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Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail:

Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail

This is one of the most scenic trails in the Pingxi district, a true wonder. Pass through 3 different waterfalls: Hegu, Motian and Pipa Cave. Getting to the first two is easy, it can be done even with children. The third already requires climbing quite vertical stairs, climbing some rocks holding on to a rope and then walking to the edge of a cliff with the only protection of a rope... so although it is very fun for adults, we do not recommend it if you go with children under 13-14 years old. In total it is about 2.5km (about 1h30min walking). Once at the third waterfall, you have the option of returning to the Sandiaoling station where you came from, or continue climbing the mountain a little further by some vertical stairs and then go right towards Houtong station (the town of the cats) or left to Dahua station.

In either case, we recommend take a picnic from home to eat in the middle of nature.

To get to Sandiaoling, it is best to go by train. You can take any local train from Taipei or Songshan Station to Su'Ao. This train will leave you directly at the Sandiaoling station after about 1h (to see the train schedules it is best to download an app called Taiwan Railway (iOS, Google) so you can see the schedules in real time).

Once you get off at the station, keep walking in the direction the train was coming from. A little further on you will see that the tracks diverge. On the left they go towards Su'Ao through a tunnel and on the right they follow the Pingxi line. Right here there is an underpass that goes under the tracks. Take it and you will come out to the left of the Pingxi Line tracks. Keep walking and about 10min later you will arrive in a small town, and you will see an abandoned school on the other side of the tracks. Cross the tracks carefully and just to the left of the school the path to Sandiaoling Waterfall begins. You have to go through a couple more houses, and immediately the stairs of the trail begin.

The first of the waterfalls you will reach is Hegu Waterfall , which can only be seen from a distance, but it is a 40m high marvel. It is a 30-minute walk to here through the forest and through beautiful bamboo fields.

The second waterfall is Motian Falls. It is another half hour of hiking through the jungle, passing through streams and crossing suspension bridges. You will arrive at a platform where you can see the waterfall and here you can have a picnic. On the left, you will see the path to go to the third waterfall, but immediately it forks in two (although it is not very clear), and you can continue to the right to enter the kind of cave that goes behind the waterfall. This is quite dangerous, so it is better not to do it with children, but great for taking photos for adults.

To get to the third waterfall, the path becomes much more complicated (better not to do it with children). First you have to climb a very steep metal stairs, then you have to climb some rock steps with the help of a rope and finally walk to the edge of a precipice with the only protection of a rope. If you decide to do it (for adults without any physical problems is no problem), you will arrive in 10 min at Pipa Cave Waterfall . But the walk will have been worth it, because this waterfall, apart from being very beautiful, is much wider than the previous one and you can have a quiet picnic. If you have more than one adult with the children, you can take turns going to see it while the kids have their picnic in Motian Falls. 

From Pipa Cave Waterfall, you have 3 options. Go back the way you came to Sandiaoling station (approx. 1h-1h30min), or continue climbing a little more up a vertical ladder made of logs and then you will reach a path that takes you to Houtong station (on the right, towards Fuxing Temple) or that of Dahua Station (on the left). Of the two trails, the most beautiful is the one that heads to Houtong, which is called Chailiao Historic Trail. It is 6km through the forest (about 2h) and it will leave you in the famous cat town, Houtong, where hundreds of cats roam at ease. Here you can also see the Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park, and enjoy wandering around its abandoned buildings.

But if you decide to return to Sandiaoling, you have a prize, because this town has one of the cuttest cafes that we have seen in all of Taiwan. It's the Cafe Hytte, and it's coming down the trail on the right (before crossing the train tracks). There you can have a coffee, a cake or a beer. Or if you prefer a place with a view, crossing the bridge to the left you have the Raise Coffee, where you can have coffee, tea or juices with views of the river.

Both from Houtong and Sandiaoling stations you can take a train directly to Taipei that will leave you in Sonshang or Taipei Station in just over 1h (stay tuned because the trains going to Tapei pass 1 time every hour, usually about half past... check the schedule beforehand so as not to miss it).

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