For something that is off the beaten path while in Taipei, I went on a hike on Elephant Mountain (象山). Elephant Mountain together with three other peaks, Leopard Mountain (豹山), Lion Mountain (狮山) and Tiger Mountain (虎山) make up the ‘Four Beasts Mountains (四兽山)’ of Taipei.
This hike is popular with locals as it is easily accessible. It’s also a popular place for photographers as it provides sweeping views of Taipei city and the iconic Taipei 101 for free :).
To get here, just take the MRT Red Line to the last stop, Xiangshan station. From there it’s about 15 – 20 minute walk from Exit 2 to the start of the trail. It’s a pleasant walk through a residential area and park and there are plenty of signs along the way.
The hike up the mountain though is tougher with a lot of stairs. The stairs didn’t deter elderly hikers as well as families with children from ascending the mountain. This is because the stone step trail is well maintained and clearly marked. Along the way, there are benches for hikers to take a rest.
I got the first glimpse of the Taipei 101 building after about 10 minutes into the hike.
After a brief stop, I pushed on. I finally reached the main viewing area, 6 Boulders (六巨石) after about half an hour from the start of the trail.
This is the main viewing area with huge boulders where one can climb to relax and get a great view of the city.
This area is also popular with photographers. Some will even come early on weekends to stake out the prime spots to get a good shot of Taipei 101!
Seeing the view for myself, I can truly understand the reason for the popularity of Elephant Mountain. The stunning view made up for all the huffing, puffing and sweat. In fact, I believe the view is better than from the Taipei 101 Observation Deck.
If you are planning a visit to Elephant Mountain, do make sure to wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes, bring enough water and a towel.