One of 12 designated National Forests in Taiwan, Manyueyuan (meaning Full Moon) in Mandarin Chinese is a beautiful national forest that closely follows the meandering Dabao River (大豹溪) in southern New Taipei City.
Less than an 1 1/2 hours south of Taipei and with plenty of points of interest and trails to explore, Manyueyuan National Forest is a perfect destination for day trips from Taipei.
Wildlife is abundant in this park and if you’re lucky you can spot mammals such as Formosan Rock Macaques, Red-bellied Squirrels, as well as birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects are all commonly spotted including multiple kinds of toads, frogs and snakes. The region is particularly well known for its abundance of butterflies, which is complimented by a fantastic butterfly exhibit in the visitor centre.
Along the Dabao River, there are seemingly countless smaller waterfalls however the trails at Manyueyuan National Forest lead to the two larger and more beautiful waterfalls that make this park worth the journey. Both the Manyueyuan Waterfall (滿月圓瀑布) and the Virgin Waterfall (處女瀑布) are connected by a short connecting trail and have viewing platforms and are ideal stops for picnics or just to sit in solitude.
Check out Down to Explore’s video recap of our inaugural trip into the heart of Manyueyuan National Forest
Hikes/Trails & Points of Interest:
With the exception of a few smaller looped and connecting trails, Manyueyuan National Forest is mostly a linear park. From the lower-level parking lots (which is where Parkbus drops passengers off) it is short walk (approximately 400m) to the ticket booth.
Most of the trails at Manyueyuan National Forest are suitable for beginner and novice hikers, while there is a more advanced hike (in distance and terrain) that connects Manyueyuan National Forest to Dongyanshan National Forest.
Download the Manyueyuan National Forest Park Map here.
Note: From the upper parking lot to the where the trails break off for the waterfalls, the trails are suitable for children’s strollers with larger wheels.
Hiking Trail (+2km) – This trail connects the parking lots, ticketing center, visitor center and the restaurant along a gradually inclining, yet relatively flat and mostly hard surfaced trail. Meander along this trail with views across the Dabao River and to the surrounding mountains. Spot fish in the river and if your lucky, Crested Serpent Eagles perched in the trees above looking for an easy meal. This is a beginner & stroller-friendly trail that features great views, plenty of spots to stop and rest as well as interpretative signage detailing the local flora/fauna, as well as the various conservation efforts the Taiwanese Forest Bureau takes to maintain the beautiful park.
Chunu (Virgin) Waterfall Trail (~1km) – The trail becomes slightly more challenging here with steps and greater elevation climbs. Leave your stroller at the trailhead if your heading to view this waterfall.
Manyueyuan Waterfall Trail (~1km) – Similar to the Virgin Waterfall Trail, this trail too gets a more challenging with elevation climbs. Leave your stroller at the trailhead if your heading to view this waterfall.
Self-Guided Trail (~2km) – This trail begins just before the visitor centre and takes a less travelled route to connect to the famous waterfalls of Manyueyuan National Forest. Quiet, secluded and right into the heart of this lush green forest is what to expect here. The entire route is just under 2 kilometres and is a great way to get to / return from the far end of the park. This is how visitors would access the Dong Mun Trail.
Dong Mun Hiking Trail (8km one-way) – This is an advanced with significant elevation ascent/descents. Approximately eight kilometres in length, this trail connects Manyueyuan and Dongyanshan National Forests. It takes between 3-4 hours to hike and offers spectacular panoramic views of the region. The Dong Mun Hiking Trail is not within the jurisdiction of the Manyueyuan or Dongyanshan National Forest Recreation Areas. Visitors wishing to hike this trail are responsible for their own safety.
Points of Interest:
Visitor Center – The Manyueyuan National Forest Visitor Center is relatively new and is fantastic offering bilingual & interactive exhibits on local animal & plant ecology that are great for both kids & adults! Washrooms available on site.
Restaurant – A small eatery is located about 500m up trail from the Visitor Center. They have both indoor and outdoor seating and offer a mix of packaged and homemade snacks and drinks. Washrooms available on site.
Cafe, Honey Farm, Vendors – Outside of the official park boundaries there are a few attractions and services available. A small cafe (飯麵店) is located adjacent to the upper parking lot and has a variety of food and drinks available, as well as indoor and outdoor seating. A range of vendors typically position themselves along the paved road up to the ticket booth, including those selling fresh fruit and vegetables, ice cream (hello parents!) and hiking gear.