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.
Datun Mountain (or Datunshan) (大屯山) is listed at #001 of the Xiao Bai Yue (小百岳). Located in Yangmingshan National Park in the northwestern part of Taiwan. The site actually sits within Beitou District of Taipei City. Datunshan is located about 1 hour north from central Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city.
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.
What is special about Datunshan?
Datunshan is actually one of two known active volcanoes in Taiwan, the other being Turtle Island off the East Coast of Yilan County. The eruption that formed the original Datun Mountain began about 2.5 million years ago, while about 700,000 years later, another volcanic eruption separated the original Datun Mountain into the current Datun Main Peak, Datun West Peak and Datun South Peak. For better or worse, there is no crater on these peaks. The most recent eruption was about 5,000-6,000 years ago.
Are we due for another soon? It’s not likely, but let’s leave that for another day.
Hiking Datunshan (大屯山)
The hike up Datunshan (大屯山) is a popular trail, but it is not completely overrun with hikers either. Much like other hiking trails in Yangmingshan National Park, Datunshan is a great family hike, but this is actually a relatively short hike for those looking for great views, time in the outdoors and, of course, a chance to check one more route of their Xiao Bai Yue list. It takes a bit of time to get there via car or bus, but the paths are relatively quiet and easy to follow.
Our suggested route to hike this Xiao Bai Yue is to climb the Datongshan Trail. While you can start out from the Ersziping Visitor Center (二子坪遊客服務站) in Yangmingshan National Park, which does have additional parking just in case, we started our route form Datunshan Weather Station Parking Lot (大屯山鞍部氣象站停車場). The one advantage of starting at the visitor center is that there are restrooms and a water refill station. The Erziping Trail wraps around the western side of Datunshan and ascends upwards to the peak. The trail mostly consists of stone steps and is very casual walk through waving bamboo.
Get some shade!
Throughout most of this trail there is little shade, so bring a hat, sunscreen or an umbrella even. As with many trails when hiking in Taiwan, it can get hot between late spring and early fall. This stretch can be a scorcher, but it is beautiful and very picturesque. If you are hiking this trail in December it will likely be a much different experience. About halfway up the trail, you’ll see a trail branch off to the right. Follow this trail as it eventually leads to a small open area with a gazebo and, on a clear day, views off towards Taiwan’s north coast.
The trails continues its ascent upwards, so be prepared for a consistent climb and know that it gradually gets more challenging as you head around to the top of Datunshan. Don’t worry though, the views at the peak make it well worth the hike. Another spot to stop and enjoy the views is the Datunshan Lookout (大屯山觀景臺). We stopped our hike and turned around to go back at the Datunshan Air Navigation Station Lookout (大屯山助航台觀景臺). From here, you can continue along as the trail descends down to Datunshan South and West Peaks.
Along the Hike (Wildlife, Plantlife and More)
This trail isn’t a forested hike and most of the vegetation in the immediate vicinity of the trail consists of Chinese silvergrass and arrow bamboo. This trail also features a variety of flowering plants as well. With these flowers attract lots of honeybees and butterflies due to their Nectar. These include plants such as Chinese angelica, Eupartirum shimadai, and China elder provide food for honeybees and butterflies.
When hiking in Taiwan, be sure to slow down and keep your eye out for wildlife. Yangmingshan National Park is a haven for birds and reptiles, as well as beetles and other insects. May to July is prime butterfly season and traveling to Yangmingshan National Park to hike and spot several species during this time of the year is popular among locals and visitors alike.
Overall this hike is neither long or technical. Once leaving the bamboo forest, shade becomes a luxury, which can be harder in the summer months. As we said earlier, Datunshan is a great and accessible hike that is close to Taipei, easy to climb and offers a very spectacular view looking south (when it’s not blocked by fog).
What to Bring
When hiking in Taiwan consider your capabilities before heading out. We hope this blog post 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:
- Water – About 1 to 2L of fresh drinking water. Water is available from Erziping Visitor Center
- Food/Lunch – There are no services along this trail, so get supplies
- Sunscreen – There are big parts of this trail that are not covered or shaded.
- Sunglasses / Hat – See above
- Camera/Phone – Reception is moderate to good on this trail!
How to Get to Datunshan
Driving a car: While we said this hike can start from Erziping Visitor Center (二子坪遊客服務站), if you are driving, you can set 大屯山鞍部氣象站停車場, as your location – HERE. You will not need to bring cash to pay for parking if you get a spot here. Depending on traffic and if you’re driving or not, it should take less than one hour to drive to Datunshan (大屯山)
Public transport: Yes, there is bus service with one transfer. Details Here. From Taipei Main Station, take the 260 Shuttle Bus to the Yangmingshan Bus Terminal and transfer to the 108 Bus for 15 minutes to the Erziping Stop. From here you will be only a few minute walk to the Erziping Visitor Center.