Yangming Shan and Taiwanese Volcanoes

I’m pretty sure that most people in Taipei don’t realize that they live at the base of a volcano.  What might be even more unsettling is that all indications show that there are still active magma cambers under northern Taiwan.

The Tatun Volcanic Group 大屯火山群 is a group of volcanoes that make up most of Yangming Shan National Park 陽明山國家公園, the large mountainous park that is just to the north, but technically within Taipei City limits.  The largest is Qixing Mountain 七星山 (Seven Star Mountain) at 1,120 meters (3,675 ft); the next is Datun Mountain 大屯山 and there are many smaller parasitic volcanoes whose peaks can be seen around the park.

One of the most obvious to the naked eye is a mountain called Huangzui Shan 磺嘴山, to the northeast of Qixing Shan and Taipei City.  It’s also one of the only ones with an obvious cauldron that you can hike into…

Unfortunately, we chose to visit on a day that you could barely see you hand in front of your face…

Hiker in Bad Conditions

A hiker in a rain storm walks through tall grass in Yangming Shan National Park in Taipei, Taiwan.

I have an obsession with Google Earth.  I mean I really have it bad.  I’ve spent entire days looking at deserts in Northern Africa, mountains in South America and tiny islands in the South Pacific.  I’ll bet you that I’ve looked at every photo posted in northern Taiwan.  I’ve even used it before photo shoots to “scout” the location.  I often shoot corporate executives and I’ve used it to scope out their buildings to see if it might have cool architecture to use as a background…  Needless to say, I love it.

One afternoon, I was poking around Yangming Shan National Park when I noticed something strange… something that looked like the cauldron of a volcano, right there in the middle of the park.  If you have Google Earth, copy and paste: 25°10’43.20″N, 121°36’16.24″E into “Fly to” and you’ll see what I saw.  If you don’t have Google Earth…  See what you’ve been missing!  Download it!

I took a motorcycle ride around the park a few days later, and confirmed my curiosity that it was indeed volcano shaped.

Huangzui Shan 磺嘴山 Volcano

Huangzui Shan 磺嘴山 in Yangming Shan National Park 陽明山國家公園, Taipei, Taiwan.

It doesn’t take much to talk my friends into going on a hike and to my luck, Stu looked into it and applied for the special permit needed.  It turns out that the volcano is smack in the middle of a limited-access, special nature reserve area… even cooler!

Having to apply for the permit a week in advance meant that we had little flexibility if the weather turned bad… which it did.  But, we knew the hike wasn’t a difficult one, and proceeded in spite of the bad weather.

Yangming Shan - Hiking in Mud

A hiker walks in mud in Yangming Shan National Park in Taipei, Taiwan.

ThistleHuangzui Shan - Tree FlowersHuangzui Shan - Red BerryHuangzui Shan - Greenery

Unfortunately, when we got to the top, there was a strong wind and very little visibility.  It was so windy when we got to the peak that we all had to huddle behind the tall grass for shelter.  We never saw the cauldron clearly but could tell when we were in it from the small pools of water that gather there.

Yangming Shan - Hikers Take Shelter from a Storm

A group of hikers take shelter near some tall grass in Yangming Shan National Park in Taipei, Taiwan.

Hiking in Rain

Hikers walk past a small pond in Yangming Shan National Park in Taipei, Taiwan.

Mushrooms in Cow Shit

The other guys were't as excited as Stu and I about the mushrooms in the cow shit.

Yangming Shan - Mushrooms in Cow Poop

Mushrooms grow in water buffalo poop in Yangming Shan National Park in Taipei, Taiwan.

Later that night, back in the safety of Taipei and enjoying an after-hike beverage, we decided that it was a good day despite the weather, and we’ll try to do it again on a nicer day.  If you’re interested in visiting Huangzui Shan, You’ll need to apply for a permit from Yangming Shan National Park’s website.

Also have a look at Stu’s account of the hike and, as usual, the practicalities that I’m too lazy to write up!

List of volcanoes in Taiwan


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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Yangming Shan and Taiwanese Volcanoes

  1. I would have joined you and Stu in photographing the mushrooms. Awesome photos.

  2. Great article! The whole hiking trip reminds me of the ones I used to take in the UK’s Lake District, especially the mountain trails that lead to the top and present a great view of the region’s lake. I used to stay in one of the Keswick Hotels and then spend most of my days in the outdoors. Rains are strong too when you happen to go there during the rainy season.

    • Thanks Kenneth. I have a few British friends that have told me about the Lake District. It’s definitely a place I would like to visit!

  3. Pingback: Taipei and Surrounding Areas « Taiwan Stories

  4. Eddie

    Another great post. Oh by the way, how do you guys carry your cameras? any specific way? like with a chest pack, a shoulder pack, a belt system? thanks again. keep it up


    • Thanks Eddie,
      When hiking, I usually carry my equipment in a large waist bag that has a shoulder strap so it doubles as a shoulder bag. I like it because, on a day hike, I can wear it behind me or spin it so it’s in front. It’s better to have it in the back for going up slopes, but I can easily spin it to the front if I want to change lenses or something. I use the same bag on overnight hikes (with a big 60L backpack on my back) and sort of hang it from the D-loops on the backpack’s shoulder straps. This keeps it high on my chest so that my legs are free to come up very high if we’re on a very steep trail (which we often are!)

      There is a picture of me with the waist bag on the front sliding down a tree trunk on Stu’s site. (You can see how handy it is to be able to slide it from back to front.)
      And a picture or two of me with it on the front when I’m wearing a big backpack here. Since this hike, I’ve learned how to wear it a little higher. (I’m the guy wearing all black in the pictures)


      • Eddie

        wow thanks for taking so much time to reply, I get it now, your technique is also very ideal for my backpacking system. thanks again!

  5. This green grass is really something. Kids would hide in it for hours until found.

  6. Rufus

    I like the flower and the green grass

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