The Changbai Waterfall (长白瀑布 [Chángbái Pùbù]; Everwhite Waterfall) is a 68m tall side attraction to Changbai Shan (长白山 [Chángbái Shān]; Everwhite Mountain; also Mt Paekdu or Paekdusan in Korean) and Tianchi (天池 [Tiānchí]; Heaven Lake). The North Korea/China border actually passes through Heaven Lake, and the Koreans consider the waters of the lake to be sacred. In fact, they used to allow the use of a Korean-made path that climbed besides the waterfall to the shores of the lake where many Koreans would bring a bottle and try to capture some of that holy water. During our trip, we learned that that was no longer the case as these days (that walkway was closed for good), they have to settle for the lake-originated water just downstream from the waterfall.
Speaking of which, you'll probably find just as many Koreans as Chinese people even on the Chinese side of the border. And as for crossing to the North Korea side even if you're hoping to wander on your own on the Chinese side, don't even think about it! That's because there are cameras placed at the border where anyone caught on camera trespassing will be met by an armed soldier.
Since Heaven Lake sits at some 2194m high with the brutally frigid Siberian climate, we learned firsthand that the area could be bitterly cold. In fact, the lake was frozen during our visit and our guide Susan said it wouldn't even thaw until late June or July.
Consequently, the waterfall would experience its fullest flow during those mid- to late Summer months as well as the early Autumn. We also saw firsthand that the weather here was very fickle so if Heaven Lake can't be seen, then the Changbai Waterfall would be the fallback option.
From some of the TV shows we saw in the area, it appeared that the falls would be much thinner in the winter months, but would never completely freeze over since the only part of the lake that drained to the waterfall was still geothermally heated beneath the ice. So I guess they aren't kidding when they say this is a legitimate year-round waterfall (though I can't say the viewing experience here would be year-round).
Despite the harsh climate of the area, the falls is actually said to be accessible all year. When the road is snowed over, they have heavy-duty caterpillar-like trucks serving as shuttles to take you to the trailhead. There's a VIP path which is a glass-covered walkway taking you right up to the falls. The VIP path is not in use during the summer when the greenhouse effect would likely make it an undesirable option. We were there in late May when Heaven Lake was still mostly frozen on the surface and the VIP Path remained in use. Snow was still very prevalent around the falls, which somewhat obstructed the line-of-sight of parts of the waterfall itself.
The walk from the end of the road (and shuttle stop) to the waterfall took us about 40 minutes. Along the way, we saw some colorful springs and thermal pools (called Julong Hot Spring, I believe).
Directions: It took us about 3.5 hours to drive from Dunhua to the entrance to Changbai Shan (and our driver was going very fast). Once we were at the entrance, private vehicles weren't allowed beyond that point so we had to bring our stuff to the shuttle area where we rode a shuttle and continued further upslope to the Changbai Village.
From the Changbai Village, we had to ride the general shuttle further upslope for about 15 minutes to the road's end where the walk to the Changbai Waterfall began.
In Changbai Village, there was also another waiting area with small black SUVs screeching their way up to the summit of Changbai Mountain and Heaven Lake in a bit of a thrill ride.
Shuttled dropped us off and now it was time to walk to the waterfall
Walkway which passes by the colorful Julong Hot Spring
Julie checks out the scene at the Changbai Waterfall
When the weather got real bad, we tried to wait out the rain in this shelter, but that also meant dealing with the cigarette smoke indoors
The frozen Heaven Lake (source of the Changbai Waterfall) at the summit of Changbai Mountain. A different shuttle (from the one to the waterfall) screeches up several switchbacks to the summit of the mountain where this view of the lake can be obtained.