I often get people asking for good day trip hikes to do in and around Taipei so I thought I’d write about my own top 5. They’re in no particular order and each one is very different and in terms of terrain and difficulty. All can be done in a day by public transport with the exception of Beichatianshan.
This one is a great ridge walk that starts in the small town of Shiding, east of Taipei. The beginning starts with a deceptively boring climb up some stones steps. At the top of these steps the hike gets a lot tougher and a lot more exciting with a series ladders, ropes and chains to help you clamber you’re way over the knife like ridge. It’s easily accessed by public transport via the ominously number 666 bus from Jingmei and Mucha MRT stations.
Leopard, Lion, Elephant and Tiger make up the four beasts in the Xinyi District of Taipei with the latter two offering the best views of Taipei 101 and the rest of the city. The paths in this area and mostly paved, very well signposted with map boards everywhere and they are lit at night making it a very accessible place to hike. It would be difficult to recommend a route as there are too many paths to give a detailed description, so my advice would to be to simply go and explore! There are loads of shrines, temples, gardens, gyms, peaks to find and get lost around. Nearest MRT is the City Hall Station.
The toughest of the hikes mentioned here. Given that Beichatian can be done in a day from Taipei, it is incredibly remote and feels very much like a high mountain trek. There are quite a few starting points. My two favourites are from Manyueyuan, a long hike that can be done in loop (but doesn’t have to be) and Xiao Wulai, which is shorter and passes through a groove of giant redwoods. Set off early for this hike to be sure of getting down before nightfall! Not much in the way of useful public transport for both of these hikes unfortunately.
Another very popular ridge hike and like Huangdidain, this one is not for the faint-hearted! The highlight of the hike is the section of exposed ridge that hikers must lower themselves down via a fixed rope. Save this one for a dry, non-windy day. To get there by public transport take the MRT to Yongning Station and then get a taxi to the trailhead (about 200NT) which is by the Hezuo Bridge 合作橋. (See the map on the link)
The highest peak in Yangmingshan, Qixingshan offers spectacular views of the Taipei Basin and the north coast. I prefer to start this one at Xiaoyoukeng, a huge crater on the side of the mountain that spews out steam and sulphur however if you’re going by public transport, the best place to start is at the visitors centre where you can pick up free maps of the trail. Take the MRT to Beitou Station and then the Little 9 (小9) to the Centre.