When I explored the Taipei Google map the Elephant Hiking Trail seemed on the outskirts of the city. But as I rode towards it I found that it is amidst a whole lot of tourist attractions including the skyrise Taipei 101, city hall and Dr Sun Yet San Memorial.
This hill right by the town is called Elephant mountain due to a protruding section which reminds people of the elephants trunk.
(sorry for the large watermarks. I am writing many of these posts on the road from my mobile, so often don’t realize if the watermark looks too big or if the formatting is off until I sit on a desktop somewhere)
I was looking forward to skip the touristy stuff and hike instead but it did not exactly happen. The hike is a tourist attraction too, though enjoyable at that. It is aesthetically made with many cultural touches. And you may find your self alone with the nature and city views on the winding steps.
I went on a Friday and there was a steady flow of people, but not crowded at all. Benches, sitting areas were available and empty. At times I got few moments of total solitude before another bunch of climbers came. There was a school picnic I think on the hill and they were a huge crowd and making a lot of noise as young kids usually do but once they passed on it gets quiet again.
There are multiple entrances to this hilly staircase maze and many route maps are scattered across to help you orient yourself. Reminded me of the Buda hill in Budapest which is criss-crossed with quaint walking tracks. Google maps don’t work for directions here, probably because these aren’t ‘roads’! The maps at the beginning of the climb show only part of the route. Once you reach close to 500 steps then the map starts showing you the further routes….. You can decide whether you want to go on or which exit you want to take.
If you love climbing the hill (as mentioned not the usual mud path hike but an aesthetic staircase) keep at least half a day to climb (up and down) all of it. I think that should be enough, though I didn’t climb all of it because I got confused with maps. I climbed till the 500 steps milestone and it took me up and down both – an hour or so.
You can also take some food with you and have a picnic up, would be enjoyable 🙂
Here are some pictures….