Taiwan Hikes

Enjoy free guided hikes with the locals

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

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: February 16, 2021
Shakadang and Xiaozhuilu Trails in Taroko infographic
Shakadang and Xiaozhuilu Trails in Taroko infographic
Disclaimer: Please note some of the following are based on my personal condition, and I will try to provide the latest and correct information as possible as I can. Please feel free to let me know if I make any mistake and thank you for reading. Please also note that your safety is your own responsibility.

About Shakadang Trail and Xiaozhuilu Trail

Shakadang Trail 砂卡礑步道 and are two of the famous trails in Taroko Gorge, 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 the famous Taroko Gorge.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
About Xiaozhuilu and Shakadang trails
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.

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 太魯閣遊客中心.
  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 to Reach

No specific peaks to reach.

A Place to Stroll without Planning

The GPX of the trailhead I took: 24.16109,121.61829
As I mentioned in my hike to Dali and Datong Villages in July 2020, I’m not new to Shakadang Trail. I stayed at a hotel near Taroko Visitor Center for my hike on Zhuilu Old Trail on the following day.
Zhuilu Old Trail in Taroko Gorge, Hualien
Zhui Old Trail: a slightly more challenging but also a must-hike trail
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 of the interesting things 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. So, I decided to visit Shakadang Trail again.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Lucky for me, it stopped raining when I arrived in Taroko. Many tourists grabbed the opportunity to take photos with the gate of Central Cross-island Highway.
It took less than 1 km from my hotel to Taroko Visitor Center. When I saw the gate of Central Cross-island Highway, I took right to Jinwen Bridge 錦文橋 over Liwu River 立霧溪 to the visitor center. When I passed the entrance gate of Central Cross-Island Highway, finished in 1960, many tourists lined up taking photos with the gate. This was indeed a significant monument to be remembered.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
Turn right when you see the gate of Central Cross-island Highway.

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 again, 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 side 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 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 fork, 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 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 head 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 side of Shakadang Bridge.
Basically, you don’t need a GPX or map to hike on 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 the end of the trail, which was Sanjianwu or 3D Cabin 三間屋. The old name of Sanjianwu was Brayaw 柏拉耀 in Truku, meaning Giant Elephant Ear 姑婆芋.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
You'll know how much you will go if you want 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.
And 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 in Hualien on my other hike later, and other hikers’ Facebook, too. I felt very lucky to see those flowers.
Shakadang Trail in Taroko Hualien
I was so thrilled to see those flowers on Shakadang Trail.

The Turquoise Blue That Never Changes

You can also turn back whenever you want, but at least try to get pass Wujianwu or 5D Cabin 五間屋, which means five houses in Chinese. But its old name was Swiji 斯維奇 in Truku, meaning Banyan trees with big leaves. There are some food venders and toilets for you to take a break.
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.
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
I took this one when it was raining hard.

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.

Some Thoughts about This Hike

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.

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.

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
Find Trips