Alibang Waterfall is Yangmingshan’s highest waterfall and one of the most difficult to get to. Despite improvements being made to the trail it is a grinding and tiring hike. It’s not particularly steep in any single stretch but it relentlessly goes up for the first 2+ kilometers and then it goes up and down over a rocky trail. It is a wonderful hike but one needs to be prepared that it’s not an easy trail to hike.
Rating and length – moderately strenuous – 5-6 kms round trip – 3-4 hours
How to get there – The north side of Yangmingshan has significantly fewer public transport options than other places near Taipei and New Taipei but it’s possible to get there using public transport.
Option 1 – The best option is to drive a car or scooter. Take Hwy 2 east from Danshui for about 40 minutes. Turn off of Hwy #2 onto county road #21. Follow this all the way to the very south portion of the road. The road turns back north and in about 1km turn onto county road #22 (at the 8-9 km marker). The road goes uphill and you need to turn right onto the first lane. Follow this down to houses 47/49/51 but do not park in front of them. There is room to park on the side of the road near the portable toilet.
Option 2 – There is a regular bus leaving from the Danshui MRT that goes to Shimen. The bus will be marked Sanzhi/Shimen/Jinshan and stops in Shimen and many other places along Hwy 2. You will have to find a taxi (possibly difficult) to the trailhead. There is also a bus that goes near the trailhead but it seems to be infrequent and not at the right times.
Option 3 – It’s possible to hire a taxi from the Danshui MRT but this is further than Qingshan Waterfall and it might be 800-1000NT each way.
The hike – The trail begins slightly past houses 47/49/51. It is a well made trail of rock and dirt. Because of this and the constant uphill this is not a trail that will be hiked at a fast pace. For almost 2 kilometers the trail follows on the right side of a creek until you reach a small shrine. At the small shrine there will be ribbons and markers going uphill. The trail is steep but it doesn’t take long to reach the top where the trail flattens out. Shortly after topping out you reach a trail junction. Take the right fork since the left fork goes towards Zhuzishan. Here is an example of a trail marker used at junctions for Alibang Waterfall (click). About 5 minutes after the junction you come to a viewpoint for Alibang Waterfall across the valley. The trail doesn’t go down and then back up but rather it takes a left and contours around the valley to the waterfall. The profile doesn’t show a lot of hills but it’s a tough rocky trail with many small ups and downs.
After you get to the waterfall it’s best to return the same way that you came. The map below shows a 2nd route but it is a much more difficult route. Shortly after the waterfall the trail goes straight up climbing 100 meters in 200-300 meters of trail. There are many flags so you won’t get lost but it is a tough stretch of trail. After 15 minutes you reach the top and trail flattens out. There is another trail junction to Zhuzishan. Take the right fork to descend to Hwy 21. There are ribbons to follow but be careful that you don’t wander off of the trail without following the ribbons. It is possible to get very lost on this trail. For awhile the trail descends at a relatively pleasant rate and then it becomes very steep. There are some ropes to assist you but the footing is muddy and not very good. Once you reach the bottom of this slope there is a trail junction. I took the left fork that looks like an old road and led in the direction of county road #21. This exits at a small house near Zhuli bridge #1. You almost need to walk through the house to go down to the road. This is a possible route to Alibang Waterfall but the other route is a much better maintained trail and more scenic.
GPS – Trailhead N25.236175 E121.588599 – Waterfall N25.226531 E121.572864
Date visited – 4/5/2015