Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail, Taipei 

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.

Elephant Hiking Trail
Official entrance. All the signposts point this way…

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.

Elephant hiking trail signposts
A more comprehensive map of the routes as you reach the 500 steps milestone..

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….

Elephant hiking trail, taiwan
Not too steep but varies. Certain sections do have bigger, steeper stairs
Elephant hiking trail, taiwan
Scenic view points with beautiful sitting area. Good place to picnic.
Elephant hiking trail city view
Taipei city view 🙂
Elephant hiking trail, nature signs
A few signs explaining a bit about the nature around. Interesting thing is that there are English language errors very often even in these official content matters, I wonder how the content gets written and edited. I noticed similar mistakes in the Sun Yet San memorial content too.
Elephant hiking trail buddhist shrine
So when I saw the aesthetic, winding staircase and the Buddhist temple at its start, I figured this was part of a Buddhist pilgrimage and since also made into a tourist attraction ‘hike’. Seeing this shrine enroute confirmed my thoughts. I wonder whether it should be called ‘Elephant pilgrim trail’?
Elephant hiking trail forest
The other side of the trail – lush forests. Look tempting!
 Elephant hiking trail, Taiwan
500 step milestone: looks like a sign saying 500 elephants to me 😉
Elephant hiking trail, Taipei
Taipei 101 standing tall betwxt the capital city