No trip to Taiwan is complete without a visit to Taroko Gorge. At minimum try to plan a couple days there - but hikers can spend weeks exploring all the possible trails in the lower gorge.
See my Favorite Gorge trails here. And a spring 2011 update here. More recent conditions discussed below.
I can arrange guided tours - or assistance with accommodation and local transport, permits (usually not needed) etc. HikeTaiwan@gmail.com
Trail conditions in the main (lower part) of the gorge - updated October 2011. Conditions change, be responsible, seek updates before travel.
Trail (得卡倫步道). Up the hill behind the National Park headquarters. Open.
Less than 1 hour’s strolling, tougher, longer hiking options.
Dali-Datong Trail (大禮大同步道) Long, scenic single-day, or couple days. Qingshui Mountain 3 days. All trail options open.
Trail (砂卡礑步道). A very pleasant must-do hike, starts after tunnel not far from
National Park HQ. Open.
Eternal Spring Shrine Trail (Changchun, 長春祠步道). Do the
40-minute loop hike up above the shrine exiting at the nearby Changuang
Temple. Few people get beyond the car park. Open.
Bulluowan Trail (布洛灣－燕子口步道). A good steep path to use down to the main highway - especially if staying at the Leader Hotel. Open.
Grotto Trail (Yanzihkou, 布洛灣－燕子口步道). A very easy stroll that should NOT
on any account be missed. Usually open, occasionally closed due to
loose falling rocks. If riding down the gorge on bicycle consider riding
against the traffic/Chinese tourist flow.
Jhuilu (Zhuilu, Vertigo) Trail (錐麓古道) is now open its entire length. Unbeatable! See pictures. Needs both kinds of permits.
Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail（Jiuqudong, 九曲洞步道). A stunning, easy stroll. Currently closed. Really closed.
Lyushui-Heliou Trail (綠水步道). A very pleasant less than 1-hour. Open.
- Wenshan Trail (綠水文山步道) A recently reopened trail. Moderately tough -
at start and end some scrambling, and requires/deserves 4 to 5 hours.
Permit required but easy to obtain from the the NP police (warden)
station at the park headquarters or at Tienxiang (the station on the
left going up the hill towards the protestant church...across the street
from the regular police station!). Best done starting from Wenshan.
Baiyang Trail (白楊步道). A very, very nice trail, CLOSED due
to damage to mountainside at entrance next to highway. Tunnel entrance
seems to be REALLY closed. Usually no traffic restrictions here -
construction work going on at the moment does not require it. If
restrictions, as mentioned, open on the hour for 10 minutes. Holidays
and outside work hours is open.
Tianxiang - Baiyang Trail
(天祥─白楊步道). Recently reopened access to the Baiyang Trail. Toughish and
potentially risky in places. Trail starts from the protestant church in
Tienxiang village. Now well signposted “Baiyang Alternative Route”
Please get a permit (easy) from the nearby police station. Easy walking
once you get to the original trail that ends at the fun ‘Water Curtain
tunnel’. If possible bring a flashlight for the tunnels. Allow 5-6
hours. Open, but the last bridge before the waterfall is out (will be
rebuilt within a year) and you can’t really view the waterfall. Skip it
for the moment.
Huoran Pavilion Trail. Closed
Wenshan Hot Springs (文山溫泉). OPEN. OPEN. OPEN see photos and comments at https://picasaweb.google.com/barkingdee ... directlink
Jhucun Trail (梅園竹村). Great 6-hour, fairly-flat path. Officially closed
due to landslide damage after the turn of for Lianhua Pond. Usually
Lianhua Pond (Lotus, 蓮花池步道). A very nice 3-hour round
hike starting and ending at Huitouwan (6km beyond Tienxiang Village.
Don’t get too distracted by the views and walk of the edge. Open.
Consider the tough, scrambling extension up to Zhulun Mountain.
Tienxiang is generally a great place to stay. But recently I have seen
advantages of staying just outside the gorge - consider having a bike
rental guy drive you and a bicycle up the gorge (to Tienxiang or
Huitouwan), hike one of the significant trails, and then come back to
your bike locked at the trailhead/other trail exit. This way you have
the freedom to explore the gorge at your own pace, with very little
pedaling. Bike + shuttle up cost around $700. https://picasaweb.google.com/barkingdee ... directlink
Even the busiest places in the gorge are not too offensive - even at
weekends. Swallow's Grotto get quite a few Chinese tour groups mid
afternoon; Eternal Spring (the main car park/viewing area) is very bad
late afternoon - walking 2 minutes and you are dealing with less than 20
people, walk 15 and you probably will be alone. Other trails are usually close to empty.