Jhiben is best known for its hot springs but it is also the location of an excellent network of trails at the forest recreation area. Of course there is a waterfall but the giant banyan trees are the main attraction.
The hike – The waterfall is only a 10 minute hike but a full loop of the recreation area will take about 3 hours. Most people hike clockwise in the park but I preferred going to the waterfall first and then did the trails counter clockwise. This allowed me to gain elevation using the gently sloped Shaded Banyan trail and then go down Brave Man’s Slope trail. Taiwan is a nation of mountains so it’s normal to encounter a trail named Brave Man or Hero slope and usually they are absolutely exhausting to go up. At Jhiben, the Brave Man’s Slope trail goes up 150 meters in just 320 meters of horizontal distance. Strangely very few hikers took the Forest Path trail which switch-backed through a beautiful mahogany forest and gave some relief to part of Brave Man’s Slope trail. If you have knee problems then perhaps you would prefer to go up Brave Man’s Slope but at least take the gently sloped Forest Path trail. The top offers views of Taidong and the Pacific Ocean and it is worth the effort.
How to get there – From Hwy 9 in Taidong follow the signs to Jhiben Hot Springs (Hwy 194). Go through Jhiben Hot Springs until you see a large red bridge crossing the river. Park on the road and walk across the bridge to the park.
Other info – Entry fee 100/50NT (adult/child)
GPS info – Waterfall: N22.693194 E120.991611
Resources – Jhihben National Forest Recreation Area