Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布 [Xiǎowūlái Pùbù])

Fuxing / Daxi, Taoyuan County, Taiwan

About Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布 [Xiǎowūlái Pùbù])

Hiking Distance: roadside to 360m (to lookout); 2.4km round trip (to base)
Suggested Time: up to 75 minutes (to base from nearest paid car park)

Date first visited: 2016-11-02
Date last visited: 2016-11-02

Waterfall Latitude: 24.79106
Waterfall Longitude: 121.37592

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The Xiao Wulai Waterfall (小烏來瀑布 [Xiǎowūlái Pùbù]; meaning “Little Wulai Waterfall”) was kind of a strange experience for Mom and I because we were torn between how to experience this falls given the choice of options on offer. On the one hand, there appeared to be quite a bit of infrastructure for what I thought were a bunch of man-made tourist contraptions like the Xiau Wulai Skywalk (basically a glass bridge above the Xiao Wulai Waterfall), some suspension bridges, and other exhibits. On the other hand, there was a more quieter experience seemingly away from the commotion. Being more into natural attractions, we opted to go away from the commotion and experience the relative peace and quiet of the natural beauty of the waterfall. This meant that we not only got frontal views of the falls, but we also got to go all the way to its unsanctioned base. Given that the quieter experience further downstream of the falls seemed to be better than the manmade ones, we wonder how this place will continue to evolve as the Taiwanese government would continue to find new ways to monetize and develop the somewhat undeveloped spots.

That said, with the way our experience went, we were treated to an impressive 50m tall waterfall flowing on a tributary of the Daxi River (大漢溪 [Dàhàn Xī]) called Yunei Stream (宇內溪 [Yǔnèi Xī]). So even though its name suggested that the falls was “small”, it was definitely no slouch on its own as it was said to drop 50m over three tiers. Once we found parking near the easy-to-miss observation deck (see directions below), we walked along the road to that observation deck, where 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 as well as the start of the trail leading all the way down to the Yunei Stream and its gorge. From the lookout, the hike was about 800m in each direction, and it involved a junction roughly 580m into the descent. We went left to go upstream to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall, but going right (which we didn’t do) would have led to the smaller Dragon Phoenix Waterfall (龍鳳瀑布 [Lóngfèng]) in a little under 940m. So the remainder of the walk was pretty flat as it followed along the stream, but then we reached a bridge with a right-angled turn that was fronted by a closure barricade due to a landslide that pushed right at the joint of that right-angle. We were able to squeeze through the obstruction though it underscored the danger of being down here.

Once we got to the bridge fronting the waterfall’s base, we were pretty much looking right against the midday sun where the gushing falls (probably swollen from many consecutive days of rain) was throwing up a lot of mist in our direction. The far side of the bridge led up to a lookout tower, but it was closed. Upon further inspection of that tower, it looked like the floors were rotted away or destroyed by flood. Either way, it was pretty obvious why we didn’t entertain going any further. Once we had our fill of this spot, we did the all uphill hike back to car park, but not before seeing a handful of people heading to the base of the falls. Given that we didn’t really park closest to the observation deck, our overall hike turned out to be 2km round trip. We

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_129_11012016 - This was the archway we drove through when we just passed the free parking area and continued driving towards the Xiao Wulai Scenic Area
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_001_11012016 - This was where we ended up parking the car, which was not free
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_002_11012016 - Lots of choices regarding where to go once we left the paid car park
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_005_11012016 - We opted to walk back along the road towards the lookout area for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_009_11012016 - Looking in the distance towards a road bridge further downstream of the Xiao Wulai Falls
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_012_11012016 - Mom continuing to walk along the road shoulder towards the viewing deck for Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_015_11012016 - First look at the Xiao Wulai Waterfall as we were getting closer to the lookout deck
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_022_11012016 - Right at the start of the lookout area for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_023_11012016 - Right on the lookout area for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_030_11012016 - Looking right down at the Xiao Wulai Waterfall. The bridge and trail below gave us the idea that we could hike down there
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_038_11012016 - Looking back at the lookout platform after descending several flights of steps to get to its bottom
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_040_11012016 - Mom continuing the descent to go the final 750m down to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_042_11012016 - Continuing down the well-developed and shady trail to get all the way down to the stream
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_044_11012016 - Still making the descent to the base of Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_050_11012016 - Crossing the bridge over the Yunei Stream with a landslide affecting part of the bridge
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_054_11012016 - Walking on the trail alongside the Yunei Stream as we got closer to the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_055_11012016 - Getting closer to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall as we were approaching the mist
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_065_11012016 - Finally at the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_090_11012016 - Context of Mom getting sprayed while trying to check out the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_070_11012016 - NO CAPTION
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_086_11012016 - Looking at some folks checking us out from the 'observatory' way at the top of the gorge
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_110_11012016 - Mom squeezing by the landslide on the way back up to the car
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_115_11012016 - Some other folks crossing the bridge on the way to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_117_11012016 - Now we had to climb up the way we came down
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_138_11012016 - Walking back along the road towards the paid parking
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_149_11012016 - At this junction, we kept right to go down to the paid parking area and the more developed stuff around the Xiao Wulai Scenic Area


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, and that was also where the Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) was as well.

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_125_11012016 - The tight road shoulder on the left side of this picture (looking away from the lookout platform) was the nearest place to park the car, and it was free here
The tight road shoulder on the left side of this picture (looking away from the lookout platform) was the nearest place to park the car, and it was free here

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).

Panoramic look at the Xiaowulai Waterfall as well as the surrounding scenery from the upper lookout area

Sweep checking out the misty base of the falls as well as the rotting and dilapidated tower

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Tagged with: daxi, taoyuan, hsinchu, county, city, airport, xiao wulai, taiwan, northern taiwan, waterfall

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