Ancient forests, unspoiled mountains, and an astonishing variety of flora make Taiwan a world-class destination for lovers of the outdoors. More than half of the island state’s land is protected as national parks or reserves, giving hikers a staggering array of trails to choose from.
Lace up your hiking shoes and make your way to Taiwan to appreciate the raw beauty of Taiwan’s outdoors. Here are a couple of KKday recommendations on great hiking trails in Taiwan to start you off. Most of these trails are open for most of the year, although the best months for hiking are from March to May and October to December.
Yushan Peaks Trail at Yushan National Park
The Yushan Peaks Trail is possibly the most popular trail in Taiwan, especially with tourists. The overnight hike is a manageable experience even for beginners and the picture-perfect natural scenery draws plenty of hikers all year round.
Follow the path that weaves through Yushan National Park and trek all the way to the top of Yushan Peak, also known as Jade Mountain. The trail features plenty of pretty views, including dense hemlock forests and juniper trees growing thicker as you climb higher and higher.
Wake up early on the second day to reach the summit in time to witness the amazing sunrise bathe the mountain in warm hues.
Beidawushan Trail in Pingtung
Another beginner’s favorite is the Beidawushan Trail, which is a 10-kilometer trek that takes travelers on a smooth journey to the summit where they’re treated to spectacular panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Taiwan Strait. Keep in mind that while the trail is a relatively simple one—albeit with a number of switchbacks and rope sections—it is an overnight hike to the top.
One of the best parts of the Beidawushan Trail is the presence of a humongous 1,000-year-old red cedar tree along the path with a 25-meter circumference. Other highlights include shrines from the Japanese occupation of the region, hemlock spruce forests, and the occasional bird of prey swooping past, including eagles and black kites. Formosan rock macaques and flying squirrels are also somewhat common in the area.
Qixing Mountain at Yangmingshan National Park
Dormant volcano Qixing Mountain, also known as the Seven Star Mountain, is ideal for travelers who don’t want to wander too far from Taipei as Yangmingshan is only half an hour away from the city center.
The beginner-friendly peak can be reached via the steep Elephant Mountain, which mostly consists of stairs, or the more difficult Miaopu trail, which passes by the sulfur spewing geological formation Xiaoyoukeng. Either way, be prepared to sweat and bring plenty of water.
Wuling Sixiu Trail at Shei-Pa National Park
Be warned: this three- to four-day trek is one of the most challenging ones in Taiwan. It involves traversing four mountains with an abundance of heart-stoppingly steep ascents and descents. A particularly difficult stretch comes near the peak as the trail shrinks down to narrow pathways and several sections giving hikers a scare with a number of breakneck drops.
For all the challenges of the Wuling Sixiu Trail, it’s an amazing journey to experience with otherworldly scenery rewarding travelers who keep going. Enlist the help of a guide if you’re planning to trek this trail.
Zhuilu Old Trail at Taroko National Park
The Taroko National Park is an extremely popular destination in Taiwan with tourists flocking to the park for a glimpse of the famous Taroko Gorge. To steer clear of the crowds, experienced travelers can opt to hike the Zhuilu Old Trail.
Used by indigenous tribes in the early 19th century, the Zhuilu Old Trail isn’t especially difficult, but it is extremely perilous. This trail is chiseled out of the marble cliff about 700 meters above the jagged canyon floor of the gorge. All the while, trekkers are balancing on a path that’s just a couple of feet wide.
While it can be a scary trek, the trip only takes around three to five hours, depending on your level of fitness and speed.