Changbai Waterfall (长白瀑布 [Chángbái Pùbù])

Changbai Shan / Tianchi, Jilin, China

About Changbai Waterfall (长白瀑布 [Chángbái Pùbù])


Hiking Distance: 4km round trip
Suggested Time: 90 minutes

Date first visited: 2009-05-15
Date last visited: 2009-05-15

Waterfall Latitude: 42.03483
Waterfall Longitude: 128.05726

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The Changbai Waterfall (长白瀑布 [Chángbái Pùbù]; Everwhite Waterfall) was 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 passed through Heaven Lake, and the Koreans considered the waters of the lake to be sacred.

Changbaishan_119_05152009 - The Changbai Waterfall still mostly concealed by snow at its base in May
The Changbai Waterfall still mostly concealed by snow at its base in May

In fact, Julie and I were told that 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 sacred water.

We even saw the structures supporting that walkway still standing above the Changbai Waterfall.

However, during our trip, we learned that the walkway was closed for good so those seeking to capture some of the lake’s sacred waters now had to settle for the water further downstream from the waterfall.

Speaking of which, it seemed to Julie and I that there were just as many Koreans as Chinese people touring the area even though most of the tourist action occurred on the Chinese side of the border.

Changbaishan_114_05152009 - Context of Julie checking out the Changbai Waterfall
Context of Julie checking out the Changbai Waterfall

And as for crossing to the North Korea side, we were told to not even think about it!

That was because there were cameras placed at the border where anyone caught trespassing would be met by an armed soldier.

So we were wise to stay with our guide and be content with the sanctioned viewing spots along the rim of the crater responsible for Heaven Lake on the Chinese side of the border.

Since Heaven Lake was at an elevation of about 2194m with the brutally frigid Siberian climate, we learned that the lake could be locked in ice until late June or July.

Changbaishan_046_05142009 - The frozen Heaven Lake
The frozen Heaven Lake

Unfortunately for us, we visited the area in May, and sure enough, the lake was frozen. Call it another case of bad timing on our part.

To further add to the complications, the weather here was fickle so we had to pay close attention to the weather to assure that there would be views of the scenery and not just clouds.

In any case, the waterfall would probably have its fullest flow during those mid- to late Summer months as well as the early Autumn.

Even if the summit would be clouded over (thereby possibly concealing Heaven Lake), the Changbai Waterfall would be the fallback option because it sat at a lower elevation.

Changbaishan_088_05152009 - Context of the boardwalk skirting by the geothermal reserve on Changbaishan en route to the Changbai Waterfall
Context of the boardwalk skirting by the geothermal reserve on Changbaishan en route to the Changbai Waterfall

Yet like with Heaven Lake, we felt we showed up too early as part of the Chaibai Waterfall was concealed in snow so the falls appeared shorter than it really was.

From some of the TV shows we saw about Changbai Shan, it appeared that the falls would be much thinner in the winter months.

However, it would never completely freeze over since the only part of the lake that drained to the Changbai Waterfall was still geothermally heated beneath the ice.

So I guess they weren’t kidding when they said this was a legitimate year-round waterfall (though I can’t say the viewing experience here would be year-round).

Changbaishan_100_05152009 - The colorful Julong Hot Spring seen on the trail up to the Changbai Waterfall
The colorful Julong Hot Spring seen on the trail up to the Changbai Waterfall

So with all that had been said about the harsh climate of the area, the Changbai Waterfall was actually said to be accessible all year.

When the road would snow over, we learned that they would use heavy-duty caterpillar-like trucks serving as shuttles to bring visitors to the trailhead.

Then, there was a sheltered VIP path which was a glass-covered walkway that took us right up to the Changbai Waterfall.

The VIP path was said to only be in use during the Winter, but we were still able to use this path during our visit in May.

The walk from the end of the road (and shuttle stop) to the waterfall took us about 40 minutes.

Changbaishan_011_jx_05142009 - The so-called VIP Walk, which was a sheltered (practically greenhouse-like in mugginess) walking path towards the Changbai Waterfall
The so-called VIP Walk, which was a sheltered (practically greenhouse-like in mugginess) walking path towards the Changbai Waterfall

Along the way, we saw some colorful springs and thermal pools (called Julong Hot Spring, I believe).

Authorities

The Changbai Waterfall resides in the Changbai Shan / Tianchi scenic area near Erdaobaihe of the Jilin Province, China. To my knowledge, I have not found a reliable official government authority administering this area. Therefore, I can’t recommend a particular website belonging to said authority for the latest conditions or other inquiries.

Changbaishan_001_05142009 - The entrance to the Changbai Village
Changbaishan_083_05142009 - We got this distant view of the Changbai Waterfall from the bus ride on the road approaching it
Changbaishan_002_jx_05142009 - Context of the boardwalk and the mountains surrounding the Changbai Waterfall up ahead
Changbaishan_004_jx_05142009 - Looking further from the trailhead to Changbai Waterfall with the falls itself in the distance fronted by the VIP Walk
Changbaishan_008_jx_05142009 - Looking back at part of the Julong Hot Spring on Changbai Shan
Changbaishan_019_jx_05142009 - Context of the VIP Walk and the mountains surrounding the Changbai Waterfall further up ahead
Changbaishan_020_jx_05142009 - Inside the warm confines of the VIP Path
Changbaishan_025_jx_05142009 - The rain started to come down when we finally made it out of the VIP Path and looked towards the Changbai Waterfall
Changbaishan_028_jx_05152009 - 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
Changbaishan_031_jx_05152009 - While we were waiting out the storm, we looked out the window and got this view looking in the direction of the Changbai Waterfall
Changbaishan_033_jx_05152009 - Walking back towards the Changbai Village after having finished our tour of the Changbai Waterfall in the bad weather
Changbaishan_085_05152009 - The next morning, we came back to the Changbai Waterfall, and this was the view from the trailhead, which was much improved from yesterday afternoon
Changbaishan_092_05152009 - Passing alongside the Julong Hot Spring as we made our way towards the sheltered VIP Path
Changbaishan_102_05152009 - Looking downstream from further along the walkway not far beyond the Julong Hot Spring
Changbaishan_104_05152009 - Looking ahead at the VIP Path fronting the Changbai Waterfall
Changbaishan_112_05152009 - Zoomed in look at the partially concealed Changbai Waterfall and walkway to its topright
Changbaishan_123_05152009 - Fully contextual view of the Changbai Waterfall, the mountains, and the trail along its stream
Changbaishan_132_05152009 - Closer look at the Changbai Waterfall, which was partially concealed by residual snow
Changbaishan_152_05152009 - Interesting cliff formations flanking the valley containing the Changbai Waterfall
Changbaishan_049_jx_05152009 - Some people using the geothermal properties of the immediate area to boil eggs
Changbaishan_053_jx_05152009 - Closer look at the geothermally boiled eggs at the Julong Hot Springs area of Changbai Mountain
Changbaishan_002_05142009 - The walking path leading up to the crater rim containing Heaven Lake
Changbaishan_017_05142009 - Looking further along the crater rim of Heaven Lake showing just how volcanic this place was
Changbaishan_023_05142009 - The frozen Heaven Lake at the summit of Changbai Mountain. A different shuttle from the one we took to the Changbai Waterfall screeches up several switchbacks to the summit of Changbai Mountain where this view of the lake can be obtained
Changbaishan_052_05142009 - Looking back down towards the car park area at Heaven Lake

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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.

To give you some more geographical context, Dunhua was 1,274km (13 hours drive) from Beijing and 295km (4 hours drive) west of Jilin.

The waterfall in late spring where there's still snow around the falls

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Tagged with: changbaishan, changbai, shan, tianchi, heaven lake, north korea, china, waterfall, jilin, everwhite, hot springs, paekdu, paekdusan, julong



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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