The Tiefen Waterfall (鐵汾瀑布 [Tiěfén Pùbù]) was a seemingly secluded waterfall that we found to be one of the pleasant surprises along our tour of the less-dense Eastern Taiwan region. It appeared to have a pleasant 20-25m drop as its stream plunged into a wide pool that was surrounded by cliffs on at least three sides. While I did have concerns about the rockfall and landslide danger since we were quite literally flanked by nearly vertical walls, it wasn't lost on me that on hot and muggy days (like the day we showed up), this would be quite the nice swimming hole as the stream was pretty shallow (at least when we were there) meaning the deepest parts were only at the plunge pool at the base of the waterfall itself. My Mom and I weren't dressed for it, but under different circumstances, I'm sure I would have taken a dip to cool off while worrying about the mozzies later. That said, the little cove that the falls fell into had noticeably cooler air than the surrounding area.
Our visit started from a somewhat informal shoulder near a picnic area and clearing (see directions below). We then had a choice of walking towards the stream (which was strangely flanked by concrete) or continue walking along the road leading towards a dead-end where there was a landslide blocking further vehicular progress (and the main reason why we had to back up and park at that clearing). The path continued around the landslide, and then it eventually joined up with the concrete creek bed alongside the Xiuguluan River, where we then continued going upstream until reaching some kind of dam or retaining wall.
There was no signage or anything letting us know where to go next, but we could definitely hear that around the bend up ahead was a waterfall. So we had no choice but to climb the wall (which was probably 3-4ft or 1m tall) to proceed, and then we just stream scrambled another few meters or so on the rocky stream before getting our direct glimpse of the waterfall. The falls had a pretty healthy flow when we were there, but apparently this stream can slow down quite a bit in the drier months like around Winter and Spring when the weather would be coming more from the north instead of the east. When we had our fill of this spot, Mom and I returned to the car for a round trip distance of about 600m and us taking around 40 minutes away from the car to take in the experience.
Given the waterfall's relatively close proximity to the town of Yuli (玉里 [Yǜlǐ]; which I think means "inside Jade"), it was surprising that it was only Mom and I at this waterfall. Perhaps it was because we showed up right before the weekend that there was no one else here? Either that or this was just a seemingly locals kind of waterfall that had just enough hints to find this place, but would otherwise go undetected by most tourists except for locals in the know or those intrepid enough to explore places a bit off the beaten path on their own wheels.
To the north of Yuli and the Tiefen Waterfall was the famous Taroko Gorge, which could very well be Taiwan's most popular natural attraction
Most towns in Taiwan has a night market, and Hualien was no different. The one shown here was an old school one in the heart of Hualien City's downtown area
Tall mountains backed the farmlands and towns lining the coast and rift valley along Eastern Taiwan. Shown here were tall mountains backing Hualien City
This was the clearing where we left the rental car and started the short hike to Tiefen Waterfall
Walking past some picnic shelter after leaving the clearing
Mom walking along the narrow single-lane road that we initially thought we could drive
This landslide was the reason why it was not possible to drive any further
Mom walking upstream along the concrete bank flanking the stream itself
Another look towards the landslide from the stream bed
Mom approaching some dam or retaining wall
When we got to this wall, we had no choice but to climb it in order to proceed
There was enough water in the stream (probably because Eastern Taiwan was battered with lots of rain and typhoons before we showed up at the end of October in 2016) to cause us to balance ourselves while crossing it
Mom approaching the pleasant Tiefen Waterfall
Here's a nice direct and contextual look at the Tiefen Waterfall
Last look at the Tiefen Waterfall before we turned around and headed back
Mom walking along the stream bed on the way back to the car
Mom making her way back out of the stream bed and towards the clearing where we parked the car
We drove to the Tiefen Waterfall from the Fenghuang Waterfall, which was around 35km south of Hualien City (花蓮市 [Huālián Shì]). So we'll pick up the directions from the Fenghuang Falls. For directions on getting there from Hualien, see that page's directions.
So once we found our way back onto the Tai-9 Highway (台力), we then continued driving south for about 51km towards the town of Yuli (玉里 [Yǜlǐ]). We remained on the 9 as the road skirted the eastern part of town, then turned left to cross a long bridge over the Xiuguluan River (秀姑巒溪 [Xiùgūluán Xī]) before we took a signposted left turn to leave the Tai-9 and go onto the Route 193.
We then followed the 193 north for about 3km before a sign for the Tiefen Waterfall (鐵汾瀑布) had us turn right onto a narrow road before turning left onto another narrow and winding road. We followed this road for the remaining 1.2km to another fork in the road, where the signs indicated that the falls was to our right. That was when there was a road shoulder (more like a clearing) where we could park the car. The road actually kept going further, but we had to back out when we were stopped by a landslide. Overall, this drive took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
For geographical context, the Yuli Township was about 92km south of Hualien City (roughly 2 hours drive) and 95km north of Taitung (台東 [Táidōng]; over 2 hours drive).
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