Lushui Wenshan Trail – A hidden treasure. Feeling relaxed in the wild hot spring after an intensive hiking day.
There is public transportation available from Hualien city all the way to Lushui. Take the Taroko line #1133A from Hualien bus station and get off at Lushui stop. The trailhead is opposite the Lushui Exhibition Center 綠水地質展示館 next to the National Park Mountaineering School 國家公園登山學校. The trail is a total of 5.5 km and takes approximately 4-5 hours to complete. Don’t forget to get the mountain entry permits before you venture forward, or you could get stuck and not be able to go at all.
You begin the trail by climbing a very small staircase and reaching a fork in the path. Take the path towards Wenshan as it’s been labeled on the sign that you will see in front of you. You will then make a mild ascent up through tall grass alongside the edge of the valley. Watch your step on this part. You could end up in the brush below if you’re not careful!
As you walk, you might encounter one of the 34 species of mammals and 144 species of birds that live in this part of Taroko National Park. Rare indigenous beauties such the Formosan Rock Monkey, wild boar, barking deer, and flying squirrels will be all around you even if you might not be able to see them. There will also be countless species of butterfly flapping their wings just out of reach of your camera. If you’re patient though, the wildlife will come to you.
Putting your attention back on the trail, you will notice that it’s not really flat. In some parts it is, but, in many other parts, you will find yourself climbing either up or down and even traversing across slanted earth to get to where you need to go. Not to worry, though. Any sections of the trail that could present danger have either been labeled accordingly or will have ropes and/or chains you can grab to brace yourself as you proceed forward. In fact, you might find those parts of the trail the most interesting because they overlook lovely patches of forest and cliff faces that plunge deep into the canyon below where the Liwu river effortlessly caressing the mountain canvas. That in itself is a sight to see.
Also, along the way you will find several placards detailing the Japanese history in Eastern Taiwan. The information has been put there because it was the Japanese who carved out the trails in Taroko National Park. It was they who made previously inaccessible land accessible to common people. Walk the whole trail, and you won’t just see gorgeous natural beauty then. You will breathe in the rich history of the Lushui Wenshan trail!
The trail ends with red bridge and a somewhat steep climb back upto Cross Island Central Highway or Highway #8 as it’s known to the locals. This is the main road. You will walk down this road for some time and into a tunnel. Don’t cross through the tunnel, though. Instead, look for a break in the tunnel on the left about halfway in. You will see a concrete pathway there on the other side of a big rectangular sign.
Follow this path all the way down, cross a suspension bridge and you would see a gate with a sign saying no enter. Wenshan Hot Spring is not officially open to the public. It’s been closed since 2005 after typhoon damage. To enter this area is at your own risk, but you can cross the gate easily if you determined to do so. Be very careful when walking on the slippery stone steps since the trails is not maintained by the national park anymore.
Hard work pays off; now you can relax in the rejuvenating natural hot spring water. You can relax here as long as you want during day light. Enjoy. Cook a meal. Have a drink. Whatever you like. Take your time. You’ve earned it!
Once you’re done, you can follow the path you took to get to the hot spring back up to the tunnel, cross through it, and end up in the parking lot on the other side.
One last thing. There is construction on Highway #8 at 166.5K between Wenshan (165K+500) and Tianxiang (168K+500) by the time we visited this trail in December 2017. They unblock the road so you can across for 10 minutes every hour on the hour from 7:30 to 17:30. For example, if you arrive at 7:30, you will have from 7:30-7:40 to cross. If you arrive later than that, you will have to wait until 8:30 to cross again. Be very careful planning your schedule back to Tianxiang before the last bus leaves at 17:00.