One of my favourite short hikes in Taipei is another former Xiaobaiyue, a leisurely walk from Qiyan MRT station. Qiyan is a quieter neighbourhood of Taipei with a laid-back vibe and relaxed atmosphere. Traffic gets less, and I can already sense a hint of mountain air blowing down from Yangminsghan.
Today’s destination is a small, lesser-known peak near Junjianyan (the famous “Battleship Rock” named for its shape resembling that of a spaceship).
It’s known by many names. One is 松葉山 (“pine leave mountain”), named after the pine trees the Japanese planted on it. The other is 大師山 (“master mountain”), referring to the Japanese shrine carved into its rock in dedication to Master Kobo Daishi. Its official name is Danfengshan (“phoenix mountain”). Rumour is that Danfeng was the name of the concubine of General Chen Jitang, a commander in Chiang Kai-Sheks army who died in Beitou in 1954.
Modern residential properties encroach the foot of the mountain. In fact, there have been concerns that too many building projects will threaten this sensitive area. Many trees already had to give way to new developments that increased landslide risk.
From Qiyan, there are two ways to reach Danfengshan. One starting point is opposite No. 30 Qiyan Road, about 15 minutes walking distance from the MRT station. A second option starts with a small dirt path next to a shiny new condominium project on Lane 201, Qiyan Rd. After a few minutes of climbing, this trail leads over raw sandstone, ultimately connecting with the other path.
A marking on the trail indicates the junction to the Japanese shrine. A dirt path disappears into the forest, and a few steps later, a track with some ropes leads me to the top. The rock platform marks the top of Danfengshan. It’s only 117 meters high, yet it provides a beautiful view of the entire Beitou area below.
Small stone pillars surround the shrine, which sits below the peak. Engraved on them are the names of the donors financing its construction in the early 20th century.
One of the larger stone steles reads: “Taiwan, please be happy forever”, its old carvings re-painted bright red, shining in the afternoon sun.
On top, I sip my coffee and enjoy the views as the sun begins to set over Beitou. This sets the mood for the final destination of the day.
I follow the trail for the short descent to Xinbeitou. For 150 NTD, I get admission into my favourite Taipei bath house ( 瀧乃湯), and I end my day with a happy soak in their 46-degree hot pool.