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Forget the tearful spectacle of rose ceremonies on reality television shows. If true drama is desired, travelers should turn to Taroko National Park in Taiwan’s Xiulin Township, where white marble spires climb some 9,840 feet, and viewers gasp at their magnitude. One of nine national parks in Taiwan, Taroko stretches across more than 355 square miles of varied ecosystems, with many nooks and crannies to discover.
Here, millennia of geological uplifting and shifting of tectonic plates, along with sustained erosion by the Liwu River, have combined to create one “wow” moment after the next. And in addition to the area’s chiseled centerpiece and namesake, Taroko Gorge, there are tunnels, streams, cliffs and rock formations all deserving of awe.
For clients who want to explore the park on foot, these four hikes are guaranteed to cause a scene.
Shakadang Trail (about 2.5 miles)Below the fire-engine red Shakadang Bridge is the start of its eponymous trail (formerly named Mysterious Valley Trail), which winds cliffside above the Shakadang River. On a paved path and with little elevation gain, the hike is easy and peaceful. The real showstopper of the journey is the stunning color of the gently flowing river, whose waters transform from turquoise to clear depending on depth and where the sunlight hits.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by J E N N I | KuneCoco (@kunecoco) on Nov 13, 2018 at 12:51am PST
A post shared by J E N N I | KuneCoco (@kunecoco) on Nov 13, 2018 at 12:51am PST
No need to pack any snacks, either: When close to the trail’s midpoint, clients will catch a whiff of freshly made Taiwanese boar sausage with local wild peppercorn. Operated by aborigines who live in the park, the hawker snack and refreshment huts are the perfect spot for a quick bite.
Baiyang Trail (about 2.5 miles)Pack a raincoat and a flashlight for this loop trail: Certain sections pass through the park’s mountains via pitch-black rock tunnels, which can be slippery. Stop to admire the immense Baiyang Waterfall, and be sure to cross the suspension bridge for an especially good view at the observation deck.
The raincoat will come in handy at the ethereal Water Curtain, which is the result of spring water running through faults in a man-made tunnel.
Swallow Grotto (Yanzikou) Trail (less than 1 mile)The Swallow Grotto Trail, previously shared with vehicular traffic, was recently revamped to allow only pedestrians on the old highway trail; vehicles now use a separate thruway. The name of the paved trail comes from the potholes that dot the grotto’s marble cliff faces, which double as homes for Pacific swallows.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by kaydee ✨ (@kaydeeleila) on Feb 17, 2020 at 9:01pm PST
A post shared by kaydee ✨ (@kaydeeleila) on Feb 17, 2020 at 9:01pm PST
In addition to numerous vistas of Liwu River, keep an eye out for the famous “Indian Chieftain’s Profile,” a silhouette that was carved into the marble rock by rushing water. Due to the possibility of falling rocks, it is recommended to borrow a helmet at the Xipan Check-in/Checkout Service Station.
Zhuilu Old Trail (about 6.5 miles)Once a part of a cross-island pass built by the indigenous Truku people, this trail is considerably more rugged, vertical and narrow than its counterparts in Taroko — and thus poses a significantly bigger challenge, as well.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Juliette Talan (@juliettetalan) on Oct 7, 2019 at 3:28am PDT
A post shared by Juliette Talan (@juliettetalan) on Oct 7, 2019 at 3:28am PDT
However, hikers who take on the steep ascent will be rewarded with breathtaking, bird’s-eye views of the canyon and Liwu River below. Trail permits are required, and applying far in advance is recommended. Portions of the trail are often closed due to rockfalls.
The DetailsTaiwan Tourismeng.taiwan.net.tw