Yangmingshan National Park
This hike leads you to the attractions on the west side of the park.
Highlights: Datun Nature Park, Datun Peak, Erziping Ponds, Datun caldera
Access: take bus Red 5 from Jiantan MRT station to the last stop, the Yangmingshan bus terminal. From the bus terminal, take the Yangmingshan shuttle (number 108) and get off at the Erziping stop.
Length: 13km, 5 – 6 hours
Difficulty Level: 1/5
Trail Conditions: stone trails, short section of wide dirt trail; the hike is well signposted in English
There is small store and public washrooms at the car park.
Before setting off on the hike, take the steps going down from next to the visitor center, signposted for Datun Nature Park.
The park is a short distance down the hill and has gardens, flowers, pavilions, and a large pond. After seeing the park go back up to the visitor center.
Also located next to the visitor center, ignore the trail signposted for Erziping. This trail, which is actually a dirt road with a paved siding for wheelchair and stroller access, leads directly to the ponds from the visitor center.
Instead, from the car park there is a road the goes up to the peak of Mt Datun, the second highest peak in Yangmingshan. You can walk along this road all the way up.
Halfway up the road passes a rest shelter and viewpoint.
From the peak there are great views of Tamshui and to the west but some military radar on the peak blocks the view to the east.
At the end of the road you’ll find some steps heading down. From here it is a steep descent to the valley below.
Near the bottom there is a trail junction. This trail goes over Datun South and West peaks. See below for details if you want to add this trail onto your hike. Otherwise, keep going straight following the trail that is signposted for Erziping.
Shortly after the junction the trail passes a small rest pavilion.
The trail then goes through thick grasslands in a valley between the Datun peaks.
The trail makes a short climb into the trees then descends towards the ponds. As you get close to the ponds, you’ll begin to hear what sounds like a party up ahead. The ponds are very popular on weekends. There is a shortcut trail that leads directly from the car park to the ponds.
After you’ve seen the ponds, start hiking again and you’ll soon leave the crowds behind. Take the trail signposted for Xiangtian Pond from the same spot where you arrived at the ponds from Datun. You’ll notice two trails starting here, a stone trail and a narrow road. It is better to take the stone trail. After crossing the road a little further, the trail descends and crosses a stream over a wooden bridge.
After the bridge, the trail follows the stream for a short distance, then merges onto the dirt road.
The road soon comes to a trail junction for the trail that climbs over the peak of Mt Miantian. This trail is made entirely of stone steps and goes over the peak and then descends to Xingtian Pond in the volcanic caldera. There are good views from the peak but no rest shelter as there is also more military radar stuff on the peak.
After the junction the wide dirt trail, that goes through a heavily forest valley between the peaks, passes a small pond on the way. The road ends at a rest shelter. The Datun Multi-Peaks Trail over the south and east peaks also ends at the rest shelter.
Just after you past the rest shelter, you will see a small trail branching off the main trail, signposted to Xiangtian Pond.
The trail to the pond merges with another trail after a few minutes. Keep going straight to the pond, then return to this fork after seeing the caldera.
The trail to Xiangtian Pond is a mostly flat stone trail the contours the hill side. The forest is very thick and mosquitoes can be bad in here.
Xiangtian Pond is located in a volcanic caldera. The caldera is a large open circle surrounded by forest. The pond in the middle is usually dry. The best time to visit here is in the early summer just after the plum rains have ended when the pond and even small puddles are teaming with life including tadpoles and small shrimp.
From the caldera head back out the same way you came in.
When you return to the last fork, take the right trail this time signposted for Qingtian Temple Trail Entrance. In a couple of minutes after the fork you’ll come to an old monument in honor of Japanese emperor Hirohito marking his visit to Yangmingshan.
After the monument the trail descends and ends at a trail junction. Turn right here to continue going down.
From here it mostly steps going down to the Qingtian Temple Trail Entrance. The trail passes a few houses on the way down.
There is a bus stop located near the trail entrance for the Small 6 bus to Beitou MRT Station. Buses come every 30 minutes.
Datun Multi-Peaks Trail
If you have more time and energy, you can hike over the Datun South and West Peaks.
Warning: Weather conditions can change quickly in Yangmingshan. There is no cover at all on the peaks. You do not want to be caught up here in a thunderstorm.
Difficulty Level: 4/5
Trail Conditions: steep dirt trails with lots of ropes
The trail starts from near a rest shelter at the base of Datun’s main peak. The beginning of the trail is stones, but it quickly changes to a dirt trail. The climb up this side is easy and gradual, mostly through grasslands. The south peak is covered in grass with a few stones that you can rest on and admire the views.
From the peak the trail makes a steep, rope assisted descend through thick tree cover. This area seems to be bad for mosquitoes as well. At the bottom of the descent you’ll come to a trail junction. Going left there is a Do Not Enter sign as the trail that used to connect Datun with Mt Zhongzheng has become impassable.
The trail towards to West Peak contours the hill slope for a short distance before making a rope assisted climb upwards to the peak. You will soon emerge from the forest. From here it is a very steep, straight up climb to the peak on a grass covered slope. The climb is near vertical in places.
The West Peak is also covered in grass with some stones. From the peak the trail cuts through some very thick grass before making descend through the trees again. The descent is rope assisted for almost the entire way but is not as steep as the other slopes. At the bottom is a rest shelter and trails that lead to Erziping, Xiangtian Pond, or out of the park.
Map of the Hike