Top Trails for Families at Taroko National Park, Taiwan

Since my husband is currently based in Taipei,  my kids and I have gone to Taiwan several times in the past few years.  We always enjoyed our day trips and our food binges.  This time my husband took us East of Taiwan and I must say, as an outdoors person, Taroko National Park in Hualien,  is one of my favourites.If you will be in Taiwan for longer than 3 days or if you have previously gone around Taipei city already or if you prefer nature to city, Hualien, home of Taroko National Park, is worth the trip.  It is a 2-3 hour train ride from Taipei city thus an overnight stay is highly recommended.  Read about How to Get to and How to Go Around Taroko National Park here.

Top Spots at Taroko National Park for Families:

Taroko National Park spans a huge area known for its expansive mountains with lush forests, towering marble rocks chiseled and formed by the Liwu River and it's rushing gorges.  It is a large park named after Taroko Gorge.  The name Taroko, derived from the word Truku from the Truku tribe, means “magnificent and beautiful.”  And, magnificent and beautiful, it is.

Using the Taroko Bus Loop, Bus 302, we were able to go around the whole of Taroko National Park in a day.  If you want to do the trails leisurely,  2-3 days would be the best.  For us we did it in a day.

Here are the Main stops in the loop and our recommended ones:

Taroko National Park - this is the visitor's center where you can go get your maps.  We didn't alight here anymore since I already did my research online plus I got a map from my hotel already.

Shakadang Trail

For us, Shakadang Trail tops the must visit trail in the park.  The trail begins under the red bridge and has a marble entrance.It is a 4.5km trail and beyond that you would be needing a permit. Should you decide to get a permit,  the trail will lead you to a tribal village. The trail is built along the river cliff and the path is pretty even, with little elevation, and most of it shaded.  We just walked for 30 mins before heading back.We walked far enough to see the pools of these bluish-green water rushing through the massive boulders of the Shakadang River.  It is beautiful!The kids enjoyed the walk and the cool 18° weather.  Reminder:  Make sure to watch your head and remind kids to watch their head when passing under overhanging rock faces.  If you have time,  there are 2 trails in the Shakadang trail. The popular one, and the one we took is the one with a marble sign that says Shakadang Trail.  The other one, you would have to enter the tunnel before the bus stop and go down from there.

Swallow GrottoThis 500 metre trail runs along the old Central Cross-Island Highway through a series of tunnels, mostly directly above the Liwu River, to the Jhuilu Cliffs.  It is amazing how the skill of man and of nature intersect here.

The water in the Swallow Grotto seems to be grey due to the sediments in the water probably caused by the stone quarries in the area.  The walls on each side of the river contain caves which form natural nesting places for spring swallow birds, thus the name Swallow Grotto.  

Reminder: There are some loose rocks from the cliff and I would suggest you borrow a hard helmet from the Xipan Station (bus stop before Swallow Grotto).  We didn't borrow anymore but it would have been better if we did, as there were really some tiny stones falling.

Cimu Bridge - We skipped this since we didn't find the description too interesting. It is a red bridge with marble lion statues at the end of the bridge.

Lushui Trail It's a 2km trail of lush forests, fairly easy with slight elevation.You will pass through a brook such as this and there are short hanging bridges that the kids enjoyed.Tianxiang

Here you can do the Xiangde Temple Trail.  We only crossed Pudu Bridge and did a very short walk up to a small golden Buddha.  You can walk all the way up to Heavenly Summit Pagoda and the Main Shrine Hall with a Golden Buddha.  It will take you about 45 mins to an hour round trip.   They say you will be rewarded with the view of the Tianxiang terrace and overlook the gorge scenery.  

Tianxiang is a large part of the park.  It has local shops where you can grab delicacies like our favorite, Taiwanese Sausage and boiled sweet potato.  There is also 7-11 in this stop.  Silks Place Taroko Hotel, a luxury resort is located here. Prices starts at P15,000/night if you want to splurge a bit.

Changchun (Eternal Springs) Shrine
The setting of the Shrine against the mountain, with the Eternal Spring Waterfall emptying out to Liwu River makes the view truly beautiful.  Parang lalabas si Kung Fun Panda, anytime:-)
According to TravelBlog.Org, "the shrine is dedicated to the 226 people that died in the four year period during which the highway and tunnels were constructed. The shrine is a beautiful and touching memorial to those who gave their lives for this tremendous project. The people worked to build roads and tunnels with their bare hands, no explosives were used during the construction. The shrine is the perfect homage to those who worked so hard to make this highway and park possible. A small but steady spring passes through the shrine and a trail allows visitors to walk above it."

It takes 20 minutes to get to the shrine through the mountain tunnels but I guess the beauty of the shrine is best admired from a distance since I didn't see a single photo of what it would look like when someone is actually in the shrine.  We opted to admire the shrine from a distance just like most tourists.

There are two areas to stay in when you go to Taroko,  you can stay in either Hualien County which is just a 5 minute drive to Taroko National Park via Bus Loop or Hualien City which is 30 minutes away.  Please check out my other blog post for details on that - How to Get to and How to Go Around Taroko National Park.

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