By Sylvia Tan 

With 70% of the island covered with glorious peaks and breath-taking sights, Taiwan is one of Asia’s best-kept hiking secrets. Until recently, it was not easy to get hiking permits.

Now, you can embark on new adventures and explore the vast nature waiting to be experienced. From first-timers to ultimate hiking enthusiasts, we’ve got you covered with these hiking suggestions when the world opens up and we are able to travel again!

The First-timer – Linmei Shipan Trail  –  1 Hour

Attempting your first hike? One of the easiest trails is the Linmei Shipan Trail in Yilan county, moving along a subtropical river valley abundant in plants and natural landscapes, a sylvan gorge, a cosy waterfall and lush, dense greenery. Consisting of flat ground or steps, groups of all ages and experience levels can enjoy it together at a leisurely pace. Although pushchairs are not advisable, families with babies and toddlers can be seen completing it together.

Jiaoshi town, where the trail is located, is famous for its hot springs so after your hike refresh your muscles. With such diversity and beauty, your first hike is a literal walk in the park!

The City Dweller – Jinmianshan Trail  –  0.5  to 7 hours

Perfect for those staying in Taipei City and located just a 10-minute walk from Xihu MRT station, what makes this trail so precious is its view. Despite being right beside the city, it showcases such a vibrant landscape of greenery. And the best part? You can customise your itinerary according to your schedule and preferred exertion level. The trail moves alongside mountains, rivers and the coast, enabling you to explore various landscapes. This accessible refuge allows you the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers whenever the need for nature immersion arises.

The History Buff Or Cultural Aficionado – Nenggao Cross-ridge Historical Trail  –  2-3 days

Steeped in culture, this trail started out as a trade path used by the indigenous Atayal and Seediq tribes, was used during the Japanese occupation, and later to build east-west transmission lines. Now, it is conserved to commemorate ancient memories and lessons. Little buildings and shelters along the way detail stories of generations past, and afford us vicarious experiences beyond our daily lives.

Housed in the only landlocked county of Wushe, its routes open up to many parts of Taiwan. Walk south to the Aowanda Forest Area, journey north to the famed Hehuanshan, or travel east and end up in Hualien County. For the spontaneous backpacker, decide where to go next on the spot! Confirm accommodation beforehand though, whether you’re camping or sleeping indoors.

More suited to experienced hikers you can expect an enlightening experience and an enriched appreciation of the Taiwanese community on this intermediate trail

The Mountain Challenger – Lake Jiaming National Trail  –  3-4 days

This journey is made for those who like a challenge! The trail peaks at the 2nd highest mountain lake in Taiwan considered the country’s most beautiful lake with some of the very best of the island’s scenery. Running through forests, high mountains and deep valleys, with a sky full of stars, it is a sight one cannot miss nor forget. This trail shows off its beauty in every season—bright and colourful blossoms in spring and summer, and snowy mountains in winter, each equally entrancing. If you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of deer visiting the lake for a refreshing drink. 

Also known as Angel’s Tear, people have described it as arriving in paradise. Its existence has long been linked to a meteor strike, but new belief is that it was created by glacier movements from the last ice age. Regardless of its origin, it is an ethereal masterpiece.

Situated in Taitung, it requires a hiking permit and is definitely for the committed and experienced hiker. The trail is known for being difficult to get to, but more than worth the effort, and anyone who completes it will have its beauty etched in their memory for a long time to come.

 The Comfort-first

We haven’t forgotten those who value our comfort first, fear perspiring, or just can’t bring ourselves to try hiking. Why not take a road trip for a glimpse of what the mountains have to offer? Taroko National Park has a drive-through route allowing you to experience the sights, sounds and fresh air without lifting a foot. Or, if you prefer to relax and take in the views, a hillside stay at Yun Lin County, famed for its coffee plantations, is the perfect introduction to the lush greenery overflowing in the Taiwan mountains. Who knows—after spending time near these eye-opening sceneries, you may feel the need to climb!  

These are but a sample of the hundreds of glorious mountains in Taiwan waiting to be explored outside the concrete walls of Taipei City.  Eye-opening and life-transforming adventures await those who lace up their shoes and take the first step. Shall we?