I’ve hiked 3 diverse trails in Taipei and with each one they have fueled me wanting more. I love to hike (a little more about why; here). It is my go-to activity when I arrive in new areas.
Hiking in Taipei has given me quirky & unique hiking experiences of hula hooping, an unexpected serenade, experiencing a temple in a cave that’s underneath a waterfall, and discovering at this stage of my life, I have fear of heights (mind you I’ve been on a ridiculous amounts of roller coasters, a few Worlds Tallest of (something) buildings, I currently live on the 64th floor of a skyscraper, and have jumped out of an airplane. Being high up was never an issue).
It’s because of these unique experiences (and of course the love of being outside), why these sugar induced Taipei hikes have me craving for more.
Jinmianshan Trail is a beautiful hike that provides beautiful panoramic views of Taipei City. Here you’ll be traversing over huge boulders at a combined slant and an incline that will get your heart rate up that easily help you to meet your daily exercise requirement.
It’s also not crowded (well at least when I went – during the weekday mid afternoon).
The Jinmianshan trail can be found on Jinmian Mountain. Also knowns as Jiandao Mountain that translates to Scissor Mountain (yup- it’s in the shape of a scissor). Jinmian Mountain 金面山 is also knowns as Golden Face Mountain.
No matter what name you prefer to refer to this area. It hands down provides an amazing view of Taipei City.
What’s great about this trail it’s easily accessible by MRT stations.
The views are fantastic and I love how the terrain changes. Oh yeah, there’s also hula hoops at the end and smooth jazz in the middle. Yup.
On my way up to the summit I was serenaded by a man playing the saxophone and another singing to his melody. This was definitely a first for me.
I was the only hiker when I arrived to their stage (aka, the look out area). So it was a pleasant moment of listening to them and taking in the views. The awkward part was not knowing when it was okay to leave. Like the feeling of an awkward silence… just not knowing what to do.
As mentioned the terrain changed quite frequently which I appreciated. I love a good change in course. There are staircases at the beginning and end. Walking along boulders with a rope was a new experience for me. The next time I do this hike, I will bring more water with me, as it was quite steep which started right from the trail head.
Yinhe Waterfall Cave Temple
Yinhe Cave Temple is a majestic and an absolutely must do for all outdoor enthusiasts. I found this trail on Google when researching for different types of hikes. Instantly I knew I had to explore it for myself. It wasn’t until this trail that I experienced a temple in a cave that’s under a waterfall, and a trail leading to a gondola. Yes to everything!
Yinhe Cave Temple (銀河洞, Yinhedong) is near Taipei Zoo and can be accessed by the Maokong Gondola (the southern terminus of MRT) or directly from Yinhe Road. Yinhe Cave Waterfall (中文版：銀河洞瀑布) is a beautiful waterfall that cascades over the Guanyin temple, that was built in a cave in 1914.
It was minutes after I started the trek that I could smell the incense from the temple, hear the roar of the waterfall and see butterflies dancing all around the steps leading up to the temple. I was getting so excited from all three senses.
Needless to say it was breathtaking. I could have stayed here for hours. Just like the Jinmianshan hike I encountered a handful of people. Walking through the temple and under the waterfall was a feeling in itself, but seeing the view was just stunning.
This is such a rewarding hike in so many ways. There is something about this area that you can feel deeply within your soul. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a must go, and experience it for yourself.
After spending an hour of walking through the temple, under the waterfall and sitting to take it all in. I decided to venture on.
I followed signs pointing me in the direction towards the gondolas that led me through an easy walking path passing by a few homes. As I walked passed one home a woman who was standing next to her house started to speak to me. Not knowing what she said I just smiled and kept on trekking.
The hike all seemed tranquil until a fast-moving storm quickly unleashed. It was heavy rain, blustering wind with thunder and lightning.
I found a little shelter (the elephant ear leaf was not sufficient) next to a sign under some trees that shielded me a bit from the wind and rain.
I was still on the path and noticed a metal little shack. For a split nanosecond, I thought – I’ll just go in there, but it was then a loud crack of lightning struck. That changed my mind very quickly. I stood there for about 30 minutes. Everything on my person was soaked. Thankfully everything inside my backpack was fine.
It was then I wondered if the lady outside her home was warning me about the storm.
Once the rain slowed down I continued on the path determined to make it to the gondolas. I hoped once I got there, they wouldn’t notice I was soaking wet and still allow me on.
When I arrived it wasn’t because of my soaking appearance they wouldn’t allow me on. But they closed due to the heavy lightning that was still striking. I did find a cab that took me back to my hotel. Thank goodness for Google maps as we did have a language barrier. Thanks Google!
Pingxi Crags Hike
Now that I had insight on a couple of hikes, I didn’t expect there to be more magnificence to be explored. I was pleasantly surprised.
Happily, I had Tim with me on this hike. We ventured outside of Taipei City where we had to figure out the train system. It was bit frustrating at times (the signs weren’t in English but thank goodness the numbers were). It was still worth the effort and next time I will take the bus that goes directly to Pingxi District.
We arrived in Pingxi District and it was sprinkled with gorgeous little towns. I was so focused to start hiking that the town would have to be enjoyed afterward.
There are 3 peaks to climb. Xiaozi Mountain or “Filial Son Mountain”, Putuo Mountain and Cimu Mountain or “Motherly Love Mountain”.
What’s great about these mountains is there’s a path connecting all of them.
Surprisingly, on this hike we encountered more singing.
Tim and I could hear people singing from below but we didn’t know which path it was coming from. Picking a random route we headed up and it got louder and louder. We reach the summit and a group of 20 people or so were all sitting at the top resting and singing their hearts out. They were having a fantastic time. I’m surmising singing on summits in Taiwan is definitely a thing.
All 3 crags were different from the other in regards to difficulty in hiking. There was one in particular that gave me a good challenge and it was on the way up to the summit that I experienced a bit of vertigo. Then fear of heights settled in as I was climbing the side of the cliff. I was fine once I reached the topped and could collect myself, but clinging onto the side of the cliff was an uncomfortable feeling.
I enjoyed venturing over to this area of Taipei as it was outside of the city and had more to offer than just a hike. The villages along the train tracks provided great food and drink.
It’s here these villages are best known for the sky lantern festival. But one doesn’t have to wait for the festival to set off a lantern with well wishes and intentions written on them.
Hiking Taipei is definitely a must do. I can’t say which is my favorite excursion. As they all provided such different experiences that were just terrific. I can’t wait to come back and discover more.