Taipei (Taiwan News)--Hiking Teapot Mountain is one of the best things a visitor can do besides visiting the Gold Museum in the village of Jinqushi in northern Taiwan where gold mining used to be thriving in the old days.
The trail starts at the Gold Museum, a museum of the gold mining industry in the Jinqushi area. The museum consists of several buildings and sites, including the Benshan Fifth Tunnel, Crown Prince Chalet, Jin Shui Special Exhibition Hall, Gold Refining Building, and Four Joined Japanese-Style Residences.
The Gold Building
The museum is accessible by taking a bus from TRA Ruifang Station. Bus lines that stop at the museum include 788, 856, 1062, and Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus- Golden Fulong Route.
To find the entrance of the Teapot Mountain Hiking Trail (茶壺山步道), walk towards the back of the museum and up the steps towards the Benshan Fifth Tunnel and the Gold Building. Follow the old mining cart tracks to the very back of the park. Hikers should be able to see a small and short bridge near where the tracks end. Cross over the bridge. Once on the other side, hikers should be able to see a gravel path on the right that quickly turns into a long steep staircase. Take the path and walk up the stairs.
The end of the stairs connects with a paved road. Follow the road up the mountain for about 600 meters or so, and there will be a signpost indicating the entrance of the Teapot Mountain Hiking Trail. The beginning of the trail is another steep staircase, which will take hikers to the peak of Teapot Mountain, which really looks like a teapot from certain angles at a distance.
The geological teapot is made of boulders and a cave. What is interesting is that hikers actually have to go inside the geological pot (cave) from one mouth and out of it from another in order to continue hiking. Hikers will find fixed ropes very helpful when getting down and emerging out of the cave. Once out of the cave, visitors will be standing on the large pile of boulders that forms the top of Teapot Mountain. The views from there towards the sea and Jinqushi below are magnificent.
View from the top of Teapot Mountain
After the teapot experience, a stretch of steep rocky dirt trail of about 1.5 kilometers awaits hikers before they take on another exciting challenge--climbing up an almost vertical rock face to the ridge of a nearby mountain range that includes the summit of Banping Mountain (半屏山). The climb looks frightening, but actually it is easy and safe as sturdy fixed ropes and chiseled footholds on the rock face are provided for the ascent.
Once up the rock face and at the ridge, turn right and continue walking on the trail leading up to Banping Mountain. Don’t turn left and walk down the trail towards the coastline because it’s a trail fraught with dangerous ridges and rock faces.
The trail on the right also has some cliff sections, but they are easy to climb. The top of the ridge offers even more stunning views than from Teapot. The trail from the point on is considered easy.
View from the summit of Banping Mountain
The section of the trail will meet Caoshan Road, a dirt road reserved for military use. Hikers have to turn right where the trail meets the road and walk towards Jinguashi Geological Park Trail. Walk another 1.1 kilometers to a direction post, and take the stone trail that goes downhill to the Geological Park and the ruins of the Jinguashi Shinto Shrine, a Japanese shine built by a Japanese mining company in March 1933 during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The site of the old shrine, which is located beside the trail, is also worth visiting. Continue going down the trail and back to the Gold Museum.
The loop of the Teapot Mountain Hiking Trail takes about two and a half hours to finish.
The well-marked trail offers an exciting hike and stunning views and is something that you should not miss in Taiwan. It’s recommended to plan a day trip to include the hike, a visit to the Gold Museum and maybe also to Jiufen--a nearby tourist attraction.