23 April 2020.
Taipei is a vibrant, fast-paced kind of place, but one of my favourite things about the city is its location.
Surrounded by volcanic peaks, scenic coastlines, vast grasslands and wild jungle, there are countless hiking trails nearby that are ripe for exploration.
Whether you’re after an easy afternoon stroll through the forest or a challenging all-day adventure with epic views as your reward, you’ll find some fantastic opportunities to stretch your legs just outside the city.
These are my favourite Taipei hiking trails that make for a perfect day trip and can be reached in just an hour.
* This post includes affiliate links and any purchases made through these links will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. *
Elephant Mountain + The Four Beasts Of Taipei
The most city-centric hike on this list, Elephant Mountain or Xiangshan can be accessed via the MRT and offers up the best views of Taipei and the iconic Taipei 101. For anyone looking to escape to nature without actually having to leave the city limits, this one makes a decent choice.
Many visitors will go no further than the first, often crowded, Instagram-famous viewpoint, especially around sunset, but it’s well worth pushing on to complete the entire 2km circuit which remains surprisingly quiet.
Along the way, you’ll meander through lush forests and rocky tunnels and encounter city views even better than the traditional lookout.
More intrepid hikers can also consider hitting all peaks of the ‘Four Beasts of Taipei’ hike of which the Elephant is the first, followed by Tiger, Lion and Leopard.
Mt Qixing and Mt Datun At Yangmingshan National Park
Yangmingshan National Park leads you into an enchanting world of mossy forest trails fit for a storybook.
On one side you’ll find Mt Qixing, the highest peak in the park, where the trail to the summit climbs steeply through dense cloud forest and fields of bamboo grass. Most often you’ll be greeted by a blanket of thick mist, but on a clear day, your hard work will be rewarded with views across the entire northern tip of Taiwan.
Below the peak, clouds billow from active fumaroles, water buffalo roam freely across lush alpine meadows and cascades gurgle between the trees.
On the opposite side of Yangminghsan, family-friendly Erziping acts as the gateway to numerous other hiking trails, such as the forested cobblestone path to Mt Miantan or Mt Datun which offers up sweeping views across the Taipei Basin.
Avid hikers may also consider tackling the challenging Mt Datun Multi-Peak Trail which hops between several peaks via a series of rocky scrambles and steep climbs with the aid of ropes.
READ MORE | A Complete Guide To Yangmingshan National Park
Teapot Mountain and Banpingshan
Teapot Mountain and Banpingshan combine fun-filled adventure with phenomenal views to make it one of the absolute best day hikes from Taipei and one of my all time favourites from Taiwan.
Behind Jiufen and Jinguashi, Teapot Mountain rears into a contorted mound of rock that, from the right angle, resembles a teapot. With a tangle of ropes to guide the way, you’ll need to clamber across some large boulders as you make your way through the narrow passageway that leads through the mountain top.
On the far side, the trail snakes along a narrow ridgeline towards the vertical cliffs of Banpingshan where an exceptionally beautiful scene unravels beneath your feet.
The dramatic emerald hump of Keelung Mountain, folded and furrowed like a crouched dragon, the gnarled bulge of the teapot, the countless bays that carve up the coastline and the lush forested hills of Taiwan’s wild interior.
Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail
Taking in three beautiful waterfalls, the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail is an easy half-day walk that can be perfectly paired with a trip to the villages of the historic Pingxi Line.
Located just an hour from central Taipei in the verdant forests that surround the Keelung River, this trail weaves through a wide tract of misty, rain-soaked jungle with muddy trails and mossy trees in full supply.
Hegu, the first waterfall is viewed from afar amidst a wall of shaggy green foliage, while falls of Motian and Pipa Cave can be admired from below. See the powerful white veils thunder over the clifftops, jump across the rocks of the riverbed, dip your feet in the cool water and wander ever so carefully to the precipice to gaze out across the verdant valley below.
These forests are serene and beautiful and see surprisingly few tourists making it an excellent place for a quiet walk away from the crowds that congregate elsewhere in the valley.
Plan Your Trip To Taipei
All these trails are fairly well sign-posted, but for your peace of mind, you’ll also find them marked on Maps.Me, a free offline maps app that I always have on hand for any hiking trip.
You’ll also find plenty of other tiny hiking trails or alternative routes marked as well for whenever you’re keen to extend your hike or take a short detour along the way.
All these hikes can be reached using Taiwan’s efficient and affordable public transport system.
Be sure to pick up an EasyCard on arrival at the airport which can be used on transport across the country. Instead of fumbling about for correct change for every bus ride or local train trip, simply tap on and off for each trip and remember to top up whenever your balance is getting low. You can order your EasyCard online for collection at Taipei International Airport here or purchase it over the counter using cash only.
If you’re travelling as a family or group and are planning to rent a car instead of relying on public transport, search for the best deals online here.
Taipei has no shortage of accommodation, but it can be confusing deciding exactly which part of the city to base yourself.
I stayed in Ximen which I loved for its excellent mix of restaurants, lively night scenes and easy access to a variety of transport options. If you’re looking for a more suburban family-friendly feel, a quieter part of the city may be more your style.