The Liangshan Waterfall (涼山瀑布 [Liángshān Pùbù]; meaning "Cool Mountain Waterfall") was really a series of three distinct waterfalls all on the Niujiaowan Stream (牛角灣溪 [Niújiǎowān Xī]; something to do with cow horns). The view of the first waterfall was the most accessible and it had a modest 20m drop or so though we were only able to view it from a distance on a bridge spanning the Niujiaowan Stream. The second waterfall was small (maybe 5m or so), but it was a very popular swimming hole. The third and last waterfall was the most impressive (pictured at the top of this page) as it featured a towering two-tiered drop that was probably at least 30m in cumulative height. A pretty well-made trail (apparently newly built after a powerful typhoon damaged the original trail) allowed us to take in all three of these waterfalls. Speaking of the trail, it really felt like we were on some kind of jungle adventure as we were on paths that hugged steep mountainsides amidst a very lush ravine. Belonging to the Liangshan Recreational Park, this was also a very popular hike despite how long it took us to finish the trail.
From the well-signed and busy car park and entrance area (see directions below), we paid the entrance fee and proceeded to walk along a wide and very developed road alongside the Niujiaowan Stream. After about 800m of walking along this road, we crossed a bridge leading to a little shop and cafe area before reaching another bridge where we got a look at the first of the Liangshan Waterfalls. Beyond the bridge, there was another lookout (albeit obstructed) of the falls before the trail climbed up a series of steps going past a strangely-out-of-place cross.
At the top of this climb was a shelter, but the trail continued along a wooden-planed walkway as it continued climbing (though not as steeply) while clinging to the bush-clad steep mountainsides flanking the Niujiaowan Stream way down below. After about 600m beyond the shelter (or about 750m past the bridge with the view of the first waterfall), we reached a fork, where a steep path veered down to the left while the main trail continued climbing to the right. That steep path on the left ultimately led down some very steep steps before dropping off some 3-4m cliff face where a rope was set up to facilitate this dicey descent. When I was there, I had to wait in a bit of a queue before it was my turn to go down. But once I was at the bottom, I found myself in front of a popular swimming hole right before a modestly-sized (maybe 5m or so) waterfall, which I'm calling the second Liangshan Waterfall. There was also a shack here as well as some makeshift bridges to help get across the Niujiaowan Stream.
Back at the main trail, it continued to climb high above the Niujiaowan River for the next 400m where the last 100-200m involved a bit of a rocky stream scramble as the well-developed trail disappeared into a section where the gorge narrowed in and there wasn't an alternative but to go right alongside the stream. Once we emerged from the narrowing of the gorge, we found ourselves staring right up at the third and most impressive of the Liangshan Waterfalls. We had to engage in a bit of a rocky stream scramble in order to get right up to the misty bottom of the Liangshan Waterfall, but that was where the temperatures were the coolest.
Given all the work it took to get to this waterfall (we had hiked about 2.3km just to get here or at least 4.6km round trip), it was understandable why this waterfall was very popular and busy. Yet at the same time, it was as the result of all the work we had to do to get up here that it was surprising to see so many people here as well. Indeed, we noticed a lot of young people as well as even one of the custom-guided tours here. Clearly, this place was pretty well-known, and I guess it being part of the Luoshan Recreational Area certainly helped its notoriety.
When we had our fill of this spot and did the long downhill hike back to the car park, we got to experience a lot of the scenery once again, but this time with more panoramic downstream views along the way. Of course, it was also quite hazy and steamy in this part of Taiwan so all that steam in the air conspired to make even the closest mountains hard to see through that shroud of steam (not to mention drenching us in our own sweat). All in all, Mom and I had spent about 2.5 hours away from the car with a total hiking distance of about 4.6km with around 250m of elevation gain. So if you're planning to do this excursion, it's definitely worth it to allow yourself a solid half-day.
The Liangshan Waterfall was within the Liangshan Recreational Area close to the Majia Township (瑪家鄉 [Mǎjiā Xiāng]) directly east of both the cities of Kaohsiung (高雄 [Gāoxióng]) and Pingtung (屏東 [Píngdōng]). We actually drove up here from the Kayoufeng Waterfall near the Fangshan Township (枋山鄉 [Fāngshān Xiāng]) so we'll describe that route before describing how we would have done it had we gone here straight from Kaohsiung.
From the Fangshan Township, we drove north on the Tai-1 Highway for about 30km before following the signs to go onto the Tai-3 Expressway. Once on the high speed motorway, we would then continue north on the Tai-3 for another 23km to its exit onto the Route 24. After about 1.3km along Route 24, we then would keep right onto the Shuiyuan Road (水源路 [Shuǐyuán Lù]) then follow it for about 900m before turning right onto Liming Road (黎明路 [Límíng Lù]). We then followed this road for about 4.5km (becoming 繁華路 [Fánhuá Lù] and 西淇路 [Xīqí Lù] along the way) before turning left onto the Route 187.
After another 3.3km heading east on Route 187, we then turned right onto Route 185 (by now there were signs for the Liangshan Recreational Park). Then, we followed this road for the next 1.5km to the entrance to the Liangshan Recreational Park. The entrance was on our left at the traffic light, but there were additional parking spaces on the right. Overall, this drive would take about 90 minutes.
Coming from Kaohsiung, we wound up taking the Tai-1 Expressway north to the Tai-10 Expressway, then northeast to the Tai-3 Expressway. We'd then follow the Tai-3 Expressway to its exit at the Route 24, where we'd then head east on the Route 24 and follow the directions as given above to reach the Liangshan Recreational Park. This drive took us about an hour (as we tried to avoid the traffic in Pingtung by bypassing the city center).
Alternatively, we could also avoid the congestion of the Pingtung City Center by taking the Tai-88 Expressway east to the Tai-3 Expressway, then taking the Tai-3 Expressway north to the Route 24 exit. Once on the Route 24 exit, we could then follow the directions as given above to reach the Liangshan Recreational Area. This drive would also take around an hour.
As for some geographical context, the Majia Township was 54km east of Kaohsiung City (about an hour drive), 21km east of Pingtung City (between 30-60 minutes drive), 62km north of Fangshan Township (over an hour drive), 73km southeast of Tainan City (台南 or 臺南 [Táinán]; over an hour drive), and 98km north of Kenting (墾丁 [Kěndīng]; at the southern tip of Taiwan; under 2 hours drive).
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