As I wrote in a previous text, I came to Taiwan with the intention to do as many hikes as possible. But I had underestimated the impact of the heat and the humidity and I had to change many of my plans for long hikes. But when I decided to go for shorter hikes instead, I also made some nice discoveries, like in Maokong or on the Pingxi Line.
But for me, there was no question of leaving Taipei without having visited Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山). Located north of the city, this 114 square kilometres national park is easily accessible by public transit and is known for its mountains, hot springs and many trails.
And I decided that I wanted to climb to the top of Qixing Mountain (七星山 – also written “Cising” – which means Seven Stars Mountain), the highest mountain in the park and the highest mountain in the area around Taipei. At 1,120 metres, Qixing Mountain is also the tallest inactive volcano in Taiwan.
I had read on the internet that it was possible to access the trails of Qixing Mountain by taking the bus to the Yangmingshan Visitor Center or to the Lengshuikeng Visitor Center. I opted for this last option, because it seemed the easiest way to go: metro to Jiantian station, then S5 bus to Lengshuikeng, the last stop.
In Lengshuikeng, there is a trail map in front of the Visitor Center and a model of the area inside. With all the signs and maps, impossible to miss the trail. Qixing Mountain, here I am!
The trail from Lengshuikeng is located on the southern flank of the mountain, which is mostly covered with long green grasses. Few trees and therefore not a lot of shade, but the view was still striking. And even if the sun hit hard, a slight breeze was cooling me down a little. And the landscape … the landscape seemed almost unreal.
The trail is about two kilometres to the east summit of Qixing. It is mostly made of stairs. As I was there on a sunny Saturday, there were many people on the mountain, but nothing to ruin the magic of the climb. When meeting me on the trail, many hikers greeted me with a “Hello!” and “Jiao you!” (Let’s go!), to which I replied with “Ni hao!” and “Xiexie! ” (hello and thank you). Some also stopped to talk to me, giving me the opportunity to catch my breath and practice the few bits of Chinese I know.
Then, the first summit appeared clearly, and I only had another 200 metres of stairs to climb.
The view at the top was quite striking, with Taipei to the south (including the highly visible Taipei 101), the Taiwan Strait to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. And all around, the mountains of Yangmingshan National Park.
But I had not quite reach my main goal. The main summit of Qixing Mountain was 500 metres away and from where I was, I could clearly see the way I had to go.
And I did it. The striking sun and the intense heat added to the level of difficulty, but otherwise, it was not a hike too difficult or too long. I can now add Qixing to the list of mountains I conquered!
There was a lot of hikers at the top, but I still took a few moments to rest my legs and catch my breath before going down.
For the way back, I decided to take the Miaopu path to reach the Yangmingshan Visitor Center. This trail is a little longer, but almost entirely under the shade of trees.
And as the steps of the stairs were a little steeper, I congratulated myself for having made the climb by the other path (although the descent was hard on my knees …). This time, it was my turn to say “Jiao you!” to the exhausted hikers I met on my way.
I finally reached the Yangmingshan Visitor Center from which I took a bus back to Taipei. During the days that followed, I could see the imposing silhouette of Qixing Mountain on a clear day, and I felt a pinch of pride in reminding myself that I had been to the top of it.
Qixing Mountain :
Altitude : 1,120m
Ascension : 550m
Trail (return) : 4-5km
Access : Yangmingshan Visitor Center or Lengshuikeng Visitor Center