About Huangjin Waterfall (黃金瀑布 [Huángjīn Pùbù]; Golden Waterfall)
The Huangjin Waterfall (黃金瀑布 [Huángjīn Pùbù]; translated as the “Golden Waterfall”) had to have been one of the more unique and unusual waterfalls we had encountered in Taiwan. Not only did this waterfall have a pleasing size (it was wider than it was tall) with a vein-like percolating appearance, but its underlying rock had a striking bright brownish orange color to it. Perhaps even stranger still about our experience with this falls was that just up the mountain was the popular mining village of Jiufen, which was a very popular tourist spot that felt more like a United Nations of Tourists as visitors from all over the world would converge here. Yet, we hardly saw any tourists around this waterfall as I suspected transport options might be far more limited despite this being a roadside waterfall. It still didn’t stop this place from being visited by crowds of locals, taxis, self-drivers, some Chinese tour buses, and even the odd motorcycle gang.
It seemed fitting that this waterfall would be associated with gold. That said, I’m not sure whether this association was due to the sulfur-tinted color of the underlying rocks (which itself might be controversial whether the sulfur was naturally there or extracted from there by mining operations), or whether it had more to do with the mining history of this area during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, or a combination of both. In any case, I learned that my Mom’s side of the family, who were mostly based in the nearby city of Keelung (基隆 [Jīlóng]), actually had a personal connection with these mines in Jiufen as one of her older brothers had actually lived and worked in these mines (for gold and later for coal). She also had a granduncle who was commissioned by the Japanese government to survey the area around Keelung including this waterfall and the towns of Jiufen (九份 [Jiǔfèn]; meaning “9 portions”) and Jinguashi (金瓜石 [Jīnguāshí]; “Gold Melon Rock” or “golden nugget”?).
The Huangjin Waterfall was as close to the definition of a drive-to waterfall as you can get in Taiwan. The only walking required (if you’ve self-driven or taxi’ed here) would be to cross the road and walk along the railings allowing us to view the falls from different angles. Apparently, these railings were put in not that long ago when Chinese tour buses started showing up and getting themselves into preventable accidents. Even with the railings, the falls was wide enough to make it difficult to capture the whole thing in one go, which gives you a little idea of its scale.
Mom and I spent about 30 minutes away from the car, and it was pretty much taking pictures of the falls while also looking further down the hill towards the ocean and the nearby Keelung Mountain.
We’ll describe the driving directions from Taipei first since that would be perhaps the most common approach (and the route that we took). Later, we’ll describe the approach from Keelung, which was the biggest neighboring city to the Huangjin Waterfall.
So from the junction of the National Expressway 3 and the National Expressway 1 (east of Taipei City), we kept going east towards Keelung along National Expressway 1. However, we exited the National Expressway 1 to go onto the Tai-62 Expressway (towards Ruifang or 瑞芳 [Ruìfāng]). We then took the Tai-62 Expressway east towards the coast for 10km as the expressway ended near Ruifang. Then, we turned right onto the Tai-2 for a little over 5km before turning right onto the Dongding Road (洞頂路 [Dòngdǐng Lù]; there were signs leading to Jiufen at this turnoff). Note that Dongding Road was also labeled as 北34 (the character was pronounced “běi” meaning “north”).
We then drove up this local road for about 400m before turning left to cross the bridge over the river (we could already start to see the Huangjin Waterfall further upslope), then continued another 400m or so to one of the limited car park spaces right across the street from the Huangjin Waterfall. Overall, this 26km drive took us around 30 minutes not including the time it would have taken to get to the interchange of expressways 1 and 3 from within Taipei City.
From Keelung, we could simply drive east along the Tai-2 coastal route for about 17km before turning right onto the Dongding Road. Once on Dongding Road, we’d follow the directions as above.
Note that had we continued driving upslope from the Huangjin Waterfall, the road would re-join the 北34 then turn left to continue on the 北34, and after the next 2.5km, we’d be at the Jinguashi Gold Museum. Continuing another 1.6km along the 北34, we wound up at one of the nearest car parks (by a cemetery) for the Jiufen Old Street.
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