You’ve no doubt heard of forest bathing, the act of immersing oneself in the lush greenery of forests as a form of nature therapy for the body and soul. Proponents say that the negatively ions found in heavily wooded environments can interact with our own biochemistry, triggering an increase in serotonin (the ‘happy hormone’), lowering blood pressure, and boosting energy levels. If you feel you’re in need of some forest bathing, these tree-filled hiking trails will give you plenty of time to be at one with nature.
TAIWAN HEMLOCK TRAIL (鐵杉林自然步道)
Taipingshan’s Hemlock Trail is an enchanted forest wonderland. If you’re planning your trip to the area, then make sure to include this spectacular route on your itinerary.
MAOSING MAIN TRAIL (茂興步道主線)
Of the two trails accessible from Taipingshan’s iconic bong bong train, Maosing Main Trail is both the longer and flatter option. It follows the course of the old tracks for a gentle 1km wander through grand forest scenery.
JANCING HISTORIC TRAIL (見晴懷古步道)
Taipingshan’s Jancing Historic Trail is probably one of the most instantly recognisable trails that Taiwan has to offer, and for good reason. This easy stroll has won the hearts of locals and tourists alike for its mixture of stunning natural scenery and historical significance.
TAIPINGSHAN CYPRESS TRAIL (檜木原始林步道)
Located high up in the mountainous forests in the South of Yilan County, Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area is home to spectacular old forests. The Cypress Trail offers a very easy introduction to this special landscape.
CUEIFENG LAKE CIRCULAR TRAIL (翠峰湖環山步道)
Cueifeng Lake was Taiwan’s first ever officially designated silent trail. The thick carpet of lush mosses and frequent cloud cover mean that the area exists in a perpetual hush – it’s the perfect antidote to city life.
PHOENIX MOUNTAIN (鳳凰山)
Xitou is probably most famous for its Japanese folklore inspired monster village, but for those who prefer to escape the crowds, there are lots of hiking trails too. The climb up to Phoenix Mountain follows an atmospheric cloud-cloaked ridge line through towering bamboo forest, exactly the kind of place where you might run into a real mythological creature.
MOUNT MALUN (馬崙山)
At 2305m high, Mount Malun is the second highest among Guguan’s Seven Heroes, but despite its lofty nature, it’s not a difficult climb. The long trail climbs gently (well almost gently), through different types of forest landscape and past the remains of an old logging village.
MOUNT EGONGJI and MOUNT NIAOZUI (鵝公髻山/鳥嘴山)
Situated in Hsinchu’s Wufeng Township, Mount Egongj and its neighbour Mount Niaozui offer a great day’s walking. Hikers can take in both dramatic views and photogenic forests on this enjoyable route.
MOUNT XIANGTIANHU LOOP (三角湖山/向天湖山/光天高山O型)
Tucked away in the hills of Miaoli’s Nanzhuang Township, the trail up to Mount Xiangtianhu leads you on a fabulous walk from a picturesque indigenous village, through misty forests to three different peaks.
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.
MOUNT WU WO WEI (屋我尾山)
At 1796m above sea level Mount Wu Wo Wei is the third highest of the Guguan Seven Heroes. There are two routes to the peak, and since this post details the harder of the two, you can expect to have the peaceful forest to yourself for most of the walk.
BEIDELAMAN GIANT TREES (北得拉曼巨木步道)
Although most of Taiwan’s giant trees are found in remote forests with permit-restricted access, there are some just a short drive out of Taipei which can be seen by anyone willing to make the climb. (And who wouldn’t be willing to put in a bit of effort to visit these venerable old spirits.)
MAI BA LAI SHAN (麥巴來山)
When we signed in at the trailhead, the person manning the register said “the mountain is yours today, there’s no one else.” He wasn’t wrong. Mai Ba Lai is never going to lure the crowds in search of Instagrammable views, but it offers another kind of draw: quietness and seemingly endless forest.
ZHI SHENG MAO TAI SHAN (芝生毛台山)
This very wild feeling trail leads you up a steep forested ridge through huge bamboo groves, into the domain of wild boars and barking deer, past hunting shelters and the traces of Taiwan’s period of Japanese occupation.
BA XIAN SHAN TO TANG MA DA SHAN (八唐縱走)
A strenuous all day-er which is guaranteed to leave you with a healthy appetite. The hard work is worth it for anyone who loves big, old forests.
LIDONG SHAN AND TAPUNG CASTLE VIA DAHUN SHAN (大混山/李棟山)
A many-layered mountain forest trail leads up to an old fortress and a slice of Taiwan’s history.
GAO TAI SHAN AND XIAO-ZHONG-DA DAO TIAN SHAN (高台山 / 小中大島田山)
You’ll enjoy your food (and your bed) very much after this tough climb.
JIALI MOUNTAIN (加里山)
Expect beautiful scenery and splendid forest as you climb up to the summit of Miaoli’s Jiali Mountain.