June 07, 2011

Hiking in Taiwan - 紅淡山 (Hongdan mountain)

In a desperate attempt to escape the Taipei city pollution and noise (and boredom), after my last week's trip to the wonderful 陽明山 (Yangming mountain) and inspired by the this fantastic blog by Stu Dawson, I decided to start discovering the Taiwanese mountains and jungle on a regular basis! A lot of Taiwanese would laugh and say that there is no jungle in Taiwan, but compared to where I come from, what they have here definitely IS jungle :)

My plan is to climb a different mountain every week (well...... that's the plan) so hopefully I will write an article about 陽明山 later. My ultimate goal is to go to the top of the tallest mountains in Taiwan. There are 164 mountains/peaks that are taller than 3000 meters in Taiwan, with 玉山 (Jade mountain) being the tallest mountain in East Asia and the 4th tallest mountain on an island. There are so many things to see here, I can't believe I've been in Taiwan for such a long time and I've been missing out on all of this.

My last week's trip to 陽明山 was absolutely amazing, but unfortunately I had no camera with me, so this article will be about a place not far from Taipei called 紅淡山 (Hongdan mountain). It cannot be even closely be compared to 陽明山 (except for the heat and humidity maybe), but it was a very relaxing trip and a good exercise nonetheless. I am a zero hiker, but on a scale from 1-5, where 5 is the toughest hike, climbing 紅淡山 would be a 1+ (the "+" is there only if it's hot and humid). It is a perfect place to go with your grandparents that come to visit you on your exchange trip from overseas. Just joking. It wasn't all that easy and given the fact that it was very humid and around 35 degrees in the shade, the initial steeper climb was a bit challenging so if you're going to go there in summer, be sure to bring a lot of water. There is a nice Buddhist temple at the beginning of the hike in 三坑,lots and lots of big butterflies and Keelung city at the end of the trail.

The route:

The initial stages of the trail were a bit rough but once we got to the Buddhist temple 寶明寺, the road wasn't that steep anymore. I found this very nice tree though:

There was an incredible amount of really big and colorful butterflies along the way, but unfortunately I didn't manage to take pictures of any of them. Instead there were some very nice flowers:

Getting to the top took us maybe 30 minutes and the view was not that bad given the fact that it was a bit cloudy. In the distance you can see a small island which looks like a promising diving destination:

View of Keelung port:

Some more flowers on the way down:

Everything nicely paved, no need for special gear:

There are many many trails on the hill, so I guess you could spend half of the day just wandering around and relaxing, but we took the 劉銘傳路 straight to Keelung.

Additional information:

Name: 紅淡山 (Hongdan mountain)
Location: Keelung city
Elevation: 210 m


We took the train from Taipei main station to Keelung (台北車站 - 基隆) and got off on the before last stop at 三坑站 (Sankeng station), then walked up perpendicularly from the station a bit, turned right on the main road and walked around 10-15 minutes until we came to the entrance of the trail which was called 寶明寺.


If you go in summer, as always take a lot of water. Good shoes are not necessary, the entire trail is paved. Some of the pavement is actually much better than the one in Taipei city! Some Taiwanese folks were walking with bare feet. Even though it is not a very difficult hike, in good heat and humidity it can be a nice workout.

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