Taiwan is a hiker's paradise. I've known this before moving here (I'd had no idea before my first visit in 2018) but the number of peaks, perfectly maintained trails and endless greenery still blows me away every time. The first thing I do after leaving my 14-day quarantine is going for a short walk to 🏔️ 南崁山 Nankan Mountain, a random hilltop which happens to be close to my hotel in Taoyuan. Since then, I have spent every weekend doing at least one short hike (or at the very least a walk) in or around Taipei (or a longer one outside the city). This post is the first in a, hopefully long, series to share my hiking journey in Taiwan.
This series is mainly a journal describing the places from my perspective, but there will be tips, advice and ideas that you might find helpful if you plan similar hikes. I'll also add the (mostly unedited) GPX track for every entry and make it available for download. Most trails in Taiwan are exceptionally well marked but having an extra map helps (in particular, if you can't read Chinese and find yourself on one of the hikes without English signs).
If you've feedback or questions on any of this content, I'm always happy to hear from you.
I spend my first two weeks in Taipei living in a condo in Xindian (right on top of the MRT station), so 🏔️ 银河洞 (literally: Milky Way Cave) is a natural choice for a first hike. After a short bus ride from 🚇 Xindian (multiple lines serve 🚌 Yinhedong), you can reach this old Buddhist temple built inside a cave behind a waterfall in as little as half an hour. From here, I hike to the top of Dailaokeng and Ejiaoge mountain before finding the Maokong cable car station. There are two queues for the gondola, one for regular, the other for “crystal” cabins. I won't tell you the difference, but I recommend you avoid the “crystal” ones if you are afraid of heights. The gondola's last stop is at 🚇 Taipei Zoo MRT station from where you can catch a train back to the city. Interesting hikes starting at one and ending at another MRT station have become a theme of many of my city hikes (as you'll see in my upcoming posts). It never stops to amaze me how convenient hiking can be while living in a big and busy city.