Months ago while preparing my itinerary for my trip to Taiwan, I came across a blog about outdoorsy things to do in Taipei. Most often when I travel, I prefer visiting the not so mainstream spots. The items in the blog post are not the common places people visit when they go to Taiwan. Of the five items in the list, Qixing Mountain caught my attention and got me really excited because it is the highest mountain in Taipei and Taiwan’s highest (dormant) volcano.
Unlike my trip to Hong Kong, I researched and made an itinerary for my Taiwan trip because there are so many things I wanted to see. I scheduled my hike to Qixing Mountain on the 5th day of my trip. A day before my scheduled hike, it was raining all over Taipei. I checked the weather forecast for the following day and unfortunately, it’s going to rain too. I was having second thoughts about doing the hike but I remembered that I included it in my 40 Before 40 bucket list so I went on as planned.
On the day of my hike, I prepared the usual stuff I bring during hikes- enough water, face towel and food to eat. And since it was raining, I made sure I brought my umbrella. I also bought a raincoat at 7-11 because I have read that using umbrella near the peak when it is raining is not too practical because the wind is really strong.
Qixing Mountain is located in the center of Yangmingshan National Park. Its main peak is 1,120 meters (3,675 ft) above sea level. I have read that in a good weather when you reach the top you’ll be fascinated by the breathtaking views of Taipei – including its famous landmark, Taipei 101.
From Beitou MRT Station, I took bus 230 that took me directly to Yangmingshan. I alighted at the Yangmingshan Bus Station. The entrance of the Miaopu Trail, a 2.4-km trail that leads to Mt. Qixing’s Main Peak, is located near the Visitor Center of Yangmingshan. From the bus station, I followed the signs to get to the Visitor Center.
After about 700 meters, I reached the Science Shop and Cafe and next door is the Visitor Center. I entered the Science Shop to check what’s inside. The Science Shop must not be skipped especially by geologists like me because they have seven display racks of rocks and mineral samples, fossils, and gemstones that are for sale. I’ll make another post about that shop next time. Moving on, so before going to the entrance of the trail, I looked for a washroom because there are no washroom facilities once you leave the area until you finish the hike.
The Mt. Qixing Hiking Trail (Miaopu Entrance) is where you begin. I started my hike at around noon time and it was drizzling when I started so I decided to put on my raincoat. A few meters during my hike though, I was sweating already even though it was so cold so I decided to take off my raincoat and use my umbrella instead.
Just like in Hong Kong, there is no fee and you don’t need a guide to do a hike here. The trail is well maintained and well signposted so you won’t get lost. I would like to mention that majority of the people I saw hiking here are in their 50s or 60s. The Taiwanese people have a very active lifestyle.
The trail to Mt. Qixing is about 80-90% stairs and it is completely shaded with tree cover. There are a few benches along the way where you can rest. Every 200 meters there is a distance post so you know how far you are to the peak.
The trail is ascending gradually at first, then becoming quite steep later on. Be very careful especially when you are hiking on a rainy day as the steps are slippery.
After hiking for almost two hours, I finally reached the peak. It was so foggy and the wind was really strong so after taking a few pictures, I decided to go back. There isn’t much to see really, just fog. There is an option to do a traverse and take the Xiaoyoukeng Trail for the descent but I didn’t do it because of the weather. It is on this trail where you get to see the fumaroles. Too bad! Perhaps when I get a chance to go back to Taiwan, I’ll hike this mountain again and do a traverse hike. I hope by then I’ll see the breathtaking views of Taipei and take nice pictures too.
When I got to the junction, I decided to go to the East Peak too because I was already there anyway. No one was in the East Peak when I got there and the wind was much stronger than at the Main Peak. I got really scared. After taking a selfie with the marker, I left.
It was much faster going down. I think I did it in less than an hour. The hike was not too hard but it was tiring. I guess what made it difficult was the rain and the wind. While going down, I reflected on what I just did as I always do when I hike alone. And then I got a little emotional and was in tears. I can’t believe I was able to reach the top. I was telling myself not everyone can do that hike, not everyone can hike alone and not everyone can hike alone in a foreign country. It was my first time to hike with that weather condition. And I did it!
It was tiring, I got scared and I had a hard time walking the following day but I did it. I did it because I wanted to do something challenging. Not because of Instagram. I did it because I wanted to feel closer to nature. It feels better to reflect on your life when you are on the mountain. And I get a different kind of high when I reach the peak of the mountain.
How to Get To Yangmingshan Bus Stop
Option 1: Take Bus 260 from Taipei Railway Station
• The bus stop itself is right outside MRT Taipei Main Station, exit M2
Option 2: Take Bus 230 from MRT Beitou Station
Option 3: Take Bus R5 from MRT Jiantan Station
How to Get Back
Take either Bus 260 all the way back to Taipei Main Station, or bus R5 back to MRT Jiantan Station.
- Bring water and food.
- Bring face towel especially during summertime as you will be perspiring a lot.
- Wear appropriate shoes, something with grip especially when you are doing the hike in the wet months. Avoid wearing heels or flip-flops.
- Bring umbrella or waterproof jacket in case it rains.