Hiking in Taipei: Shamaoshan, Yangmingshan Park

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Shamaoshan is one of the smaller subsidiary volcanic peaks in Yangmingshan National Park, and it’s a good option if you want to go for a shorter hike in Yangmingshan without doing anything more involved like Qixingshan. It’s also a good plan B if you take the bus up to Yangmingshan to do a longer hike but then find the 108 bus (which loops the park and gets you to the Datunshan and Qixingshan trailheads) isn’t running, as sometimes happens after typhoons due to landslide danger along the road.

It’s a steep-sided cone with quite a distinctive appearance, I first spotted it from Battleship Rock and then looked it up on Google Maps and made plans to go check it out.

Battleship Rock, with Shamaoshan just left of centre:

Views from Battleship Rock

It’s a short, steep hike up through the forest with nice views of Yangmingshan to reward you at the top:

View of Datunshan from Shamaoshan

The board at the trailhead has these maps showing the distinctive shape, and a bit of historical info:

Map of Shamaoshan
Map of Shamaoshan
Shamaoshan information board

Start by taking the bus up to Yangmingshan Bus Terminal. Take the R5 bus from Jiantan Station on the Red Line, and Yangmingshan is the last stop. You can also board at Shilin Station but Jiantan is the first stop so it’s better to get on there and have a seat for the ride; the bus stops are to the left when you come out of the station exit. They run every 15 minutes and take around 30 mins depending on traffic.

The Yangmingshan bus station is at a height of around 400m, right next to Shamaoshan on the far side from Taipei. This hill you see right next to the bus station is Shamaoshan:

Yangmingshan bus station

To find the trailhead, walk towards Shamaoshan then turn left out of the car park, walking downhill past the post office on the right and fire station on the left.

Yangmingshan post office

After the fire station there’s a park on the left, and the trail starts opposite Yangming Pond:

Pond near Yangmingshan bus station

Take the steps going up the side of this building (a barber shop):

Shamaoshan trailhead
Shamaoshan trailhead
Shamaoshan trail

It’s only 1.2km to the top, climbing from 400m to 643m over that distance so it’s a pretty steep trail, mostly consisting of stone steps:

Shamaoshan trail

It does mellow out towards the summit though, as the mountain is quite flat up top.

You catch a few views through the trees, but for most of the hike up the main thing you see is the teeming plant life of the forest:

Views from the Shamaoshan trail
Shamaoshan trail
Forest in Yangmingshan park, Taipei
Forest in Yangmingshan park, Taipei

And then suddenly you’re at the top, enjoying the scenery from the viewing platform:

Top of Shamaoshan

The mountain dead ahead is Qixingshan, the highest in Yangmingshan park (and Taipei’s highest point):

View of Qixingshan from Shamaoshan
View of Yangmingshan National Park from the top of Shamaoshan

The large mountain to the left of Qixingshan is Datunshan, the 2nd highest in the area:

View of Yangmingshan National Park from the top of Shamaoshan

And the large building in the middle of this pic is Chungshan Hall (the building depicted on the red 100 TWD bill), of historical interest as the seat of the National Assembly during the KMT dictatorship years (a role it lost during Taiwan’s switch to democracy):

View of Yangmingshan National Park from the top of Shamaoshan

If you keep going a short distance beyond the summit viewing platform you come to the remains of Prince’s Pavilion, which was erected here for the visit of Crown Prince Hirohito (later the Showa Emperor) while Taiwan was part of Japan, though he never actually hiked up to it as planned:

Prince's Pavilion, Shamaoshan

From the top you can either descend the way you hiked up (best option if you want to jump on the bus back down to Jiantan/Shilin), or keep going down the other side past the Prince’s Pavilion. Doing so brings you down to Shamao Road, which has minibuses running down to Xinbeitou Station & Beitou Station every 30 mins or so, until around 10pm (check the times on Google Maps). I haven’t done this, but I recommend this route if you’re finishing your hike during the evening rush hour as the R5 bus to Jiantan down the main road passes several universities and schools, so the traffic slows to a crawl and the bus gets absolutely packed. When you get down to the road you’re halfway between two bus stops, so just have to walk a few hundred metres along the road in either direction to find a bus stop.

I snapped this last pic in the park near the bus station on the way back:

Kind of reminds me of the gardens at the old palaces in Seoul.

Any questions about Shamaoshan? Give me a shout below and I’ll get back to you.

Useful Links

Accommodation: search & book rooms in Taipei

For some more hikes in and around Taipei see here, and see my Taiwan overland travel guide here. Also check out my guides to hiking in Seoul, Tokyo, and Kyoto

Make sure you have a good insurance policy; World Nomads offer flexible travel insurance you can buy even if already overseas – most travel insurance companies won’t cover you if you’ve already left your country, and this can be a crucial point as I once found out the hard way in Thailand.

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