Longgong (Dragon Palace) Waterfall is one of three waterfalls on Chiayi County’s Zhukeng Trail. The Zhukeng Trail used to transport charcoal between villages but now it allows for easy access to one of Taiwan’s more unusual waterfalls. It is an impressive 100+ meters tall but there is a small overhang in the rock that can be hiked all the way to the waterfall. Hikers are also able to pass under the waterfall (getting a little wet).
Rating and length (to Longgong Waterfall and back)
easy – 4 kms – <2 hours (starting at Zhukeng Trailhead)
strenuous – 3kms – >2 hours (starting at Ruifeng Trailhead)
Accessibility – it is a long and windy 1.5 lane road back to the trailhead but the road is in good condition. The trail is in great shape although there is one slippery stream crossing at the junction between Longgong Waterfall and the trail going up to the Ruifeng Trailhead.
Damage Report From a Reader (4/2016)
The final part of the trail to walk under the waterfall is impassable but the waterfall can still be viewed from a distance (photo #1).
How to get there – Exit the 3 Freeway at the Meishan Interchange. Go through Meishan and exit on county road 162 (a tricky series of turns). 162 climbs the mountain in an endless series of switchbacks and you should plan on the drive to take a long time. The road splits in Taiping. Continue following 162 (154 goes downhill to the right) until you reach Zhukeng at the 29.4 km mark. The parking lot is not signed but there is a hiking signboard in the lot with full information.
Zhukeng Trailhead – The hike starts at a parking lot located in the small village of Zhukeng. Follow the signs as the trail leads through the village alternating between trail, road and tea fields (with betelnut trees). In about 0.75 km you arrive at a snack shop and a large public restroom.
This is the official beginning of the trail. The trail is well built and easy to follow. After the red bridge as shown on the map hikers can take a dirt path shortcut (excellent shape) that avoids a needless stairclimb. You might need to open the gate to access the shortcut.
Shortly after rejoining the main trail Longgong Waterfall can be seen across the deep valley. Hikers will reach a junction after descending some stairs. To the right is a short descent to a viewpoint of Longgong Waterfall. To the left is the main trail going past Leiyin Waterfall that ultimately takes you to Longgong Waterfall. There is a 2nd junction at a slightly challenging stream crossing after Leiyin Waterfall. The left branch goes straight uphill (see Ruifeng Trailhead below) to Shengmaoshu Waterfall and the Ruifeng Trailhead.
The right branch leads to Longgong Waterfall in a small horizontal cleft in the rock just large enough for a trail. Once at the waterfall hikers can walk under it to the other side where the trail ends.
Ruifeng Trailhead – This hike starts in the community of Ruifeng. It is a nice hike but it isn’t particularly enjoyable as the trail descends over 300 meters in <2kms almost entirely on stairs. Shengmaoshu Waterfall is located about halfway down the trail and is only impressive after recent rains. Unless you are looking for a challenge I recommend starting at the Zhukeng Trailhead and avoiding this steep section.
GPS – trailhead N23.562688 E120.649156 – waterfall N23.554460 E120.657838
Date visited – 1/10/2016
1/2 the trail is almost flat and 1/2 the trail all stairs. I recommend that you enter at the Zhukeng Trailhead (marked TH1), hike back to Longgong Waterfall and then return to the same trailhead. Those that want a longer and more challenging hike can take the stairs up to Shengmaoshu Waterfall or the top.
These maps are all over the trail. Note that North is not up on this map. That is a pet peeve of mine.