Master Gu's Cave and the White River | Taking a break by the river
Taking a break by the river.

Master Gu’s Cave and the White River

Join two trails to make an excellent long day out: climb up past Master Gu’s cave to a cliff-top outlook, then hike down again to get to the White River for a long walk by the riverside.

Level 3+
A long hike, but not extremely difficult. 5–6 hours of hiking over approx. 15km. (Can I do it?)

This hike is not currently scheduled

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We’ve done both these hikes this year already, but sometimes it feels like they’re over too soon. On this outing we’ll join them up to make a longer walk, starting with a short-but-steep hike in the mountains above the White River canyon and finishing with a long, flat walk out along the river.

Hike descriptions

Views from the cliffs above Master Gu's cave
Views from the cliffs above Master Gu's cave. (Click for larger image)

The “Master Gu’s Cave” hike

In a canyon high above the White River is a cave said to have been used by Master Gu, a Warring States-era philosopher. (See some more info about Master Gu at the end of the hike descriptions.)

The hike starts at the little gate of a small scenic area near the start point of our White River hike.

We’ll walk up past some temples and cave dwellings and start on the stairs that take us up to the top trail.

Part of the way up the stairs we’ll take a detour to look at Master Gu’s cave, hidden in a crevice in the cliffs below a trickling waterfall.

After the detour we’ll continue up the main trail passing through shady forested areas. Parts of the hills here were cultivated as orchards, and we’ll see old terraces and the remains of farmers’ shacks.

The top trail takes us across the face of the mountain, and here’s where the views start to open up—mountains all around, and a glimpse of the White River far below.

We’ll hike across and then down to complete the loop, taking a look at the temples on the way out.

Fording the White River
The White River flows below tall cliffs. (Click for larger image)

Along the White River

On this hike down the river you don't need to get your feet wet unless you really want to. If it's a hot day, there's a good chance you will want to! But we think at this time of year the water might be a wee bit too chilly for an extended dip

After coming down from Master Gu’s Cave, we’ll cross over the road and hike through a long, rocky canyon that leads down to the river. We'll follow the trails down to the riverside, a walk of around 45 minutes.

After arriving at the riverside we’ll start following the river as it winds down through a deep and wide canyon with numerous forks and steep rocky cliffs.

It will take us about 3 hours to walk out along the river, including a few breaks along the way.

You'll see the running river, leafy green trees by the riverside, impressive tall and steep cliffs made from massive slabs of rock and boulders, and hopefully the local family of herons that nest high up in the cliffs.

“Master of the Ghost Valley”

Master Gu was a philosopher who lived during the Warring States period (475-221 BC). He’s known for a collection of writings called “Master of the Ghost Valley”, presumably named as such because he lived in ‘Ghost Valley’.

The actual location of Ghost Valley is debated and it’s very unlikely that the canyon and cave we’ll hike today is where Master Gu actually lived, making this more of a based-on-a-true-story type of situation.

But as the story goes here in the park area, Master Gu had a cave here and was visited by disciples for consultations on military strategy.

This being maybe not the actual Ghost Valley means the temples we’ll take a look at are maybe not 1800 years old as they say. But maybe they are? It would make for a nice story, anyway.

COVID-19 and participation precautions

The current precautions are minimal. Please read in full here: Operating hikes under COVID-19 precautions

Related content

Photos and trip reports: Master Gu’s Cave and the White River

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