Hiking in Taipei: Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain)
Xiangshan (象山, Elephant Mountain) is a nice little hike you can do in Taipei without leaving the city. It only takes an hour or two, and the view of Taipei 101 and the city beyond is probably the most famous view of Taipei – chances are you’ve already seen pictures. The starting point is Xiangshan station which is the eastern terminus of Line 2 (the red line), one stop past Taipei 101. Immediately south of the station there’s a fairly long and narrow park called Zhongqiang Park (中強公園):
Walk south all the way through the park and then take this left turning at the end of the park up past the tower blocks:
Xiangshan is clearly signposted from there, just follow the road up and round for a few minutes to the start of the steps (just past the temple):
Once you’re at the steps, you know what to do!
The trail is obvious and well-maintained (mostly consisting of stone steps), so there aren’t really any navigational concerns – just bring enough to drink as Taipei is usually hot and sweaty and the mark-up charged by the drinks vendors at the base of the trail is steeper than the trail itself! This is a very popular hike so it gets really busy on weekends – it’s better to go on a weekday if you can.
Just beyond the 6 boulders there’s a viewing deck from which you get the classic view. From there you can either head back down or continue exploring. If you keep going up a little higher, you reach a trail junction at the top with this signpost (sorry, I only have a night photograph):
If you turn left (signed for ‘hiking trail stamp punch station’) you come to a small pavilion with more nice views but without all the people:
If you keep going past that pavilion there‘s another trail down (with several branches near the bottom, all clearly signposted so you can easily get the right direction for Xiangshan Station) which offers a quieter alternative to the main trail.
For more extended alternatives, Xiangshan is actually one of a group of four neighbouring peaks named after animals, the others being Baoshan (豹山, Leopard Mountain), Shishan (獅山, Lion Mountain), and Hushan (虎山, Tiger Mountain). Collectively they’re known as the Four Beasts (四獸山, Si Shou Shan) and you can extend your Elephant Mountain hike into a Four Beasts hike as described here. On that page I’ve described it starting from Tiger and finishing at Elephant, but you can go the other way – to do so, from the signpost pictured above take the other path, signed for ‘Muzhi Mountain’ (it means Thumb Mountain). This trail descends for a short distance before climbing again all the way up Mt Nangang, but before it does you’re looking for this left turn through to Beixingbao Temple (sorry for the night photo again):
Then you’re on the right path for the other three beasts. See here for the rest of the details.
If you want to go to the very top of the whole mountain, you can keep going up the trail to Thumb Mountain, and then after that to 9-5 Peak before descending via Tiger Mountain. The Four Beasts (and Thumb Mountain) are all subsidiary peaks of the much higher Mt Nangang, and 9-5 Peak is the highest point. For full details see my page here
Any comments or questions about Xiangshan? Give me a shout below and I’ll get back to you.
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