After two weeks of miserable rain, the weather cleared up in Taipei — we’ve since gone back to clouds and occasional thunderstorms. With some the sight of decent weather, I decided I had to find some outdoor activities rather than just walking around museums. I searched for hikes because there are a lot of mountains nearby.
I chose Xiangshan (象山), or Elephant Mountain, as it has a few trails to choose from and it’s near a metro station. Of course, I found Google Maps does not have one particular extension of the Red Line, which would’ve saved me about 10 minutes changing trains and at least 20 minutes of walking. That extra time could’ve been spent on more hiking — I had to return to the station early as I had to meet a friend.
Anyway, it’s much easier to take the Red Line to the end at Xiangshan Station than to get off at Taipei City Hall (also my apartment happens to be on the Red Line). Either way, there are plenty of signs pointing toward the hiking trail.
As I got closer to the trail, the city grew quieter. There was less traffic and fewer people. There also wasn’t much in the way of food options between City Hall Station and Xiangshan — I ended up getting a bagel with cream cheese from NY Bagels Cafe, which I must admit is an acceptable bagel that is far superior to anything I had in Pennsylvania or Colorado.
Xiangshan is a pleasant hike that’s quite a bit easier than Mt. Oyama in Tokyo. The trails are well marked and maintained and it wasn’t crowded. For the most part, the trails are obscured by the plant life, but there are some great scenic overlooks with open platforms for photo opportunities.
The best reason to hike up Xiangshan is to capture some great views of Taipei and Taipei 101. It’s not a far walk from the tallest building in Taiwan. This hike supposedly provides the best views of Taipei 101 — I’d agree, but I haven’t been to any other places that compare yet.
On the way back down, I even came across this little phasmatodea, or stick insect, that no one else seemed to notice or care about. They were probably wondering what the foreigner was photographing.
There are more trails to other peaks connected to Xiangshan, but I didn’t have enough time or energy for them. I’ll have to head back there earlier on a Saturday or Sunday to hike it all. I’ll also try to hike up that way with a flashlight so I can see the city at night.