Hiking in Taiwan is a remarkable experience and Taiwan’s Xiao Bai Yue (小百岳) is a great place to start. Taiwan’s Xiao Bai Yue is a perfect list of 100 suburban mountain peaks suitable for hikers of all skill levels.
The Xiao Bai Yue is 100 mountain climbs oriented towards sub-urban destinations and routes suitable for novice hikers. These include beginner routes like Dawulun Mountain, novice routes like Dongyanshan National Forest and some that are more challenging, like Jialishan.
Hongdan Mountain (or Hongdanshan) (紅淡山) is listed at #007 of the Xiao Bai Yue (小百岳). Located in Ren’ai District (仁愛區) in Keelung City (基隆市), Hongdanshan is located less than 15 drive from downtown Keelung or less than a one hour drive from Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city.
About Hongdanshan (紅淡山)
Hongdanshan is known as the “Lung of Keelung City” and “Yangmingshan of Keelung”. We’re not quite sure about the former, but the later makes sense due to its proximity and convenient transportation to Keelung City. This hike is suitable for family walks and is generally considered like the back garden for Keelung residents. Due to its popularity, there are a variety of ways to ascend the mountain along very accessible and well-maintained trails. Like many other trails while hiking in Taiwan, there are a number of pavilions and gazebos interspersed along the trail serving as great rest stops for hikers to eat, chat and relax.
Despite being located so close to the urban jungle of Keelung, the scenery along the way is really nice. It’s a break from what seems like perpetual grey of Keelung. The air is feels fresh and the natural environment in good shape. We didn’t see to much garbage along the way either. There are also many cultural attractions along the way such as temples and monuments making this hike short but enjoyable.
To help beautify the area, the Keelung Government planted cherry blossoms on both sides of the trail for a few sections. This makes this Xiao Bai Yue a popular but attractive hike during the spring cherry blossom season. The peak of the trail is also the place with the best views, although the views from the Rotary Tower (spiral staircase) are pretty awesome as well.
Starting to Hike Hongdanshan 紅淡山
Taking the train in from other major hubs is a pretty convenient option. Get off at Sankeng Station and cross over the Nanrong Road to Nantian Temple 南天宮. From here you can walk around the back of the temple on a narrow single lane road. This road continues to wind uphill for about 100 meters or so before you get to a crossroads and intersection. See image below for road to take.
About another 30 metres, you will see the sign for 紅淡山 and from here you begin the hike up steps (in some cases short, but steep) up to the peak. It’s a suitable hike for kids and adults a like due to its short distance and accessible trail conditions. See picture below.
From the peak, you can see what the locals call the “Five Bases”; Keelung City, Keelung Port, Keelung River, Keelung Mountain and Keelung Island. While we didn’t make it up during dusk, apparently this is a great spot to watch the sunset.
What to Bring
When hiking in Taiwan consider your capabilities before heading out. We hope this helps provide insight into the level of difficulty. When it comes to the kinds of equipment or resources one should bring when hiking this trail in Taiwan, we’ve provided a list below:
- Gloves – You won’t need them
- Water – About 1 litre
- Food/Lunch – There are no services along this trail, but it’s a short hike. Bring a snack or lunch if you wish.
- Sunscreen – The trail is mostly covered.
- Camera/Phone – While reception very good on this trail!
How to Get to Hongdanshan
Driving to Hongdanshan:
If you are driving, you can set this as your location – HERE. There is some publicly available parking in lot and on the road. The remaining section to the peak will be traveled by foot. Hongdanshan (紅淡山) is approximately 30-40 minutes from Taipei Main Station.
Public transport: The best solution for public transit is to take the train from Taipei Main Station to Keelung and get off at Sankeng Station 三坑站. From here it is about a 30 minute (1.6km) walk one-way to the peak.