hiking Taipei // Elephant Mountain

hiking Elephant Mountain | some of the best views of the Taipei skyline can be seen from this short hike up Xiangshan. convenient to the MRT, this city hike gives you some of the best views for your effort.

Elephant Mountain [or Xiangshan] has been on my Taipei to-do list for years. it's a short hike with stunning views, only a short walk from the MRT. yet somehow I hadn't yet made it happen... until this week.

I started the day thinking I would do some work and run errands. I saw the sun and decided I should get out of the apartment, and hopped the MRT in the direction of downtown. but when I saw the visibility - how clear the mountains were - I scrapped my plan and rode the line all the way to Xiangshan. it was one of those moments that Husband best described as the hills are alive/ Julie Andrews/ Sound of Music. it just happens to me from time to time. 

Elephant Mountain, Taipei | hiking trails in Taiwan often are paved with stairways

Elephant Mountain is known for sweeping city views, proximity to Taipei 101, and a lot of stairs. the hiking trail - stone steps - leads up the mountain and actually continues on to 3 additional peaks. Elephant, Leopard, Lion, and Tiger make up what are known as the four beasts. someday I hope to go back and hike them all, but this day the Elephant was just enough for me. I was not wearing tennis shoes or workout clothes, but decided that sweating my face off would be worth it for the views.

I was right about both the sweating AND the views. despite the hot mess I was, I still had some old Taiwanese men out for their daily climb up the mountain smile and say piao liang! - beautiful! - as they blazed right past me. most of the elderly Taiwanese I encounter are very active and spry.

Elephant Mountain, Taipei | this hike is famous for its views of Taipei 101

the scenery improved with each platform up the mountain. I just kept following the trickle of tourists bearing backpacks and selfie sticks. at one point, there were huge boulders just made for climbing and taking photos on. 

I - once again - had forgotten my selfie stick. really what's the point of owning one if you don't use it in these instances? I need to just carry it around with me all the time apparently, so I can be prepared for these impromptu adventures.

Elephant Mountain, Taipei | city views from the top of Xiangshan
Elephant Mountain, Taipei | the observation platforms along this hike have adorable elephant emblems

thankfully this trail is popular enough that there was a friendly stranger around to take my photo. [even with the sweat and weird shadows going on, it's nice to have a little proof I was actually there.]

the view was great and the breeze was cool, so I rested for a bit before heading back down. one guy was sitting with his paper and looked like he was planning to stay all day. honestly, I can't blame him. 

Elephant Mountain, Taipei | views of the city skyline from the hike up

to get to the trail, take the red line [2] to the Xiangshan MRT stop. head out exit 2 and follow the signs through Zhongqiang Park. you will make a left at the end of the park, head up the hill and then to the right, with the trail entrance on your left just past the temple [pictured above.] you should reach the trail in about 10 minutes. I would recommend bringing water with you, or stopping at the first landing to buy a bottle from the nice lady with the cart. or maybe you prefer a Taiwan beer to enjoy with your view - she sells those as well.

the Elephant Mountain hike in Taipei gives some of the best city views

it seems like the Elephant Mountain hike has a lot of "bang for your buck" - low time commitment and easy MRT accessibility for such great views. this is definitely something you should add to your list if you're planning to visit Taipei. in fact, I might even go so far as to recommend this hike over the Taipei 101 observation deck [since this hike gives you city views with the famous landmark in the skyline.]

I can see this being an easy repeat hike, and a great place to take visitors. not that I'm planning to turn into a hiking blog, but when the weather is clear I just want to be outside - and thankfully Taipei is surrounded with mountains to climb.

linking up for Travel Tuesday with Bonnie, Lauren and Courtney

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