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Shakadang Trail and Xiaozhuilu Trail: Short and Easy Hike in Taroko, Hualien

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: February 16, 2021
Last update: November 4, 2021
Shakadang Trail and Xiaozhuilu Trail are close to the Central Cross-Island Highway Gate on the Hualien side. You can finish those trails together in one day. The beautiful turquoise color in the river and the magnificent boulders and cliffs are the highlights of this hike.
Shakadang and Xiaozhuilu Trails in Taroko infographic
Shakadang and Xiaozhuilu Trails in Taroko infographic

Table of Contents:

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About Shakadang

Shakadang Trail 砂卡礑步道 and Xiaozhuilu Trail are two of the famous trails in Taroko National Park, and very easy to hike. You don't need to apply for permits to enjoy the beautiful scenery to hike there.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
A must visit trail in Taroko.
Shakadang Trail was built during Japanese Occupation and was meant for hydroelectric power. It is an out-and-back trial and goes along with winding Shakadang River and ends at Sanjianwu. The one-way length of Shakadang Trail is 4.1 km (2.54 miles). Shakadang River is a tributary of Liwu River, which helps create and shape the famous Taroko Gorge.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
You'll see this sign at the entrance of Shakadang trails

Taroko Entrance Gate or The Central Cross-Island Highway Gate 太魯閣閣口 or 東西橫貫公路牌樓

If you get off the ubss one stop earlier, you'll see this famous landmark near Jinwen Bridge 錦文橋 above Liwu River. Central Cross-Island Highway (aka Provincial Highway 8) was built in July 1956 and was open to traffic in May 1960. This gate is located on the east side of this highway, and has become the landmark of Taroko ever since. Many tourists will take photos here. In 2005, Hualien County Government has listed this gate as the important historical building.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
The Central Cross-Island Highway Gate

Wujianwu and Sanjianwu

After you hike 1.5 km on Shakadang Trail and see five shops selling sausages and drinks and toilets on the other side, you've reached Wujianwu. Wujianwu, aka 5D Cabin or Swiji, means five houses 五間屋 in Chinese. It's old name is Swiji, meaning Banyan Tree with big leaves in the Truku (Taroko) language. In the old days, there were five houses that belonged to Truku people. Therefore, this place is called Five Houses or Wujianwu. Trail terrain after Wujianwu becomes more natural and rugged if you decide to hike further to Sanjianwu.
Dali and Datong Villages and Trails: Place worth to visit every year to see the most epic mountains in the East Taiwan
Wujianwu has become a market place to take a break and buy local food.
As to Sanjianwu 三間屋, san means three in Chinese. As you guess it, there were three houses in the old days here. The old name of Sanjianwu is Brayaw 柏拉耀, meaning Giant Elephant's Ear in the Truku language. This is because there were many those plants around Sanjianwu. Please note that the leaves and stems of Giant Elephant's Ear are toxic, and DO NOT mix them with the edible taros.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
You'll see this when you reach Sanjianwu.

Xiaozhuilu Trail

As to Xiaozhuilu Trail, it means little Zhuilu Trail in Chinese. It was built by Taroko National Park in 2014, and it earned this name because its scenery looks like mini version of Zhuilu Old Trail. This trail is very short, only 650 meters (213 feet) long, and is connected to Shakadang Trail. Therefore, it's highly recommended to take both Xiaozhuilu and Shakadang Trails.
You can see this map to see those trails I've done in Taroko.

How to Get There

  1. 1. You can take Ropo Bus 302 at Xincheng Train Station 新城火車站 and get off at Taroko Visitor Center.
  2. 2. Or take Hualien Bus 1133, 1126, or 1141 from Hualien Train Station and get off at Taroko Visitor Center. Please note that those buses will stop in downtown Hualien City, which will take longer to arrive at Taroko Visitor Center. Please note that you can also take Hualien Bus 1133A to Taroko Visitor Center, because it will not go to Hualien downtown and get to your destination at least 30 minutes faster depending on the traffic.
  3. 3. The faster bus to Taroko Visitor Center is Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus 台灣好行Taroko Route 310 at Hualien Train Station.
Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus taks you to the main tourist attractions in Taroko.

Peaks and Places to Reach

No specific peaks to reach, but you'll go to those places in the following.
Taroko Entrance Gate or The Central Cross-Island Highway Gate: You walk on Jinwen Bridge to see the beautiful valley shaped by Liwu River near the gate.
Taroko Visitor Center: You can check out Taroko Visitor Center website for more details.
Wujianwu, aka 5D Cabin or Swiji: 五間屋 or 斯維奇, at 1.5 km on Shakadang Trail.
Sanjianwu, aka 3D Cabin or Brayaw: 三間屋 or 柏拉耀, at the end of Shakadang Trail. Tourists have to turn back here.
See the map and itinerary first

A Hike to Stroll without the Need to Plan in Advance

Distance: 9.5 km (5.9 miles)
Brief itinerary: Taroko Visitor Center (Height 60 meters) ➔ Shakadang Tunnel ➔ Xiaozhuilu Trail (Height 60 meters) ➔ Shakadang Bridge and entrance of Shakadang Trail (Height 60 meters) ➔ Wujianwu ➔ Sanjianwu and return ➔ Shakadang Bridge ➔ Taroko Visitor Center
As I mentioned in my hike to Dali and Datong Villages in July 2020, this is my second time to do Shakadang Trail in 2020. I didn't plan to hike Shakadang Trail again, but I stayed at a hotel near Taroko Visitor Center for my hike on Zhuilu Old Trail on the following day. Since I was there and got some time, I decided to enjoy this beautiful trail again.
Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Zhui Old Trail: a slightly more challenging but also a must-do trail if you visit Taroko Gorge.
When I arrived at Hualien Train Station, it was raining, and I was worried that it would still be raining on the day when I started to hike on Zhuilu Old Trail.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
It rained a lot when I arriaved at Hualien Train Station
One thing to remember about the weather in Hualien is it changes all the time. By the time I arrived at my hotel in Taroko in the early afternoon, the rain had stopped, which was wonderful.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Many tourists took photos with Central Cross-island Highway Gate.
It took me less than 1 km from my hotel to Taroko Visitor Center. When I saw Central Cross-island Highway Gate, I took right to Jinwen Bridge to the visitor center. When I passed the entrance gate, many tourists lined up taking photos with the gate. This was indeed a significant monument to be remembered.
Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Turn right when you see Central Cross-island Highway Gate.

An Unexpected but Pleasant Short Trail: Xiaozhuilu Trail

I took a short break at Taroko Visitor Center before heading to Shakadang Tunnel. My first intention was to hike on Shakadang Trail, but I saw two signs of Xiaozhuilu Trail and Shakadang Trail pointing to the same direction. I thought Xiaozhuilu Trail was new to me, so I decided to take this one, too.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Both trails were on the same direction.
Xiaozhuilu Trail was built in 2014 and relatively new to other trails in Taroko. I didn't prepare anything for this hike, so I just followed the signs and went into Shakadang Tunnel. There were pavements on both sides of the tunnel for pedestrians.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Remember to take the left/river side in the tunnel.
Remember to take the left side, the one that was close to Liwu River. Otherwise, you can't get to the turn to Xiaozhuilu Trail. You will see the sign when you reach the turn.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Just follow the sign
When I got close to the opening (or a vent) inside the left side of the tunnel, I saw a big sign about Xiaozhuilu Trail. Then, I followed the planked trail and stairs.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
A mesh net to stop the falling rocks on the trail.
When I found a platform with an open view, this was what I saw.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Looking at Liwu River from the platform
After a while, I saw a junction, one was the flat planked trail and the other was stairs going up. I took the flat trail first and then I saw something very interesting, so I quickly turned back to take the stairs.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Two choices: taking the flat trail or the stairs.
It was a suspension bridge! Of course, I wanted to take this one. As you can see, it wasn't scary at all.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Take the stairs, of course, because a fun small suspension bridge is there.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
This bridge didn't wobble much if you are not used to too much motion.
The trail terrain was in a good condition and children should have no problem walking here. Within a few minutes, I saw the bright red Shakadang Bridge.
Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Soon I reached the end of Xiaozhuilu Trail and the entrance of Shakadang Trail.

Turned to Shakadang Trail and Found Something New

If you don't take Xiaozhuilu Trail, the entrance of Shakadang Trail is underneath the bridge and you have to take the staircase to get there.
shakadang-staircase near Shakadang Trail
There are staircases on both sides of Shakadang Bridge.
Basically, you don't need a GPX or map to hike Shakadang Trail. This is an out-and-back trail, and you just follow the well-maintained trail. If you are a tall person, please watch out your head.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
It's very easy to hit your head against rock wall if you are tall. Please watch out.
If you take the whole trail, the round trip is 8.2 km. I only brought a small bag and some water, and I started the hike late. So, I didn't plan to get to Sanjianwu, the end of the trail.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
The estimated time you need to finish the whole trail.
This trail went along with Shakadang River, which is 16 km (10 miles) long, and the color of the river was beautiful turquoise.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Beautiful Shakadang River with the lush trees.
The rocks on the other side of the river were amazing as well, like abstract paintings.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
The barren cliffs are like abstract paintings.
I walked as quick as I could because I was hoping to hike as much as I could before it was too dark. Suddenly, I saw something in peripheral vision. I stopped and squatted down to take a closer look.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
I noticed those buds underneath the bushes on the side of the trail.
At a first glance, they looked like lilies. There were some purple buds and some white flowers with tiny purple dots all over the flower paddles and the sticking out stamens. Those were gorgeous.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Then I saw those beautiful flowers, Taiwan Toadlily.
Later, I know those were 台灣油點草 Taiwan Toadlily. Those are endemic species and seem to be very popular in Hualien. I saw Taiwan Toadlily again on my hike to Mt. Liushun and Qicai Lake. I felt very lucky to see those flowers.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Seeing those wildflowers on the trails is always a great delight.

The Turquoise Blue That Never Changes

You can also turn back whenever you want, but at least try to get pass Wujianwu. There were some food venders and toilets for you to take a break. You can see About Wujianwu and Sanjianwu to know more about those places.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
There were indeed five houses at Wujianwu, whihch means five hourses in Chinese.
You can take a break at Wujianwu and try Maqaw sausage 馬告香腸. Maqaw is the Atayal name of May Chang or mountain pepper in Mandarin.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
I took this one when I hiked there in July 2020 when it was raining. You can try Maqaw sausages if you eat meat.
After Wujianwu, Shakadang River looked more impressive with huge boulders scattering in the water. The trail terrain became more rugged, but still manageable.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
How huge and beautiful the boulder was in the middle of the river.
Then I reached the section of the river with the most beautiful turquoise blue I've ever seen.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
The turquoise blue remains the same whether it's sunny or rainy.
The turquoise bule remained the same even when the weather wasn't good. I took this one when it was raining in July 2020.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
You can see the rain drops in the photo.

End the Day with A Wonderful Indigenous Meal

I didn't get to Sanjianwu because I didn't bring enough gear, so I decided to turn back after reaching Aqueduct 大水管. There were some people dipping their toes in the water. It must be great to enjoy the river in summer.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
You can see a footpath that can lead you to the river.
It took me much less time to get back to my hotel. After taking a short rest, I went to a restaurant that served Truku food near my hotel, called Huhus Restaurant.
Huhus Restaurant in Taroko Hualien
I did some research about this restaurant before I headed to Hualien.
In Truku, huhus means the sounds made by snakes, and it was also the old name of Dali Village. I ordered BBQ Pork served with side dishes and bamboo rice 火烤鹹豬肉套餐, and it was so delicious, and the potion was so big that I was so full.
Huhus Restaurant in Taroko Hualien
The food was delicious and there was a dessert served later.
This was Truku rice wine, and it tasted so smooth. I usually don't dare to try rice wine, because of its pungent smell, but this one was different. But if I drank this too much, I probably wouldn't be able to do my Zhuilu Old Trail on the next day. It was a great meal to end the day.
Huhus Restaurant in Taroko Hualien
My favorite rice wine so far. I got an urge to buy a bottle home but I was afraid I'd finish it before I went home.

Thoughts about This Hike and Trails Nearby

There are so many things you can do and see in Taroko, and Shakadang Trail and Xiaozhuilu Trail are one of them. Those trails are short and easy to hike and you can totally do it without a guide.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Shakadang Trail and Xiaozhuilu Trail are very easy to hike. I even didn't bring a map or GPX track.
If you can stay in Taroko Gorge for several days, you can spend one day on Shakadang Trail and Xiaozhuilu Trail, and Taroko Visitor Center for one day, and Zhuilu Old Trail, Yanzikou, and Tunnel of Nine Turns for the second day, and the rest of Taroko Gore on the third day. Shanyue Suspension Bridge is also a good option.
Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Zhuilu Suspension Bridge and Shanyue Suspension Bridge over Liwu River.
If you opt for challenging trail and get inside the local people's life, you should take the trail to Dali and Datong villages, and stay there for one night. I promise you this is a trail that you will want to do it again.
Dali and Datong Villages and Trails: Place worth to visit every year to see the most epic mountains in the East Taiwan
Dali Church, another one of my favorite places to hike in Hualien.
Just take your time to enjoy amazing Taroko Gorge without a rush and discover the beauty of the nature wonder.
Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge, Hualien
You can't miss Tunnel of Nine Turns in Taroko Gorge.
Taroko map from Taroko National Park website
There are so many wonderful trails in Taroko.
Have you been to Taroko? What trails did you go when you were there? Please leave comments below. Don't forget to subscribe to newsletters to know more about the exciting trails in Taiwan.
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Map and Itinerary

Group Hike or Solo Hike: Solo hike
Date of Hike: November 14, 2020
You actually don't need a GPX track to hike Xiaozhuilu and Shakadang trails. Just follow the signs. But you can check out the map to see other trails I've done in Taroko.
Those are the trails I've done in Taroko.

Recommended Blogs and Resources:

Chinese only:
Hiking Biji: Shakadang Trail
Biji: Xiaozhuilu Trail
English posts:
a printable Shakadang Trail pamphlet
Xiaozhuilu Trail from Taroko National Park
Shakadang Trail from Taroko National Park

Related Posts on Taiwan Hikes:

Zhuilu Old Trail
Dali and Datong Villages
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