Guanwu National Forest Recreation Area is one of my favorites out of the network of 18 recreation areas in Taiwan. Guanwu roughly translates to view of fog and Guanwu is most famous for being the trailhead to Dabajianshan but there are also three great hiking trails there. Guanwu Waterfall was my objective for the trip although I thought this waterfall was on the Dabajianshan Trail. Luckily, Guanwu Waterfall is on its own trail but there are other very nice waterfalls on the Dabajianshan Trail. I was also able to hike the Zhenshan Trail and see Zhenshan Waterfall. It is barely viewable between the trees (it won’t count in the guide) but the Zhenshan Mountain Trail was stunningly beautiful even though the fog rolled in and blocked the view The Holy Ridge in Sheipa National Park. Hopefully this summer I can hike Dabajianshan (3 days) and the Kauishan Big Tree Trail (8K round trip).
How to get there – Go down Hsinchu county road 122 all the way until the end of the road. This is a long, slow drive with many single lane parts but the road is mostly in good condition and offers amazing views along the entire way. After entering Guanwu Forest Recreation Area go left at a Y junction past the police station and visitor center. Continue following the ever smaller (but good) road until come to a large parking lot next to some villas and what looks like a closed restaurant. Guanwu Waterfall Trail is accessible from the north end of this parking lot and from the other parking lots that you passed.
The hike – You can start from a couple of different parking lots and each trailhead joins together in 50-100 meters. If you start at the villas then follow the steps down to another set of villas and walk along the back of it until you reach a junction. Turn right and follow the trail downhill through the cedar trees. There is a junction for a bird watching trail that is an excellent alternative when you return up the hill. The trail continues to pass through an impressive forest of cedars and then moss covered deciduous trees with random maples mixed in. About halfway down the trail passes a giant tree with a walkway around it and then the trail becomes even steeper. At the end is a viewing platform of the waterfall across the valley. It can be risky (very, very cold and/or rainy) to go to Guanwu Recreation Area in the winter but if you are lucky there will be maple trees turning red and orange.
Mass transit – Not possible
Date visited: 1/16/2017
Other blogs – Riding to Guanwu with Tales of a Wannabe Vagabond