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Taian Outdoors 5: River Tracing Past Shuiyun to a Huge Waterfall with Guest Writer Renegade Tourist

Updated: Apr 27


 
 

INDEX

 



Welcome to The Map Room's Taian Outdoors series!


This is the fifth in a series of articles about the Taian area in Miaoli, Taiwan. River tracing Shuiyun and many other waterfalls and hiking Tiger Mountain and Jialishan (Jiali Mountain) are just some of the amazing adventure sports experiences in this little known and often overlooked corner of Taiwan!


Hikes and river traces in this series:

  1. Taian Outdoors 1: Tiger Mountain, Taian's Forgotten Mountain (泰安戶外1:爬虎山) Beginner - Intermediate

  2. Taian Outdoors 2: Backdoor to Jiali Mountain: Tiger Mountain (泰安戶外2:加里山秘境入口:虎山) High Intermediate

  3. Taian Outdoors 3: Beautiful, and Dangerous, Nature in the Taian Area! (泰安戶外3:美麗,又險峻,的泰安大自然!)

  4. Taian Outdoors 4: Hiking and River Tracing to Shuiyun Waterfall (泰安戶外4:爬山和溯溪去水雲瀑布) Novice

  5. Taian Outdoors 5: River Tracing Past Shuiyun to a Huge Waterfall (with guest writer, Renegade Tourist) (泰安戶外5:溯溪過水雲到一個大瀑布) Intermediate

  6. Taian Outdoors 6: River Tracing Past Shuiyun to a Tall, Double-Decker Waterfall! (泰安戶外6:溯溪過水雲到一個大,雙層瀑布) Advanced

  7. Taian Outdoors 7: River Tracing Above Shuiyun to Monkey Falls! (泰安戶外7:繞水雲溯溪到猴子瀑布) Advanced

  8. Or, see the whole series at this link!

I honestly cannot put into words how cool it is to stand ten meters up a near vertical cliff, a massive waterfall just to the side of you, knowing that you could die if you lose your grip on the rope. It is a visceral experience.
 

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Introducing this week's adventure:

Taian Outdoors 5: River Tracing Past Shuiyun to a Huge Waterfall (with guest writer, Renegade Tourist) (泰安戶外5:溯溪過水雲到一個大瀑布)


 

It's been said that it's the people who make the place, and I can definitely tell you that it's often the friends we meet along the way that make our adventures truly worth going on. Here's a collaborative guest post with a good friend, The Renegade Tourist, from Renegade Writings, about discovering a huge, remote, and absolutely breathtaking waterfall on our first adventure together!

 


The first time I met The Cartographer was a couple of years ago in a camping gear store. He struck up a conversation with me and within minutes he had invited me to go river tracing. I had always wanted to try river tracing but had never taken the time to arrange a tour, so when the opportunity came up I happily agreed to join. This is what I wrote about my experience back then:



The Cartographer and I set off early one Saturday morning and drove down to Taian in Miaoli. We parked the car, loaded our gear into the watertight backpacks that he had brought, put on our river tracing shoes (similar to wetsuit shoes) and set off down the trail.

After a few hundred meters we left the trail and took a small side path through the bushes down to the river. From there we hiked partly along the river bank, and partly in the knee deep water up to the Dashimen waterfall. It was nice but not as adventurous as I had expected.



We had originally planned to do a few jumps when we got to the fall but because of the previous day's rain, the current was too strong. Instead we headed around the falls and further upstream.



After we reentered the river upstream from the Dashimen fall it only took us about 100 meters before we reached the next big waterfall, Shuiyun Falls. This one is really spectacular with the water crashing down from a cliff high above the river, throwing spray high into the air. To get there we had to walk through waist deep water, and cross a stream that could easily have swept us off our feet if we weren't careful. I must admit I did feel a little bit nervous when crossing the stream but it was worth it for the awesome feeling of standing at the bottom of that fall, feeling the spray like mist in the air and hearing the incessant booming sound.





We kept hiking for a few kilometers, sometimes walking along the river bed, sometimes clambering over or around big boulders, and sometimes wading through the rushing water to get across the river. This was exactly the type of thing I had expected from a river tracing tour.







After an hour or two of walking we stopped for lunch. Sitting on a log in a remote(ish) river valley taking in the beautiful landscape while you eat is a great way to have lunch. Once we had eaten the real adventure started. Right around the corner from the spot where we had eaten our lunch, we came to a steep, two level waterfall. It wouldn't normally be climbable (unless you were very skilled) but someone had fastened a rope at the top so we could get up. I have to tell you, climbing up with a torrent of water coming down on your head is something else.






We kept walking and not a hundred meters from the two level fall we came to the next one, which was even more awesome than the Shuiyun fall. This (as far as I know) unnamed fall is probably 15 meters high, with masses of water thundering down into the turquoise pool at the bottom.



At first it looked like this might be the end of the road but soon enough we found another rope. The Cartographer went first to check the safety and I followed. Climbing the smaller fall had been an experience but this was on an entirely new level. I honestly cannot put into words how cool it is to stand ten meters up a near vertical cliff, a massive waterfall just to the side of you, knowing that you could die if you lose your grip on the rope. It is a visceral experience.




Having caught our breath after climbing and taken in the view, we set off upstream again. We walked for a kilometer or so, seeing the remains of rockslides on both sides of the river, passing them as quickly as possible to avoid any possible danger. Finally we reached a point where the river valley narrows down to a canyon and a big boulder, about the size of a house, blocked our path. On one side of the boulder there is a gap where the water comes through, forming a waterfall. The Cartographer, determined to keep going, made several attempts to climb through it but eventually had to give up. With the high water levels from the recent rains it was too risky.




A bit saddened by the fact that we couldn't go further, we turned around and started walking back out. There was plenty of wading in deep water, clambering over rocks, and crossing swiftly flowing streams on the way out, just like there had been on the way in. However, by now I was more used to it so it didn't feel quite as exciting as when we were coming in. I will admit though, rappelling down that 15 meter waterfall was just as exciting as it had been going up.



I was pretty tired when I came out from the river, what with walking some 15 kilometers over rough ground and all. That didn't matter though, because I had an awesome day: walking through the gorgeous landscape, green hills on both sides, the clear blue river and one spectacular waterfall after the other; the sense of adventure and excitement when crossing a stream or clambering over some boulders; above all the exhilaration of climbing a near vertical cliff right next to a thundering waterfall. I'm not sure when I will have another chance, but I will definitely go river tracing again.


Story, photos (above), and videos (above) courtesy of The Renegade Tourist






THE NITTY-GRITTY

Time:

OUR time:

5:30 there and back, including about an extra half hour in the area with the waterfall and The Rock.


RECOMMENDED time:

8-9 hours there and back again. Plan for the whole day, or better yet just camp somewhere along the way. We move quickly, know the area, are experienced tracers, and are in very good shape.


Distance:

9 km (5.6 miles) there and back again


Water sources:

Before Shuiyun Waterfall, you should probably bring your own, due to the fact that this is a popular and highly trafficked destination.


After that, you can generally rely on the river. Be sure to see the notes on water, though (below)!


Gear and provisions:

River tracing-appropriate shoes and clothes (see remarks), waterproof backpack, life jackets for anyone who is not a strong swimmer, water (above) or a water filter or other treatment options (see below), a waterproof headlamp or flashlight, rope (optional, but useful for emergency or difficult situations), first aid kit. Helmets optional. You may also want overnight gear and provisions. And of course, a lighter (always)!


Sun protection:

Definitely


Yes, with caveats. One of The Map Room's Team, an outdoorsy father of 4, has been up to the rope section with an 8 and 10 year old before after camping part way along on the previous night. Good swimming skills, and possibly life jackets, will be essential. For going up the rope past the waterfall, use careful judgement and decide for your individual families.


Dog friendly:

Possibly, for larger, fit dogs with outdoor experience, up to the smaller waterfall before the main waterfall. You may need to lift them with harnesses at points and this may be strenuous for them. Use your best judgement.


Camping /overnighting options:

See below, and the points indicated in the GPX track.




GPX file: Taian Outdoors 5 Left Fork - The Map Room 泰安戶外5溪左邊-地圖寶庫.gpx

Taian Outdoors 5 Left Fork - The Map Room 泰安戶外5溪左邊-地圖寶庫
.gpx
Download GPX • 17KB







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



Remarks:


Parking:

There is a front parking lot with a road leading further into a back parking area. Just drive past the front area, past the guard house, and park at the back parking lot, it will save you a lot of unnecessary walking!


Water:

For this hike, I personally drink 2 or more liters per day, but I drink a lot of water and you may drink less than me. It's better to have extra than too little, though.


River tracing gear and provisions (for basic not requiring rappelling and rock climbing skills and gear):

  • Clothes (tracing): 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 safety notes for river tracing in Taiwan (and elsewhere):

  • Strength and water levels of rivers change with rain, seasons, and other factors.

  • ALWAYS check the weather in advance of a river trace in Taiwan (or anywhere). 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!

 

Ready to learn more about the Taian area? Check out the whole series here!


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!

 


The Map Room has an affiliate arrangement with Parkbus Taiwan and will receive a commission if you do. We stand strongly by our affiliates, because at the end of the day, they help get us safely to the end of the day.

 

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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