Hiking

Hiking and nature are a big part of Taiwan. I do my best to spend every sunny weekend in the mountains hiking or riding my motorcycle.

Teapot Mountain 茶壺山

Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 is definitely one of my favorite hikes in all of Taiwan.  On a clear day, Teapot can easily be conquered on a day trip from Taipei that even includes a visit to the nearby towns of Jinguashi 金瓜石 and Jiufen 九份.  A full weekend away could include any of the beautiful scenic areas of the Northeast Coast, including the Bitou Cape, Fulong Beach, Pingxi, the nearby Keelung City, and many other nice spots.

Teapot Mountain 茶壺山

Banpingshan has amazing views of the whole Northeast Coast.

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Categories: Hiking, Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

River Tracing

River tracing in Taiwan is an excellent way to explore some of the more remote areas of Taiwan, and a great way to beat the summer heat.  Being such a steep, mountainous country, Taiwan has hundreds of small rivers loaded with clean water, waterfalls, and cool, refreshing pools to swim in.  Taking a river tracing tour has become more and more popular in the last few years amongst locals and expats alike.

River tracers relax at a remote waterfall in Northern Taiwan

Remote waterfalls like this one are rarely seen by most people. The only way to get there is by spending a few adventurous hours in a river with your friends.

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Snow Mountain 雪山 – Dec, 2011

Snow Mountain (aka Xueshan, and a few other spellings) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful hikes in Taiwan.  I’ve been lucky enough to have done it several times now, and each time seems to get better and better.

Just this past weekend, Taiwan Adventures took took a group of hikers for a two day, two night adventure on this high mountain.  We had great people, great weather and a great time.

Hiking to Snow Mountain, Taiwan

The afternoon sun highlights some cliff ridges on the hike to Snow Mountain, Taiwan.

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Hiking Songluohu 松蘿湖

Songluohu (or Songluo Lake) is another small lake in the mountains near Yilan, Taiwan.   It’s a medium difficulty hike, mostly because the trail spends a lot of time crossing slippery tree roots, rocks and muddy slopes.  The 4 to 5 hour hike is well worth the effort though, as the lake itself is surrounded by small mountain peaks and is quite a unique sight.

We lead the second of our overnight hiking trips there about a week ago, so I thought I’d share the photos.

Hiking Sonluohu Lake Taiwan

The sunrise was beautiful.

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The Four Beast Mountains – Yongchun

My series of blog posts on hiking The Four Beast Mountains has become one of my most popular series since I’ve started blogging.  Now that spring is back upon us, I’ve noticed that those posts are getting more and more hits.  I can only guess that everyone is looking to get get some exercise!

So here’s a new post.  It’s going to be mostly just pictures, but they are all from an area that I glossed over in the last three posts.

The general Yongchun area consists of two high schools, a small military base, several temples, and a few apartment building neighborhoods.  The entire basin of this area (roughly 600m x 100m) was a shallow lake just a hundred years ago or so.

Promise King

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The Holy Ridge 雪山聖稜線

The Holy Ridge 雪山聖稜線 is one of Taiwan’s most famous big hiking trails.  It’s a stunning hike along a long ridge line that usually takes about 5 days.  It crosses several high peaks, including Taiwan’s second highest, Snow Mountain 雪山 (Xueshan) at 3886 m (12749 ft).  The ridge is so long that three full days can easily be spent at over 3,400 m.

My friends and I hiked The Holy Ridge recently in a four day blitz.  We achieved this by starting at midnight and hiking in the dark for an hour, then skipping the Snow Mountain Peak.

A Hiker Above the Clouds

A hiker looks out on a sea of clouds on Taiwan's Holy Ridge, a hiking trail on and around Snow Mountain (Xueshan).

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Snow Mountain - 雪山

Snow Mountain (雪山) is Taiwan’s second highest mountain at 3,886m (12,749ft).  Located in Shei-Pa National Park, the most popular trail to the peak is called the East Xue Trail and is quite a beautiful one.  The trail passes through a variety of scenery including open grass fields, several different pine forests and a stunning ex-glacial cirque.  Despite the fact that I say the following after nearly every hike in Taiwan: This might be one of the best hikes I’ve ever been on!

It’s possible to hike Snow Mountain (aka XueShan or Syue Mountain) on a two day weekend from Taipei, but it’s difficult.  We spent an excruciating Saturday hiking for about 13 straight hours.  Our day started at 3 am and finished at dusk.  In between, we were lucky enough to have some beautiful weather and see some beautiful sites…

Snow Mountain East Peak

The East Peak of Snow Mountain pokes out of the mist during an early morning sunrise.

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Jialuo Hu 加羅湖 Revisited

Jialuo Hu 加羅湖 is a mountain lake found high in the mountains of northern Taiwan. Only 70km southwest of Yilan, the trail head is a three hour drive from Taipei. The hike to the lake takes about another three hours, making this an awesome weekend away from Taipei’s bright lights.

This was the second time we hiked up to the beautiful lake, so I’ll keep this post short, and get right to the newest pictures:

Dream Catcher at Lake

A dream catcher-like spider web reflects the morning sun on Jialuo Hu Lake, near Yilan, Taiwan.

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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.

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Categories: Hiking, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, Taiwan Adventurers, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Hiking Xiaozi Shan in Pingxi (孝子山平溪)

I went on another weekend hike with Stu recently, this one to Xiaozi Shan (孝子山) and its nearby mountains located just to the south of Pingxi (平溪), Taiwan.  We had a good time as usual, enjoying the first rain-free Sunday that Taipei has seen in months.

XiaoZi Shan and it neighboring mountains, Cimushan (慈母山) and Cimufeng (慈母) are all just a few minute’s hike from the 106 highway and downtown Pingxi.  They all feature sheer-rock faced peaks with awesome views of the surrounding mountains and the Pingxi valley. What’s unbelievable about this area, is that all of the peaks are accessed by a trail “intersection” that has 4 different trail heads withing 40 meters of each other, and the peaks are all within a 30 minute hike from there!

Stu and I spent a few hours hiking up and down all the different peaks, then wandered home on a back trail and still got home for a late lunch, which has to make this area THE most accessible and best bang-for-you-buck hikes in all of Taiwan…

Hiking near Pingxi, Taiwan

A couple of men descend from the peak of Xiaozi Shan (孝子山) on a aluminum ladder in Pingxi (平溪), Taiwan.

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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.

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Hiking the Central Taiwan Mountains – NengGao 能高

The mountains of central Taiwan are remote and beautiful.  Some friends and I recently made a two day hiking trip to the old NengGao Historic Trail 能高越嶺古道. Starting near Puli 埔里, Taiwan, the Nenggao hiking trail is a long but relatively easy ascent to the “Spine of Taiwan”… the high mountain “Backbone” that runs north to south through its center.

Most of our trek was cool (perfect for hiking) and foggy (not so perfect for seeing the nice views), but we had a good time and saw some interesting things, so I thought I’d share.

Giant Earth Worm on the Neng Gao Historic Hiking Trail

A hiker in the Central Taiwan mountains finds a giant earthworm.

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The Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷)

The Golden Grotto (黃金峽谷) is a beautiful slot canyon up a remote river valley near Hualian, Taiwan.  Located a few kilometers south of the entrance to Taroko Gorge National Park (太魯閣國家公園) or a few Kilometers north of Hualian (花蓮), the entrance to the Pratan South River is in Pratan Village (aka SanJhan South River (三棧南溪) and SanJhan Village (三棧)).

Jumping off one of the waterfalls behind the Golden Grotto near Hualian, Taiwan.

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Hiking Taiwan – Jialou Hu 加羅湖

JiaLou Hu 加羅湖 is a mountain lake tucked high in one of Taiwan’s beautiful clouded forests.  If you can get to the trail head, it’s a moderate three hour hike to the lake.  On the way, you pass through some spectacular forests scattered with luscious green ferns, mossy vines, and a few 1,000 year old trees.

Three friends and I went there during the four day “Dragon Boat” holiday in late May.  We did it in two days, but there is plenty more to explore in the area, and most of the people we met there were staying for the whole weekend.

I took this opportunity to give my first shot at a multi-media presentation.  I would really, really like to get some critiques and feedback on what you think of it, so please feel free to comment below.

The multi-media presentation is above, but there are some still photographs and more information after the jump…

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Categories: Hiking, Motorcycling, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Hiking the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) – Elephant Mountain (象山)

Elephant Mountain (象山) is the most famous of the “Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山)” of Taipei, Taiwan and the most easily accessible.  It’s the third and last article in my series about hiking the Four Beasts MountainsPart one is on 9-5 Peak (Jiuwufeng – 九五峯), and part two is on Tiger Mountain (虎山).

Elephant Mountain is the most popular of the mountains for a good reason.  Being the closest to the city not only means easy access, but it means stunning views of Taipei, especially Taipei 101.

Taipei City and Taipei 101 as seen from Elephant Mountain

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Categories: Hiking, Must See Taiwan, PHOTOGRAPHY, TAIWAN, The Four Beast Mountains, TRAVEL | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

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