I admit it, I’ve never been the most athletic person, however in these past years I have enjoyed new activities and sports to keep myself healthy. After arriving in Taiwan I discovered that the people here are active, you can always see people in the park doing some kind of physical exercise.
Then, while commuting and wandering around, I noticed a lot of trail signs. Taipei is a metro area; however, you won’t need more than half hour to find a trail to explore.
Xiangshan, or Elephant Mountain, was the first trail I tried. This is the popular one since it is a special place to get a sight of the whole city with the iconic Taipei 101 building as a cover. I liked the experience, and so I decided I could keep trying, but I wasn’t sure on how or where to start.
Luckily, a few weeks after this I found a post in which another expat was saying how she got named the ambassador of Hiker Babes Taiwan, and that she was organizing the first trip. So I hit like and signed up for the event.
Easy and short hikes in Taipei.
Caoling Historic Trail.
Located just outside Taipei, is heading east to Yilan County. The hike takes around 10km, has moderate difficulty, and can be done in 3-4 hours. We started at Dali station, from there you take right, the trails start just next to the temple, and we finish at Fulong.
From there you walk, the trail surrounds the mountain, but if you want to go faster, you can take the stairs in each section. In this first part, you can see the coast, amazing, mountain after mountain you can see part of the mountain range of Taiwan. The road paved and well signed; there are resting stations all around.
So after looking at the top, we went back to the intersection and started the trail to Fulong. There is no way to get lost, however, a good sign we were on our way was seeing the Tiger Stone. The tale says it is placed there to clear out the heavy fog and winds so they could keep working, according to Chinese believes “All the winds follow the Tiger”.
The trail in this part is smoother and deeper in the mountain, the air is fresher and you can see all the nature of this area. While you keep walking, another engraved stone appears, and this text also seems to be directed to the heavy winds and clouds that more often are seeing in this area.
Keeping down this road you can see a river and a street, in here you have to turn right until you find an abandoned construction site, there is a Little sign that says “Fulong”, looks like an undercover trail, but is ok, and is a good route to avoid the street and keep walking among nature.
This is the final section, one of the funniest experiences was to find an old house filled with cats, they were everywhere, in the roof, in the windows, in the main door. In the beginning, I counted around seven cats, but once one of my friends opened a tea egg she was carrying, we ended up counting maybe fifteen to twenty cats.
We found the main street again, which had a little communal farm and some of my friends took advantage to purchase veggies, why not? From there we found Fulong train station where we had lunch and waited for the upcoming train to Taipei.
I couldn’t have found a better day nor company for my first day of hiking, I enjoyed it, and once arrived home and signed up for the next one.
Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail.
Now with beautiful spring weather, this day was perfect to explore the three waterfalls in the rail. I was doubtful because everything I read mentioned how this trail was a Little more demanding and there was a few climbs section.
I went anyway, and it was worth it! Taking the train from Taipei Main Station we alighted at Sandiaoling station, one of the smallest and simplest I’ve found here. From the station, you can see the trails signs, easy not to get lost.
Not long after having started you can find the first waterfall, Hegu, which can only be seen from a distance, and is the bigger one of the three. By walking we found hanging bridges, this and the muddy trail were the definite clues that the hike would be challenging.
We found the second waterfall, Motian, this is close by and even has a standing platform so you can take good pictures. This moment was perfect to freshen up with the breeze coming out. And a good thing it was because the coming part was the most interesting of the whole trail.
We climbed really steep stairs, the newer ones with a metal frame. The other ones just a well placed stones and some ropes so you can lean on something. After all of this, we found the third waterfall, Pipa Cave. Besides being awesome, it has a very convenient set of rocks at its downfall, which made it the perfect place to sit down and have our lunch, after some group photos of course!
After this point, we climbed another natural stair and found an intersection; we took the trail to Shifen where we took the train back to Taipei. The trail leads you the exit, then you walk on the main road until you find the Shifen Scenic Area, which is a very famous waterfall perfect for a picnic day closet to the city.
- Take a good amount of water with you, at least 2L per person. Also, a good cold lunch, fruits, and candies.
- Don’t leave the sunscreen at home, and the sunglasses, hat, and UV jacket or windbreaker.
- Some trails in Taiwan, like Caoling, acknowledge hornets, so it’s better not to use bright colors clothing and no fragrances for the day.
- Have your EasyCard loaded with at least $300NT, so taking the train faster.
- Please be responsible for your trash, and why not pick up something that doesn’t belong to the trail.
I am super excited to be part of Hiker Babes Taiwan, now every time I’m at the gym I only think how I can train and strengthen my legs for the next hike. The good thing is that this is a worldwide movement; there is a group in each city encouraging one another. You can check if there is a group in your town already, or why not become a new ambassador for your city, follow them on Instagram.