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.
Jiantan Mountain (or Jiantanshan) (劍潭山) is listed at #009 of the Xiao Bai Yue (小百岳). Located in Zhongshan District (中山區) in Taipei City (台北市), Jiantanshan is located about 15 minutes drive from Taipei Main Station.
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.
About Jiantanshan (劍潭山)
Jiantanshan is 153m above sea level and is located in the Yuanshan Scenic Area. It is the northern edge of the mountain behind the Grand (aka Yuanshan) Hotel and the mountain closest to the city center in Taipei City.
The trailhead is easy to get to and is located less than 5 minutes from the Jiantan MRT Station. The entire area used to be military-controlled and at one time was considered a forest of national security (is that a thing?). Regardless, it was protected for many years and now the forest and ecological habitats are well preserved. Hiking the Jiantanshan trail is a great refuge from the urban jungle surrounding it. The trail is full of lush greenery and offers a great place to forest bath for urban dwellers.
Hiking Jiantanshan Trail
Starting from the trailhead off Zhongshan N Road, hikers will get right to the most challenging part of the trail. These stone stairs are the steepest you’ll find while hiking Jiantanshan. Keep pushing on as the views from a number of spots along this popular trail offer some of the best and expansive views of the city. Once these are out of the way, the remainder of the Jiantanshan trail is a lot more scenic and leisurely.
After hiking for 20 minutes along a concrete or hard-surface trail, hikers will arrive at Jiantanshan Observation Deck (劍潭山觀景台). There are stunning views across the mountain, north over downtown Taipei and west towards Guanyin Mountain (觀音山) in Wugu District. There is a short opening about 15 minutes into the hike that presents a few divergent trails. Stick with the GPS file or simply follow the clear signage up the mountain.
From here the trail doesn’t gain as much elevation and the walking is enjoyable and most covered. There still are lots of great views to be had; peeking out through the forest cover. After a few sections with expansive views, hikers will continue on the final kilometer to the Laodifang Lookout (老地方觀機平台). For many, this is the reason they got up in the morning and out on the trail. Much more popular than the actually triangulation point, Laodifang Lookout is a very popular platform that offers visitors a vast view south across Taipei’s Songshan Airport (台北松山機場) and Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei, including views of Taipei 101.
For our trip, we turned around and went back down the way we came, however, there are extensive trails throughout the area and in fact this trail belongs to the epic 92km Taipei Grand Trail.
All in all this trail is a very accessible hike for beginner hikers and enjoyable for more novice or experience hikers in Taiwan looking to get outdoors and into nature quickly in Taipei. It took just over an hour to get up and down from Jiantan MRT Station
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 – There are no ropes on this climb. No need for gloves.
- Water – About 1L fresh drinking water
- Food/Lunch – There are no services along this trail, so get supplies prior
- Sunscreen – The trail is covered and shaded almost the entire time, but you may wish to spend time at the peak.
- Camera/Phone – While reception isn’t always the greatest on this trail, the scenery is!
How to Get to Jiantanshan
Driving a car: While driving to Jiantanshan is really convenient, the parking is anything but. Be aware that you’ll be lucky to pay for parking if you can find it. If you are driving, you can set this as your location – HERE. Jiantanshan trailhead is approximately a 15 minute drive from Taipei Main Station when driving.
Public transport: The trailhead for Jiantanshan Hiking Trail is located just north of Jiantan Fuzheng Temple 劍潭福正宮 on the east side of Zhongshan North Road, Section 4. This is only a 5 minute walk from Jiantan MRT Station on the Red Line.