Hongye (Red Leaf) Gorge is a lovely less visited hike not far from Danshui. It steadily goes uphill but the footpath is easy to walk on and it isn’t very steep. There is also a little bit of history being reclaimed by the forest. Near the end of the trail are some beautiful old stone terraces and there are some indigo extraction pits slowly becoming a part of the past. If you visit in November (not sure on exact dates) you will be able to see the maples turn red. There were several of them near the waterfall and I think it would look amazing.
Rating and length – moderately easy – 4-5 kms – 2-3 hours (round trip)
How to get there – It isn’t too far from the Danshui or Hongshulin MRT’s so a taxi is probably reasonable if there are more than 1 hiker. Probably <500NT each way. There are countless roads and connecting roads so I’m not going to give you turn by turn directions. Coming from the south you can turn off of the 101 onto county road 7 and then take Qingshan Road. Qingshan Road seems to be nicknamed ‘Red Flower Road’ since they have painted red flowers on the road in many places. It’s only 3-4 kms to the trailhead. There is room for several cars and scooters to park at the trailhead and the trailhead is generously marked by hiking club ribbons (click for picture). Just past the trailhead is another parking area with two portable toilets.
The hike – The hike starts along an old road that is slowly being overgrown. It will take 20 minutes to reach the creek. At times this could be a tricky crossing if it has rained recently but there is a rope to help you. The trail to the left leads back to the road so follow the trail to the right. It leads up to a tributary for 10 minutes and then crosses the creek. This is a trail junction and you want the trail to the right almost leading backwards on the other side of the creek. After awhile you will see the main creek far below you on the trail. There is another trail junction but the two trails rejoin 10 minutes later. The left trail is the main trail and is in better shape. The right trail leads past some cool stone terraces. Shortly after the trails rejoin there are some concrete circles (2-3 meters in diameter) that were used for extracting indigo. The waterfall is just beyond that point. There are at least 3 junctions marked Zhuzishan along the way that could be hiked for a longer hike but I don’t know how difficult they are or where they go.
At the first creek crossing there is a different trail back to an alternate trailhead near Qingshan Road. It stays above the river and exits through someone’s house. There are a few angry caged dogs, chickens and a fish farm. The only interesting part along the trail is the strange Fuliu Waterfall that suddenly appears under the trail from inside the mountain. I’m not sure if it is worth hiking back to the alternate trailhead. The primary trailhead is a nicer trail and it is likely where you parked your car or scooter.
Resources – Richard Saunders Yangmingshan Guide Walk #37
GPS – trailhead N25.215994 E121.534819 – waterfall N25.204047 E121.544854
Date visited – 4/6/2015
The below maps have 2 errors due to the nature of GPS units.
1st – it shows 2 trails between the water crossing and the junction. There is only one trail.
2nd – the elevation profile shows a long flat section after the waterfall. That was actually when I stopped for an hour at the waterfall and the GPS was slightly changing its calculated position. In that hour it moved (without moving) 1 km.