Elephant Mountain

Tiger Mountain – Jiuwu Peak – Elephant Mountain Ridge Hike

Taipei City

Introduction

Elephant Mountain is located in the Xinyi district of Taipei behind 101 Building. It is the most popular hike in the Taipei area by far. Being an urban trail the top of the mountain is full of stuff and junk, i.e. shacks, garden plots, exercise equipment, power lines, and of course people. If Taipei’s excessive noise has got you down and you are looking to connect with nature wanting to hear nothing but the birds chirping and the frogs croaking, this is not the hike for you. It’s the views that bring people up here, not nature.

This trail is very crowded on the weekends to the point that there are traffic jams on the trail, often caused by unfit people stuck halfway up the stairs trying to catch their breath. This hike is best done on a weekday if you can manage it.

This hike will take you on a long loop through all the main trails and sights in the area from Houshanpi MRT Station starting by climbing up Tiger Mountain, climbing to the top of the ridge and over Jiuwu Peak, to Mt. Thumb and Elephant Mountain, then finish at Tianbao Temple and Xiangshan MRT Station.

Access: take the MRT to Houshanpi Station.

Length: 11.5km, 5.5 hours

Difficulty Level: 1/5

Trail Conditions: stone trails, lots of steps

The Hike

From the MRT station walk to Lane 221, Fude St. Go into the large temple on Lane 221. The trail starts at the temple to the right of the main hall, signposted for Hushan Mountain.

trail starts here at the temple

trail starts here at the temple

From the start a steep staircase climbs straight up to a rest area, road, statute, and some rocks.

at the top of the steep staircase from the temple

at the top of the steep staircase from the temple

The trail continues its climb up from next to a cave in the rocks that has been converted into an old-people karaoke shack, signposted for Hushanfeng.

trail continuing upwards

trail continuing upwards

The trail soon changes to slippery stone steps climbing upwards to gain the ridge.

climbing up

climbing up

The trail passes an outcropping on its way up, the first of many great viewpoints.

outcropping

outcropping

The slippery stone steps continue their climb converting to the white stones that make up the majority of the this hike at the top.

continuing up

continuing up

white stone trail along the top

white stone trail along the top

The trail then comes to rest area with another viewpoint.

rest area and viewpoint

rest area and viewpoint

Keep going straight from the rest area signposted for Hushanfeng. The trail continues along the top of the ridge.

go straight from the rest area

go straight from the rest area

Fork right at another trail junction.

fork right here

fork right here

After this junction a steep staircase climbs up to another viewpoint.

staircase

staircase

viewpoint

viewpoint

After this viewpoint there is a quick series of not-well-signposted turns to make. Go straight at a trail junction under a cement rest area.

go straight here

go straight here

Then turn right onto a road when the trail ends just after this junction.

turn right onto the road

turn right onto the road

Walk along the road for a couple of minutes then turn left at stairs climbing up, signposted for Rubbing Station.

turn left off the road here

turn left off the road here

At the top of the stairs the trail turns left and turns into a wide flat trail going past some exercise equipment, picnic areas, and the rubbing station.

trail along the hillside

trail along the hillside

The trail then changes into a narrow paved trail going along the hillside. Keep following this flat, paved trail until it ends at a large rest area with multiple trail junctions.

follow the paved trail

follow the paved trail

rest area and trail junctions

rest area and trail junctions

Take the trail leading away from the rest area next to the trail map, signposted to Jiuwu Peak.

trail leaving the rest area

trail leaving the rest area

The mostly flat white stone trail continues along the hillside passing across the terrace of a small temple along the way.

cutting across a small temple

cutting across a small temple

Keep following this trail after the temple until it ends at a junction with another trail climbing up. Turn right here, signposted for Jiuwu Peak.

turn right here

turn right here

From here it’s a very steep climb up to the top of the ridge, passing through another temple on the way up.

steep stairs

steep stairs

Turn right at a junction with the trail going along the top of the ridge, signposted for Ninety-Five Peak Rubbing.

turn right at the top

turn right at the top

The trail continues its climb up Jiuwu Peak, proving for some good views along the way.

view from the ridge

view from the ridge

trail to the peak

trail to the peak

Go straight through again at another trail junction signposted for Jiuwu Peak.

go straight climbing to the peak

go straight climbing to the peak

More climbing finally leads to the top of Jiuwu Peak with its large round boulder on the top, a spot where everyone has to have their picture taken.

Jiuwu Peak

Jiuwu Peak

From Jiuwu Peak the trail descends a bit then climbs steeply upwards again over the peak of Mt. Nangang, providing some more good viewpoints along the way.

Mt. Nangang

Mt. Nangang

From Mt. Nangang the trail makes a steep descent and comes to a trail junction, turn right here signposted for Muzhi Mountain.

turn right after descending from Mt. Nangang

turn right after descending from Mt. Nangang

From the junction the trail goes along the hillside and soon comes to the base of a cliff.

trail towards Mt. Thumb

trail towards Mt. Thumb

Mt. Thumb cliff face

Mt. Thumb cliff face

Turn left just after the cliff, signposted for Mt. Thumb.

Mt. Thumb is a rocky outcropping on the top of the ridge and has great views towards Taipei and in the opposite direction as well. From the junction it is a short, steep, rocky climb up the peak.

view from Mt. Thumb

view from Mt. Thumb

From Mt. Thumb, climb back down and continue to follow the trail which now descends very steeply.

descending from Mt. Thumb, go straight at the bottom

descending from Mt. Thumb, go straight at the bottom

Go straight through at a trail junction at the bottom of the steep stairs, signposted for Changshou Garden.

From the junction the trail is fairly flat for a while going along the top of the ridge.

towards Elephant Mt.

towards Elephant Mt.

The trail passes behind a large statue of Kuanyin on the way to Elephant Mountain. Climb down the stairs to have a look at the statue from the front.

going behind a statue

going behind a statue

After the statue stairs lead up to the peak of Elephant Mountain. As you approach Elephant Mountain things will begin to get very crowded. Lots of people make the hike up from Xinyi.

climbing to the top of Elephant Mt.

climbing to the top of Elephant Mt.

Turn right at a trail junction at the top, signposted for Hiking Trail Stamp Punch Station.

trail junction on Elephant Mt., turn right here for the viewpoint, then return and go straight for the six boulders

trail junction on Elephant Mt., turn right here for the viewpoint, then return and go straight for the six boulders

Turn right at the trail junction at the top. A short distance from the junction is a covered viewing spot overlooking the Xinyi area and Taipei 101.

viewpoint on Elephant Mt.

viewpoint on Elephant Mt.

From the viewpoint, return back to the trail junction and keep going straight, signposted for Six Boulders.

trail to the six boulders

trail to the six boulders

The rocks are about five minutes from the junction and are another major attraction. You can pretty much forget about enjoying them however as there will likely be a huge crowd of people hanging around here.

six boulders

six boulders on a Tuesday

the crowds at the rocks

at the six boulders on a Sunday

From the boulders the trails descends to Xinyi. There are several routes down, they are all very crowded, and they are all nothing but steep steps.

traffic jam on the trail going down from the boulders

heavy traffic on the trail going down from the boulders

For a less-travelled extension, turn right at a trail junction just before the boulders, signposted for Taipei City Hospital Songde Branch. Follow this trail down past several rock faces to another trail junction at the bottom.

take this trail going down from the six boulders

take this trail going down from the six boulders

trail going down from the boulders

trail going down from the boulders

Go straight at the trail junction at the bottom, signposted for Yungchungang Park.

go straight at the bottom

go straight at the bottom

This trail goes along the side of the hill passing below several more rock faces then goes through A Thread of Sky, and part of the trail that cuts through an opening in the rocks.

Elephant Mountain Nature Path

Elephant Mountain Nature Path

A Thread of Sky

A Thread of Sky

Shortly afterwards turn right at a trail junction and rest area, signposted for Liu Ju Shi.

turn right here for Tianbao Temple

turn right here for Tianbao Temple

Climb up the first few steps alongside a large boulder then fork left at a trail junction which is not signposted.

fork left here for the temple

fork left here for the temple

Take this trail going down rather the stairs continuing up. The narrow trail will lead you down past more rock faces to Tianbao Temple.

trail to Tianbao Temple

trail to Tianbao Temple

At the temple go past the large statue in the cliff face, down to the buildings below, cross the bridge over the stream and into the dark temple building.

Tianbao Temple

Tianbao Temple

Walk across the terrace in front of the main hall and turn left onto the covered trail on the other side.

cross the terrace and take the covered trail on the other side

cross the terrace and take the covered trail on the other side

This trail will pass a series of colored statues before descending off the mountain (keep going downhill at trail junctions). From the end of the trail walk to Xiangshan MRT Station.

trail from Tianbao Temple going past some statues

trail from Tianbao Temple going past some statues

 

Map of the Hike

1 Comment

One thought on “Elephant Mountain

  1. Pingback: elephant mountain, thumb mountain and 95 peak on the nangang mountain trail (南港山佈道: 象山>拇指山>九五峰) | taiwan trails and tales

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