Updated: Jul 26
The Entrance: Double Waterfall and Hot Spring / Yongshi Warrior Waterfall (勇士瀑布) / The Parking Area Hot Spring (停車場溫泉) / The nitty-gritty (GPS, GPX, and more)
Mahaipu River Area Map
Hot Springs in Taiwan Master Map
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There's nothing like a hike or a trace to get you back into the swing of things and help you reset your perspective and reconnect with what really matters!
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Introducing this week's adventure:
Mahaipu Hot Spring River and Yongshi Waterfall: An Awesome Day Trace with Something for Everyone!
It's been said that it's the people who make the place, and sometimes it takes friends to help you out of a rut. Here's a collaborative guest post with two good friends, Lamin from Funventures Taiwan (瘋狂台樂事), and Asher (Xiaofei / 小飛) from 68 Maps about our first group adventure together!
The Entrance: Double Waterfall and Hot Spring
It had been one of those weeks. You know the kind - the long, demanding, and difficult kind of week at work that leaves you sapped and tired both physically and mentally, and with not much to show for it to boot. I was already feeling pretty burned out, and it was only Wednesday! The weekend was coming up fast, though, so I decided to take things back into my own hands and do something about it.
Lamin (Funventures) and Asher (Xiaofei) at the start of the trace to Yongshi Waterfall (勇士瀑布)
Lamin, from Funventures Taiwan, and I had been trying to set up a time to go out tracing for ages and it seemed like things might finally be able to line up right this time, so I shot him a quick message.
Diving in at the start of the trace to help someone find a lost cell phone
"Hey, got any places you've been wanting to get away to?" I asked? Well, it turned out he did - and thank goodness! Sometimes you just don't have the energy to plan the escape you really need on your own.
"Yeah, there's this waterfall I've been wanting to go to. Let's check it out!" ...and just like that, things were looking up. There's nothing like a hike or a trace to get you back into the swing of things and help you reset your perspective and reconnect with what really matters!
View from the top of the double waterfall at the start of the trace
The next day, I mentioned the trip to Asher (Xiaofei) and asked if he wanted to take a break from working on his latest project, 68Maps. We had already been planning to go packrafting on Saturday, so things worked out and the three of us ended up with a plan to have some fun and get out somewhere new.
One of the many hot springs in Mahaipu River (馬海蒲野溪溫泉溪流)
Work kept me pretty busy until the weekend, so it was only on the way there that I realized Yongshi Warrior Waterfall was in Mahaipu River (馬海蒲溪勇士瀑布). Now THAT was good news - the whole river is absolutely full of hot springs! I had heard a lot about it, but never had the chance to get there until now.
Hot spring water source. It might look ugly... but it felt great!
Even before we got out of the car, Lamin pointed out a nice, red hot spring downstream from the parking area, and we decided to check it out at the end of the trace (details below). Then, not even two minutes into the trace, we came across another one (pictures, above). It was right at the start, with a nice temperature and a great view of a little, double waterfall. Now this was more like it - so much better than the rest of the week had been!
Off we went, into nature and miles and miles away from the rest of the world. The boulders were colorful, the cliffs were beautiful, the weather was nice, and the water was just right.
Lamin and Asher working hard at hardly working
Taiwan's rivers never disappoint, and this was no exception. While there were no more hot springs to soak in along the way to the waterfall, the trace itself was really nice. There was no end to azure pools, little waterfalls, and beautiful scenery, and while there were some fun rope sections like this one, they weren't difficult. All in all, it was a pretty relaxing trace for us - so it should be accessible as a day trip for anyone with basic river tracing experience as well (details below).
Lamin doing his best Atlas impression
As it turned out, one of the great things about this trace is that it's really a good choice for just about anyone of any skill level. There are plenty of choices you can make along the way so that those with less skill or experience can just walk around on a well-established trail, while anyone who really needs to scratch that adventurous itch can go up a waterfall or through some rapids or... well, anything, really!
Feeling so much better as the river washed all memories of the work week away!
There are plenty of places where you still need to be able to swim well, but for most of them just having a life jacket, being sensible, and having someone along who knows more about the water should be fine for most beginners.
Asher takes a minute to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery
Cathy (IG: @kc_wfdct), Lamin's girlfriend, swims across one of the beautiful pools on the way to Taiwan's Yongshi Warrior Waterfall (台灣勇士瀑布) in Renai, Nantou (南投縣仁愛鄉)
Having some fun at one of the optional obstacles. Why? Well, because it was there, of course!
There are a few rope sections, but they are fun, and most are pretty easy to get past
Yongshi Warrior Waterfall (勇士瀑布)
First view of Yongshi Warrior Waterfall (台灣勇士瀑布)
After a couple hours of tracing, shooting photos and videos, and just having a really great time in general, we came around a bend with a string of minor waterfalls and some massive boulders offering a view back down over them. I climbed out to check out the view and... boom! Suddenly, just upstream, there it was in all its thundering glory: Yongshi Waterfall!
Can you find this little guy in the picture above?
Next, it was up and over a steep, muddy, and slick path with ropes, and we arrived at our destination. It was beautiful weather and, luckily, we had the place to ourselves... or, mostly to ourselves! This little bird was just hanging out there on the side of the cliff, begging for a close-up photo shoot. He just sort of hung out and watched us the whole time we were there.
There's a great story about the name of this waterfall. I won't put it all here, but if you want to know a little more, check out the video notes on Lamin's video over on Funventures Taiwan.
Lamin fires up the drone
Word to the wise: wear a helmet in here!
Helmets are absolutely essential on this trace because most of it is in a canyon. While I was standing on the boulders looking upstream at the waterfall, I saw a huge rock, at least as big as my torso, fall from the ledge overhanging the swimming pool at the base of the waterfall. It whacked into the side of the cliff, careened back and fourth like a pinball, and disappeared into the pool, disappearing just as suddenly as it had appeared. The whole thing was only a couple of seconds from start to finish, and all I could do was be glad I wasn't standing there just yet!
The Parking Area Hot Spring (停車場溫泉)
Once we had had our fun, it was time to head on back. We returned to the parking area, walked straight past, and followed the road down about five minutes to the hot spring we had seen on the way in.
Getting there was really easy: We just walked about 1 minute down this road, turned past where you see the traffic cones in this picture...
...walked over this field...
...followed the rope down...
...crossed the river...
...and within five minutes of leaving the car, we were soaking in the hot spring. What a great way to end a weekend!
So next time you're feeling stressed out, or need a quick, easy, exciting, and accessible escape from the city - or a soak in a nice hot spring - well, why not come on down and check out the Mahaipu River and Yongshi Warrior Waterfall (馬海蒲溪勇士瀑布)?
Soaking in the hot spring near the parking area at the end of the river trace with Asher and Lamin
If you've made it this far, well here's an extra little bonus for you! We did the short version of this trace, but there are two other options as well. The section of the river downstream from where we started is full of hot springs, so you can start from this point and head on upstream. This works either as a stand-alone trace just to enjoy the hot springs, or as a longer, hard-push trace all the way to the waterfall with springs all along the way. For either option, you could also choose to park a second vehicle at the top (where we parked and started our trace) in order to drive back down to where you started.
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5:37 there and back, including plenty of time for rest stops, photos, and video.
Length of Trace:
5.84 km (3.6 miles) there and back again
It's best to bring your own water. You could filter the river water, but with all the development and farming around it, there is likely to be runoff.
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), waterproof backpack, life jackets for anyone who is not a strong swimmer, water (above), a waterproof headlamp or flashlight, rope (optional, but useful for emergency or difficult situations), first aid kit, and helmets. We saw a very large rock fall from the cliffside just in front of the waterfall. And, of course, a lighter (always)!
Yes for children 8 and older. Good swimming skills, and possibly life jackets, will be important. For going up the rope section just before the waterfall, use caution as it was quite slippery when we were there.
Possibly, for larger, fit dogs with outdoor experience, but only for part of the trace. You may need to lift them with harnesses at points, and there are several rope sections that would be difficult or impossible to get them past without a harness to pull them up and over. Use your best judgement.
Camping /overnighting options:
I have not personally camped in this area, but Xiaofei recommends the red bridge near Chenyang Hot Spring.
GPX file: Mahaipu River Upper Trace Yongshi Waterfall and Two Hot Springs - The Map Room 馬海蒲溪上面溯溪路線：兩個溫泉跟勇士瀑布 - 地圖寶庫.gpx
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Free, convenient parking is available right at the trailhead.
For this trace, I personally drank less than 2 liters at a relaxed pace during spring. Summer would likely need more, though you are in a shaded canyon for a fair amount of the trace and can always take a swim in cool water.
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, and personally uses the 1600 lumen Fenix HM70R Headlamp - (Amazon affiliate link*)
Optional gear: A bandanna, headband, or other light cloth for wiping sweat is also often useful when you are not fully immersed in 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 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!
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