For visitors passing through Taiwan it can sometimes be a little bit hard to pick which trails to spend your limited time on. There are many lists with titles like “the best hiking trails in Taiwan” or “Taiwan’s must see walks” and it can feel like there is an overwhelming amount of choice, then once you’ve picked your destination figuring out the logistics can sometimes be challenging. Keeping these two considerations, the trails here have all been picked either because they are already popular amongst tourists, or because I am certain that you’ll leave feeling you had a unique experience, and I’ve tried to only include walks that can be accessed easily by public transport even if you’re not familiar with Taiwan and the languages spoken here.
Mount Wufen is a rewarding half day hike in northern Taiwan’s Pingxi District. Ideal for Taipei-based day trippers looking for a scenic walk, this trail will take you up through lush forests to an open grassy ridge with expansive views over the many-layered hills of Pingxi.
This exceptionally scenic trail straddles the border of Yunlin and Chiayi counties, and takes walkers on a breathtaking trek through tea plantations and coffee farms.
Frog Rock Coastal Trail is a short and easy walk just off the main drag of relaxed beach town, Kenting. As well as a tiny coral beach and coastal views, visitors can explore a beautiful replica of a traditional Minnan style village.
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.
Scissors Rock is up there with Elephant Mountain in terms of its popularity among the easily accessible trails of Taipei. But unlike it’s Xinyi District counterpart, this trail in Neihu falls quiet as soon as night settles on the city. Travellers willing to brave the dark will be treated to peaceful city views and maybe even a flying squirrel (or two, or five)
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.
The first stretch of road leading out of Shenkeng isn’t much to write home about, but the rest of the journey soon makes up for it. The sound of water accompanies you for most of the way, as the trail sticks close to first Jingmei Stream, then Wutuku Stream, going against the flow as you head away from Taipei.
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.
Houshanyue is a thoroughly satisfying half-day hike that will satisfy your need for adventure without spoiling your lie-in.
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 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.
A quiet and gentle stroll along some of the irrigation canals in the hills of Shilin District. This would make a great summer walk for those hoping to escape the city heat.
This is the perfect half-day hike for adventure-seekers who want to explore the many and varied delights of Taiwan’s marvellous northeastern coast.
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.
A great trail taking in one of Taipei’s most Instagrammable spots. This walk can be done in a morning or afternoon and is easy to get to from the MRT.
During the first three months of the year, this trail in Beitou is popular with sakura seekers. But even if you miss out on the beautiful blossoming trees, this walk still has plenty to offer. The walk takes in irrigation canals, streams, plenty of small temples and the dramatic sight of Sulphur Valley.
The closing section of Taipei’s long distance path leads you up into the tea-growing hills of Muzha. There’s a waterfall, one of Taiwan’s top 100 religious sites, (Chihnan Temple), and the opportunity to take a rest stop in your pick of Maokong’s famous tea houses.
The Taipei Grand Hike’s southern arm stretches over the peaks of the Nangang mountain range and up to the huge temples and tea plantations of Muzha. In this section, you will experience wonderful views over Taipei, some of the most popular trails in the city as well as some much quieter, less frequented routes. Take in 360 degree views, historic trails, a mountain-side cemetery and a whole load of temples. This walk is a great way to start your Taipei Grand Hike adventure.
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.
Most walkers in the area come for Battleship Rock’s photogenic qualities, but if you’ve been there and done that, perhaps your next walk could be this alternative route through the hills of Beitou District.
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