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Walami Trail Revealed: A Comprehensive Guide to One of the Best Trails in Hualien

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: December 7, 2023
Last update: January 29, 2024
The Walami Trail, a spectacular slice of Hualien's natural splendor, forms part of the historic Batongguan Trail and beckons hikers worldwide. This trail, a part of the historic Batongguan Trail, winds through lush forests and past several suspension bridges, showcasing Taiwan's natural beauty at its finest.
Walami Trail in Hualien
On the way to Walami Cabin
Hikers can immerse themselves in the trail's rich history, once a home for the indigenous Bunun people and the tension between the Japanese colonial rule, passing the relics of the old police stations and camping at Walami Cabin.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Sanfong Suspension Bridge No. 1
Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a casual nature lover, the Walami Trail in Hualien is a must-visit, offering a blend of natural wonders and historical intrigue. You will find details about permits and transport in this post.
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Table of Contents:

Trail Information: Sections with and without Permits

Trail Name: Walami Trail (Warabi Trail)
Distance: The without-permit section is 9 km (5.6 miles); the total section to Walami Cabin and back is 27.2 km (17 miles).
Route type: Out-and-back
Days/Hours Needed: 2 days or 8-10 hours a day if you plan to reach Walami Cabin.
Total Ascent/Descent: 1,684m/1,684m
Best Time to Go: All year round
Permits: If you only hike to Jiaxin (Jiasin) Police Station, you don't need a permit. However, if you want to visit the old Bunan stone slate house or hike to Walami Cabin, you must apply for the Nation Park Permit and the Police Mountain Entry Permit.
Difficulty Level from the trailhead to Jiaxin Police Station: trail difficulty
Difficulty Level from the trailhead to Walami Cabin: trail difficulty

Additional Information:

Before you go, please check the Trail Status and Highway Traffic Control/Road Conditions from the Yushan National Park website.
  1. Check trail status to see if it's open.
  2. Highway Traffic Control/Road Conditions
  3. You will pass 6 suspension bridges and 4 old police stations. Those suspension bridges are not too wobbly, but crossing them might cause panic if you don't like heights.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Walami Suspension Bridge

Cabins or Campsites to Apply: Jiaxin Campsite

  1. 820 meters above sea level
  2. This campsite is at the trail's end without hiking permits and can accommodate 24. If you intend to camp here, you must apply for permits.
  3. You will find pavilions, chairs, toilets, and water here, which might be the best campsite on the trails I've ever seen.
  4. You will find phone receptions here.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Walami Cabin

Cabins or Campsites to Apply: Walami Cabin and Campsite

  1. 1,070 meters above sea level
  2. This cabin/campsite is at the end of Walami Trail. The cabin and campsite can both accommodate 24 people. You will find planks at the campsite, too.
  3. Hikers need to apply for permits to stay here. Please see below how to apply for permits.

Transport to the Trailhead, Map/GPX Data, and Permits to Walami Cabin

How to Get There: By Train and Bus. Then Walk.

You can take the Ubus 統聯客運 1130 at Yuli Train Station at 6:00 am and get off at the Nan'an Visitor Center stop. However, there is only one bus running between Yuli Train Station 玉里火車站 and Fuli Train Station 富里火車站. Update: Bus 1130 seems no longer running in 2024.
ubus-1130-map-timetable
Ubus runs one bus between Yuli and Fuli Train Station.
After getting off at Nan'an Visitor Center, the distance from here to the Walami Trailhead is 6 km (3.75 miles). So, the total distance from Nan'an Visitor Center to Jiaxin and back is 21 km (13 miles), and it's mostly flat and easy to walk.
You will pass Nan'an Waterfall, and you can go there to take a look.

How to Get There: By Cycling

Another option is to rent a bike in Yuli Township 玉里鎮 and cycle to Walami Trailhead, which takes less than 1 hour to arrive.

How to Get There: Driving

If you plan to drive, please use this map for navigation.
You can download a PDF map from the Yushan National Park website.
walami-map-yushan-national-park-website
Walami Map from the Yushan National Park website

GPX Track

Route map for Walami Trail Updated by Anusha Lee on plotaroute.com

Click Menu in the map to download, print, or share the map.
You can see more options after clicking the Play button.
Click timer to change the speed to meet your condition.

How to Apply for Jiaxin Campsite and Walami Trail Permits

First, hikers need to apply for the Yushan National Park permits.
Walami Permit
Click "Standard Application."
Walami Permit
Select Walami Trail.
Walami Permit
Use this route if you plan to stay at Walami Cabin/campsite.
Once your application is approved, the Yushan National Park will send you an email written in Chinese, English, and Japanese. Please read the email carefully; one of the links reminds you to apply for the Police Agency's Mountain Entry Permit.
Walami permits
Email from the Yushan National Park
You can also apply for the permits on the Police Agency's website. Here's the route you should select.
permit-police
Then, copy and paste the itinerary mentioned in this post and fill out the rest of your personal and team information.

Check-in at Nan'an Visitor Center

If you apply for the Walami Cabain hiking permit, remember to self-check at the Nan'an Visitor Center. For local Taiwanese, we swipe our ID cards.
Walami Trail in Hualien
But for those who apply with passports, ARC or APRC, or forgot to bring their Taiwanese Identification Cards, you have to check in with the staff during their office hours from 8:00 to 17:00.

Walami Trail Itinerary: An Easy Hike Through Forests, Suspension Bridges, and History

Day 1 Brief Itinerary: Walami Trailhead (0 km, 450 meters above sea level) ➔ Shanfong (Shanfeng) Police Station and Suspension Bridge No. 1 ➔ Shangfong Waterfall junction (1.7 km) ➔ Shanfong Suspension Bridge No. 2 ➔ Jiaxin Police Station/Campsite and junction to Istasipal Family slate houses (4.5 km, 820 meters above sea level) ➔ Shark Head Rock ➔ Huangma Police Staton ➔ Kesipanan Monument ➔ Huangma Suspension Bridge No. 1 ➔ Huangma Suspension Bridge No. 2 ➔ Walami Suspension Bridge ➔ Walami Cabin/Campsite (13.6 km, 1,070 meters above sea level)
Day 2 Brief Itinerary: take the same way back to the trailhead.

The Risk of Landslide

I did this hike in May 2019 and have always wanted to do it again. Finally, I did it again. While this trail seems easy and enjoyable, there are still hidden dangers.
Our guide, Yammi 雅葳, held this hike in October 2022. They witnessed a landslide right before their eyes when they were about to hike near the trailhead.
Before you go, please check the Trail status on the Yushan National Park's website to make sure it's open.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Make sure the trail is open before you go.

Day 1: A Lovely Trail with Many Suspension Bridges

07:50 We started our hike and soon saw our first old police station, Shangfong Police Station. There's not much left except for the foundation.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Shanfong Police Station
Walami Trail is well-marked. You will see signages like this telling you how far you have gone.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Within a few minutes, we reached the first suspension bridge: Shanfong Suspension No. 1. There is a deck on the other side of the bridge, and you can enjoy the view.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Shanfong Suspension No. 1
08:21 I passed the junction to Shanfong Waterfall at 1.7 km. If you only reach Jiaxin for this hike, I highly recommend checking this waterfall out. Just follow the steep steps, and you will see the waterfall.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Junction to Shanfong Waterfall
Walami Trail in Hualien
Expect to take long and steep steps before reaching the waterfall.
Soon, we reached our second suspension bridge, Shanfong Bridge. Unlike most bridges here, Shanfong Bridge's original structure, which is also part of the old trail, was kept.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Shanfong Bridge
Most of the trail is wide and easy to hike, but there are some cliffs and creeks to cross.
Walami Trail in Hualien
The old bridge collapsed.

A Great Place to Enjoy and Take a Break: Jiaxin Police Station

09:32 We reached Jiaxin Police Station, which is also the end of the trail for those who don't have permits. After climbing up the stairs, you will see an expansive, flat area with toilets and pavilions, which is also a perfect campsite. Hikers also need to apply for permits if they want to camp here.
Walami Trail in Hualien
We took this steps to Jiaxin Police Station.
We took a long break at Jiaxin Police Station. The junction to see the Istasipal Family slate house that belongs to the Istasipal family is close to Jiaxin Police Station.
Walami Trail in Hualien
The old police station building is long gone, but this place is great for camping.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Toilets and water at Jiaxin Police Station
We decided to visit this house on the way back to the trailhead. Visiting the Istasipal family house requires permits, too.
10:17 A landslide disrupted the trail at 5.5 km. The Yushan National Park made a slight detour to avoid that section.
Walami Trail in Hualien
A small detour
10:29 We reached the famous Smiling Shark Rock.
Walami Trail in Hualien
The Smiling Shark Rock
11:11 Our third old police station, Huangma Police Station. We had a 30-minute lunch break.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Lunch break at Huangma Police Station
11:56 We reached the Kesipanan Commemorative Monument 喀西帕南紀念碑 at 8.7 km.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Kesipanan Commemorative Monument
12:13 We reached the fourth suspension bridge, Huangma Suspension Bridge No. 1, at 9.5 km.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Huangma Suspension Bridge No. 1
When I was crossing the bridge, the last few patches of blue were already wiped away from the sky. Instead, the fog gradually overtook the forest, making our surroundings look mysterious.
Walami Trail in Hualien
12:29 The fifth suspension bridge, Huangma Suspension Bridge No. 2.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Huangma Suspension Bridge No. 2
13:06 We crossed the Walami Suspension Bridge. When you see this bridge, it means Walami Cabin can be reached in around 30 minutes.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Walami Suspension Bridge, which is close to Walami Cabin.
Walami Trail in Hualien
The last signage before Walami Cabin

Walami Cabin: A Cute Building Covered in the Fog, and Be Aware of Bears

13:39 I arrived at the Walami Cabin! This cabin was built on the old Juei Police Station. Juei means ferns in Chinese. The indigenous Bunan people called this place Warabi, which was close to the Japanese pronunciation of ferns. That was where the name Juei came from.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Walami Cabin, the old Juei Police Station, was covered in the fog.
It was still early after I pitched my tarp. When I first did this hike in 2019, it was also my first time sleeping under a tarp, and I have fallen in love with this setup ever since.
Walami Trail in Hualien
My temporary home for the night
While wandering around, I noticed something unusual behind the cabin. I know bear-proof containers are common on trails in the U.S., but I never thought we had these in Taiwan, too. Several sightings of Formosan Black Bears are at the Yushan National Park and Siangyang Forest Recreation Area.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Bear-proof food containers. The small building in the back is the toilet.
It's not allowed to cook inside the cabin, but hikers will find places to use stoves on both sides of the cabin.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Our guides helped us prepare the dinner.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Preping dinner
This cabin is a popular destination among hikers, and it's easy to hike. Therefore, expect crowds and noise here. Lucky for us, the noise died down quickly, and we could get a decent sleep.
Walami Trail in Hualien
The bunk beds inside Walami Cabin

Day 2: Returned to the Trailhead and Visited the Istasipal Family Slate Houses

07:13 We left Walami Cabin after getting everything ready. The weather was still cloudy and misty, but it suited this trail well.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Our LOHAS guides for this hike.

08:38 We returned to Kesipanan Commemorative Monument.
10:07 We reached Jiaxin Police Station and left our backpacks to see the Istasipal Family houses. It was steep from the junction to the stone house. Imagine carrying all the stones down there and building homes.
Walami Trail in Hualien
On the way to the Istasipal family houses
Within 5 minutes, we arrived at the stone houses. There are signs to help us understand the history and ritual of the Istasipal Family. We stayed there for a while to see the details of the houses.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Istasipal slate houses
Walami Trail in Hualien
The interior of the Istasipal family house
10:28 We got back to the junction and resumed our hike.
12:02 We returned to the trailhead and finished the hike.

About Walami Trail, Batongguan, and Formosan Black Bears

Batongguan Traversing Trail

The "Batongguan Trail" in Taiwan, finished in 1921 during the Japanese era, was a significant part of Japan's indigenous control policy and efforts to connect eastern and western Taiwan. Now part of Yushan National Park, this trail stretches approximately 96 km across the Central Mountain Range, from Dongpu in Nantou County to Hualien's Shanfong Trailhead.
Batongguan Police Station and relics
The flat area is where the Batongguan Police Station was.
The trail, especially prominent during Japan's indigenous coerce peak, is dotted with historical sites like police stations in the mountains, fortresses, and indigenous children's education centers, reflecting Japan's extensive force in the area. After the establishment of Yushan National Park, there has been a concerted effort to restore and research this historically significant path.
Batongguan Police Station and relics
Only the door posts of the Batongguan Police Station remain there.
The western section of this trail, west of the Dashuiku 大水窟 area, is more intact and popular among hikers, particularly the stretch from Dongpu to Batongguan, due to its better condition.
In contrast, the east of Dashuiku, though recently improved with repaired suspension bridges and new mountain cabins by the park authorities, remains challenging due to its length and damage from frequent typhoons, including several collapsed sections, making it a highly demanding long-distance hiking route. Source: Yushan National Park

Walami Trail: Follow Me

Completed in 1920, the Walami section of the trail in Taiwan is part of the first phase of the eastern section of the Batongguan Trail, designed to follow the isoeights to avoid steep slopes, resulting in a trail with gentle undulations. The area, known by the Japanese as "Warabi," is believed to be named after the abundance of ferns there.
Walami Trail in Hualien
I first did this hike in 2019.
However, Lin Yihong 林一宏, the author of the book "82 Kilometers 145 Meters: The History of the Eastern Segment of the Batongguan Trail 八二粁一四五米:八通關越道路東段史話," suggests that the name might originate from the Bunun language "maravi," meaning "everyone following someone to do something." The Japanese, finding its pronunciation similar to "Warabi," named the place as such, which is now transliterated as "Walami."
15蕨駐在所 作者:毛利之俊。典藏者:毛利之俊。公眾領域貢獻宣告(CC0)。發佈於《開放博物館》
The old photo of Juei Police Station at the current Walami Cabin location. Author 作者:毛利之俊。典藏者:毛利之俊。公眾領域貢獻宣告(CC0)。發佈於《Open Museum 開放博物館》
Near the Huangma Suspension Bridge No. 1 stands a 2.4-meter-tall monument, marking the site of a significant conflict between the indigenous Bunun people and the Japanese. In 1914, the Japanese, in an attempt to confiscate firearms, brutally interrogated the leader of the Kesipanan community, inciting widespread anger among the Bunun people.
Walami Trail in Hualien
Back to Kesipanan Commemorative Monument.
On May 12, 1915, nearly a hundred Bunun warriors stealthily surrounded the Kesipanan Police Station, cut off the telephone lines, beheaded 10 Japanese policemen, and set fire to the buildings in what is known as the "Kesipanan Incident."
11黃麻駐在所 作者:毛利之俊。典藏者:毛利之俊。公眾領域貢獻宣告(CC0)。發佈於《開放博物館》
The old photo of Huangma Police Station. Author 作者:毛利之俊。典藏者:毛利之俊。公眾領域貢獻宣告(CC0)。發佈於《Open Museum 開放博物館》
This event had far-reaching effects, triggering a series of anti-Japanese movements in the Rakuraku River 拉庫拉庫溪 area, which eventually led to the Japanese government's significant investment in building the Batongguan Trail.
08佳心駐在所 作者:毛利之俊。典藏者:毛利之俊。公眾領域貢獻宣告(CC0)。發佈於《開放博物館》
The old photo of Jiaxin Police Station. Author 作者:毛利之俊。典藏者:毛利之俊。公眾領域貢獻宣告(CC0)。發佈於《Open Museum 開放博物館》
Source: Batongguan Traversing Trail

Istasipal Family Slate Houses

Located along the Walami Trail, Jiaxin has been the ancestral territory of the Istasipal family of the Bunun people since the 18th century. The Bunun people established homes and formed villages on both sides of the Rakuraku (Lakulaku) River 拉庫拉庫溪, engaging in slash-and-burn agriculture, hunting, and gathering until 1935, when they were forcibly relocated to the plains by the Japanese colonial government.
Subsequent surveys in the Rakuraku River basin uncovered 55 ancient Bunun building clusters, totaling 284 dwellings and workshop remains.
At that time, there were about 12 Bunun villages in the river basin, comprising approximately 126 households and 1,434 Bunun people. Influenced by the group relocation policy, these Bunun people were forced to move to the foothills near the Hualien-Taitung Valley, including the Istasipal family from the Jiaxin tribe.
In 2017, the Hualien County government recruited members of the Istasipal family and other local Bunun people to form a 20-person work team. They reconstructed traditional Bunun slate houses on the original site of their home, adhering to traditional Bunun architectural styles and methods while meeting contemporary building standards.
walami-29-Istasipal-family-houses-5
The Istasipal family slate house
Those culturally significant buildings were completed on December 3, 2018. In 2019, the Hualien County government officially recognized and registered this site as a cultural landscape, preserving a piece of Bunun heritage and history.
Please show respect when you visit. because the ancestors of the Istasipal family were buried under the house.
Source: Hualien County

The Formosan Black Bears' Home

The Formosan black bear, a subspecies of the Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus formosanus), is Taiwan's only native bear species and is classified as an endangered wild animal. With an estimated population of only 200 to 600 remaining in Taiwan, these bears are a critical part of the island's biodiversity.
Formosan-black-bear
The Asian Black Bear model at Taiwan Black Bear Education Center in Yuli Township
They are primarily forest-dwelling animals with a wide range of activity, mainly found in the Central Mountain Range, with sparse sightings in the Coastal Mountain Range. Their habitat spans altitudes from 300 to 3,700 meters, often within and around national parks and protected areas.
Yushan National Park, known for its rich wildlife resources and habitats, is one of the essential conservation areas for the Formosan black bear. This park boasts a higher density and genetic diversity of the bear population compared to other regions.
Formosan-black-bear-akulaku-River-bear
A female Formosan Black Bear taxidermy
Long-term research suggests that nearly 300 bears live within the park, making it the primary core population on the island and a crucial habitat for their survival.
Formosan-black-bear-sighting
Bear sighting aleart at Tataka area on November 6, 2023.
Data from radio-tracked Formosan black bears with transmitters reveal that these bears have an expansive range of activity, varying from 27 to 202 square kilometers. In some cases, this range is equivalent to one-fifth of Yushan National Park's total area. This information underscores the significance of large, protected environments for conserving these majestic animals.
Source: The Formosan Black Bear from Yushan National Park

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I hope you enjoy this post. Have you done Walami Trail? Are you planning to do it? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
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