So you’ve been to Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall, been up the fastest elevator in the world at Taipei 101 (fact, look it up) and you’ve been to Shilin night market and eaten some stinky tofu. Well, I suppose you’ve seen everything Taipei has to offer, so you can go home eh?
Shut up. No. Don’t play yourself. Haven’t you seen the thousands of mountains that surround the city? Do you like nice views? Of course you do. Forget Elephant Mountain; did you know that at any one time it contains at least 10% of the population of Taipei? That’s at least 4 million people at any given time.
Being the thoroughly wise and generous human being I am, I’m going to tell you my three top day hikes in three different locations around Taipei, of varying difficulty. The main consistencies are that they are all accessible via public transport and are bloody scenic. Enjoy now, thank later.
Huang Di Dian (皇帝殿)
AKA “The Emperor’s Throne”. With a name like that, you know this shit is gonna be tighter than a duck’s butthole. It has an official Lenpep difficulty rating of 31/38, so if you aren’t used to hiking much it’s probably better to skip this one. Expect a 5 hour hike (if you want to do both West and East peaks), maybe more maybe less depending on your walking skill. I normally alternate with my left and right feet, but do whatever works best for you. Anyhow, take a sandwich and a couple of litres of water per person.
It starts off with 45-60 minutes of stair climbing, which is soul destroying. But when you get to the top, the trail is far more natural, and you have a ton of ropes, chains and ladders to mess around on. The girl that introduced it to me said it was like a mountain obstacle course – I happily agree with that statement. First you can hit the West peak which is pretty simple, then you can turn back if you feel a bit knackered. If you are a pro, continue on to the East peak which has spectacular views. There is even an abandoned temple that you can get to on a connected trail, but I haven’t been there yet…
To access it by public transport, you can get the number 666 bus (the driver Lucifer is a cheerful fellow) from Jingmei MRT to Shiding (石碇) which is on the 106 road. When you get to Shiding, walk uphill to the left of ‘Hi-life’ and look for ‘Nanku Road’ on your left. You’ll see a traditional Chinese style arch, and it begins shortly after.
Taken on the East peak of Huangdidian. Just as we reached the top we saw a lightning storm rolling in, so took a few snaps then got the hell out of there.
A fond favourite of mine. It’s easy to get to (ten minutes walk from Linguang MRT), has beautiful views of 101 and the city at the top, and is inexplicably quiet considering the above statements. The only drawback is, it’s pretty dang easy – you’ll be at the top within 15 minutes. Leave your crampons and hiking poles at home.
I’ve been here several times as it’s a great place to take pictures at any time of day. Once I met a group of photographers trying to get a good shot of Taipei for a movie company, so that should give you a good idea of the view. I’m sure I’ll regret passing this information on as it’s a spot i’m reluctant to tell people about for fear of it becoming the “Fifth Beast”, e.g Elephant Mountain Mk2.
Possibly my favourite easily accessible spot in Taipei. So beautilue.
Qilianshan & Junjianyan (唭哩岸山 + 軍艦岩)
Easy hike, nice views, easy access, near to Shilin. What more could ya ask for? Oh. No, it’s not challenging, sorry… However, as with Fujoushan, it has great views that can be enjoyed any time of day, by hikers of all abilities – even my beloved Aunties. Witnessing sunset here is a great alternative to Elephant Mountain. You can’t quite see the sun going over the horizon but Taipei City looks great from here in the fading light. Also you can do a wee bit of plane spotting, as Songshan Airport is just in front.
Get the MRT to Qilan, leave exit 2 and walk along Donghua Street. After about a minute, go right up Gongguan Road then take the first right, and follow the signposts. It’s about a 20 minute walk to get to the trail. Follow your nose and ye shall find.