Maolin Valley Waterfall (茂林谷瀑布 [Màolíngǔ Pùbù])

Maolin National Scenic Area / Kaohsiung / Tainan, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

About Maolin Valley Waterfall (茂林谷瀑布 [Màolíngǔ Pùbù])


Hiking Distance: 3km round trip (including steep scramble to base)
Suggested Time: 90 minutes (including steep scramble to base)

Date first visited: 2016-10-30
Date last visited: 2016-10-30

Waterfall Latitude: 22.88445
Waterfall Longitude: 120.68228

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The Maolin Valley Waterfall (茂林谷瀑布 [Màolíngǔ Pùbù]) was kind of our waterfalling excuse to do a trail that felt like a bit of an Indiana Jones-like adventure.

That said, we were on a well-established trail in a scenic reserve – the Maolin National Scenic Area (茂林國家風景區 [Màolín Guójiā Fēng Jǐng Qū]).

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_069_10292016 - The Maolin Valley Waterfall
The Maolin Valley Waterfall

The excursion involved going over a pair of suspension bridges perched high above a gorge, a semicircular arched bridge (reminiscent of the ones we saw in Japan), and mountain-hugging trails surrounded by lush mountain scenery.

It was that last aspect of this hike that really made us feel as if we really were part of some kind of jungle adventure.

As for the Maolin Valley Waterfall itself, it was probably a modest 20-25m or so, which was contrary to the signage claiming this was 100m tall.

Unless there were unseen tiers above the main drop that we saw, maybe they got the units wrong as it was more like 100ft?

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_045_10292016 - One of the suspension bridges that we had to cross in order to reach the Maolin Valley Waterfall, which gave us a bit of an Indiana Jones feel to the hike
One of the suspension bridges that we had to cross in order to reach the Maolin Valley Waterfall, which gave us a bit of an Indiana Jones feel to the hike

Anyways, given the amount of work it took to get all the way to the falls, it was understandably more of a swimming hole than a photo op.

That said, there were also opportunities closer to the trailhead without the level of effort to make it all the way to end of the trail.

Hiking to the Maolin Valley Waterfall

Our Maolin Valley Waterfall hike began from a car park area towards the end of a narrow single-lane road (see directions below).

The trail that we followed (called the Luomusi Trail or (羅木斯登山步道 [Luómùsī Dēngshān Bùdào]) definitely felt like it was newly renovated.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_031_10292016 - Traversing the first of the swinging bridges on the trail to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Traversing the first of the swinging bridges on the trail to the Maolin Valley Waterfall

This corroborated the signage saying that this trail had been closed for 5 years since the destruction by Typhoon Morakot in 2009.

In the aftermath of the typhoon, they then 27 million Taiwanese Dollars to fix it back up.

Indeed, the trail climbed up some steps as it passed the newly renovated entrance pavilion before following along one side of the gorge flanked by tall bamboo stalks.

Much of the trail involved wooden steps to handle the steeper climbs.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_040_10292016 - Descending to the second of the swinging bridges on the way to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Descending to the second of the swinging bridges on the way to the Maolin Valley Waterfall

Meanwhile, the descents had railings erected to help the unsure against the dropoffs on the other side of them.

After about 600m we reached the first suspension bridge, where there was a lookout showing us the context of the high bridge and the gorge below.

Apparently, the material used at this (and the other bridge) were said to be lighter given the difficulty of hauling the material up here.

On the other side of the bridge, the trail resumed its climb.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_096_10292016 - Looking back at the semi-circular bridge (kind of Japanese style) amidst the lush jungle overgrowth near the end of the Maolin Valley Waterfall hike
Looking back at the semi-circular bridge (kind of Japanese style) amidst the lush jungle overgrowth near the end of the Maolin Valley Waterfall hike

After another 250m of hiking, the trail then reached the second suspension bridge, which was longer and more dramatic than the first.

While traversing this suspension bridge, we noticed that there were some people who were river tracing (with the proper canyoneering gear) down in the river bed, which looked challenging but fun.

Anyways, after another 250m of hiking, we then crossed over a small semi-circular arched bridge before the trail climbed some more.

Eventually, the trail terminated in another 350m or so, where there was a lookout shelter peering right down at the tall and slender Maolin Valley Waterfall.

The Scramble to the bottom of the Maolin Valley Waterfall

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_095_10292016 - This was the really tricky descent at the very bottom of the gorge to access the base of the Maolin Valley Waterfall
This was the really tricky descent at the very bottom of the gorge to access the base of the Maolin Valley Waterfall

While the view up at the lookout yielded as much of the Maolin Valley Waterfall that we could see, there was a bit of queue for people making the steep scramble down from this vantage point.

This steep scramble eventually accessed the plunge pool and base of the falls.

Mom stayed up at the lookout so I went down and joined the crowd, where the final part of the descent was definitely slippery and tricky.

I needed the aid of one of the guys who knew which way to go in order to make it down the last steep part without taking a spill.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_081_10292016 - Lots of people cooling off within the plunge pool at the base of the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Lots of people cooling off within the plunge pool at the base of the Maolin Valley Waterfall

And once at the bottom, the air felt immediately cooler as the waterfall seemed to have generated its own micro-climate to offset the heat and humidity.

Plus, the atmosphere down here felt more festive as many people were in the water swimming and beating the tropical heat.

After climbing back out from the base of the falls, Mom and I returned the way we came.

In total, we spent about a little over 90 minutes away from the car.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_113_10292016 - Some people cooling off closer to the trailhead for the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Some people cooling off closer to the trailhead for the Maolin Valley Waterfall

According to my GPS logs, we had hiked around 3km round trip.

Authorities

The Maolin Valley Waterfall resides in the Maolin National Scenic Area near the city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It is administered by the Taiwan National Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting the Maolin NSA website.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_008_10292016 - Looking back at the context of the pullout where we parked the car and started the hike up to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_009_10292016 - Even from the get-go, we saw people beating the heat in the stream before getting started on the hike to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_017_10292016 - More people chilling out in the stream near the Maolin Valley Trailhead
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_018_10292016 - Mom following a hiking group up towards the newly-renovated entrance pavilion at the trailhead for the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_020_10292016 - Mom following the uphill path flanked by bamboo stalks en route to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_021_10292016 - The Luomusi Trail to the Maolin Valley Waterfall was very popular
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_023_10292016 - The Maolin Valley Waterfall Trail continued to climb up these steps that appeared to have a lot of work put into them
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_027_10292016 - Mom following the purple-shirted hiking group across the first suspension bridge en route to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_030_10292016 - Looking back across the first suspension bridge on our way to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_034_10292016 - Mom continuing to hike beyond the first suspension bridge, where the Luomusi Trail kept climbing en route to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_038_10292016 - Looking ahead towards the second suspension bridge that we had to cross en route to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_042_10292016 - Angled look towards the second suspension bridge that we had to cross en route to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_050_10292016 - Looking upstream at the rocky streambed from the second suspension bridge en route to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_053_10292016 - Continuing beyond the second suspension bridge on the Luomusi Trail en route to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_057_10292016 - Mom crossing over the small semi-circular arched bridge that really reminded me of the ones that we saw in Japan
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_060_10292016 - Beyond the arched bridge, the :Luomusi Trail to the Maolin Valley Waterfall continued to climb some more
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_063_10292016 - By this point in the Luomusi Trail, Mom and I were sweating bullets and we could certainly use a bit of a cool off at the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_072_10292016 - Following these girls down the steep descent to the plunge pool at the bottom of the cliff to get to the base of the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_076_10292016 - View of the Maolin Valley Waterfall from part way down the steep descent to its base
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_077_10292016 - Getting closer to the busy base of the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_082_10292016 - A group of dudes were having a swim in the plunge pool beneath the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_087_10292016 - Long-exposed shot of the attractive base of the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_106_10292016 - Crossing over a suspension bridge on the return hike from the Maolin Valley Waterfall. If you look closely, you might see people river tracing beneath the bridge
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_111_10292016 - This was one of the few uphill stretches on the predominantly downhill hike back to the Maolin Valley Waterfall Trailhead
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_115_10292016 - Mom and I were surprised to see wildflowers blooming this late in the Autumn season along the Maolin Valley Waterfall Trail (also called Luomusi Trail)
Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_123_10292016 - Looking back up the river one last time as we neared the parked car and the haze appeared to be burning off somewhat in the Maolin Valley

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The Maolin Valley 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.

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.

Even though there are many ways of getting here from other parts of Southern Taiwan, we’ll only describe the routes specific to how we were able to do it.

Driving from Kaohsiung to the Maolin Valley Waterfall

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_002_10292016 - Looking up ahead at the context of the pullout where we parked the car and the road where we continued to hike towards the start of the trail to the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Looking up ahead at the context of the pullout where we parked the car and the road where we continued to hike towards the start of the trail to the Maolin Valley Waterfall

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.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_120_10292016 - Looking back at the narrow road leading up to the Maolin Valley Waterfall Trailhead
Looking back at the narrow road leading up to the Maolin Valley Waterfall Trailhead

We’d continue east along this road keeping left at just under 2km (passing over the Laonong River (荖濃溪 [Lǎo Nóng Xī]; “Old Farm River”) to go into the Maolin Village.

Then, we’d continue driving 500m through the Maolin Village before continuing another 1.2km towards a turnoff on the right almost across the highway from some fire station.

Next, we followed the narrow winding road down towards the Laonong River before emerging at the other end of the bridge.

We then followed a narrow (nearly single-lane) road eventually arriving at the trailhead parking for the Maolin Valley right at a steep hairpin turn.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_012_10292016 - Looking back at the paid parking area for the Maolin Valley Waterfall
Looking back at the paid parking area for the Maolin Valley Waterfall

There was paid parking here, but we also noticed that there were road shoulders where people had parked to avoid paying the parking fee.

In any case, this drive took us nearly 2 hours.

Driving from Tainan to the Maolin Valley Waterfall

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.

Maolin_Valey_Waterfall_005_10292016 - Looking back at the pullout where we parked the car for free though there was paid parking further up the road behind where this photo was shot
Looking back at the pullout where we parked the car for free though there was paid parking further up the road behind where this photo was shot

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 Maolin Valley Waterfall.

This drive would also take around 2 hours or so 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).

360 degree sweep from an elevated spot during the descent to the base of Maolin Valley Waterfall, which was very popular as a swimming hole


360 degree sweep of the base of Maolin Valley Waterfall, which was very popular as a swimming hole though it took a slippery steep descent to make it down here

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Tagged with: kaohsiung, gaoxiong, tainan, city, county, maolin, valley, maolingu, waterfall, swimming, southern taiwan, taiwan, waterfall



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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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