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Meihua Waterfall (梅花瀑布): Hsinchu's Amazing Rainbow River Trace!

Updated: Apr 27



 

INDEX

 
 

"Dappled light streams through the vines in the canopy far above. You snake your way through the river like an explorer in some long-forgotten pocket of primordial forest from ages past, swimming and scrambling past waterfalls, moving ever closer to one of the most breathtaking destinations in Northern Taiwan..."

Introducing this week's adventure:


Meihua Waterfall (梅花瀑布): Hsinchu's Amazing Rainbow River Trace!

 

With low, medium, and high jumps, rainbows everywhere, and a sparkling, turquoise swimming area, Meihua Waterfall (梅花瀑布) is a perfect day trip for thrill seekers and beginner river tracers alike!

 

*Please note that The Map Room participates in the Amazon Associate Program, and other affiliate programs, and may earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

 

Parking and Trailhead


Located in Hsinchu County's Jianshi Township (台灣,新竹縣,尖石鄉), Meihua Waterfall (梅花瀑布) is without a doubt one of the best river tracing destinations in Hsinchu and all of Northern Taiwan - and one of my personal favorites! It's also close to both Bilin Waterfall in the Naluo River (那羅溪比麟瀑布 - companion post) and the Xiaojinping Hot Spring area (小錦屏溫泉), making it a great option for either a day trip or a full weekend adventure.


Go up this hill...

First of all, access is easy (but fear not - the Meihua Waterfall river trace is anything but boring!). Getting there is a breeze, and tracing in from the road is neither technical nor difficult nor long. Drive past Neiwan Old Street (尖石內彎老街), up this hill...


Turn left at this school...

...left at the school...


Arrive at the Meihua Waterfall Trailhead parking area...

...down the other side of the hill...


...and park! It's just that simple.

...and boom, you've arrived at the Meihua Waterfall Trailhead!


Follow the obvious trail down from the parking area, and just head up stream!.

Walk down the obvious trail next to the parking area, jump right into the water, and just head straight up stream.


David, Dave, and Joe at the beginning of the Meihua Waterfall river trace (梅花瀑布溯溪路線登山口)

Get ready to get wet - one of the really fun things about this trace is that you're really, really in the water right from step one!


Tracing Meihua Waterfall with Wilang Explorer (探險威狼)

Small Waterfalls and Beautiful Scenery


The first of the many small waterfalls of the Meihua River (梅花溪小瀑布)

At less than a kilometer total to the waterfall, the trace itself is not long. But for something so short, it's absolutely jam-packed with beautiful scenery, small waterfalls, and jungle adventure. Dappled light breaks through the vines of the canopy far above as you snake your way through the river like an explorer in some long-forgotten pocket of primordial forest from ages past, swimming and scrambling past waterfalls, moving ever closer to one of the most breathtaking destinations in Northern Taiwan...



Another good thing about the Meihua Waterfall river trace is that water levels are almost never an issue. Take a look at this waterfall in high water flow (above) and low water flow (below). Water levels in the Meihua River can vary significantly from one visit to the next, but it is not really a problem. There is always an easy way around!



The footing is not difficult or slippery, and there are many points where you can choose the easy (beginner) or fun (challenging) path: Want to go straight up that waterfall? Go for it! Not so sure? No problem, just walk around and enjoy the view.


Do you want to go around the small waterfalls, or climb straight up? The choice is yours!
This fallen, jungle tree conceals a secret... long ago, it stood out gracefully over a beautiful swimming pool!

Even though Meihua Waterfall is not remote or difficult to get to, it can feel wild and untamed, and sometimes it likes to remind you that, even here, you are still in Mother Nature's domain. Take a look at the fallen tree above. It used to jut out over one of the most beautiful swimming areas of the entire trace (below). I have many memories of spending time with friends in that exact spot - but after a violent storm one year, it fell into the pool, and now you would never even know there had been a pool there at all.


The beautiful, lost pool that once existed where the fallen tree rests today

I tried to reach Meihua early on the first day after the storm and was probably the first person ever to see that the tree had fallen - and in fact, rocks, dirt, and bits of root and tree were still falling from above and, after a few more rockfalls further upstream, I decided to turn back. It was a very sad day for me, and it remains the first and only time out of over a hundred visits to this, my local waterfall, that I ever failed to reach Meihua itself.


Another of the many beautiful, minor waterfalls of the Meihua River during high water flow

Now take a look at this beautiful, minor waterfall. Can you see the easy way up? Look closely!


And the same spot during low water flow
This small waterfall is another example of how you can always choose your difficulty level on this river trace!

There it is! Just go up and around to the left (river right)!



The Tunnel

Meihua Waterfall in Hsinchu County's Jianshi Township (台灣,新竹縣,尖石鄉) is one of my personal favorite river tracing adventure travel destinations in Taiwan!

But for those of you who are more advanced, well, I DID promise you some adventure, and it's time to add a little into what has so far been a pretty easy - if stunningly beautiful - river trace.



After a while, you will come to this, the last of the smaller waterfalls between the trailhead and Meihua Waterfall.


CHALLENGE! Read on - but don't scroll down too far. See if you can find the correct passage up the waterfall!

So, listen up, adventurer: it's time for a challenge! Look at the photo below and don't scroll down any further! See if you can find the correct way up!



Did you look? Now look at the next photo...





Did you look CAREFULLY?





Are you SURE you know your best guess?




OK....



...scroll down...











There it is! That's right - it's a tunnel! You don't actually climb up this waterfall, though if you're advanced and confident enough, you could pull it off. Even still, though, you can climb up waterfalls on any old trace. This, though, is different. This is fun!


The Meihua Waterfall Tunnel entrance

Head up the right (river left) side and start climbing, and you will see this tunnel entrance.


Looking back down and out of the tunnel

It's only a short tunnel, but you still have to be careful. It's easy to get mixed up and go the wrong way!


Be sure to take the TOPMOST of these two tunnel exits - the bottom one will put you in a dangerous spot.

Be sure to take the TOPMOST of these two tunnel exits - the bottom one will put you in a dangerous spot.


A random goose we encountered once at the pool above the waterfall tunnel. It jumped off and tried to fly down rather than hanging out to see whether or not we would eat it!

Once you get out of the tunnel, you will find a pool (above) and a view (below).



Now, remember those rainbows I promised you? If you're there in the morning on a sunny day, this is a really great place to look for one - especially when there's high water flow!


Entering the waterfall tunnel under a beautiful rainbow

The two pictures above and below were both taken from the same place, but roughly five years apart. As you can see, it's a great place to look for rainbows - though I've never quite found a pot of gold hidden in the tunnel at their end. Still, it's really cool to think that you're passing under a secret rainbow into a hidden tunnel around a waterfall in the middle of a primordial jungle!


Looking back at the waterfall from above during high water flow
The beautiful, azure swimming pool just above the tunnel waterfall - but just wait until you see what's next!

"Meihua Waterfall pours over the edge of a cliff, sparkling in the sunshine like a river of diamonds falling into a vast pile of gems of every type and description."

Meihua Waterfall


Once you've passed through the tunnel, you are almost there - Meihua Waterfall is waiting for you, and it's just around the next bend!


Bathed in sunlight and doused in all the colors of the rainbow, this is the amazing Meihua Waterfall in Hsinchu's Jianshi Township (台灣,新竹縣,尖石鄉).

Soon you get your first views of the mighty Meihua Waterfall, and then it comes fully into view. Set in a gorgeous, canyon-like setting with colors of every hue on all sides and one of the best azure pools in the Hsinchu area, the waterfall pours over the edge of a cliff, sparkling in the sunshine like a river of diamonds falling into a vast pile of gems of every type and description.


Hsinchu's Meihua Waterfall and its azure swimming pool during high waterflow

No matter the weather this waterfall is always beautiful, but if you are there on a sunny day as the sun begins to pass overhead, you're in for a REALLY special kind of treat!


Meihua Waterfall during low waterflow

Some days it can be a raging torrent, and other days it is reduced to a mere fraction of its regular volume, but either way Meihua Waterfall is always a sight to behold!


One of the many guided river tracing tour groups that frequent Meihua Waterfall

When you get to Meihua, there's a good chance you might run into a tour group or two. In fact, you may well encounter (and pass) them as you trace in. This is especially true on weekends and holidays. I often make a point of tracing in quickly (my record is 13 minutes from the parking area to the waterfall, you might consider more like 20 or 30), swim, do some jumps (an absolute MUST at Meihua!!), and then take a much more relaxed stroll on the way out to enjoy the scenery.


Wilang Explorer (探險威狼) dives from the low jump spot into the Meihua Waterfall swimming pool

The tour groups usually tend to be big, filled with inexperienced beginners, or both, and move pretty slowly. If you want the best pictures, and a little time to yourself at the waterfall, it's best to get past them as quickly as you can.


Looking back from the cliff face at the hidden Meihua Waterfall rainbow

The swimming area in front of the waterfall is an amazing place to get pictures. The best time is when the sun is just overhead on a bright and sunny day, especially a few days after a storm, when there's a lot of water but it is not as murky as the first day or two.


Climbing up onto the cliff next to Meihua Waterfall

If you swim across to the cliff face just next to the waterfall and look back, you can sometimes see another hidden rainbow. It's never visible from the front side, but standing there looking back you often get to enjoy it.


Climbing up onto the cliff next to Meihua Waterfall
Looking back from the cliff face at the hidden Meihua Waterfall rainbow

Jumping!


Now of course there are rainbows, swimming, and so many other amazing things about this place, but jumping is what it's really all about! And, without a doubt, the biggest, scariest, and most exhilarating challenge of all is the Meihua Waterfall high jump!


The two medium and one high jumping spots at Meihua Waterfall. The red line shows the approximate normal water level - it was incredibly low water that day!

There are several places to jump from at Meihua Waterfall. To the left (river right), and just out of frame of the picture above, there is a long, low ledge just a few meters above the water. It's good for beginners and can be seen clearly in the pictures above (click here to see the low jump spot). Next, there are the two medium jump spots circled in red above. These are a lot of fun and offer a compromise for anyone who's ready for something beyond the beginner level but not quite up to the high jump (top circle) just yet.



But even advanced high jumpers shouldn't write off the medium jumps - getting up to them is a fun adventure of its own! First, swim across to the ledge to the side of the waterfall. Make sure to look back and see the hidden rainbow (above)!



Next, climb up the rock face. There are plenty of good, easy hand and foot holds, and the rocks are not slippery. With the waterfall just to your left spraying and covering you with freshly fallen water, it makes for a lot of fun!


Climbing up the rock face at Meihua Waterfall
Climbing up the rock face at Meihua Waterfall
Jumping from the medium jump spots at Meihua Waterfall

Then, once you are up, choose either of the two platforms and jump right back down again! The whole pool is super deep so, as long as you've done the obligatory check of the depth before the first jump of the day, you should usually be just fine jumping almost everywhere. DO check every time, though, no matter how many times you've jumped a place - you never know what's fallen or washed into a jump spot since you last visited!


The BIG Jump!

The way up to the big jump at Meihua Waterfall

Looking back from the swimming area, you will see this ledge on your left (also river left). Follow it up, and soon you'll be looking down at Meihua Waterfall from above. It's one of the tallest, most exciting, and best high jumps in the entire Hsinchu area! There's also an amazing view, so it's worth going up even if you don't want to jump.


Ropes on the way up to the big jump at Meihua Waterfall

Soon you will find an obvious, and easy, way to climb up. There are ropes all the way, but even before they were put in it was never a hard climb up.


The Meihua Waterfall high cliff jumping spot

Follow the trail and you'll come to this spot. You can jump from just about anywhere immediately next to it, but I personally think this is the best place.


Looking down at a rainbow from Meihua Waterfall's high cliff jumping spot

Meihua is the closest major waterfall to where I live in Hsinchu City, so I often come out on weekends, and even after work. I've been there more times than I can remember, and I've literally done the high cliff jump more than 200 times. I love it because of the view - you can see the swimming pool, the waterfall, and sometimes even a rainbow on sunny days in just the right light!


Cliff jumping at Meihua Waterfall in Jianshi, Hsinchu, Taiwan (台灣,新竹縣,尖石鄉)

If you're ready for a thrill, then go for it - take a flying leap off the edge and into the abyss that awaits you below!


Hmmm... maybe I should rephrase that a bit...


View of Meihua Waterfall from the top

Take in the view. It's beautiful! Then, jump pretty much anywhere you like. It's very, very deep and the walls go almost straight down under the water. There are no big rocks to hit, and the jumping area is wide and easy to hit. Yes, it looks really high, and the jumping pool seems really narrow from all the way up there, but it's just a trick of the view: remember, you're looking down into a mini-canyon with steep walls, so it tricks your eye into thinking the jump is much higher, and the pool much narrower, than it really is.


Cliff jumping at Meihua Waterfall in Jianshi, Hsinchu, Taiwan (台灣,新竹縣,尖石鄉)

That's actually all part of the fun with the Meihua Waterfall high cliff jump: It looks higher than the Danlong Waterfall jump near Double Dragon Waterfall, which is actually higher than Meihua, but that's because Danlong, which is the highest cliff jumping spot I know of in all of Hsinchu, is a wide, open pool. (If you know of any other high jumps in the area, please let me know!)


Another view of the Meihua Waterfall cliff jumping spot from the top

Once you've jumped a few times, make sure to come up again and walk across the river for a view from the other side. It's definitely worth it - even if you decide you want to climb back down again instead of jumping.


Looking back at Meihua Waterfall from the other side of the river above
Joseph and Dave enjoy the view from the top of Meihua Waterfall
Cliff jumping from Meihua Waterfall is a dream come true for thrill seekers and adventure travelers!
Meihua Waterfall tumbles over the cliffside into the swimming pool far below

People have asked me what is further upstream from Meihua Waterfall. In fact, there's not all that much to tell about: There is a farm, and some very simple tracing, but not all that much else. But with countless rainbow spots, tons of smaller waterfalls, a secret tunnel, and such an amazing waterfall all jam-packed into such a short stretch of river, who could ask for more?


View of the top of Meihua Waterfall in Jianshi, Hsinchu, Taiwan. It looks so innocent from this angle...

So that's it, Meihua Waterfall and the entire river trace to get there. For me, it's far more than just another waterfall: It's a special place, jam-packed with memories and experiences that I've made both alone and with friends over so many years. It's one of the first places I ever went river tracing and, unlike so many of my other early haunts, it's stood the test of time and I still keep going on back for more.



I hope you all go to visit it and have as much joy there as I have had. Happy tracing!


A Personal Note from The Map Room


Meihua Waterfall is not just any waterfall; to me, it's very personally special. As mentioned above, I have built a lot of personal memories, friendships, and experiences here. It's the place where I finally overcame my fear and jumped a truly high jump for the first time; where I've gone to celebrate great joys; where I've gone to jump away from painful, personal losses. It's the gift that keeps on giving: memories from when I was a beginner tracer, as well as from just last week. I've often said that, if I'm ever lucky enough to get married, I'd like to jump off of it as soon as I say, "I do!" (and I'm only half joking). I've watched it, and my own reflection in the waters of the Meihua River, grow and change and transform over many, many years.


It's been almost three years since I started the Map Room, and it's been a long and winding journey. I don't know what the future holds, or where the path will lead, but I'm glad to share it with all of you.


Meihua was originally supposed to be the very first post for The Map Room, but somehow that didn't quite end up happening. Then, over the last few years, it kept getting postponed and delayed. Now, almost three years into the journey, it has finally happened. If I have captured even a hundredth of what this very special and wonderful little corner or Taiwan has meant to me, and been able to share it with you, then I have more than succeeded - it means so much to me that that alone would make it the best post I've ever produced by far!


If you liked this particular post, I would personally greatly appreciate it if you could please help me to share it and get it out there for other people who may not know about Meihua Waterfall, river tracing in Hsinchu, or even river tracing in Taiwan.


I wish you all much joy and safe tracing, and maybe, some day soon, we will run into each other out at Meihua Waterfall!


Keep exploring!




THE NITTY-GRITTY

 

This post about Meihua Waterfall in the Meihua River (梅花溪梅花瀑布) is designed with a companion post about Bilin Waterfall in the Naluo River (那羅溪比麟瀑布). 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.


IMPORTANT NOTE:

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 can swim' caveats, of course...).


Time:

Meihua Waterfall:

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


Water sources:

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.


Food:

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.


Sun protection:

Meihua:

No, it's mostly shaded by forest.

Bilin:

Yes, it's highly exposed.


Meihua AND Bilin (tracing route from free parking):

Probably for children 8 and older in 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 babies and toddlers for CAREFULLY SUPERVISED swimming by the river, though I wouldn't recommend taking toddlers across the river to the waterfall itself.


Dog friendly:

Meihua:

No

Bilin:

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

Bilin Waterfall - The Map Room 比麟瀑布-地圖寶庫
.gpx
Download GPX • 27KB

GPX file 1 of 2: Meihua Waterfall - The Map Room 梅花瀑布-地圖寶庫

Meihua Waterfall - The Map Room 梅花瀑布-地圖寶庫
.gpx
Download GPX • 23KB




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!


Remarks:


Safety:

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.


Parking (Meihua):

Park right at the trailhead!


Parking (Bilin):

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.


Water:

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 for high-quality, durable headlamps for hiking and river tracing (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:

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.




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!

 

Click the link above to get 20% off a year-long, premium Gaia GPS tracking and route planning subscription! The Map Room has an affiliate arrangement with Gaia and will receive a commission if you do... but we ONLY recommend products that we have tested, used, and loved in the field ourselves! We stand strongly by our affiliates, because at the end of the day, they help get us safely to the end of the day.

 

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*Please note that The Map Room participates in the Amazon Associate Program, and other affiliate programs. Some of the links on The Map Room may refer to Amazon or our other affiliates, and as a member of these, The Map Room will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. We ONLY endorse products we ourselves use, have used, or would use personally!

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