Hiking in Taipei: Neihu Ridge, Bishan Temple and Jinmian Rocks
Northeast Taipei’s Neihu District, sandwiched between the Keelung river and the Neihu ridge (the first of a series of ridges leading up to Yangmingshan National Park) on the edge of the city, is an absolutely cracking area for parks and hiking. You can access many of the trails with just a short walk from the MRT, and quickly find yourself hiking up steep mountainsides surrounded by the jungle; yet civilisation is never far away, with awesome city views from the hills and food & drink galore waiting for you at the end of your hike.
Dahu Park is the starting point for a number of trails (as well as being a lovely little park to hang out in), with four signposted right outside Dahu Park Station:
When I lived in the area I made a thorough exploration of these trails. The two on the right, the Liyushan (鯉魚山) and Zhongyongshan (忠勇山) trails, start 10 minutes away at Dagouxi Riverside Park and form part of the longer Neihu ridge hike to Bishan Temple and Jinmian Rocks described on this page. The other two – Bailusishan and Kangleshan – are much shorter hikes in the immediate vicinity of Dahu Park; see here for those.
This hike starts from Dahu Park, climbs up via either the Liyushan Trail or Yuanjue Waterfall & Yuanjue Temple to Bishan Temple & Baishihu Bridge near the top of Zhongyongshan, then through the hills to Jinmian Rocks before finally descending to Xihu Station (or alternatively you can skip Jinmian Rocks and actually walk all the way along the entire ridge until it ends at Jiantan Station on the Red Line, just next to Shilin Night Market; see here for details of that route).
The views from both Bishan Temple and Jinmian Rocks are awesome on a clear day, with Bishan’s viewing platform having probably the best Taipei views I know of. If you don’t want to do the whole hike, there’s an out from the top of Zhongyongshan allowing you to descend from there; the whole hike takes around 4 hours, but if you descend from Zhongyongshan it’s about 2.5 hours. Jinmian Rocks also works as a fun little stand alone hike from Xihu Station (one hour up & down, plus however long you spend at the rocks; see here).
From Dahu Park Station, take exit 1 and walk north on Dahushanzhuang Street (大湖山莊街):
…following it round to the left past an elementary school until it ends at Dagouxi Riverside Park after about 10 minutes:
Walk up through the park alongside Dagou Creek; it takes another 10 minutes or so to walk up to the top of the park, where you cross over this bridge:
…and follow the road up to the left where you’ll see this temple:
Turn right in front of the temple, this way:
…following the sign for Mt Liyu:
From there, the trail continues to follow the creek up through the forest; after a short distance you reach this turning on the left for the Liyushan Trail up to Bishan Temple:
Going straight takes you up the valley to Bishan via Yuanjue Waterfall and Yuanjue Temple, whereas turning left takes you steeply up the side of the valley and then along the ridge to the temple.
These handy maps along the way show the two routes:
Both routes are good. As it goes along the ridge, the Liyushan Trail is more work as you climb higher faster, then descend a bit, then climb again to Bishan Temple; but it’s nice to walk along the ridge and catch some views and some breeze, especially if it’s hot. The Liyushan Trail also has a series of sculpted miniature landmarks alongside the path, mostly featuring Taiwanese landmarks but also Mt Fuji and the Great Wall of China (which runs next to the path for some distance):
When the path drops down again to the road, cross over and head up the steep steps on the other side to reach Bishan Temple; coming from this direction, if you also want to visit Baishihu Bridge it’s just down from Bishan Temple on the other side.
If you don’t take the Liyushan trail turning and go straight ahead instead, you’ll reach Yuanjue Waterfall after another 10 minutes. This is a lovely little spot to cool off in summer, and if it’s hot you’re likely to see a whole bunch of people doing just that and paddling about with their shoes off.
Once you’re done there take the steep steps heading up on the left side of the waterfall, which bring you up to Yuanjue Temple:
It’s a fairly large temple with some nice views out front, but the views further up at Bishan Temple are even better so push on up to the top.
From Yuanjue Temple just keep going straight and a few minutes along the road take the steps following there sign for Baisishu Bridge:
…this brings you up to Bishan Road, turn right and follow the road for 5 minutes up and round the bend to reach Baishihu Bridge.
This is a footbridge across a small valley which appears to have been randomly built here for no particular reason, but it seems to have become a popular little attraction in its own right. There are a bunch of cafes in the vicinity, and a big car park at the top of Bishan Road for those driving up to visit the temple and/or bridge. From the car park walk up under the temple gate to reach Bishan Temple.
The temple’s built onto the steep slope of the mountainside in such a fashion that if you approach from the front on the steps up from the end of the Liyushan Trail, you’re looking up at a large structure of 7 or 8 storeys, all of which you have to walk up past; but when you approach from the rear via the bridge & car park (as most do), you’re already at the top and walk straight out on to the open viewing platform. The views from this platform are immense (air quality permitting – check here and make sure to go up on a clear day), and if there’s a better viewpoint in Taipei I’m yet to see (or hear of) it; if you have limited time, it would even be a worthwhile hike to just walk up to Bishan Temple on the Yuanjue Trail and then go back down on the Liyushan Trail (total time around 2 hours, perhaps more as you’ll likely want to hang out a bit at the temple and take photos).
Don’t just gaze out at the views though – also check out the amazing detail on the temple; as is so often the case with Taiwanese temples, the roof is amazing, but in this case you can go up the steps at the back of the temple and actually get up directly behind the roof to see it up close. The level of detail is incredible.
Last time I was up there (spring 2019) the viewing deck was closed for renovation, with a sign saying this would be the case until January 2020. Until then this is the best view you can get, from the side of the temple:
Once you finally manage to tear your eyes away from the views, follow the signs on the trail behind the temple for Zhongyongshan. The path is just across from the golden statue:
It’s just a (fairly steep) climb of 10 minutes or so to the top of the mountain, where you’ll find a large statue of Chiang Kai Shek, an open air gym, and probably a bunch of elderly locals working out or chilling out, perhaps with their dogs along too, and the resident cats lounging around. There aren’t any views from the summit though, as there are trees on all sides.
If you want to descend to Neihu Station from Zhongyongshan, the path is the one down on the south side signposted for Jinlong Temple, roughly speaking a left turn in relation to the direction you arrived from; this takes you down a long, steep flight of steps and eventually comes out on Neihu Road next to Jinlong Temple. Follow Neihu Road down to Jinlong Road, and follow that down to Neihu Station. The steps are lit at night so if you find yourself running out of light this is the best route:
If you want to crack on through the hills to Jinmian Rocks, take the path down from Zhongyongshan signposted for Jinlong Rural Road (also translates as Jinlong Agricultural Path):
Walk along under the power lines to a large hillside cemetery, and not far beyond the cemetery the path comes out on Jinlong Agricultural Road (it’s an actual paved road for motor vehicles). It’s about 10 minutes from the top of Zhongyongshan to the cemetery, 5 walking through the cemetery, and maybe another 10 from the cemetery to the road.
Once you hit the road turn left and follow it for 10 minutes or so round a few bends until you see another hiking trail joining the road from the right, signposted for Daluntoushan:
That trail goes over the top of Mt Dalunwei to the vicinity of the National Palace Museum, though I haven’t explored that way yet. Starting from there you can see a green pedestrian hiking trail painted on the road:
Follow that a little further along the road until it brings you to this hiking path on the left, which will take you all the way to Jinmian Rocks:
From here you just need to follow the signs for Jinmian Shan (金面山), descending for a while and then climbing again up the next ridge. The trail crosses the road again slightly further down, and intersects with a few other hiking trails along the way – one of them is at this pavilion:
…from where you’d turn left to reach Jinmian Rocks, but if you keep going straight you can actually continue all the way along the ridge for a few more hours until it ends at Jiantan Station on the Red Line (see here for details of that route).
To continue to Jinmian, whenever you have an intersection just follow the sign for Jinmian Shan (金面山) and perhaps 25 minutes after turning off the road you’ll reach the Jinmian ridge (the rocks themselves are actually called Jiandaoshi, 剪刀石, Scissors Rock, so you may also see that on the signs, but 金面山 is the main name used). When you hit the ridge it isn’t obvious which way to go; the answer is left, and Jinmian Rocks are 50m along past a small pavilion.
Jinmian Rocks is a great little spot, a jumble of jagged and exposed rocks you can scramble around on with great views over the city. You can sit and watch the planes taking off and landing at nearby Songshan Airport:
On nice days lots of people just hike directly up here from Xihu to hang out; for directions on Jinmian as a quick up & down hike from Xihu Station see here. It does get crowded sometimes, but that’s because it’s such a cool place.
Once you’re done there walk back along the ridge past the little pavilion and past the trail you came up on, then take the left turn which takes you back down to suburbia. When you reach the bottom you still have to walk for 10 or 15 minutes through city streets to reach Xihu Station, but as you get closer to the station there’s a whole bunch of cafes, dumpling joints and various other eateries where you can grab some well-earned refreshments. The Miramar entertainment complex is also just one stop away at Jiannan Road Station, with tons more food & drink options, multiplex cinema, Ferris wheel, etc – though you may well be feeling too sweaty for that! (unless you do the hike in winter)
Have you been hiking in Neihu? Any questions or comments? Give me a shout below and I’ll get back to you.
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