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: 121.37486

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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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_017_11012016 - Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiao Wulai Waterfall

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_061_11012016 - Looking up from the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Looking up from the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall

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

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_012_11012016 - Context of the entrance to the Observation Deck for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Context of the entrance to the Observation Deck for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_027_11012016 - Looking in the other direction downstream from the Xiao Wulai Waterfall towards the Yunei Stream
Looking in the other direction downstream from the Xiao Wulai Waterfall towards the Yunei Stream

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_038_11012016 - Looking back at the observation deck for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall, where we descended a bunch of steps and ultimately onto a trail leading to the bottom of the gorge
Looking back at the observation deck for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall, where we descended a bunch of steps and ultimately onto a trail leading to the bottom of the gorge

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_114_11012016 - Looking back at the right-angled bridge affected by a landslide on the trail to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Looking back at the right-angled bridge affected by a landslide on the trail to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_090_11012016 - Context of Mom checking out the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall while getting sprayed by its mist
Context of Mom checking out the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall while getting sprayed by its mist

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_115_11012016 - Looking back at other people attempting to access the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall despite the landslide pushing into the bridge
Looking back at other people attempting to access the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall despite the landslide pushing into the bridge

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.

Authorities

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_002_11012016 - Lots of choices regarding where to go once we left the paid car park at the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_005_11012016 - Mom walking 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 as we walked the road to the observation deck
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_015_11012016 - First look at the Xiao Wulai Waterfall as we were getting closer to the lookout deck
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_016_11012016 - Focused look at the gushing Xiao Wulai Waterfall from near the lookout area
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_023_11012016 - Right on the lookout area for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_025_11012016 - Direct look at the Xiao Wulai Waterfall as seen from the lookout deck
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_026_11012016 - Broad view of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall as seen from the observation deck
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_030_11012016 - Contextual look right down at the Xiao Wulai Waterfall with a bridge and trail, which gave us the idea that we could hike down there
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_033_11012016 - Even more contextual look at the Xiao Wulai Waterfall and bridge in front of it as seen from the observation deck
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_040_11012016 - Mom continuing the descent below the observation deck to go the final 750m down to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_042_11012016 - Mom continuing down the well-developed and shady trail to get all the way down to the stream and eventually the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_044_11012016 - Mom 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 en route to the bottom of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_054_11012016 - Mom walking on the trail alongside the Yunei Stream as we got closer to the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_055_11012016 - Mom getting closer to the base of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall as we were approaching the spray zone
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_059_11012016 - Upon closer inspection at that tower by the Xiao Wulai Waterfall, we noticed that there were missing or rotted floors so it was with good reason that they closed off access to that structure
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 - Partial and faint rainbow while looking downstream from the bridge in front of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_075_11012016 - Context of Mom getting sprayed by the Xiao Wulai Waterfall as she was walking back across the bridge
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_083_11012016 - Another broad look towards the Xiao Wulai Waterfall with not as much spray coming towards us at the moment
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_086_11012016 - Looking at some folks checking us out from the 'observatory' of Xiao Wulai Waterfall way at the top of the gorge
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_087_11012016 - Contextual look at the 'observatory' at the rim of the gorge with the Yunei Stream below as we were about to leave the bottom of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_102_11012016 - Looking down at another arcing rainbow beneath the bridge fronting the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_104_11012016 - Last look at the misty mess of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall against the harsh sun
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_109_11012016 - Approaching the bridge over the Yunei Stream as we were making our way back from the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_110_11012016 - Mom squeezing by the landslide on the way back up to the car from the bottom of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_116_11012016 - Mom making her way back up from the bottom of the gorge up to the observatory for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_117_11012016 - Mom continuing the climb up the way we came down towards the 'observatory' for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_120_11012016 - Making it back up to one of the decks below the 'observatory' of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall. It looked vacant and closed during our October 2016 visit, but I'd bet in more normal times (perhaps not as affected by typhoons), this area would have been a lot busier
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_121_11012016 - This dog was following Mom and I around this lookout deck of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_124_11012016 - View of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall from one of these middle decks
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_132_11012016 - I briefly took some time to look around the 'observatory' to see where we could have parked to avoid paying money at the paid lot that we ended up parking at (not that it would have made any difference on this visit)
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_138_11012016 - Walking back along the road towards the paid parking lot after having had our fill of the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_144_11012016 - Looking back towards the context of that 'observatory' for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall as we walked back to our parked car
Xiaowulai_Waterfall_146_11012016 - We walked far enough along the road to regain this sidewalk, which gave us a bit more piece of mind since we didn't want to be potential roadkill around the Xiao Wulai Waterfall
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

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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]).

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_129_11012016 - The archway and entrance booth that was unmanned during our visit to the Xiao Wulai Scenic Area
The archway and entrance booth that was unmanned during our visit to the Xiao Wulai Scenic Area

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.

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

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.

Xiaowulai_Waterfall_001_11012016 - This was the paid car park where we parked the car and walked back towards the Observation Deck for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall. We didn't bother with the Sky Walk or the other man-made contraptions nearby
This was the paid car park where we parked the car and walked back towards the Observation Deck for the Xiao Wulai Waterfall. We didn’t bother with the Sky Walk or the other man-made contraptions nearby

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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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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