Hiking Jade Mountain 玉山

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.

The Jade Mountain Main Peak as seen from the West Peak hiking trail.

The Jade Mountain Main Peak as seen from the West Peak hiking trail.

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.

Macaque Monkeys

Macaque monkeys on the Alishan Road to Yushan National Park.

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.

Yushan Bamboo Forest

Stu hiking through a bamboo forest on the Yushan Hiking trail.

Yushan (Jade Mountain) Hiking Trail

Hiking along the Yushan (Jade Mountain) Hiking Trail.

The Yushan Hiking Trail

The Yushan Hiking Trail

Jade Mountain Hiking Group

A quick group photo on the Yushan Hiking Trail.

Some of the interesting sites included the Great Precipice:

The Great Precipice

Jason posing on the Great Precipice.

Jade Mountain The Great Precipice

Group shot on the Great Precipice.

The Johnny Depp Fan Club Eco-Toilet (!!??!!??):

Yes, the Johnny Depp Fan Club eco-toilet is found on the Yushan (Jade Mountain) Hiking Trail.

and many nice views from the narrow trail:

Lonely Alpine Tree

A lonesome tree grows in the clean, crisp air high above Taiwan.

Yushan Hiking Trail

Nice views a-plenty on our hike up the Yushan Hiking Trail to Jade Mountain.

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:

Hiking Jade Mountain

The early AM hike to Jade Mountain must be done in the dark. At times, the moonlight was bright enough to hike unassisted by flashlights.

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:

Our Group on Jade Mountain Main Peak

Hiking group photo on Jade Mountain Main Peak, Taiwan. We were the first group to summit, nearly an hour before sunrise.

Jade Mountain Sunrise

Sunrise from The Jade Mountain Main Peak.

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.

Jade Mountain's Shadow

Jade Mountain's shadow is caused by the rising sun and and a clear sky.

Yushan's (Jade Mountain)

Yushan's (Jade Mountain) Southern Peaks, seen from Jade Mountain Main Peak and lit by a beautiful sunrise.

Jade Mountain

A couple watches the sunrise from the Jade Mountain Peak in Taiwan.

Early Tea on Yushan

Stu having a quick refresher while watching the sunrise on Jade Mountain.

Yushan's (Jade Mountain)

Stu raises his hands in elation for climbing Jade Mountain on such a perfect morning.

Sunrise on Jade Mountain

A crowd of hikers gathers on Jade Mountain Main Peak to view the sunrise.

Jade Mountain Shadow and Hiker

Phil looks back towards the Jade Mountain Peak as its shadow slowly disappears behind him.

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.


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As usual, I’ll be lazy and differ the practicalities to Stu over at Hiking Taiwan.


Need help with permits or a guide?  Try Barking Deer Adventures.

Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

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36 thoughts on “Hiking Jade Mountain 玉山

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Hiking Jade Mountain 玉山 « Neil Wade's Photography Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: Yushan/Jade Mountain – 玉山 « Hiking Taiwan

  3. Robert Glover

    What breathtaking and unforgetable pictures! I can tell you guys had fun and your photos really caputured why Taiwan was once called Formosa. The views had to be fantastic and humbling. The ones of Jade mountain casting it’s shadow over the Island, gave me chills and wonderment of life. Thanks for sharing this with us and continue doing what I feel was really meant for you.

  4. Ed in Taiwan

    Well done fellas!! Looks amazing up there! How cold was it before the sun came up?

  5. Stunning images! Great work on the Jade Mountain’s shadow, couple watch, Jason posing on the Great Precipice!

  6. There are some truly awesome photos there. It must be an incredible experience to stand on top of Taiwan.

    • It really was. We go on a lot on nice hikes, but this was the first one where I had the adrenaline rush as we got to the top. I’m pretty sure we all let out a primal scream when we got there too!

  7. Gorgeous. -jealous-

    Have always wanted to do that trek.

    Keep’em coming…

  8. Congratulations Neil! Looks like a great time!

  9. Richard Hazeldine

    So Jealous. When we climbed it about 10 years ago it was cloudy/misty and we didn’t see a thing. I should go again.

  10. Neil Wade!!! Your pictures are amazing my friend! Bravo!

  11. Mia

    Thanks for sharing us such nice pictures and experience, I prefer to one of Great Precipice you took, very nice ! You were lucky with weather, no matter sunset or sunrise … it’s amazing that seems like a dream…

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  15. dennis

    Johnny Depp fansite on yushan? seriously? wo that’s a bit weird :P awesome pictures~

  16. wow, my family is from Taiwan and I go to Taipei all the time but I had no idea there were places in Taiwan that looked this amazing.

    the last shot is really incredible … looks like next time I go back I’ll have to avoid relatives for a few days and go climbing

  17. Cruisy

    Really nice images, Neil. Jason’s legs look about ten feet long on the Great Precipice shot!

  18. Chuu

    I found your photography work by accident.
    Those pics are amazing!
    Thanks for the great work.
    I love the deer that you took in Japan. They are so adorable.

  19. Pingback: Bamboo Forest Hiking Trek

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  21. Ellen Long

    Incredible pics! I

  22. Great info and pictures… I hope I can make to the peak next month.. :-)

    • Good luck! It’s actually not that difficult of a hike. Is the new lodge open or are you going to day-trip it?

  23. Pingback: Fireplace» Blog Archive » jade mountain pictures

  24. Thanks for the tour…..of a place I haven’t been….

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