MIAOLI’S LION’S HEAD MOUNTAIN (獅頭山)

Lion's Head Mountain in Miaoli is just one of many peaks scattered across Taiwan to be named due to its resemblance to the King of the Jungle. What sets this particular lion apart from the others is its enduring role as a site of spiritual significance. Dotting the mountain's slopes visitors will find a proliferation of temples, some of which have been open to worshippers for over a hundred years.

ALISHAN SISTERS PONDS LOOP (阿里山:姐妹池O型)

Alishan has been a popular destination with tourists for decades, the lure of the mountain air and beautiful forest scenery drawing in the crowds. These days visitors still flock to the park to enjoy the forest, the sunrise and the picturesque little red trains that ply the narrow-gauge tracks through the trees. This trail will take you on a short and easy wander around some of the sights.

TAMSUI-KAVALAN TRAILS: PINGXI TOU to WAI’AO (淡蘭古道中路:坪溪頭/外澳)

If you know anyone who isn’t yet sold on the natural and cultural delights of Taiwan, then take them by the hand and lead them to the start of this trail for a condensed highlights-reel version of everything that makes me love this charming island. This portion of the middle Tamsui-Kavalan Trails follows the footsteps of the tea-traders of yesteryear over clear streams and vibrant forests to a mountain top and the coast beyond. Along the way you’ll meet the many gods who they trusted to keep them safe on their travels, and if you’re not utterly smitten with Taiwan by the time you finish, then you don’t have a heart.

TAOYUAN VALLEY TRAIL (桃源谷步道)

The Taoyuan Valley Trail is one of those that’s right up there in all of the listicles outlining the 'top 10 hikes in northern Taiwan', and whilst that means you’re unlikely to find solitude in the hills here, the popularity is for good reason. For those who prefer to follow well-marked routes and not stray too far from the beaten path, then the views offered by this trail are hard to best.

CARP HILL (鯉魚山)

Carp Hill may not be the highest peak in Neihu District, nor does it have the prettiest scenery or most exciting walk. However it’s a good all-rounder and it can lay claim to being the route that I have walked the most. This is my go-to walk for when I’ve just got a couple of hours free and need to stretch my legs. It’s a great little workout, and it also has plenty to make it interesting time after time. There’s a lookout spot with views over Taipei, Neihu’s oldest Buddhist temple, a waterfall and a curious series of hand-crafted miniature landmarks.

HUANGDIDIAN (皇帝殿)

This is the hike that made me fall in love with the trails and landscape of Taiwan. The first time I walked it was before I lived here, and the impression it made ran deep. This trail pretty much has it all: enthralling mountain views, exhilarating ridge walking, invigorating climbs and, (if you’re feeling bold enough), the opportunity to experience that famous Taiwanese friendliness by trying your hand at hitchhiking rather than walking back along the road.