Another day in Hualien, we rented bikes and went for a nice ride out of the city up to Emerald Valley or 翡翠谷 fěicùigǔ, about 15 kilometers southwest of Hualien. We wound around the somewhat busy streets of Hualien for a couple miles before leaving the city and passing through the outskirts. We stopped along the way at a 7-11 to get some breakfast and snacks.
Once we left the city, the riding was pleasant through quite roads and farmland. We didn’t plot a definite route, instead opting to just wander through the countryside heading in the general direction of the valley, which we could see from a pretty far distance. Along the way we encountered a memorial for Taiwanese soldiers. It was built on a steep hillside and provided a nice view of Hualien in the distance.
After a couple hours riding and exploring, we began the mellow ascent up the valley following along a large river. The trailhead was easy to find, and we locked up our bikes, grabbed our day packs, and headed down the trail. Within a couple hundred yards there is an old WWII era tunnel to pass through. It is quite dark in the middle, but with our phones it was no problem navigating our way. Once the trail opens up at the junction of Feicui Creek and the main river, there is a manmade waterfall. Here we encountered quite a few Chinese tourists, wading and taking pictures. Not the place for us.
We continued up a steep trail that paralleled the creek, until we finally dropped down into the creek bed and began boulder hopping up the creek. The water was crystal clear and cold, jumbled full of boulders, with thick jungle on each side. After a short scramble we arrived at a small waterfall and swimming hole. The water was quite low compared to photos we had seen (my daughter and son-in-law had visited there a few months prior). We decided to continue on. We skirted around the rocks past the waterfall and on up the creek. After awhile we came to another deep swimming hole and small waterfall. We took a break there, ate some lunch, a swam a bit. We ran into a young woman from Canada here and chatted with her a bit. She was just traveling around Taiwan solo. We didn’t see anyone else the whole day after we left the tourists at the man-made waterfall.
At this point it was rather dicey following the stream up, so we scouted around and found a trail that went up and around the waterfall. We followed this trail through beautiful jungle until it finally spit us out back at the stream at the base of Zimu Falls, 子母瀑布 zǐmǔ pùbù. We had the place to ourselves and it was a great finale to our hike. It was an overcast, slightly cool day. Not the best for swimming in cold water, but great for a nice hike and bike ride.
We hiked back down the valley, sometimes on a trail and other times through the stream bed. Once back on our bikes we decided to ride out to the beach in Hualien. We stopped at a Family Mart to get some food and liquids on the way. The convenience stores in Taiwan, particularly Family Mart and 7-11 have surprisingly good food and services (another post will address that). We then rode down to Nanbin Park along the coast on the south side of Hualien. We had a nice time walking around, and just relaxing at the beach. This was not your typical sandy beach. Instead it was covered with small multicolored stones. They were really beautiful, but knocked about your feet and ankles in the surf.
As the day was closing we rode all the way back to the bike shop near the train station to return the bikes. It was a long and enjoyable day. In all we rode about 25 miles. Hualien is a really nice place and we really enjoyed our time there. I would like to take a bike trip down the coast to Taidong and beyond.