Hiking Elephant Mountain is free, and it isn’t very difficult at all. In fact, it can easily be done as an afternoon activity to catch the stunning sunset over Taipei.
There are many steps up, taking anything around 15 to 20 minutes to see the top views depending on how many breaks you take. When you get to the top, you’ll find it’s well worth the effort – a spectacular and worthwhile view of the city that rivals all other picturesque images of Taipei.
So, let’s begin this guide with where to start.
Get off at the Xiangshan MRT station from exit 2. The MRT station is just past Taipei 101 at the very end of the red line.
Directly out in front of this exit, you’ll see the signposts that’ll lead you to Elephant Mountain.
Follow these signposts toward the Xiangshan Hiking Trail. The restrooms are conveniently signposted incase you need to go before you climb up. Don’t worry, there are also restrooms on the mountain.
We recommend stopping by at the nearby Family Mart to stock up on bottled water so you don’t dehydrate in the heat. Taking a bottle up there with you allows you to refill it by the clearly-marked drinkable water fountains on the mountain.
This would also be the last opportunity to pick up some picnic food if you’re planning on staying a while on the mountain.
Following the signposts will direct you to these steps.
This is the entrance. If you’ve missed the Family Mart and without anything to drink, there’s a little stall nearby here that sells cheap bottled drinks.
And so your hike up the mountain trail begins!
You will eventually reach the preliminary viewing platform about halfway up the steps. This platform is an ideal resting place to enjoy the views. Remember, you’re not done yet!
When you see to this white painted stone you’re almost there by a few minutes to see the top views. The slab reads, 象山 (‘Elephant Mountain’).
Then when you get here… congratulations! You’ve made it, and just check out that stunning view of Taipei! This view is from the second viewing platform which is ideal for the cityscape views. For better vantage points, there are 6 boulders which you can climb up to get a better view and some awesome selfie shots from.
However, depending on how good the weather is, there’s likely to be queues for these awesome boulder shots. It’s at these higher viewpoints that many choose to include themselves in their photos.
But despite the climb, and how busy it can get, it’s totally worth it! – We captured this shot on a really beautiful, clear day on top of the boulders.
If you continue on, you’ll find a third viewing platform with some available seating. This viewpoint provides a slightly different view of Taipei which is an ideal place to take larger group selfies as well as an area to sit back and enjoy the city view.
There is a drinkable water fountain by this third platform if you want to drink or fill up your bottle.
If you keep hiking higher, you’ll see the trail starts to split and branch off. Take the left fork to continue heading to a final viewing platform or right fork to find the restrooms. There are also trails leading down the other side of the mountain if you choose to continue for more hiking.
Once you make it to the final viewing platform, you’ll find a sheltered area with tables and seating. This is an ideal spot to enjoy the sunset and have a picnic.
It is worthwhile to stay until nightfall to watch the city wonderfully light up. The paths are open 24 hours with bright lights that come on to guide you back down the path, so you’re safe to enjoy the night views.
Taipei 101 switch off most of their lights at 10pm, so consider that if you’re up for any late night view shots.
Tips for Hiking Elephant Mountain
- 1) Wear sneakers or running shoes. It’s not a long hike, but it’s steep, so it would be ideal to wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
- 2) Check ahead with the weather before you climb. There weather can change suddenly, and there’s little shelter up there to get out of the rain. Also, If you want to capture some great photos, avoid any dull, cloudy weather.
- 3) The trail for the views is short, so you don’t need a guide or a permit. As there is no entrance fee, you can stay as long as you want. Just keep in mind that Taipei 10 switch off most of their lights at 10PM.
- 4) It’s less crowded if you go early in the morning on a weekday. If you’re wanting that epic sunset shot, try to stake out your spot before the crowds gather.
All in all…
It’s an awesome activity, and it even allows you to get in some exercise for the day. You won’t regret the effort, even if you go on a hot and humid day.
You don’t need to be an experienced hiker for this trail, but it can be tiring if you’re not fit. As there are many resting points, you can your time and still be rewarded with the best views of the city.
If you’re looking for places to visit or activities to do in Taipei, this should be #1 on your agenda.
Updated: April 10, 2018 – Taipei.Expats