Elephant Mountain

I've been back in America for a few weeks now -- just long enough to start missing my adopted home of Taiwan. [or, at least my favorite parts of it: husband, friends, mountains, dumplings, etc.] so today I'm sharing a collection of photos from one of my favorite views in Formosa: Elephant Mountain.

of all the easy-access hikes I've explored in Taipei, Elephant Mountain is the one I return to again and again. it offers the most bang for your buck - or really, view for your climb - and can be done in under an hour if you only go so far. the trails go back quite a ways and loop with other mountains, so it's up to you how far to climb. pro tip: the further you go, the better the views and the thinner the crowds.

the first time I climbed Elephant Mountain, it was about 95F and I was wearing flip flops and jean shorts. that's not what I recommend - but it is doable. since then I've been back in all kinds of weather [and outfits] but usually with more suitable footwear.

the trail is paved, but the steps are made from stone and can be a bit uneven. they are definitely not uniform. sneakers or gym shoes are best for this hike, but if you can climb stairs in your gear then you can climb Elephant Mountain.

the main draws of this hike are its proximity to the MRT, and the views. I visited with Anna on a misty November afternoon. the visibility wasn't great, but we could still see Taipei 101 and Xinyi.

a week later I climbed with my sister-in-law and the skies were almost opposite. the air was so clear I could see a whole new layer of mountains I'd never spotted before. while it would be great to see so far every time, I still think it's worth the climb in the mist or a little bit of rain.

the day I took my parents to Elephant Mountain was pretty polluted. the sky was almost white and the city just faded off into the horizon. not ideal. but. even on hazy days, the climb can still be enjoyable. if you continue past the famous rocks [after possibly stopping for a photo on top] the trail goes on to another observation deck before winding back through shaded jungle.

we all know sunset light is magic. and sunset views from Elephant Mountain are no exception. the evening I climbed in January [with Geneva] there was a crowd around the rocks, a line 15 people deep to take photos with 101 in the background, and a dark streak across the sunset sky.

it turns out there was a fire at a tire factory in Taoyuan. not a good thing for the factory or the environment, but it made for some dramatic skies.

the point of this post [other than to say I miss Taiwan maybe a little] is that Elephant Mountain makes a great hike, no matter the weather.

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