As my days camping in Taroko Gorge were coming to an end, I just had time to squeeze one more hike: the Baiyang Trail.
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More than a hike, the Baiyang Trail is just a short walk of only 2.1 Km, the path is all flat and not challenging at all. However, as it only takes less than 90 minutes to walk out and back and guarantees more gorgeous views, why not add a new route to your hiking in Taroko days!?
A brief history of the Baiyang Trail
Back in 1979, there was a project to build the Liwu Hidropower Station at Taroko National Park. 6 roads were built to facilitate the construction of the dam and Baiyang Trail was one of them.
If this power plant ever managed to be built, the volume of water flowing downstream the river would have been reduced to a trickle and nature’s masterpiece which for over millions of years has been slowly carved and transformed into what today we admire as the Taroko Gorge would no longer be able to keep developing.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
Fortunately, many in the Taiwanese society were concerned back then about the possible environmental damage the dam could cause and there was a debate to decide on the future of the Taroko Gorge.
Eventually, common sense prevailed and the government decided to set aside the project for which we can still enjoy this magnificent scenery 40 years later.
The Baiyang Trail has 8 tunnels in total, more than any other trail in Taroko National Park, each of them unique and they eventually lead to the final and most famous spot: The Water Curtain Cave.
The Water Curtain Cave was formed by accident. When a tunnel for the road of the Hydroelectric Station was being built, an aquifer in the rock was hit, causing the water that until then was naturally filtering through the rock to gush until the newly built tunnel and create this peculiar feature.
How to get to the Baiyang Trail
The entrance to Baiyang Trail is in the middle of a tunnel on the road up from Tianxiang which is the last stop you can reach with the public buses. Remember to bring your Easycard for cheaper bus rides!
After getting off the bus in Tianxiang, you have to walk for about 10 minutes on a slightly uphill road until you reach the tunnel.
If you go with a scooter or car, keep driving past the end of the tunnel as there’s a big carpark on the right hand lane with toilets.
If you’re spending the night in Hualien, take a look at the Cave Hostel where I stayed for a couple of nights. It was pretty modern and included a great breakfast!
What to take to Baiyang Trail
As this is quite a short walk, you don’t need any special gear or even water/food. I do recommend taking a reusable water bottle so you fill it up with the freshest rock filtered water at the cave! if you get a hot day as I did it will be super refreshing!
Bear in mind that is very likely you will get wet when you go inside the cave so try to get a waterproof bag or a rain poncho.
Just before I got in the cave a woman offered me her poncho (which someone previously offered to her).
This poncho-handover seems to be a common practice over there, HOWEVER, make sure to always hand yours to someone instead of just leaving it hanging somewhere as otherwise it will fly out and end up polluting the Taroko Gorge.
Just before the entrance of the Water Curtain Cave there’s a big sign forbidding to leave ponchos so make sure not to leave yours unattended but instead give it to someone else going in after you.
Hiking Walking the Baiyang Trail
Once you reach middle of the tunnel, you will find the entrance of the Baiyang Trail which is…another tunnel!
The first underground patch of the 8 you will have ahead is about 380m long. There are no lights but I didn’t need to use my phone torch as all time you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
As soon as you cross this tunnel you get rewarded by a beautiful stretch of the Wahei’er River and the first Km of walk will be on a paved path which feels more like a walk in the park than a wild hike…still good things will come though.
After the covered-in-trees observation platform at the 1Km mark, the tunnels will get more frequent and also some cool sights start appearing.
It’s funny how there’s no uniformity on the tunnels, even that they were built at the same time. Some have protective railings, some are damp and wet, one got some bats, one was “finished” with concrete all over so it looks like a proper tunnel instead of a cave-tunnel…
At the 2Km mark you get the best view of all.
The sight of the Baiyang Waterfall is impressive in the distance and the closer you get the more impressive it is.
A hanging bridge to a rest area always makes it even more scenic! 🙂
Next to the Baiyang Waterfall hanging bridge is the final tunnel before the Water Curtain Cave entrance which means the end of the trail is near.
I was lucky that when I entered the cave a large group left and I was on my own for several minutes.
As the cave has a narrow walkway inside, if there’s more people it will already feel crowded.
My advise is to ask the last person coming out before you how many people there is inside and wait a few minutes for them to come out so you can experience the peaceful noise of the water gushing inside the cave.
After enjoying the cave, not without wondering when will the pressure of the water bring the cave itself to collapse, it was time to retrace my steps back into Tianxiang as my days Hiking in Taroko Gorge were over and had to go back in search of more adventures in Taiwan!
The Baiyang Trail is certainly not my concept of an adventure as it’s a pretty easy walk. Having said that, you will see beautiful spots. For a longer multi-day visit of the Taroko Gorge you should definitely squeeze 90 minutes on this trail. If on the other hand you’re just visiting for the day, skip it and go for a more exciting one!
If you’re only visiting Taroko National Park for a day, I recommend you to check out my post about Hiking the Lushui-Wenshan Trail which was my favourite hike in Taroko, the end of this trail is near the Baiyang Trail start so you could do both on the same day! the Zhuilu Old Road Trail is another short trail but with the most impressive views in Taroko!
Feel free to drop any comments if you’re planning to go hiking or camping in Taroko Gorge!