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Mulberry Creek: Taitung's River Tracing Paradise on Earth!

Updated: Apr 27


 
 

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"Stone and water, light and darkness, red, blue, and green, height, width, and depth, and all the forgotten elements of the ancient world seemed to be mixing, separating, and colliding everywhere at once."
 

*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.

 

Introducing this week's adventure:


Mulberry Creek: Taitung's River Tracing Paradise on Earth!


If you like jumping, then you're going to LOVE Mulberry Creek in Taitung, Taiwan

 

Some places are so amazing that it takes more than one person to really show just how wonderful they are! Here's another collaborative guest post with The Map Room's good friends over at OutDoorBoyZ Taiwan!

 

The Entrance Area

 
David, from The Map Room, and OutDoorBoyZ, at the Mulberry Creek parking area (桑樹溪停車場)

It was a swelteringly hot summer day in Taitung - the perfect kind of weather for river tracing. I was sitting around with my friend from OutDoorBoyZ Taiwan talking about where to go when I found out something unbelievable: "You haven't been to Mulberry Creek?!" I was shocked! "It's one of the most beautiful and accessible traces in Taiwan!"


The Mulberry Creek parking area (桑樹溪停車場)

That settled it. It was time to go! No river tracing friend of mine can hang out with me in Taitung and not go to see Mulberry Creek! "Let's go, we can shoot a video!" I said, and just like that, we were off.


Local families beat the heat in the swimming holes at the entrance to Taitung's Mulberry Creek

As soon as we got there, we saw tons of locals hanging out, swimming, and having fun. Whole families come here to swim, cliff jump, and beat the summer heat. Don't worry too much about overcrowding from them, though - they tend to stay pretty close to the entrance.


OutDoorBoyZ climbs the rope at the first swimming hole
Mulberry Creek, in Taitung's Beinan Township (台灣台東縣卑南鄉桑樹溪), is one of the best river tracing destinations in Taiwan - and one of my personal favorites!
A commercial river tracing group at Mulberry Creek in Taitung, Taiwan

One thing you DO need to watch out for, though, is the paid river tracing tours. Professional (or, in some cases, 'professional') guides love to bring paid river tracing groups here, though they often stop at only the first of the two major waterfalls. There are a few choke points along the way, so if you get a chance to pass them, take it!


Climbing up a big pile of boulders to get to the Crystal Canyon

Speaking of choke points, it wasn't too long before we got to the big pile or boulders just in front of the first of Mulberry Creek's many wonders: The Crystal Canyon! There was a paid, commercial river tracing tour group there, but they were really nice (as they often are!) and let us pass on by first.


The Crystal Canyon

 
Standing at the entrance to the Crystal Canyon at Taiwan's Mulberry Creek (台灣桑樹溪水晶峽谷入口)

Even with tour groups around, Mulberry simply can't be beat - and it was time for me to show my friend that, yes, this place really does live up to the hype!


The entrance to the Crystal Canyon at Taiwan's Mulberry Creek (台灣桑樹溪水晶峽谷入口)
A beautiful, tropical pool in Taitung's Mulberry Creek
Wading through a beautiful, tropical pool in the Crystal Canyon in Beinan, Taitung, Taiwan
David enters the Crystal Canyon
Sunlight fills the Crystal Canyon at Taiwan's Mulberry Creek (台灣桑樹溪水晶峽谷入口)

Sunlight flooded through the entrance to the canyon, glinting and sparkling on the water and walls, filling it with every shade and color of the azure, blue, and turquoise imaginable.


A man river traces through Mulberry Creek, Taitung, Taiwan
Sunlight fills the Crystal Canyon with a million colors

Light, dark, shadow, and reflections swirled and danced all around us. It was as if some forgotten part of the primordial past had been lost and left behind, unseen since the very creation of the world, waiting through all the ages to finally reveal its creative potential all around us as we passed by.



Then, we entered the heart of the canyon. Stone and water, light and darkness, red, blue, and green, height, width, and depth, and all the forgotten elements of the ancient world seemed to be mixing, separating, and colliding everywhere at once.



Some parts moved and others were frozen in time and space, but all of them worked and played together to create a symphony for the senses the likes of which we had rarely seen anywhere else.



In the middle of it all, we came to the first small waterfall of the day. It was nothing high, but would have been tricky to get up nonetheless if there weren't already a rope in place! I have climbed it without a rope once before, but it wasn't easy to do!



After double-checking the depth to be sure nothing had washed into the jumping pool, it was time to have some fun! We were both ready and excited...



...it was time for the first jump of the day!



It wasn't much further until we reached the far end of the canyon. But that wasn't the end of the trace - not by a long shot! Mulberry creek still had plenty of wonders in store for us.


Moving beyond the Crystal Canyon towards Mulberry Creek's first major waterfall
David goes down a natural water slide in Mulberry Creek
David goes down a natural water slide in Mulberry Creek

The First Waterfall

 
The first waterfall at Mulberry Creek

Just beyond the canyon, we came to the first big waterfall of the day. It's a beautiful cul-de-sac filled with an incredible natural pool.


The natural swimming pool at Mulberry Creek's first waterfall

We swam over to the far end to take a look at the waterfall. From the entrance it didn't look all that tall, but standing in front of it told a different story.


Swimming to the waterfall
A man rappels next to the first waterfall at Taiwan's Mulberry Creek

Another paid group had beaten us there, and they were rappelling down next into the pool. We paused to watch for a bit and then it was time to move on.


The Azure Pool Waterfall

 
The breathtaking Azure Pool Waterfall at Mulberry Creek in Taitung's Beinan Township (台灣台東縣卑南鄉桑樹溪)

We went back out of the cul-de-sac and climbed up the slope on the left side (river right). The view that awaited us was absolutely stunning! The Crystal Canyon had been something, but this was in a whole other league: This was the Azure Pool Waterfall, the absolute crown jewel of the entire river trace!

The breathtaking Azure Pool Waterfall (left) and the cul-de-sac swimming area (right) at Mulberry Creek in Taitung's Beinan Township (台灣台東縣卑南鄉桑樹溪)

There are many things in the world whose beauty and rarity make them count as treasures, and many can only be owned or experienced by one or two people at a time. But the Azure Pool Waterfall gives me hope that some treasures, rare though they may be, will still always be there for all of us, if only we know where to look.


The breathtaking Azure Pool Waterfall at Mulberry Creek in Taitung's Beinan Township (台灣台東縣卑南鄉桑樹溪)
The breathtaking Azure Pool Waterfall at Mulberry Creek in Taitung's Beinan Township (台灣台東縣卑南鄉桑樹溪)
The breathtaking Azure Pool Waterfall at Mulberry Creek in Taitung's Beinan Township (台灣台東縣卑南鄉桑樹溪)
The breathtaking Azure Pool Waterfall at Mulberry Creek in Taitung's Beinan Township (台灣台東縣卑南鄉桑樹溪)
Ropes on the trail around the Azure Pool Waterfall

We followed the trail up and around, and soon we were standing behind the Azure Pool itself. It's a wonderful place to swim, jump, and be awe-struck with beauty, all at the same time.

The view of Mulberry Creek's Azure Pool from behind
Jumping into Mulberry Creek's Azure Pool
There's nothing like the exhilaration you get after a jump like this!
You can jump into the Azure Pool from both sides
The view of Mulberry Creek's Azure Pool from behind

Soon, it was time to move on. There was still one more waterfall we needed to get to, and well, it wasn't going to jump itself. It called to us, though we couldn't see it yet, and we had no choice but to answer its siren song.


Onward - to the final waterfall!
Another of Mulberry Creek's many beautiful pools
River tracing in Mulberry Creek in Taiwan
River tracing in Mulberry Creek
River tracing in Mulberry Creek in Taiwan

The Butterfly Canyon

 
The Mulberry Creek Butterfly Canyon

Next we came to the Butterfly Canyon. I've been here many times, and I don't think I've ever passed through this section of the creek without butterflies swirling all around me. It's an indescribable feeling to come to a place like this and stand in the middle of dozens of multi-colored butterflies as they swirl in circles all around you.


Swimming in Mulberry Creek's Butterfly Canyon

Jumping a Small Waterfall

 
The second minor waterfall at Mulberry Creek (桑樹溪)

Next, we came to the second, and last, of the small waterfalls. Like the first, it's a good place to jump, but as always, you have to check the depth first! Even if you've been to a jump spot like this countless times (and I have!), you never know if something washed or fell into the pool since your last visit...


There's simply no other adventure travel experience quite like river tracing in Taiwan!
David gets ready to jump off of the second minor waterfall in Mulberry Creek
off of the second minor waterfall in Mulberry Creek
Time for a flying leap!

The Second Waterfall

 

It wasn't long after we passed the second small waterfall that we got our first look at the second - and last - large waterfall in the creek. It revealed itself to us slowly and dramatically at first, almost like an actor in a play, peeking out just a little from behind a giant boulder which blocked our view of the rest of it.


David climbs up into the second waterfall area

There is another really nice swimming area here at the base of this waterfall, but unlike the Azure Pool Waterfall, this one has a jump spot! I climbed up behind the waterfall itself, and with a yell of pure exhilaration I leapt straight through it into the pool below.



For those who want to know, it is actually possible to go further by climbing up the right (river left) side of the waterfall area, but there's really no reason to do so other than to see it from the top. The pool may be deep enough for a jump from behind the waterfall, but it is definitely NEVER deep enough to jump from above! Not only that, but I've been up almost to the end of the entire creek and seen the end from a distance. It just gets slowly smaller and smaller after this point, and this really is the last waterfall in the river.


Jumping straight through the second waterfall at Mulberry Creek

We had come to the end of our river trace for the day, and what better way could there be to spend a hot, summer day in Taiwan than river tracing and swimming in a place like this?


Jumping straight through the second waterfall at Mulberry Creek

It was time to go back, but we knew we would never forget this amazing place. Not only that, but we were going to get to pass the Azure Pool and the Crystal Canyon once more on the way out! If that isn't the best way to end your day, I really don't know what is.

Jumping straight through the second waterfall at Mulberry Creek
 

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:

1.7 km in (3.4 km round trip). The Map Room has gone several kilometers further, but there is nothing of interest up there.


Time:

4-2 hours each way (2-4 in total), depending on the fitness and capabilities of the group. You can go faster than this, but it's so beautiful you're not going to want to!


Water sources:

We recommend you wait to filter the water until you are past the azure pool waterfall; there is a small farm above the watershed before that. This is also a popular trace, so lots of people may be in the water just upstream. Or, just bring bottled water.


Food:

I usually bring a lunch and drink to enjoy on this trace.


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 the locals seem to do a pretty good job keeping ropes in place in the canyon already.


Sun protection:

Useful, though there is good shade along much of the trace. I prefer to have at least sunglasses, and often a hat, on parts of this trace.


Locals bring small children to the pools at the parking area, but it is not advisable much further than that. Families with older children (8+) who regularly do outdoor activities like hiking and river tracing together could try going at least as far as the first major waterfall, though this may prove challenging. Good swimming skills, and possibly life jackets, will be helpful in certain sections of deep pools.


Dog friendly:

Only up to the first minor waterfall (and then with great difficulty!). We have seen someone lift their dog over obstacles as far as this, but you will NOT be able to get them much further! Use your best judgement, but we do not recommend this route for dogs.



GPX file: Danan River Mulberry Creek - The Map Rook 大南溪桑樹溪-地圖寶庫

Danan River Mulberry Creek - The Map Rook 大南溪桑樹溪-地圖寶庫
.gpx
Download GPX • 9KB



22.763169, 121.021073





Check out the Map Room Members' Area for more maps, GPX links, and other members only perks!


Remarks:


Safety:

Most of this trace is in a very narrow canyon, and we have seen multiple rockfalls there. It's beautiful, so have fun - but make sure to stay on your toes!


Parking:

Free, convenient parking is available right at the trailhead.


Water:

For this trace, I personally drink less than 1 liter of water.


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:

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!

 


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