A hike to Taipei City’s highest mountain

As an outdoor enthusiast, I couldn’t wait to share with readers the scenic amazement that associated with my hiking to the top of Taipei City’s highest mountain—Mt. Qixing (七星山)

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I couldn’t wait to share with readers the scenic amazement that associated with my hiking to the top of Taipei City’s highest mountain—Mt. Qixing (七星山

I couldn’t wait to share with readers the scenic amazement that associated with my hiking to the top of Taipei City’s highest mountain—Mt. Qixing (七星山

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)—As an outdoor enthusiast, I couldn’t wait to share with readers the scenic amazement that associated with my hiking to the top of Taipei City’s highest mountain—Mt. Qixing (七星山)—on Saturday (Oct. 28) afternoon.

Mt. Qixing rises 1,120 meters, making it the highest peak in Taipei City. I feel every Taipei citizen or resident should make a trip to the top of the mountain at least once in his or her lifetime.

Mt. Qixing Main and East Peak can be reached from the following four entrances: Miaopu at Yangmingshan Visitor Center (2.4km to Main Peak), Xiaoyoukeng (小油坑) (1.6km to Main Peak), Lengshuikeng  (冷水坑) (2.1km to East Peak) and the Menghuan Pond (夢幻湖) parking lot (2.2km to East Peak).

Lengshuikeng Visitor Center

Yesterday was a perfect time for hiking as it was cool, mostly sunny with occasional mists settling in to refresh my spirit and make the landscapes more interesting.

I parked my car near the Lengshuikeng Visitor Center in Yangmingshan National Park and started from the trailhead across from the Lengshuikeng parking lot, which is located south of Mt. Qixing.

The trailhead at Lengshuikeng

Many people take Bus S15 that leaves from MRT Jiantan Station for Lengshuikeng and  Qingtiangang (擎天崗), or take a bus to the Yangmingshan bus station and then transfer to Bus 108 that runs a clockwise loop around the park. One of the most convenient bus routes for the Yangmingshan bus station is Bus 260 that leaves from Civic Blvd (outside Taipei Main Station) for the park.  

Elevations of the trailhead at Lengshuikeng and the summit of Mt. Qixing are 750 meters and 1,120 meters, respectively.

Not only was the weather perfect for the hike, the season of late autumn was the best to boot as the silver grass plants were flowering all over the south side of the mountain, turning the place into a fairyland.

About 700 meters into the stone-paved trail is a junction of two trails, with one leading to the main peak of Mt. Qixing and the other to Menghuan Pond. I took the latter because the lake is one of the places you definitely don’t want to miss while visiting Yangmingshan National Park. It is located only 400 meters from the junction.

As the lake has the constant reflection of the surrounding terrain and tall trees in the water and mists usually shroud the area, the lake looks like a small dream world and is therefore called Menghuan Hu in Chinese, or “fantasy lake.”  

After taking some pictures of the lake, I went back to the junction and continued on my quest to summit the main peak. As I looked down from the uphill trail, I could see Qingtiangang Grassland and a ranch lie on top of a flat terrain to the south of the mountain.

There is a trail post about every 200 meters along the trail to tell hikers how far they are from the trail destination. A post indicated to me that I was near the East Peak, which is only 300 meters from the Main Peak. About 80 minutes into the hike, I reached the summit of the Main Peak, where the weather became foggy and chilly. I noticed from a thermometer on the mountain top that the temperature was 13 degree Celsius. I also saw a few wild bamboo partridges looking for food there at the summit.

Top of Mt. Qixing Main Peak

From the summit, I took the trail that leads down to Xuioyoukeng, which is famous for its post-volcanic activity.

The landscapes on the two sides of Mt. Qixing are very different. Part of the southern slopes is covered with a broadleaf forest, while the northern slopes are strongly affected by the northeasterly monsoons and are therefore covered primarily with arrow bamboos and grasslands.

As hikers come near Xuioyoukeng, they are able to see clouds of steams rising from the Xuioyoukeng area below, feel the heat that is welling out of the fumaroles beside the trail, and smell a unique odor. The landscape in the area is dominated by post-volcanic features such as fumaroles, sulfur crystal formations, hot springs, and landslides, making the area a good place for observation of volcanic landforms.

Post-volcanic activity refers to the continued heating of underground water by residual heat following a volcanic eruption.

Hikers are recommended to visit the volcanic landform of Xiaoyoukeng after coming down from the summit. After spending nearly four hours for the hike, it was getting dark and I was ready to call it a day.

 

The volcanic landform of Xiaoyoukeng

At Xiaoyoukeng, most visitors took Bus 108, which is the only bus service available here, and transferred to Bus S15, Bus 260 or other bus routes to go back to the city. I ran a distance of about 2.5 kilometers along the highway via the Menghuan Pond parking lot to my car, and completed a very satisfying trip.