Definitely a must-do when in Taipei is to hike the Elephant Mountain trail, which leads to a breathtaking vista of the city and of Taipei 101 at the top of the steps. It’s a very short hike, only about 20 minutes one way, but it is a steady incline of endless steps, so I would definitely recommend wearing light-weight, breathable clothes and comfortable shoes. Also, DO NOT FORGET THE MOSQUITO REPELLANT!!
How to get there: from Xiangshan MRT station, the way to the hike is very clearly labeled. Basically walk straight down the street parallel to the park, and head up the hill to the left. Signs all the way!
But first, we did head to Family Mart to get some breakfast. Taipei is so riddled with convenience stores it’s ridiculous. You literally cannot walk down one block without seeing at least one 7-11, Hi-Life, or Family Mart, all of which basically sell the same things. Tracy got a watermelon milk and an egg roll. I was able to buy a fresh tea egg, rice ball, and bottle of Ion Sweat sports water for 55 yuan (under $2 USD).
The trailhead is located right beside a large temple up the sloped road, and is marked clearly along with a map of the different trails that branch out:
Just a little ways up from the trailhead, there is a lady selling tea eggs and small refreshments so those who forgot to bring water can definitely get some there!
And from there it was a relentless upwards climb…It was a pretty hot day, and the humidity was killer, as usual. We were both seeping sweat not even halfway up the trail! The trail itself was well maintained though, and was thoroughly paved with stone steps that were awkwardly mini-sized at some points (like the awkward steps at UCLA), and really steep at other spots. Also, most of the trail was covered in shade from the abundant greenery all around, so it was not as hot as it could have been if we’d been in the sun the whole time.
Overall it was a really beautiful experience though. Unlike in the city where it just smells like exhaust, smoke, and pollution all the time, the air up there was very clean. It also felt remarkably peaceful, even though there were a good number of people on the trail that Saturday morning—probably due to the sound of cicadas and other naturey sounds that permeated the air.
The trail draws an assortment of elderly Taiwanese, young locals, foreign travelers, and photographers, and it’s easy to see why…around the time we couldn’t take the endless ascent anymore we were rewarded with a small deck that opened up to an unobstructed view of Taipei 101.
There are also lots of benches scattered along the trail—maybe for romantic couples or for the elderly to rest at?
After a final stretch of the steepest stairs ever, we finally arrived at the top. The view is absolutely SPECTACULAR and I can definitely imagine how crowded it must be up here with photographers at sunset and at night.
Highly recommend this hike if you’re ever in Taipei! It’s a casual hike that is doable in regular close-toed shoes as you can see, but you’ll definitely still work up a bit of a sweat. The resulting view is well worth it!
Check out my video of our hike down below:
And until next time!