Off the beaten track at
Taroko Gorge (Part 2)

By Lishea Chen Translated by Ann Lee

The Bu Luo Wan terrace trail has a walk that takes you directly to the essence of Taroko Gorge--the Swallow Grotto (Yanzihkou) Trail. While watching the darting swallows, also take a look at the stone-walled grotto opposite of where you are standing and you will see that this particular cave actually connects to another walking trail.

Head west and you'll reach the Tunnel of Nine Turns (Chiu-cyu-dong), part of the old Central Cross-Island Highway, where there are separate passages for vehicles and pedestrians, as well as old excavation marks on the tunnel walls. The track next to the walking path is the beginning of old gold-mining trails created by the Japanese long ago. Continue along the road and you'll see Kelan River, where "the carp leaps over the dragon door". This U-shaped gorge is unique among the other gorges, which are usually V-shaped.

After passing the Tzumu Bridge and Frog Stone, you will see a full-facility camping ground area (free use), which in earlier days was a timber collection and distribution area. There are 12 wooden camping spots now. Yueh-wang Bower is nearby and a suspension bridge takes you right up to the Yanhai Logging Road. Go west and you'll reach the Lyushui and Tiansiang areas, where plum trees can be seen.

The Grand Formosa Taroko Hotel (038-691-155) provides high-end dining and accommodation packages. Depending on the season, they also incorporate local flavors into their meals. You can also enjoy the luxury of the hotel's spa pools and gym. The Grand Formosa Trial will let you explore the remains of Taroko Tapido (meaning "palms") clan, which believed that all roads led home. Along the way, there is a panoramic view of Tiansiang. When standing on Jhih-huei Bridge at the Plum Garden, you can get a clear view of Dasha River and the Tacih Jili River beneath, which flows into Liwu River.

Taroko's Baiyang Waterfall and Wunshan Hot Springs are also reached by interesting trails. The Jhulin Trail at Plum Garden is a scenic route, but will take you eight hours round-trip. The Lianhua (Lotus) Pond Trail takes six hours round-trip and has plenty of open-meadow scenery along the way. While passing Sibao, there is the Huo Ran Ting ("clear-thinking pavilion"). Go down the hill about two hours and you'll reach the Tiansiang Youth Corps Activities Center (038-691-111). During your next trip to Taroko Gorge, a personal exploration of these trails will certainly help make your trip even more memorable and enjoyable.


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