After doing many day trips to the North of Taipei over Chinese New Year, I'm looking for a short hike, more accessible from where I live. I find 大棟山 Dadongshan, situated right between New Taipei City and Taoyuan and make my way to the trailhead on a sunny February afternoon. It's a pleasant change from a lot of the other trails I've done in Taipei. There are no stairs; instead, it's a simple dirt trail meandering up a hill.
I'm listening to podcasts on my phone. Oliver Stone is talking to Joe Rogan about the Untold History of the United States. Besides audiobooks, podcasts seem to become my new style of doing city hikes. I find it an excellent compromise to compensate for my recent lack of reading (after finishing 54 books in 2019 and 30 in 2020, I haven't touched another one since). Hiking is a perfect way for me to combine nature and exercise. That said, it can be time-consuming too, so I appreciate the opportunity to multi-task and learn something new while being out and about.
After 45 minutes, I descend a few steps down to a small road to take in the expansive views of Taipei from a viewing platform. The trail ends soon after, and I continue my way up along the road, occasionally finding a side trail running parallel to it.
A young Taiwanese man struggles to drive up a steep portion of the road, I give the scooter a little push, and he happily disappears into the distance. Half an hour later, I also reach the top of 大棟山 Dadongshan, the highest point of Guilin ridge at 405 meters. A small crowd already enjoys the views and the last days of the New Year's holidays. Some have been walking up from the Taoyuan side; a few have gotten a decent sweat by cycling (one guy has taken his cute little dog for a ride in a basket on top of his handlebar). The majority of people, though, seem to have reached here by car or on scooters.
After some time, I switch to another podcast and start my descent. The advantage of my mobile app is that it seems to know about every last dirt trail and (potential) shortcut. The disadvantage is that it knows about every side trail, including those which might not be meant to be taken anymore. Nevertheless, it's a pleasant stroll down through the forest as the day closes and there's no one else around. 30 minutes later, the dirt path connects back with the road, and I reach Shulin just in time for the local train back to Banqiao.