Walami Trail – the best place to experience uber green subtropical rainforest and diverse wildlife
There is no public transportation from Yuli Town to the Walami trailhead so the best way is to come with your own car or scooter and to park it in a parking lot just before the trailhead. Also, before heading to the trail, make sure that you have all the permits required if you are going to continue all the way to Walami Cabin. If you plan to return the same day you can pick up a one-day pass (on the same day) at the visitor center. Without permits it’s only possible to hike the first 4.5 km to Jiasin and back on the same day.
DAY 1: From trail-head to Walami Cabin, 14KM
The first part of the trail meanders through the forest with a moderate ascent. Already in the beginning you will get an idea of how amazingly beautiful this trail is. Its verdant fresh forest and views over mountains are the best Taiwan has to offer!
After about two kilometers’ walk from the trailhead, you’ll reach Shanfeng Waterfall. From its source, Dalisian Mountain, a powerful stream flows past the Shanfeng Suspension Bridge. In summer heat the water roaring down from the great waterfall is refreshing. It is possible to either take a stairway going down to see the point where the waterfall meets the river or to continue upwards and admire the waterfall from the bridge.
After about 3.6 kilometers of hiking you’ll come to a point where the path is collapsed because of the landslide. You have to take a detour and climb over the rocks before descending back to the trail. There is a sign at the point of collapse so you can’t miss it.
At 4.5 km up the trail is the Jiasin campground that used to be a police station. Jiasin is a transliteration of a Bunun word which means ”gorgeous scenery”. This place provides the best panoramic view of Lakulaku river in the east. In the distant north you can see the area of Asanglaiga, which was an important strategic hub during the Japanese Occupation period. On Jiasin campground, there are pavilions, lavatories, and shower facilities that are free to use. To continue further after this point, visitors must apply for a permit to enter.
The views down the valley and across the mountains are beautiful. Numerous planked suspension bridges connect the legs of the hike throughout the forest. Be sure to look down at the rivers and gorges far below as you walk across the swaying bridges! Because of the short cliff sections and gorgeous suspension bridges, Walami Trail would also be a great hike for viewing colors in autumn.
On Walami Trail you can learn a lot about history of this beautiful island. The trail is part of over hundreds of the years old historic Batongguan Trail, which was widened by the Japanese between 1895 and 1945. On the way you will see Kexipanan Memorial, which is a moss-covered monument in the middle of the forest that commemorates the death of a Japanese police officer when the Bunun Tribe fought with the Japanese during the Japanese Colonial Era.
Walami Trail is said to be a heaven for wildlife. On the trail you can spot some Formosan rock-monkeys playing in the trees and funny-sounding tiny barking deer yelping in the forest. Occasionally you can even catch sight of a Formosan black bear, Taiwan’s only endemic bear species. If you encounter a black bear, remember to stay calm and retreat slowly. However, unless you leave some leftovers around your camp site, it’s unlikely you will see one.
You’ll also have a good opportunity to spot various colorful birds, butterflies, spiders, and lizards along the way. Most likely you’ll encounter a Formosan Blue pheasant, small Orange-headed Rufous-capped babblers or colorful Steere’s liocichla hiding in the ferns. You might also see a Yellow Throated Marten that looks extremely cute but is actually a diurnal hunter. It shows little fear of humans or dogs and is easily tamed.
If you keep your eyes peeled and stay as quiet as possible, the wildlifewill show up. You can spend endless amounts of time on Walami Trail just admiring the sights, sounds and the smells of nature!
There are several information placards about various plants you can see during your hike. For example, you will see a placard for the Shell flower. If you see an actual flower, taste some of its fruit. The local Taiwanese call this ”aboriginal bubble gum”. In the past, the leaves of this slower were also used to wrap animal meat to be steamed and also to make rope baskets. All along the way you can spot lots of Bird-nest ferns growing in the trees and huge Alocasia as well. You can use them as a natural protection if it rains.
After about six hours of walking, you’ll reach Walami Cabin to find it bathing in the light of a sinking sun. The atmosphere in the forest before sunset is incredible!
The place where Walami Cabin is located is also an old Japanese base and includes a police station and a school. The Cabin itself is solar-powered and has outdoor toilets and room for upto 24 guests. It is located in beautiful surroundings that offer a great view over the valleys.
Remember to bring a sleeping bag and mattress to ensure a good night’s sleep. Outside the cabin there are tables and some space where you can cook if you want. The hike takes you to the remote aboriginal lands, even though it is relatively easy. As such, phone doesn’t work at the cabin or along the trail. The last spot that has a connection will be in Jiansin.
DAY 2: From Walami Cabin back to trail-head, 14KM
You will wake up the following morning to a picturesque sunrise and enjoy the breakfast outside while admiring the view and the foggy valley. The hike back should take a little less time, about 4-5 hours, even it is exactly the same route. Even if you are not in a hurry, it is better to leave early, to have a better opportunity to spot rare wildlife when it’s still quiet and foggy outside.
Usually the best view comes after hardest climb, but it’s not like that on Walami Trail. From the start, it offers you a great hiking experience in a subtropical forest. Walami Trail is truly one of the most wonderful hikes in Taiwan. Be sure to check it out during your during your visit to Hualien!