The Chinglong Waterfall (青龍瀑布 [Qīnglóng Pùbù]; meaning "Green Dragon Waterfall") was perhaps the waterfalling highlight of our short but very sweet visit to the Shanlinhsi (杉林溪 [Shānlínxī]) Nature Park. This towering waterfall was where the Jiazouliao Stream (加走寮溪 [Jiāzǒuliáo Xī]) plunged some 116m. Its grandeur took Mom and I by surprise as we were expecting something similar to the nearby Songlong Rock Waterfall (which was also in the same park) but the Chinglong Falls turned out to be far taller and more precipitous. The signs here suggested that this was the prettiest waterfall in Shanlinhsi (that seemed like a no-brainer), but it also suggested that it was the most beautiful waterfall in Central Taiwan, and that would be hard to dispute. Moreover, this waterfalling experience also featured a bit of variety as our visit took in rock formations, panoramic views above the inversion layer, and even a second waterfall.
We began our visit from the Theme Hall parking lot as we would hike in a counterclockwise direction on this semi-looping hike. Since we did this trail first thing in the morning before breakfast, we started off by hiking 400m along the road towards the tollbooth or entrance gate, where there was also the Sun Link Sea Land God's Temple. From there, we then hiked on the 400m Shyrjing Trail (石井磯 [Shíjǐngjī]), which followed the northern banks of the Jiazouliao Stream. We actually continued past a suspension bridge with the number 88 on it (there was some kind of rock resembling a baby elephant here) and made it a short distance further to a dead-end where we could see the Shyring ji - an interesting series of potholes in the stream.
Back at the suspension bridge, we then crossed to the other side, where we went up some steps before picking up the Chinglong Fern Trail just downstream from the junction with the Yueling Trail (which we didn't take). The trail then skirted the deep gorge where we started to get profile views of the impressive Chinglong Waterfall. The trail continued to descend gently towards overlooks providing a more frontal view before we reached four-way junction. We kept right to take the descending trail towards the base of the Chinglong Waterfall. Early in the descent, we passed by a strangely tilted "Energy House", which used to be a restroom facility before an earthquake tilted its foundation. The result was a pretty trippy and disorienting experience inside the building, which felt as if the building could slide further downslope at any minute.
The descending path provided more glimpses of the inversion layer as we were still above the clouds and the steam looking more in the direction of Western Taiwan. Eventually, the trail terminated at an elongated lookout deck with shelter where we got the closest views of the Chinglong Waterfall that we were going to get. The trail wouldn't let us get any closer to the falls so it was pretty much a look-but-don't-touch waterfall.
After having our fill of this experience, we then hiked back up to the four-way junction where I then explored the last path to the right. This 200m or so spur trail led down to the second Chinglong Waterfall (the signs and literature called this the "Chinglong 2th Waterfall"). Unlike the main Chinglong Falls, this one was significantly thinner and shorter. Given its more diminished flow, I'd imagine that this was really more of a seasonal or temporary waterfall. Still, it offered a nice precipitous view towards the inversion layer downslope.
When we had our fill of this spot, we then returned via the 1.6km Chinglong Fern Trail. It was a pleasant trail following along the southern banks of the Jiazouliao Stream amidst more tall trees. At the end of this trail, we'd then cross over a solid footbridge spanning the stream before returning to the Theme Hall part of the Shanlinhsi complex. So when all was said and done, we had hiked roughly 3.5-4km in total, which took us about 2 hours to complete.
Being in the Shanlinhsi Nature Park, the Chinglong Waterfall excursion shares the same general directions and car park as that of the Songlong Rock Waterfall. So see that page's write-up for specific directions on getting here from either Chiayi (嘉義 [Jiāyì]) to the south or Taichung (台中 [Táizhōng]) to the north.
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