's possible to trace further upstream from here, but getting past the waterfall is difficult and a bit technical. To do so, you have to backtrack, find your way onto the road, walk up, and look for a good place to climb down through the jungle once you've passed the waterfall. Instead of doing this, it's best to head back downstream to the river fork at the bridge and either follow the other river upstream or cross the bridge and follow the path a while.


Heading upstream from Jinping Creek Waterfall is a good adventure for the more experienced explorer





Xiaojinping Waterfall (小錦屏瀑布)




Heading up the other branch of the river, you will pass a few interesting places, the first of which is Xiaojinping Waterfall (小錦屏瀑布). Keep your eyes open and you can even find fool's gold (pyrite)! Interestingly, this waterfall has an alternate name, 黃金洞瀑布 (Golden Cave Waterfall), which may be derived from them.


Deposits of fools gold (pyrite) near the

Xiaojinping Waterfall 小錦屏瀑布


After a few more minutes, you will come to a second, even bigger waterfall! This is Xiaojinping Waterfall (小錦屏瀑布). Like Jinping Creek Waterfall, it is quickly and easily accessible, big, beautiful, and has a gorgeous azure swimming pool underneath. Also like Jinping Creek Waterfall, it is completely impassible from this point - though getting past it is not at all difficult. Once you've had your fill of swimming, look for the small path that heads up to the main, well marked trail (see below). From here you can either reconnect with the river and trace upstream or follow the path, continuing all the way to the third and final easily accessible waterfall in the area.


Little Rock Waterfall and Water Slide (小岩瀑布和自然滑水道)




Next up is Little Rock Waterfall and Water Slide (小岩瀑布和自然滑水道). This one is a special treat because it's a double waterfall, AND because there is a natural water slide there! It's also beautifully colored.



There are some VERY old ropes going up to the sliding area. At the time of writing, they hadn't broken yet... but be careful! Don't worry if you slip though, just stay calm and let yourself slide down the smooth rock face. Sure it's most fun sliding down the waterfall itself, but almost anywhere along here is safe to slide down, as long as you're careful and just keep your wits. Personally, I love to slide down the wet, slimy, dark section to the right of the waterfall!


Some people come with professional gear. This is a good option, but not the only way up



Relaxing on top of the first of two waterfalls at Little Rock Waterfall and natural waterslide (小岩瀑布和自然滑水道) before sliding down



Once you're at the top of the first waterfall, there are still more ropes ahead. If you're careful, strong, experienced, and confident in your abilities, then you can try to get on through to the second one. This is NOT recommended for the inexperienced, though!


The second tier of Little Rock Waterfall (小岩瀑布)


The second tier is more difficult to reach, and much harder to get past. For many visitors, the first tier is the best stopping point, and the second one should be the end of this trace for most of the rest. Tracers with advanced experience, good skills, and good judgement can attempt to go further upstream, but it is tricky and can be very dangerous getting past.


Climbing around the second waterfall. These ropes are old and you have to be careful!

The view from the top of the second tier at Little Rock Waterfall (小岩瀑布)



Hiking: Jinping Mountain, Gaotai Mountain, and Beyond

 

If tracing isn't your thing, or if you've had enough water for one day, there are also two different trails to two separate mountains both starting in this area. The first trailhead, the one for Gaotai Mountain and the three Daotian Peaks (高台山-小,中,大島田山縱走 - detailed blog post here!), is up on a side road near the top of the hill before the final descent to the hot spring area. The entrance is marked on the map in this post, and you can see the full map and details at the link above. This hike is by far the easier of the two options, and is suitable for high beginner and low intermediate hikers.




The second hike, Jinping Mountain (錦屏山), is much more difficult and demanding than Gaotai Mountain, and should not be attempted by the inexperienced. To reach the trailhead, cross the suspension bridge.


View downstream towards the hot spring from the suspension bridge



As soon as you reach the other side of the bridge you will find this sign marking a fork in the trail. If you continue straight, you will end up at Xiaojinping Waterfall (小錦屏瀑布) and Little Rock Waterfall (小岩瀑布, see above). To head towards Jinping Mountain, though, you need to turn left and head up the hill. You might as well get used to it - you'll be heading up a merciless, endless, very challenging, and quite rewarding uphill for many hours to come!


DEFINITELY be SURE to bring a headlamp, water, and food for this one - it's going to take you a long time to get up!


Looking back at the suspension bridge from the Jinping Mountain (錦屏山) trailhead



Just above the trailhead you will encounter this 獵人教室 (literally, "hunters' classroom").


The "hunters' classroom" (獵人教室 - above, below) is a quieter place.

The second hike, Jinping Mountain (錦屏山), is much more difficult and demanding than Gaotai Mountain, and should not be attempted by the inexperienced.

The trail soon splits again at this sign. You can follow it down to Xiaojinping Waterfall (小錦屏瀑布) or keep going straight towards Jinping Mountain (錦屏山) and Little Rock Waterfall (小岩瀑布). Confusingly, this sign calls it 黃金洞瀑布 (Golden Cave Waterfall), perhaps because of the fools' gold deposits nearby. Soon, it will split again, and this time you are finally heading up the mountain.


Heading up Jinping Mountain


The trail up to Jinping Mountain is serious business. While it is not as technically challenging as some others, it is a very, very long uphill stretch with almost no breaks on the way. This mountain is good training for anyone preparing to head up to the more serious, 3000+ meter mountains in Taiwan, and it definitely takes a lot of time and energy to get to the top! For this reason, it is best to set an absolute turn-around time and, if you hit it, really do turn around. Otherwise, you may very well find yourself hiking for quite a long time on technical terrain in the dark (again, be sure to bring a head lamp, water, and adequate provisions for a full day of hiking).


Old logging road segment on the way up Jinping Mountain


Steep uphill and climbing sections such as these are common on the Jinping Mountain trail


When I climbed Jinping Mountain, I found having real-time GPS tracking and topographical (topo) maps on my phone extremely useful (Article: How To Use Hiking Topographical Maps, Satellite Imagery, and Other Resources to Plan Hiking Routes). I used Gaia GPS (our affiliate, because we use it!) and it really made a difference to help me pace myself, know how far I had come, see how much further I still needed to go, and anticipate and prepare myself for sudden uphills and other features along the way. Other apps, like Alltrails and Hiking Biji, have similar functionality, though I find them to be more limited when hiking or tracing offline.


Beautiful view on the Jinping Mountain Trail


Once you are near the top, you will come across the abandoned foundations of an old structure in a wide, flat area about 20-30 minutes' hike below the peak. This can be a good campsite - though there is no water source - or a nice place to stop for a snack or lunch.


Bottles and other artifacts at the abandoned site