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.
Keelung Mountain (基隆山) is listed at #006 of the Xiao Bai Yue (小百岳) and a fantastic trip for those interested in hiking in Taiwan. It is located in Ruifang District (瑞芳區) in New Taipei City (新北市) in the northern part of Taiwan.
Where is Keelung Mountain trail?
Situated west along the coast from Keelung City, Keelung Mountain is less than a 20 minute bus ride away. At an altitude of 588 meters, Keelung Mountain (大武崙山) peak is not particularly high, but the views are spectacular. Don’t worry if you’re looking to get outdoors and are concerned about your skill level. This is a fantastic hiking experience along a trail that isn’t too difficult. There really is only a few sporadic sections of steeper elevation gains and stairs. However, when you’re hiking in Taiwan, you can always expect to find some elevation.
The trail head to the main peak is located next to a few pay parking lots above Jiufen Old Street in New Taipei City. Probably one of the more touristy towns in northern Taiwan, Jiufen has a rich history as a Japanese gold mining town dating back to the early 1900’s. The area has many remnants of this era including an old abandoned Smoldery and a Gold Museum that has a decent exhibit and some fun activities for kids. The gold rush (and mining) has since stopped and now visitors come for the taro balls, the steep and picturesque alleyways, street vendors, temples, tea houses, ocean views, and of course, the red lanterns.
Hiking in Taiwan: This Trail
They say the shape of the mountain resembles a pregnant woman. In Mandarin, Keelung Mountain is also known as “Beauty with Big Belly Mountain” (大肚美人山). None of that has anything to do with the trail, but it’s a fun fact.
The trail itself is a point-to-point trail (or an ‘out and back’ trail), not uncommon when hiking in Taiwan. The total distance from the parking lot to the main peak is an estimated The top of the mountain is open, the scenery is beautiful, the landscape360-degree view, and there are pavilions and rest facilities. The total length of the trail is about2.2K, and the trails are all stepped up slowly. There are no trees to shade the whole process, and it is quite hot. It is necessary to bring more water. The difficulty of a single peak is0.9points and the visibility is2.points.
To reach the peak and conquer #006 on Taiwan’s Xiaobaiyue you’ll really only have to follow a single trail. Although Keelung Mountain is not high (588m), it boasts some of the most spectacular views on Taiwan’s north coast. The trail up to Keelung Mountain Main Peak is essentially a steep stone/wooden staircase. It’s not long nor technical but rather just a good thigh burner, as about 90% of trail is stairs. Hikers will pass a total of three viewing platforms and pavilions along the way for rest and some opportunities to get out of the sun (there is little to no shaded sections once you pass the 400m mark).
Once you summit, there is a viewing platform and a gazebo with a 360-degree stunning views of Jiufen, the coast mountains and Pacific Ocean and Taiwan Strait. On clear days, hikers can see Badouzi, Keelung Port and Keelung Island to the west. We weren’t the first to celebrate the scenic wonder of Keelung Mountain. In fact, the mountain was selected as one of the eight scenic spots of Keelung in the Qing Dynasty and the Japanese Occupation Period.
Signage: This trail is well signed in English and Chinese along the trail, but you don’t really need any. There are only two intersecting trails that hikers could get diverted on to, but these are well signed. Honestly, when hiking in Taiwan, the signage is usually not a big concern.
Shade: This trail is almost completely exposed with zero tree coverage. There is a short section at the beginning of the trail that is covered by the tree canopy. Bring sunscreen if its a sunny day.
Food and Drink: There is no water or food available on the Keelung Mountain Trail, but there is a traditional convenience store less than 20 meters from the trailhead. As a single adult, I drank less than 1 liter of water (could have been the miserable weather). For sunny days, I’d recommend 1+ liter of water.
Mobile Reception: Mobile phone reception is good along most of this trail including at the peak.
Admission: This trail is free, but parking adjacent to the the trailhead ranges from $50-100/day depending whether it’s a weekend or not.
How to Get There:
Driving to Keelung Mountain (基隆山): Click here for Google Maps directions to this northern hiking destination. If you don’t want to pay the $100 for car parking, you can try and find parking further down the east side of the mountain (away from Jiufen). Going closer to Jiufen is not going to make it easier for parking as it’s a pretty busy area especially on weekends. The roads are in great shape, but does get windy. Keelung Mountain (基隆山) is located less than 1 hour from Taipei Main Station and about 1.5 hours from Zhongli by car.
Taking Public Transit to Keelung Mountain (基隆山): From Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Exit 2, take Bus #1062 / for just over 1 hour (27 stops) to Jiufen Old Street. From there its a short walk. This is one of the easiest ways to get there with no car as there are no transfers required.
Is this Keelung Mountain Trail family-friendly?
This trail is nearly entirely stairs. If you’re children do well walking up steps then this is a great, short hike. The trail itself is very well maintained and is either wood steps or stone stairs. There is very little compact soil, so even on a rainy day this trail is ok. This trail is suitable for 5+ if your five year old is an adventurous one. This is not a long or technical trail. Keep your kids busy with trail snacks, songs or have them on the look out for wildlife and birds and you should be able to get the children through most of the stairs with no problem.
If you’re looking for a short but spectacular hiking experience that can be tacked on to a culinary and cultural trip to Jiufen this is perfect and suitable for the whole family.