Qixing Shan attracts walkers year-round for its expansive views, bamboo-lined paths and volcanic geology. As Taipei's highest mountain, it is a must-climb for the city's population of avid hikers, but how many of them can say they have climbed it in the dark?
Mount Zhongzheng Hiking Trail makes for a quiet and easy wander in the westernmost reaches of Yangmingshan National Park. Starting just a couple of blocks away from Xin Beitou Station, the trail leads you up through farms and bamboo to a peak with commands wide views over the city.
Xiangtian Pool is an ephemeral body of water in an old volcanic crater on the northwestern edge of Yangmingshan National Park. It can be seen after periods of heavy rain, and only then for a brief time. As if this didn't make the pool intriguing enough, it is also home to a population of fairy shrimp which spawn in great numbers when the conditions are just right.
Fushiping Historic Trail offers hikers the opportunity to explore the quieter side of Yangmingshan National Park.
A short walk in the southeastern corner of Yangmingshan National Park. This trail would make the perfect picnic walk to beat the summer heat.
The fourth installment of the Taipei Grand Hike takes you to some beautiful and quiet corners of Yangmingshan National Park, as well as some of the more popular scenic spots in Neihu. The best thing about this portion is that it has an abundance of water, from the natural and charming stream running alongside Shuangxigou Old Trail, to the manmade Sweet Water Lake, and the easily accessible Yuanjue waterfall.
The third installment of the TGH has you climbing to the highest peak inside Taipei City. Go on a clear day and your effort will be handsomely rewarded with 360-degree views of the surrounding area. As well as big views, this route also takes in some really pleasant forest and ridge scenery on the Mount Ding - Mount Shiti Trail.
The second leg of the Taipei Grand Hike climbs some of the wilder peaks in the west of Yangmingshan National Park. This section starts from Erziping and takes in three peaks on the Datun Multi-Peak Trail before dipping down into the picturesque scenery of Dinghu. Then finishes by climbing along a stream to the steaming crater of Xioayoukeng.
The first part of the the Taipei Grand Hike has you putting in some serious legwork to make it all the way from the flat land of Guandu right up into Yangmingshan National Park. This section takes in art, grand tombs, an irrigation canal, and many, many steps.
Tucked away behind the National Palace Museum you’ll find the unassuming entrance to this trail. If you’ve eaten your fill of museum exhibits and choose to follow the old stone steps up the hill, then you will come face to face with one aspect of life in old Taiwan which is still very much alive. The historic waterways in this area have been supplying water to the farms here for generations, and what could be more soothing than walking alongside flowing water.
This loop trail takes you to a wilder edge of Yangmingshan Park that many visitors never see. The first section is a tough climb through quiet, dense forest. The mid section takes you scrambling from peak to peak through a maze of bamboo. And during the final section all your hard work is rewarded as you experience the sheer pleasure of following a delightful stream carving its way down through a luscious valley.
Right on the western edge of Yangmingshan National Park you can find a quieter alternative to some of the park's busier walks. The Mount Datun trail takes in three peaks. Short but strenuous roped sections lead you over the west and south peaks followed by some serious steps up to the main peak, and then a gentle coasting down to finish at Erziping.
Miantian shan trail offers an easy to follow path over some of Yangmingshan National Park's western peaks. Go immediately after heavy rain in order to catch sight of the elusive xiang tian crater lake.
A moderately difficult and very fun loop hike with absolutely stunning views over Yangmingshan Park's bamboo cloaked northern hills. This is one of my favourite walks in this area and a must for anyone seeking to get away from the crowds at Qixing peak.
A gentle and incredibly scenic circular route around the famous, cow-grazed grasslands of Qingtiangang in Yangmingshan National Park. This trail is accessible by public transport and should be ok for anyone who can handle some steps and an uneven walking surface. Make sure to come on a clear day, (when you can see Qixing Mountain peak from the city), in order to enjoy the views at their best.