Seeing Taipei From the Top of the Elephant Mountain
Where do you think these pictures were taken?
Far away…. But apparently reachable by subway.
Hiking Xiangshan Trail 象山親山步道 tl;dr
- Get off at MRT Xiangshan Station
- Not That Far Away Apparently
- Lots and Lots of Stairs
You would be surprised by how much nature there can be found so close to the town. Sometimes there can be the most wondrous things hidden nearly in plain sight, turning out to be closer than it appears. You can find those things with effort, sometimes less effort than expected.
Nadia is never one to not explore the nature side of everything while I’m typically more of a city boy at heart, but that never stops me from indulging her. And this time, like all other times she’s found somewhere to go. And unlike most other times this place was reachable by metro. I know a lot of places are reachable by metro, but unlike most places reachable by metro, in my experience, never included a multi hour hike up into the unknown.
I should have taken solace by how close and how completely in view of the city we were the entire time while hiking. This hike was the closest to a city that I’ve ever hiked even though there’s 100’s of steps. Think steps up the side of a mountain leading to more stair steps which leads to… Yes, you guessed it! To more stone laid steps.
About Those Steps…
The first step is the hardest and that was in the form of taking the metro to the middle of the line; it wasn’t even the end of the line, that’s how close this hike was to the city center! We walked through a park and then aimlessly through a commercial area, using roughshod screenshots of Google Maps to a trail entrance that I forgot to take screenshots of.
For all intents and purpose, it had looked like we were going the right way, however there’s always that nagging sensation in the back of my mind that is asking whether I took a wrong turn somewhere or that I passed my destination without knowing it. I kept that concern to myself.
Fortunately my more regimented logical side knew what the entrance could look like. She smartly looked it up and kept her eyes peeled for any shape size or resemblance to what could even be remotely mistaken for a pachyderm. And guess who found that entrance? Nadia was there at the first step waiting for me to catch up with her.
Along the way, I saw some interesting little bugs, spiders, caterpillars, and the like doing what they are want to do. And sad to say, I saw a number of older and younger people pass me by as if they were born to the steps; with that being said, at least it was nice to know if I were ever in danger that there were people around, I would believe in my heart of hearts, would stop to help me out of whatever danger I put myself into.
There were a number of large rocks at one point along the hike that provided great platforms highlighting the skyline, especially with the enormous Taipei 101 building towering over everything.
At those rocks, we came across another hiking tourist who explained that earlier in the month that there was a storm that nearly stranded him on this very same hike. It’s just one of the risks of pursuing your interests. From there, looking at the incoming clouds, Nadia and I looked at each other, we turned around and called it a day.
We made our uneventful way back down the many steps, back through the commercial area, passed the park, down an escalator, onto an underground metro, back up into our hotel to a hot shower and a much deserved nap before eating more Taiwanese cuisine.
What is It
Xiangshan Trail is a relatively easy trail to the top of Elephant Mountain that rewards you with panoramic views of Taipei’s easily recognizable skyline.
What to Do There
Xiangshan Trail are multiple sets of steep stairs going up to the top of the mountain to a great view of the city. You COULD also go to the rest of the trail to who knew where it goes…
Xiangshan Trail I might go at either sunset or sunrise. Maybe even check out where the rest of the trail goes…
Where is It
Xiangshan Trail is located a measly 20 minute walk from Taipei 101, prominently located in the southeastern part of Taipei. But you could also conserve your energy and take the subway to Xiangshan Station to cut down on the walk over.