SEASONAL SPECIALTIES

As with anywhere, the trails in Taiwan have their own seasonal characteristics. Indeed, each new time of year you visit will show you a new face, and repeat visitors are rewarded with seeing fleeting floral displays or annual patterns of migration or breeding that not everyone gets to enjoy.

Jump to below the posts to see a calendar of the more popular seasonal spectacles

TURTLE ISLAND (龜山島)


Visiting Turtle Island makes for a great day trip in northern Taiwan. This post will tell you a little about the fascinating history of the island, as well as find out what to expect when you visit, and how to get there.

FAIRY SHRIMP at XIANGTIAN POOL (向天池的仙女蝦)


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.

TUCHENG TUNG BLOSSOM TRAIL (土城油桐花步道)


Every April and May the mountains around Taipei are cloaked with the white blossom of the tung tree. Getting out to observe this May ‘snowfall’ is a popular activity amongst the locals, and this trail in Tucheng is one of many places you can go to join in.

GUIZIKENG TRAIL (貴子坑步道)


Guizikeng Trail is a short and easy walk in Beitou District. In the spring you can see cherry blossom, in summer you can come to enjoy the irrigation canal, and in winter you can round off the day with a trip to the nearby hot springs.

GOUYINQIN OLD TRAIL ALONG WEILUN CANAL (狗殷勤古道/尾崙水圳/平頂古圳步道)

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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.

FIREFLY SPOTTING IN TAIPEI ON TIGER MOUNTAIN (虎山的螢火蟲)


You don’t need to travel to the remote mountains of central Taiwan to experience the magic of seeing fireflies lighting up the evening forest. Hushan has a trail within walking distance of the MRT which is adapted for firefly viewing in peak season. If you visit Taiwan in April or May, you should definitely set aside an evening to step into this enchanting realm of fireflies, night birds and noisy frogs.

Taiwan’s Seasonal Calendar

PLUM BLOSSOM
(January – February)

Taiwan’s plum blossom season is generally close to the start of the year. These hardy yet dainty blossoms are Taiwan’s national flower (symbolising strength in the face of hardship), and they can be distinguished from cherry blossoms primarily through their rounded petal shape. There are varieties in shades from cream to vivid magenta.

CHERRY BLOSSOM
(January – March)

Cherry blossom viewing in Taiwan has become almost as big a deal as it is in neighbouring Japan. Sakura seekers flood the hills and mountain parks in search of this pretty blossom towards the end of every winter. Colours vary from light to dark pink, and they can be distinguished from plum blossoms from the little notch in the centre of each petal.

AZALEAS
(March – April/June)

Taipei Azalea Festival happens each March in Da’an Park, but hikers can see these colourful flowers for almost half the year if they’re willing to climb. These flowering rhododendrons occur at all elevations in Taiwan with the higher plants tending to bloom later in the year. My favourite is the seductively coloured Yushan rhododendron, pale pink petals fringed with a darker shade and a centre streaked with a deep pink hue.

GREY-FACED BUZZARDS
(March – April or October)

Grey-faced buzzards are a migratory species in Taiwan. Early in the year you can see them in Taichung and Changhua heading north to their breeding grounds, then in October they flood the skies about the Hengchun Peninsular on their way south again.

FIREFLY SEASON
(Early April – Early May)

Taiwan’s main firefly viewing season is between April and May, although in fact you can see different varieties year round.

TUNG BLOSSOM
(Mid April – May)

The white tung blossom that cloaks hillsides in April to May each year is known as April (or May) snow, and is synonymous with the Hakka people. The Hakka folk who settled in Taiwan used the tung tree’s wood and oil for many different things, and this season is now a kind of celebration of Hakka culture.

LAND CRAB SPAWNING SEASON
(July – October)

For a three days around each full moon between July and October you will find land crabs making the long and dangerous journey from their forest homes to the ocean spawning ground. This annual event draws many volunteers who man the roads around dusk to prevent the crabs from getting squashed.

SILVERGRASS
(October/November – January/February)

Also known as miscanthus or pampass grass, this is one of Taiwan’s more large scale seasonal displays. The timing of Taiwan’s silvergrass season varies depending on the temperature, and in particularly wet years it can be a bit of a wash out. On sunny winter days though, there is little that’s more spectacular than a silvergrass cloaked hillside being gently rippled by the wind.