Hiking the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail: Easy Taipei Day Trip

What to Expect on the Sandiaoling Water Trail?

The Sandiaoling waterfall trail is a very popular day trip from Taipei. The trail is very scenic and offers hikers a chance to immerse themselves in a world of waterfalls, caves, and the serene ambiance of the forest. It is also only an hour from Taipei.

Hiking on the Sandiaoling Trail

You will first walk on stairs for about 20 minutes, then a little bit more uphill walking on a dirt path until the trail levels out on the same dirt path, and from there, the hike is relatively easy. You get to walk on a wonderful scenic path surrounded by nature, crossing hanging bridges and stopping at multiple waterfalls (and even getting into the water if you feel like it). 

Hegu Waterfall

Hegu Waterfall
Hegu Waterfall

The first waterfall is the Hegu Waterfall. You can only see this one from afar. It is a huge waterfall, there is a nice viewing platform from which you can take great pictures.

Motian Waterfall

Motian Waterfall
Motian Waterfall

The second waterfall is the Motian Waterfall. There is a wooden viewing platform that offers a great view of the waterfall.

However, if you feel more adventurous, you can take a little hidden path off the trail that will get you almost behind the waterfall. To get to this hidden path, you will need to walk up a little further from the viewing platform, then on your right, you will see the hidden path in the bushes.

Then you get back on the trail and shortly after you will arrive at the Pipa Cave which looks a lot like its sister, the Motian Waterfall, but is often quieter, with fewer people.

Pipa Cave
Pipa Cave

The two last waterfalls are great spots for a little break, a picnic, or a swim.

Once you reach the last waterfall you have several options. 

  • Either you get back to the Sandiaoling train station the same way
  • Or you can get out of the Sandiaoling trail (after passing a wooden ladder and reaching the concrete path). You have to turn right onto the concrete path and take the Chialiao Historic Trail (follow the signs). This trail is 6 km long and will get you to Houtong– the famous Cat village, from where you can take the train back to Taipei.
  • On the concrete path, you can also turn left and get to Dahua Train station (in about 20 minutes) to take the train back to Taipei.
Wood Ladder
Some staircase towards the end of the Trail

From the train station, rather than directly going back to Taipei, you can stop by Shifen to see the Shifen Old Street and the Shifen Waterfalls or release a sky lantern. You can also stop by Pingxi to release a sky lantern. If you are not sick of waterfalls yet, you can go hang out at another cool waterfall like Lingjiao near Pingxi.

How Difficult is the Sandiaoling Trail?

This hike is fairly easy (⅖) since it levels out and does not require special abilities. Think of bringing good non-slippery shoes that can get wet just in case. The path can get really muddy if it has rained a lot and at some point, you walk on slippery rocks. 

sandiaoling foot path
Yes, this is the trail and not a river 🙂. It was raining a lot when we first did this hike.

How long is the Sandiaoling Hike?

It will take you about 1.5 – 2 hours from Sandiaoling train station to the last waterfall (2.5k). Then depending on which option you choose to get back to Taipei, it can take you between 20 min to 3 more hours.

How long does it take to get to Sandiaoling?

About 1-hour train from Songshan train station

How do you get to Sandiaoling?

From anywhere in Taipei

  • Get to Songshan Train Station (or Taipei Main Station but we feel Songshan is a better meeting point to find a group)
  • Take the Fuxing shuttle
  • Get off at Sandiaoling Train station

When you arrive at Sandiaoling Train Station, exit the train station and turn right onto the paved path that runs between the river and the train tracks. Follow the map below to get to the trail head.

If you follow the path outlined below, you’ll eventually reach the village of Yuliao. Make a right turn to cross the train tracks and continue walking past the houses until you reach a series of stairs that will lead you to your first waterfall.