Hiking the Four Beasts of Taipei

It wasn’t supposed to be such a long, strenuous hike; I was told it was a casual hike from Elephant Mountain to Tiger Mountain, two of the Four Beasts of Taipei. Instead, I ended up hiking those two mountains plus a few more.

taipei 101 xiangshan
The view from Elephant Mountain on a clearer day

My friend asked if I’d like to join her on a hike that would end at Tiger Mountain, which would have brought us to the Tiger Mountain Ramble, an annual all-day concert. I wasn’t sure what time we’d start, and she sent me a message a bit too close to the meeting time — I said I’d catch up, and I did.

It turns out my friend had joined a Meetup group that was guiding the hike. By the time I had arrived at Xiangshan Station, the group had just finished that leg of the hike and was almost ready to head out along Muzhi trail. I said I’d make it to the top of Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) in 20 minutes, but I forgot to include the time it takes from the station to the trailhead. Somehow, I managed to reach the peak in about 20 minutes, just as the group was ready to head out on the trail again. Out of breath, I joined them.

hiking taipei
Not the clearest view with clouds rolling in

I was not prepared for the strenuous hike. I was wearing jeans, which was my first mistake. Second mistake was bringing my camera that I used twice all day. And because the weather didn’t look so good, I had an umbrella and a book in case I needed to duck into a coffee shop instead going out on the trail.hiking trail taipei

Along Muzhi Trail

The hike along Muzhi wasn’t the easiest — I’ve hiked part of this trail before when I started from Tiger Mountain and ended at Elephant Mountain, but much this was new to me.

muzhi shan
Graffiti at Mt. Thumb

Our destination along the trail was Mount Thumb (拇指山, Muzhǐ shān). After climbing plenty of stairs along the trail (popular trails in Taiwan have permanent stairs), we reached the destination — a small sign that pointed up the rocks.

View from Mt. Thumb

On a clear day, Mount Thumb would offer some great views of Taipei, but this day the view was obscured by the low clouds and incoming rain. Fortunately, the AQI was pretty good; it was just the humidity that made things difficult. Remaining stable on Mount Thumb can also be a challenge on the smooth rock, especially with strong winds swirling around.

As we climbed down from the peak and back to the trail toward 9-5 Peak and Tiger Mountain, we passed a shrine in the cliffside below Mount Thumb.Mt thumb shrine

Up to 9-5 Peak

Not far from Mount Thumb is 9-5 Peak. Unlike the other peaks along the way, this one wasn’t much to stop at. Mount Thumb offers much better views on clearer days than I had.

9-5 peak taipei
Look, kids, it’s the 9-5 Peak boulder

If not for the boulder engraved with 9-5 Peak in Chinese characters, I’d never know that I had reached the peak. There isn’t even much of a view from this point. It’s a decent spot to stop for a breath though.

Down Tiger Mountain

We trudged on through the humidity toward the end of our trek. We were planning on heading to the Tiger Mountain Ramble, which started in the late afternoon.four beasts hiking trail

By the time we reached the site of the concert, it was too early. It was supposed to start in an hour, but looked like they had barely started to set up (this annual event tends to start behind schedule every year). Rather than wait around, we walked farther down the mountain and into the city near Yongchun Station in search of food.

We stopped at a noodle and dumpling chain after picking up drinks at 7-Eleven across the street. We were all sweaty, thirsty, and hungry. For once I opted for a non-alcoholic beverage at a hike as I anticipated heading back to the Tiger Mountain Ramble where I’d have some beer.

tiger mountain taipei
View of the city from the mountains

After our long-belated lunch, we headed back out, considering the possibility of going to the concert. No one seemed to care about the concert anymore — everyone was tired and the sky looked ready for a downpour. My friend and I hopped on YouBikes and headed back to Xiangshan Station to head home.

Had we stayed for the concert, it would’ve been a muddy mess as it rained non-stop from the time I arrived home.

1 thought on “Hiking the Four Beasts of Taipei”

  1. Pingback: First Impressions of Chicago - Booze, Food, Travel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top