The Qingrengu Waterfall (情人谷瀑布 [Qíngréngǔ Pùbù]) was a pair of modestly-sized waterfalls that introduced us to the kind of scenery that was on offer at the Maolin National Scenic Area (茂林國家風景區 [Màolín Guójiā Fēng Jǐng Qū]). During my first time here, Mom had already been to this area a few times, but this was the first time she got to visit this particular waterfall. So I was under the impression that this might have been one of the more obscure or lesser-known waterfalls that we had visited in Taiwan. The first waterfall was almost literally right at the end of the narrow road that we drove on to get here. It was probably on the order of 10-15m tall. The second waterfall involved a little bit more of an uphill hike, but it was worth the effort as this was the larger of the falls as it plunged some 20-25m into what appeared to be a deep plunge pool.
Our excursion taking in both of these waterfalls was pretty straightforward. Once we found parking (see directions below), we the walked along the single-lane road to its end. This included traversing what appeared to be a landslide (which prevented us from driving all the way to the road's end). Just on the other side of the landslide was what appeared to be the old car park, where we were able to see the first of the Qingrengu Waterfalls. In addition to the profile views from the car park, we were also able to go down some steps and scramble onto the stream bed to get as close to the falls as desired for that intimate experience while feeling the cool mist offset the tropical heat and humidity.
Back along the cliff adjacent to the car park, there was signage indicating that up the steps would lead up to the second waterfall. So naturally, we took that trail, which initially climbed a few flights of steps before following along the stream as the climb flattened out. After crossing a few bridges and passing beneath a shelter, within a few minutes more, we got to the dead-end of the trail, where there was a viewing platform yielding the view of the second Qingrengu Waterfall that you see at the top of this page. The sound of rhythmic cicadas while experiencing this waterfall really made this visit particularly memorable.
Overall, it only took Mom and I about 35 minutes away from the car to take in both waterfalls. It was a quick visit though Mom and I were quite surprised to see a large group of tourists show up to the falls when we were driving off. We initially thought this was one of the more obscure waterfalls in the area, but apparently, it was a bit more known that what we had given it credit for.
The Qingrengu Waterfall was part of the Maolin National Scenic Area (茂林國家風景區 [Màolín Guójiā Fēng Jǐng Qū]), which was directly east of both the cities of Tainan (台南 or 臺南 [Táinán]) and Kaohsiung (高雄 [Gāoxióng]). So I'll describe what I think would be the quickest route to get to the Maolin Visitor Center first from Kaohsiung, and then I will describe how we would do a similar drive from Tainan. Once we get past the Maolin Visitor Center, the driving routes would be common to both starting places.
So from Kaohsiung, we took the Tai-10 Expressway east from the Lotus Pond towards its end, which would deposit us onto the Qibing Road 1 (旗屏一路 [Qíbǐng Yílù]). After going about 1.5km, we would then turn right onto the Route 28 and follow this road for just under 20km before turning right to go south on the Route 27/185. We then followed this route for a little over 1.2km towards the Maolin Visitor Center before leaving the Route 27 and turning left to go east onto the road leading to the Maolin National Scenic Area (there would be signs at this point indicating the way to the reserve). We'd continue east along this road for just under 2km (passing over the Laonong River (荖濃溪 [Lǎo Nóng Xī]; "Old Farm River") before turning right onto a road signposted for the Lover's Gorge. This right turn was just before the road was about to enter the Maolin Village.
Descending away from the Maolin Village, this rural road then led us another kilometer towards the banks of the Laonong River, where the road passed beneath a bridge and then made a real sharp U-turn to get onto the bridge. The single-lane bridge then traversed the Laonong River before continuing on a rural road that eventually led another 800m or so towards the Qingrengu Waterfall. However the road didn't make it to the end because there was a landslide blocking further progress so we had to backtrack and find makeshift parking without blocking traffic. There was actually a more spacious informal parking area a little further up the road (this was where it appeared a tour van was parked). And if driving this single-lane road past the bridge didn't seem palatable, then it was also possible to park in front of the bridge, and then walk the remaining distance to the Qingrengu Waterfall. Overall, this 65km drive took us between 60-90 minutes to do.
Coming from Tainan, we would go east towards the National Route 1 Expressway heading south before taking the Tai-86 Expressway. Then, we'd head east on the 86 towards the National Route 3 Expressway heading to the southeast for about 26km to the National Route 10 heading north. We then would take this expressway to its end, eventually getting onto Qibing Road 1, and then following the Route 28 to the Route 27 towards the Maolin Visitor Center (same as the directions from Kaohsiung). Then, once we'd turn left to leave the 27 and into the Maolin National Scenic Reserve, we'd then continue following the same directions as above to get to the Qingrengu Waterfall. This drive would take around 90 minutes depending on traffic.
As for some geographical context, the Maolin Visitor Center was about 62km northeast of Kaohsiung (a little over an hour drive) and 81km east of Tainan (under 90 minutes drive). From a more macro scale, Tainan was 318km southwest of Taipei (under 3.5 hours by both car or train).
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