Jade Mountain (玉山) is Taiwan’s tallest mountain at 3,952 m (12,966 ft). It’s located within the Yushan National Park (玉山國家公園) just next to the famous Alishan National Scenic Area (阿里山國家風景區) in the central mountains of Taiwan. If measured from the nearby ocean floor, the Jade Mountain Main Peak rises an impressive 8,000 m in only 100 km.
Getting a permit to hike Jade Mountain is no easy task. My friends an I applied 14 times before finally receiving a permit to hike it on a weekend (A big thanks to Stu Dawson for his tenacity). We received a second round of good luck by getting perfect hiking weather on the 4th of July weekend. The trail to the peak is beautiful, and this hike is an absolute must-do for anyone with an adventurous soul living in Taiwan.
Our Jade Mtn Adventure started right after everyone finished work on Friday evening. We drove from Taipei south towards Chiayi, picking up various members of our group along the way. That night, we stayed in a small bed and breakfast in the village of Shizi 十字, just before the entrance to the Ali Shan Recreation Scenic Area.
The hike from the Yushan Trail head to the Paiyun Lodge only takes about 5 hours, so we slept a little later than usual and didn’t hit the trail until about 9:30. The road Between Ali Shan and the trail head is famous for it’s macaque monkeys and we were lucky enough to see a group of them waiting for handouts from passing by cars.
After visiting the excellent Tataka Visitor’s Center and watching a short movie teaching us the points of interest of the trail, we set off.
The hike was much more beautiful than I though it would be, cutting through a variety of different forests: bamboo, pine, open scrub and, as you near the peak, over-tree-line scree.
Some of the interesting sites included the Great Precipice:
The Johnny Depp Fan Club Eco-Toilet (!!??!!??):
and many nice views from the narrow trail:
We made it to the Paiyun Lodge in a little over four hours and had plenty of time for dinner and walking to the nearby peaks and view points.
While we did the hike in two days, many people stay for two nights to explore the other peaks and general area around The Jade Mountain Main Peak. I can understand why as this in really a world class alpine area with some beautiful views.
The Jade Mountain Peak
The next morning we arose at 1:30 am to get to the peak by sunrise. It was nice hiking in the cool quiet air by moonlight:
To our absolute elation, we were the first group to the peak which allowed time to relax, reflect and take some fun photos before the crowd arrived:
The near cloudless sky gave us a beautiful sunrise and a beautiful view of most of Taiwan. We were able to see all the way across the island from the Pacific Ocean off the east coast to the Taiwan straight off the west.
The Jade Mountain lesser peaks and more distant mountains made for an astonishingly beautiful view in any direction. To me, the coolest thing we saw was the shadow of Jade Mountain to the southwest as the sun made it’s slow climb to the sky.
In the end, we made it down the mountain and back to Taipei by 6 pm, proving that hiking Jade Mountain is truly a weekend trip from anywhere in Taiwan.
Need help with permits or a guide? Try Barking Deer Adventures.