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.
About Shiniushan (石牛山)
Shiniushan (石牛山) is listed at #025 of the Xiao Bai Yue (小百岳). Located in Guanxi Township (關西鎮) in Hsinchu County (新竹縣), Shiniushan is a short, but fun hike that offers some challenging sections and is located just south of one of Taiwan’s most popular water reservoirs, Shimen Reservoir.
Located at 671m above sea level, this mountain gets its named because of the huge rock on the top of the peak that looks like a giant cow lying down. That’s the legend.
Hiking Shiniushan (石牛山)
Shiniushan isn’t particularly a high mountain, but it does have some diverse terrain for hiking, including some sections of scrambling up and around rock boulders and crevices, rope climbing sections and more. It’s an exciting trail that is particualrly more thrilling and exciting than some of the other Xiao Bai Yue. It is recommended to go up the mountain on the right side and to come down the left trail. The whole journey is about 4.3 kilometers, the total climb is about 382 meters, and it takes about 2-3 hours.
Starting off from the Digong Temple, their is paid parking along the roadway. You’ll start the trail adjacent to the temple and continue for about 500m on a paved path/roadway. It’s flat and open and simply a route to access the main trail. As you continue up, you’ll pass a few red brick houses on the left. These are people’s homes, so please be respectful, as you’ll be walking through their property and past a bunch of out-buildings, etc.
You’ll then transition on to a natural trail that is surrounded by a variety of fruit trees. Crossing over a small stream you’ll continue your ascent for about 10 minutes. Your first roped section has rocky footing and if it has been raining, hold on to the rope for stability. The trail drops a bit off your right side.
This trail is actually quite unkept. There are fallen trees and a lot of climbing on rock faces and scrambling across and up roots and rocks. Its not your typical hiking experience in Taiwan. But don’t get us wrong. More ropes and scrambling sections are supported by man-made steps carved into the rock and make this trail a lot of fun.
As the trail continues so does the climbing. Small crevices and near straight up rope climbs are required to get up to the peak of Shiniushan. In fact, at one section, you’ll have to crawl through a small triangle shaped rock tunnel. It’s not long and was created due to a fallen boulder. Like we said, it’s not easy, but it is fun.
At one point you’ll have to climb across a cliff face along an 8ft piece of corrugated metal roofing. You’ll keep climbing for another hundred meters with more roped sections until you get to a fork in the trail. Both go to the peak. While still requiring scrambling the left side trail is a gentler hike compared to the right side. Going right, the trail has several large boulders and more vertical climbing sections. The climbing is still safe and very reasonable with lots of foot and hand holds. Keep going up!
There are several sections where the trail forks with one route providing a more gentler climb. Choose your route as you keep climbing for another few hundred meters. As you ascend a ridge, you’ll see the forest clearing, eventually providing great views across the mountains on your left. A short climb with a cliff on your left and a rock face on your right requires a bit of caution before you reach the top of Shiniushan.
The views south and west are unobstructed, however some of the trees prevent a full view of Shimen Reservoir and Taoyuan County to the north. Rest up, enjoy the views and grab a picture with the sign; you still have another 2km or so hiking back down the mountain.
Not far from the top of the mountain you will see a fork in the trail. Heading left takes you back down to Difong Temple. This is a easy descent, but typically has more people climbing up. There are no views on the way down and it should take you about 30 minutes of hiking to get back to your car.
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 – Recommended. There are a lot of ropes and scrambling sections.
- Water – About 1.5-2L of fresh drinking water
- Food – There are no services along this trail. Bring lunch or snacks to keep energy levels up. The last convenience store on route to this trail is located here
- Washrooms – Available at trailhead.
- Sunscreen – The majority of this trail is shaded by forest coverage. The peak is open.
- Camera/Phone – Reception is moderate to great.
How to Get to Shiniushan (石牛山)
Driving to Shiniushan (石牛山): If you are driving, you can set this as your location – HERE. It is just over 1 hour from Taipei Main Station by car. Near the trailhead there is a slightly build up area with restrooms. The parking here costs $100ntd/vehicle.
Taking public transportation to Shiniushan (石牛山): Public Transportation is not convenient to get to Shiniushan. From Hsinchi High Speed Station, it will be approximately a 2 hour trip and will require a 25-30 minute walk from the last bus stop. Here is the Google Route.