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.
WANGYOU VALLEY TRAIL ( 望幽谷步道)
Located on just south of Keelung, the scenic Wangyou Valley Trail is one of the best-known walks on Taiwan’s northeast coast.
MOUNT GONGZILIAO and GONGZILIAO FORT (槓子寮山/槓子寮砲臺)
The hills around Keelung are home to numerous old defensive structures left over from various periods in Taiwan’s history. The remains found here at Gongziliao Fort are the most extensive and well preserved out there.
TAIPEI SKYLINE TRAIL: SECTION 2A
This section of the Taipei Skyline Trail covers one of the quintessential Taipei day hikes: the spectacular Huangdidian. Bring a camera and a well-rested body, and come prepared for a very fun walk.
MOUNT KAIYANLUN and TEA TERRACE TRAIL (開眼崙山/茶園步道)
This short loop in New Taipei’s Pinglin District offers a lot of beauty for not much leg work. After a steep (but short) climb to the peak, you are then treated to stunning views of Pinglin’s neat tea plantations as you make your way slowly back to the start.
HENGCHUN CITY WALLS (恆春縣城)
The old town of Hengchun is one great alternative to Kenting, and the historic city walls provide visitors with the perfect ‘no plan’ day out. Just lace up your shoes and start walking, letting your interest and stomach divert you as necessary.
ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN to LION MOUNTAIN LOOP (象山/獅山O型)
Lurking in the hills below Mount Nangang and 95 Peak are wild animals. An elephant, a lion, a tiger and a leopard which are collectively known as the Four Beasts. (Ok, so technically they’re hills rather than real beasts.) This loop takes in two of the four, and explores some of the lesser known trails in the area.
TAITUNG FOREST PARK (臺東森林公園)
Hemmed in between the broad expanse of Beinan River and the city of Taitung sits the quiet oasis of Taitung Forest Park. Its leafy lanes and tranquil wetlands make for a great half day retreat.
TAITUNG’S CARP HILL ( 臺東鯉魚山)
Carp Hill is perhaps the most prominent geological feature in Taitung City, and if you’re visiting Taitung then climbing it is a great way to see the city from another angle.
SHUISHANG WATERFALL and SESHUI FOREST TRAIL (水上瀑布/澀水森林步道)
Nantou’s Yuchi District is best known for being the home of Sun Moon Lake, but that’s far from the only beauty spot it boasts. This short and easy trail might not feature in the guidebooks, but it should do. Peaceful and pretty–the perfect place to pass an afternoon.
MOUNT WUFEN (五分山)
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.
YUN-CHIA FIVE PEAK TRAIL (雲嘉五連峰)
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 PARK COASTAL TRAIL (青蛙石海洋步道)
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.
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.
SCISSORS ROCK NIGHT HIKE (剪刀石夜爬)
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 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: SHENKENG to WUTUKU (淡蘭古道南路：深坑/石碇/烏塗窟)
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.
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…
Houshanyue is a thoroughly satisfying half-day hike that will satisfy your need for adventure without spoiling your lie-in.
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…
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