About Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布 [Xiǎowūlái Pùbù])
The Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布 [Xiǎowūlái Pùbù]; meaning “Little Wulai Waterfall”) was an impressive 50m tall waterfall over a trio of blended-together tiers.
Despite its name, it was actually one of the more substatial waterfalls we’ve seen in Taiwan.
This waterfall flowed on a tributary of the Daxi River (大漢溪 [Dàhàn Xī]) called Yunei Stream (宇內溪 [Yǔnèi Xī]) so I have reason to believe that it has year-round flow.
There seemed to be quite a bit of infrastructure around this waterfall though most of them revolved around man-made tourist contraptions.
For example, there was the Xiao Wulai Skywalk, which was basically a glass bridge above the Xiao Wulai Waterfall.
There were also suspension bridges and other exhibits on offer in the area as well.
On the other hand, there were also quieter and more naturesque ways to experience the waterfall seemingly away from the commotion.
It was this contrast between the gaudy and pricier touring options versus the quieter and more low-key experience that made our visit here a bit strange and unconventional.
In any case, being more into experiencing natural attractions naturally, we tended to shy away from the commotion and man-made stuff, and this write-up emphasizes this method of visiting the Xiao Wulai Waterfall.
That said, we do wonder how this place will continue to evolve as the authorities would likely continue to find new ways to monetize and develop the somewhat undeveloped spots.
Experiencing the Xiao Wulai Waterfall Overlook
First, we managed to walk to an easy-to-miss observation desk once we found parking (see directions below).
I saw it was easy-to-miss because the parking nearby didn’t seem obvious to us, and it was very easy to drive by it.
Thus, we ended up parking a little further past this spot at a larger paid parking lot.
Then, we walked back along the road to get to this observation deck.
From this viewpoint, we got commanding panoramic views of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall (as pictured at the top of this page) as well as the downstream scenery towards the Daxi River and bridge.
After getting our fill of this vantage point, we descended a series of steps leading down to a toilet facility.
There was also the start of the trail leading all the way down to the Yunei Stream and its gorge and ultimately the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall.
Hiking to the bottom of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
From the Xiao Wulai Waterfall Observation Deck, the hike was about 800m in each direction.
At roughly 580m into the descent, we reached a trail junction.
We went left to go upstream to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall, but going right would have led to the smaller Dragon Phoenix Waterfall (龍鳳瀑布 [Lóngfèng]) in a little under 940m.
We didn’t do the latter option to the right of the trail junction so we can’t say more about it.
In any case, the remainder of the walk was pretty flat as it followed along the Yunei Stream.
Eventually, the path reached a bridge with a right-angled turn that was fronted by a closure barricade.
We could see that the closure was due to a landslide that pushed right at the joint of that right-angle of the bridge.
While we were able to squeeze through the obstruction, it underscored the danger of being down here and we assumed the risk of proceeding further.
Beyond this landslide-affected bridge, the trail hugged the other side of the Yunei Stream before reaching a bridge fronting the Xiao Wulai Waterfall’s base.
During our visit, we pretty much looked right against the midday sun where the gushing falls (probably swollen from many consecutive days of rain) threw up a lot of mist in our direction.
The far side of the bridge led up to a lookout tower, but it was closed because it looked like the floors had rotted away or were destroyed by flood.
Either way, it was pretty obvious why we didn’t entertain going any further.
So once we had our fill of this spot, we did the all uphill hike back to the observation deck and then the car park.
Of course, as we did this, we noticed that there were a handful of people heading to the base of the falls (I’m hoping they were fully aware of the risk they were taking).
Given that we didn’t really park in one of those spaces closest to the observation deck, our overall hike turned out to be 2km round trip.
The Xiao Wulai Waterfall resides near the city of Taoyuan, Taiwan. It may be administered by the Taoyuan City Government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website.
We actually drove to the Xiao Wulai Waterfall all the way from Sun Moon Lake (it took us 3.5 hours).
But we’ll describe the directions from closer to Taoyuan City since that was where the expressway exit that we took was at.
Besides, that was also where the Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) was so it makes sense to use this city as the starting point.
So from the National Expressway 3 exit, we followed the signs for Xiao Wulai Scenic Area and took one of the exits towards the attractive tourist town of Daxi (大溪 [Dàxī]).
The exit that we took made us take the Tai-3 route to the northeast before making us turn right to follow the Tai-4 highway.
After about 6km, we then turned left (as directed by signs for Xiao Wulai) onto the Tai-7 highway, which we would follow for the next 18km or so.
There were white lines along the Tai-7 highway on the right, which meant we could legally parallel park there.
This was just before the road would pass through an archway and entrance booth.
The parking here was free, apparently.
Now, if you did as we did and miss this spot, you could still drive another 250m then keep right to descend towards a paid car park at the end of a sharp curve.
This was where we parked the car.
The drive from the expressway exit to here took us a little over an hour due to the volume of traffic through much of the drive.
For geographical context, Daxi was about 15km south of Taoyuan City (between 30-60 minutes depending on traffic), 40km south of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (under an hour drive), 53km southwest of Taipei (about an hour drive), and 217km north of Sun Moon Lake (under 3 hours drive).
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