Huangdidian Ridge Hike
Shihding District, New Taipei City
Introduction – this is one of the Taipei area’s most well-liked hikes and one that everyone wants to try at some point. The hike is also popular and well-known amongst Taiwanese people and there are a lot of non-hikers who come up here as well, and some people who find themselves out of their element. The hike goes along a ridge with exposed rocky spines and over a couple of peaks. There are great views from the exposed parts of the hike.
Access: take bus 666 from Muzha MRT station at about 10:40 on weekends and get off at the last stop, Huangdidian (皇帝殿). Buses going to this stop are rare and this is about the only bus you can take on weekends to do this hike.
Link for bus 666 information:
http://www.shinbus.com.tw/lane666.htm (left column is weekday departures, right column is weekend departures from Jingmei MRT Station; the times listed in red are buses going to the Huangdidian stop)
Most people and other guides do this hike in the opposite direction, starting from Shihding. I prefer to do the hike in this direction as it saves having to road walk back to Shihding at the end of the hike. Also, there is about 15 minutes less stair climbing going in this direction.
Length: 7km, 5 hours
Difficulty Level: 4/5
Trail Conditions: long, steep stairs at the start and end; dirt trail along the top of the ridge with some short rope sections, rocky exposed ridges, and five vertical metal ladders.
Warning: weather conditions can change quickly and you are very exposed on the ridge. There are multiple trails going down off the mountain along the ridge, use these if you have to escape ahead of an approaching thunderstorm, as I had to do on my first attempt to complete this hike.
You also need to have a fair degree of physical fitness to do this hike. Choose something easier if you are new to hiking. Also, as I am sure you can tell from the pictures, it is not a good hike for people who are afraid of heights.
The bus stops at a T-intersection next to a small temple and a gate, however there is no bus stop sign here marking the stop. Check out the small temple before leaving. There is a pair of loudly squawking blue magpies that like to hang out here. The Taiwan blue magpie in an endemic species found in the mountains of Taiwan and is Taiwan’s unofficial national bird. If you haven’t been able to see one up close, this is a good chance. There are also public washrooms next to the temple.
From the temple walk under the gate and follow the road to a T-intersection. Turn left at the intersection and keep walking passing a large Huangdidian sign and a couple of sharp, hairpin turns following the road until it ends at a small parking lot. There are more public washrooms here and a small outdoor café that sells coffee, ramen, snacks, and cold drinks.
To reach the top of the ridge take the stairs going up next to the public washrooms, signposted for Huangdidian East. Don’t take the stairs next to the café. From the bottom it is about 45 minutes of stair climbing to reach the top, and approximately 400m of elevation gain.
After about 10 minutes the trail passes the ruins of an old stone house and a trail junction just beyond it. Keep going straight at the junction.
Near the top the stone steps change to wooden steps for the final few minutes of stair climbing then to a dirt trail a few meters short of the top. Use the rope to help pull yourself up to the top.
At the top turn right signposted again for Huangdidian East. From here just keep following the trail until you reach the rocky peak about 10 minutes from the trail junction. At first the trail goes through the trees along the top of the ridge then climbs up some rocks with the aid of ropes before reaching the exposed rocky peak.
On clear days the views up here are excellent allowing you to see all the way to Taipei, Yangmingshan, Danshui, and the higher mountains in the centre to the island near Wulai.
After enjoying the views return back to the trail junction where you came up and keep going straight along the ridge, signposted for Huangdidian West.
The trail continues through the trees and over rocks including a short rope section and going along the edge of the ridge with a steep drop off below.
Next the trail comes to a small rock arch which you can either choose to squeeze through or go around.
The trail climbs up some rocks with the aid of ropes to the top of another exposed peak.
To climb down from here ignore the steel chain and take the ropes. There are steps going down here as well and it is an easier climb down than it initially looks.
After climbing down from the peak there is a short flat section of trail through the trees which brings you to a junction with another trail going back down to the parking lot.
From the junction the trail climbs back up some more rocks with ropes then down the other side and brings you the a rest area with a couple of benches.
The trail climbs down from the left side of the rest area to a junction with another trail going back down to the parking lot.
After this junction the trail gets increasingly more exciting. The trail goes along the top of a rocky ridge with no safety barrier.
Then a section of ropes and rock-cut footholds climbs upward.
The trail then goes along the top of another rocky ridge with a rope to hang onto but again no safety barrier.
After this there is another short climb with ropes and rock-cut steps and trail goes back into the trees.
The trail is flat through the trees for a short stretch then makes a short descent with a rope and steps.
The trail then goes along the top of another rock ridge in the tree cover followed by another short descent with ropes and steps.
The trail emerges from the trees once again and goes over the spine of another rocky ridge, this time with a safety barrier.
The trail climbs up over a mini-peak at the end of this exposed section.
At the top of the peak the trail goes back into some tree cover before emerging again along another rocky spine also with a safety barrier. This is the longest and last section of exposed ridge along the trail.
At the end of this rocky spine there is a short descent with chains and footholds cut into the rock face.
At the bottom of the descent is a junction with another trail going down to the parking lot.
Keep following the trail along the top of the ridge with a safety barrier one side and you’ll soon come the first of the five metal ladders.
This first ladder is a short climb up.
At the top the trail goes along the ridge again with another safety barrier before reaching the second ladder.
This second ladder is the longest of the five.
At the top the trail quickly comes to the shorter third ladder.
At the top of the third ladder the trail quickly reaches the peak of Huangdidian West. There is only enough room on the rocky peak for a couple of people. Anyone else will have to wait on the trail for their chance to enjoy the view.
From the west peak you mainly see back towards the east peak and you can see the whole ridge that you just finished hiking.
From the peak a flat trail leads away through the trees then makes a steep, rough descent with no ropes to help you.
Afterwards the trail finishes the descent with two more short ladders.
After the final ladder the trail goes through the trees past some rocks, climbing over more rocks, then down the other side.
Then it’s back up climbing over more rocks with steps carved into them then along a ledge with a steep drop off on one side.
The ridge hike ends at the top of some cement stairs. Take the stairs down a short distance then turn left at a trail junction with more cement steps, signposted for Nanku Monumental.
Keep following these stairs all the way down to the bottom. It is a long, and in some places, steep descent.
At the bottom of the stairs you’ll arrive at the village of Nanku and a road. Follow the road downhill to Shihding.
At the end of the road cross the footbridge over the river into Shihding’s short, covered old street.
Map of the Hike