Taipei Day Trip: Hiking the Mountain in Jiufen
Most people come to the village of Jiufen, which inspired scenes in the beautiful Spirited Away, for some crowded shopping on the old street. The scenery is also a top draw, but most visitors don’t bother making it to the best vantage point in the area. A short walk from the market is the clearly marked Jilongshan Mountain.
In late August, the temperature was uncomfortably warm as we began hiking up the 800-meter mountain. About ten minutes up, the path branched to a short, steep trail about a kilometer long and a longer, gentler hike that runs twice as long. We opted for the shorter route. Like many Chinese-style hikes, steps were built into the path and there were few dirt trails. Mercifully, covered pagoda-style buildings served as the perfect place to break. As short as the hike was, there were many steps and the sun was beating down. We’re reasonably in shape too – we swear.
Finally, we made it to the peak of the mountain after a long 30 minutes. We were covered in sweat but the views were incredible.
From the west where the hike began,we had the perfect view of Jiufen’s winding roads. To the north, the valley village of Jinguashi was below. If you look carefully you can see Taipei 101. To the north and east were fantastic views of the East China Sea. We didn’t see anyone while climbing, but a few people were relaxing in the shade. Some plaques about the local nature, a couple benches, and the covered shelter were all that up there.
On the way down, we took the longer route. It was a bit less developed, with some overgrowth and actual dirt trails. A crew of landscapers clearing out the overgrowth were the only people we saw on our way down. To treat ourselves at the end, we indulged in peanut ice cream wrapped in some sort of Taiwanese tortilla down at Jiufen’s old street. No pics, but it was delicious.
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