3 Trekking Trails in Taipei for the Intrepid Traveller

by | Apr 26, 2019

Taipei is a great quick getaway. It has cheap and tasty street food, a plethora of quirky and independent shops brimming over with character, an efficient transport system, safe streets, cultural institutions steeped in history… what’s not to like?

Furthermore, Taipei offers a surprisingly large number of hiking trails suitable for hikers of all experience. As a city surrounded by mountains on one side and bordered by the ocean on another, the views that these trails offer are, more often than not, stunning and perfect for that Instagram shot.

Prepare your hiking gear and on-the-go food (some stinky tofu and papaya milk would be perfect) and it’s time to embark, with Discoverist.sg as your (virtual) hiking guide.

For Beginner Hikers: Xiangshan (象山)

This trail is for the absolute neophytes for whom exercise means a quick sprint to their car before the summon auntie reaches there first. Xiangshan’s trail largely comprises a series of ascending steps, with plenty of railings and rest spots for you to catch your breath—though paved, the steps can be quite steep and precarious, so do take your time as you ascend them.

In just less than twenty minutes, however, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of Taipei 101 soaring above its surrounding buildings, which truly puts its daunting scale into perspective. (Tip: this is a great spot to catch the famous Taipei 101 New Year countdown.) Most people start descending Xiangshan after reaching this point, but the trail actually continues into the mountain, winding around rustic bamboo groves, temples co-existing with the trees, and golden grass stalks laden with seeds.

Getting There

Take the red line to Xiangshan station. Follow the signs to the start of the trail, which is located less than ten minutes away.

Approximate time for completion: 1.5 hours
Length: 1,450 metres

For Intermediate Hikers: Jinmianshan (金面山)

Oddly enough, Jinmianshan’s hiking trail grew to prominence only because of social media. As with all things viral, it’s hard to trace the origins of this craze, but a clue to its sudden ascent (no pun intended) can be found in its name. Jinmianshan, which means “Golden Face Mountain”, has a rich deposit of quartz arenite, a type of sandstone. In the sunlight, it glitters like—as you’ve probably guessed by now—gold, thus giving it its moniker.

Once you’ve scaled to its peak and drank in the sight of the mountain range, you will find that it is true to its name: Jinmianshan offers a beautiful display of golden rocks in addition to a sweeping view of the Neihu district.

Like Xiangshan, it is composed of a series of paved steps and trails, but it also has some unpaved paths with boulders that you have to climb over, so ditch your sneakers and wear some proper trekking shoes for this path.

Getting There

Take the brown line to Xihu station. Follow the signs to the start of the trail, which is located less than ten minutes away.

Approximate time for completion: 3 hours
Length: 2,330 metres

For Advanced Hikers: Chahushan (茶壺山)

Once the secret haunt of local hiking enthusiasts, Chahushan, or Teapot Mountain, has in recent times started to gain popularity among local and foreign hikers alike. And for good reason: the trail atop the mountain offers not only unparalleled views of the azure Pacific Ocean but also of the surrounding peaks and the bucolic villages nestled within the mountains.

Before these sights seduce you, be warned, though. The difficulty of the trail is commensurate with its beauty. You will have to clamber over exposed rock formations and cling on to ropes as you climb up steep gradients. The trail is also pretty high above sea level, so the sun will bear down on you more strongly. Be sure to outfit yourself in proper hiking gear and slather on sunscreen before you journey up the teapot. The stunning view will be more than ample reward and recompense.

Getting There

Head to Jiufen via direct bus from Taipei or Ruifang. The trail begins near the village.

Approximate time for completion: 5 – 6 hours
Length: 3,500 metres

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