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Yangmingshan Series: 4+ Routes to Enjoy Views and Sea of Clouds at Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: March 7, 2023
Listed as one of Taiwan's most beautiful places by CNN in 2019, Datunshan, aka Mt. Datun, casts a magic spell and attracts visitors to keep coming back. In this post, you will find out different routes about how and what to enjoy this only active volcano at Yangmingshan National Park in Taiwan. Plus, the public transport guide makes your hike much more effortless.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Looking at Mt. Miantian, Mt. Datun South Peak and West Peak from the Main Peak deck
Mt. Datun, 1,092 meters (3,582.7 feet), the third highest peak in Taipei City, is also listed as the first peak of 100 Minor Peaks (Xiao Bai Yue), the more accessible version of Taiwan's 100 Peaks.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Mt. Qixing and clouds from Mt. Datun
The highest peak in Taipei City, Mt. Qixing, 1,120 meters (3,674.5 feet), is listed as No. 2.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
The highest peak in Taipei City, Mt. Qixing

Table of Contents:

About Mt. Datun Peaks and Active Volcano

Datunshan Volcanic Activities

The landforms at Yangmingshan are shaped by the Datun Volcano Group 大屯火山群. According to Yangmingshan National Park, Datun Volcano Group was most active between 800,000 and 600,000 years ago.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Xiaoyoukeng
Frequent eruptions occurred at Mt. Ding Huo Qiao, aka Mt. Jhongfuzhih 丁火巧山 or 中幅子山 (471 meters), around 2.8 to 2.5 million years ago.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
The rainfall observatory station at Mt. Jhongfuzhih
Mt. Zhuzi 竹子山, Mt. Qixing, Mt. Huangzui, and Mt. Xiaoguanyin 小觀音山 frequently erupted between 800,000 and 300,000 years ago.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Mt. Xiaoguanyin
Then, only Mt. Honglu and Mt. Miantian erupted frequently, and Mt. Shamao was formed. After that, Datun Volcano Group became dormant.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Mt. Qixing East Peak
It is said that the last eruption of Datun Volcano Group was 6,000 years ago.

Sunrise, Sunset, and Sea of Clouds in Autumn and Winter

Other than the fantastic layers of mountains, there are different amazing views to enjoy from Mt. Datun, the sunrise, sunset, and the sea of clouds.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
I saw Taipei 101 emerging from the clouds from Mt. Datun.
You can enjoy the sunset at Mt. Datun Main Peak and the other two peaks, but hiking in the evening at Mt. Datun West and South Peaks might be dangerous.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Saw this sunset, silver grass and clouds near Mt. Datun West Peak.
Another great spot to see the sunset is near Qingtian Temple, which is close to the bus stop.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Lucky to see the clouds flowing through Mt. Quanyin during sunset near Qingtian Temple.
The best time to see the sea of clouds at Mt. Datun is in autumn and winter. I highly recommend an app called Yuan Hai Ren 雲海人, meaning Sea of Clouds Men in Chinese.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
When the timing is right, you can see clouds like within one-hour from downtown Taipei.
If you are curious about the accuracy of this app, I had the same doubt, too. When I was heading to Mt. Datun, the weather was still cloudy at Yangmingshan Bus Stop. I wasn't sure I had made the right call to rush to Mt. Datun. While those questions kept popping up in my head, I saw the clouds clear up and the blue sky.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
The peak of Mt. Quanyin bearly shown above Mt. Datun West Peak.
This is the best sea of clouds I've ever seen at Mt. Datun.

Silver Grass in Autumn

Mt. Datun is also a great spot to see the beautiful Silver Grass in autumn.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail

Peaks to Reach

  1. Mt. Datun, 大屯山, 1,092 meters (3,582.7 feet). There are 3 triangulation stones at Mt. datun: a Class 2, a Class 3, and control point.The Class 3 Triangulation Stone is inside Datunshan Navaids Site ANWS CAA 大屯山助航台, but it's not open to the public. So, we take the post at the observation deck as the peak (1,077 m). Mt. Datun is also listed as No. 1 on Xiao Bai Yue or 100 Minor Peaks in Taiwan.
  2. Mt. Datun South Peak, 大屯山南峰, 957 meters (3,139.8 feet)
  3. Mt. Datun West Peak, 大屯山西峰, 982 meters (3,221.8 feet)
  4. Mt. Datun Southwest Peak, 大屯山西南峰, 863 meters (2,831.4 feet). My friend, Cris from HolaTaipei, and I tried to find this peak in October 2022. The entrance to this peak is close to Mt. Datun West Peak.

A Wild Boar Encounter near Mt. Datun Southwest Peak

It's evident that Mt. Datun Southwest Peak isn't popular because of the overgrown grass. After struggling with the grass, Cris and I were very close to the peak.
mt-datun-southwest-peak-1
The grass was taller than people on the way to Mt. Datun Southwest Peak.
Suddenly, the roar of a wild boar startled us. I saw it jump into the bush, and I stepped back at least 10 steps, which might be the fastest walking backward in my life.
Cris didn't see the wild boar but heard it and saw my freaking-out face. We stayed put for at least 5 minutes, pondering whether to continue or give up. We even Googled what to do. Then Google said, RUN. So, we aborted the plan to see this peak. Perhaps another day.
mt-datun-southwest-peak-2-2
The wild boar disappeared in the bush but I was still scared.
Later, we shared this encounter with Acer. Acer said he had met wild boars on the trails several times, and he often continued his hike. Usually, they fear humans and will run away as soon as possible. But Acer often carried a machete when doing hikes. So, it's still a good idea to run if you ask me.

How to Get There by Public Transport

There are 20+ buses to Yangmingshan, and we usually transfer to the attractions at least twice or thrice.
How to get to Yangmingshan by public transport - bus-stops-mrt-jiantan-station
MRT Jiantan Station is the major stop to transfer buses to Yangmingshan.
Therefore, I made a Yangmingshan public transport guide to make life easier. I try to make this guide handy and easy to understand, so I only put the most popular trails and tourist attractions in this guide. You will also find the maps of the bus stops at MRT Jiantan Station, MRT Beitou Station, and Taipei Station.
How to take public transport to Yangmingshan
If you want to do trails at Mt. Datun peaks with an English or Spanish-speaking guide and save time on traffic, my friend Cris from HolaTaipei's guided hikes might be for you.

Map/GPX Data

The following map is from Anbu to Qingtian Temple. Trails at Yangmingshan are well-marked. You can follow the steps and the signs to get to your destination.
This map is from MRT Zhongyi Station to Mt. Datun and exits at Anbu. Please note that this route is challenging and steep, almost hiking from 0 meters to 1,077 meters, plus the ups and downs.
Click Menu in the map to download, print, or share the map.
You can see more options after clicking the Play button.
Click timer to change the speed to meet your condition.

4+ Routes to Do Mt. Datun Peaks from Easy to Difficult

There are at least 4 trailheads to Mt. Datun: Anbu 鞍部, Erziping 二子坪, Qingtian Temple 清天宮, and MRT Zhongyi Station 忠義捷運站. You can just do Mt. Datun Main Peak, or explore West Peak, South Peak and more.
The 4 routes to do Mt. Datun from the easiest to the most challenging one:
  1. From Anbu to Mt. Datun to Erziping, the Vice Versa
  2. From Anbu to Mt. Datun Main Peak, South Peak, West Peak to Erziping, and Vice Versa
  3. From Anbu to Mt. Datun to Qingtian Temple, and Vice Versa
  4. From MRT Zhongyi Station, via Datun Valley to Mt. Datun

From Anbu to Mt. Datun to Erziping, the Vice Versa

Brief itinerary: Anbu (829m) ➔ Mt. Datun observation deck near Datunshan Navaids Site ANWS CAA 大屯山助航台 (1,077m) ➔ Datunping (around 890m) ➔ Erziping (815m) ➔ Erziping Visitor Center
GPS coordinates of Anbu: 25.183161, 121.529198
GPS coordinates of Erziping Visitor Center: 25.186223, 121.525198
Distance: 5.3 km (3.3 miles)
Route type: Point to point
Hours Needed: 1 to 2 hours
Best Time to Go: All year round, but it can be very hot in summer
Permits: Not required
Difficulty Level: trail difficulty
This might be the easiest way to enjoy Mt. Datun. Mt. Datun Observation Deck can even be reached by bike, motorcycle, or car.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
The trailhead near Anbu bus stop.
If you get off Bus 108 at Anbu stop, walk further, and you will see a parking lot. The trailhead to Mt. Datun is on the left-hand side.
From there, we take the endless stone steps franked by dwarf bamboo.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Some sections of Datunshan Trail are flanked by dwarf bamboo.
When you take a break on the steps, remember to turn around to see the beautiful Mt. Xiaoguanyin 小觀音山. Mt. Xiaoguanyin is a protected area, and hikers must apply for permits to take the hike.
While taking the steps, you will see a junction. Remember to take a detour and stop at the deck near the road. You will see the whole Tamsui 淡水 and Sanzhi 三芝 from here or the great clouds like cotton candy flowing.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
The actual First-class Triangulation Stone is inside Datunshan Navaids Site. But, it's not allowed to go inside. So, take the post at the observation deck as the peak. There is also a military base near this site.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Datunshan Navaids Site
The views are lovely here. If the timing is right, you'll see the incredible clouds and Mt. Datun South and West Peak, Mt. Miantian 面天山, Mt. Xiantian 向天山, and Mt. Quanyin 觀音山 on the other side of Tamsui River.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Looking at the observation deck near Datunshan Navaids Site
After enjoying the views at Mt. Datun Observation Deck, you can return the same way. Or, you can take the super steep steps all the way down to take on the south and west peak of Mt. Datun.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Great spot to have a coffee break.
By the way, stoves and fires are not allowed at Yangmingshan National Park. So, I bring a thermal with boiled water to enjoy my coffee.

From Anbu to Mt. Datun Main Peak, South Peak, West Peak to Erziping, and Vice Versa

Brief itinerary: Anbu (829m) ➔ Mt. Datun observation deck near 助航站 (1,077m) ➔ Datunping (around 890m) ➔ Mt. Datun South Peak (959m) ➔ junction to Mt. Xiaotun ➔ Mt. Datun West Peak (985m) ➔ Miantianping (junction/pavilion) and take Miantianshan Trail ➔ Erziping (815m) ➔ Erziping Visitor Center
GPS coordinates of Anbu: 25.183161, 121.529198
GPS coordinates of Erziping Visitor Center: 25.186223, 121.525198
Distance: 7.1 km (4.4 miles)
Route type: Point to point
Hours Needed: 3 to 5 hours
Best Time to Go: All year round, but it can be very hot in summer.
Permits: Not required
Difficulty Level: trail difficulty
Hiking Mt. Datun South Peak and West Peak is more challenging. It involves mud, climbing, and steep slopes. As you can see from this profile, the South and West Peaks are steep.
yms-lineintro-datun02. Image from Yangmingshan National Park
The trail profile from Yangmingshan National Park
It's endless stone steps from Mt. Datun Observation Deck to Datunping. I once did those steps twice a day for the training purpose. As you can guess, my legs weren't very happy about it.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Descending or ascending the steep steps to Mt. Datun is not fun.
Datunping is the bottom of the valley. The footpath is replaced by the rough terrain from here.
Datunping
Cris checked out the map at Datunping.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
The slope to Mt. Datun South Peak is rough.
After the slippery and muddy climbing, the hard work pays off. The views are awesome at Mt. Datun South Peak unless you come on a gloomy day.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
View at Mt. Datun South peak
Heading to Mt. Datun West Peak, you will find another slope with ropes.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Still slippery and muddy
Then we entered the forests. Expect muddy slopes and be cautious when going down. And more muddy slopes with ropes were waiting for us. If you hike here on the weekends, expect traffic jams while climbing up or descending.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Big boulders to climb before reaching Mt. Datun West Peak
The views at Mt. Datun West Peak are equally rewarding for the hard work.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
View near west peak
After descending from Mt. Datun West Peak, you will reach Miantianping. You can either head to Qingtian Temple or go to Erziping.
yms-snow-datun-west-peak-by-Acer
My friend Acer took this photo when it snowed at Mt. Datun West Peak.
The trail to Erziping is mostly stone steps, and it can be wet and slippery at some sections. I passed Mingtianping Stone House after a small bridge. You can take a look around here.
miantianping-stone-houses
Miantianping Stone Houses
After the stone house, Erziping is near. There are two big ponds with different flowers in different seasons. There are toliets here.
Erziping, Yangmingshan
Erziping
The distance between Erziping and Erziping Visitor Center is around 1.8 km (1.1 miles). The footpath here is ideal for people of all ages.
Erziping, Yangmingshan
Footpath to Erziping Visitor Center
The distance between Erziping and Erziping Visitor Center is around 1.8 km (1.1 miles).
Erziping, Yangmingshan
You will find toilets and a bus stop at the visitor center.

From Anbu to Mt. Datun to Qingtian Temple, and Vice Versa

Brief itinerary: Anbu (829m) ➔ Mt. Datun observation deck (1,077m) ➔ Datunping (around 890m) ➔ Mt. Datun South Peak (959m) ➔ Datun West Peak (985m) ➔ Miantianping ➔ Qingtian Temple (452m)
GPS coordinates of Qingtian Temple: 25.160197, 121.501185
Distance: 5.8 km (3.6 miles)
Route type: Point to point
Hours Needed: 4 to 6 hours
Best Time to Go: All year round, but it can be very hot in summer.
Permits: Not required
Difficulty Level: trail difficulty
This is my favorite route to Mt. Datun because I only need to transfer one bus from MRT Beitou Station. After getting off the bus, you will see an old banyan tree that beautifully frames the distinctive contour of Mt. Quanyin.
Qingtian Temple
The trailhead near Qingtian Temple in Beitou.
The trailhead is right next to the temple. You can find water dispensers and toilets, too. Hikers can even use the free water and brushes to scrub off the mud from the trail.
The trail is franked by bamboo woods and mostly covered by shade. Sometimes, the local farmers will sell their produce on the trail.
qingtian-temple-trail-bamboos
Beautiful bamboo forest from the Qingtian Temple side.
You'll pass another small temple on the trail called Sansheng Temple 三聖宮, which is not open to the public.
Mt. Datun Multi-Peak Trail
Sansheng Temple
After the temple, you will see the first junction. You can take a left if you want to go to Xiangtian Pond, Mt. Xiangtian, and Mt. Miantian (post coming soon.) I'll write a post about this hike later.
Continue the trail ahead, and you will see another junction, which is Miantianping. A map and signpost point to the directions to Mt. Datun West Peak and Erziping. Take a right to Mt. Datun West Peak.
Miantianping
A pavilion at Miantianping
As you might have read in the previous paragraphs, the terrain from Miantianping to Mt. Datun West Peak becomes rougher, muddier, and steep. You can bring a pair of gloves to prevent rope burns. This section is constantly muddy, even when the weather is dry.
Miantianping
Junction to several locations
After reaching another junction, you take the direction to Qingtian Temple. You might catch the sun setting from Mt. Quanyin if you finish the hike late.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Sunset setting at Mt. quanyin
You will find Qingtian Temple, toilets, and a bus stop next to the old Banyan tree.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Qingtian Temple

From MRT Zhongyi Station, via Datun Valley to Mt. Datun

Brief itinerary: MRT Zhongyi Station ➔ Mt. Zhongyi, aka Mt. Sha Lao Bie (233m) ➔ Xian Jui Pond 仙掘池 ➔ Mt. Xiaopinding (386m) ➔ Qingtian Temple (452m) ➔ water hose trail ➔ Yongchunliao Creek ➔ Datun Valley trail ➔ Mt. Datun South Peak (957m) ➔ Datunping (890m) ➔ Mt. Datun Observation Deck (1,077m) ➔ Anbu
Distance: 13 km (8.1 miles)
Route type: Point to point
Hours Needed: 7 to 9 hours
Best Time to Go: All year round, but it can be very hot in summer.
Permits: Not required
Difficulty Level: trail difficulty
This one, no doubt, is the most challenging route compared to the previous ones. Yet, there are more various things to enjoy during the hike. I'll post about this hike later and only mention the highlights here.
Yongchunliao-Creek-valley-3
Datun Valley route
My friend, Acer, took us on this hike. This route takes us to Mt. Zhongyi, aka Mt. Sha Lao Bie, 233m. The triangulation stone is in the woods, but the view near this mountain is excellent. The route also takes us to cross some footpaths of Taipei Grand Hike Section 1.
Mt-Sha-Lao-Bie
Mt. Sha Lao Bie, aka Mt. Zhongyi, 嗄嘮別山/忠義山, 233m
We took a long break at Saci Temple 三慈宮. I highly recommend visiting this place because the view is stunning!
Saci-Temple-view
Great view of Taipei 101 from Saci Temple, plus the air polution
After another relaxing walk, we reached Qingtian Temple. Unlike the previous routes, Acer took us to the sidehill trail, also called the water hose trail 水管路. Acer told us the residents here still don't have tap water at home. So, they have to draw the water from the mountain with those long hoses.
water-hose-trail
Our friend, Acer, shared his knowledge with us on the trail.
We went down the Yongchunliao Creek Valley 永春寮溪谷, and it was slippery and treacherous. But the landscape here was terrific. It's hard to imagine this place is so close to one of the most populated cities in Asia.
Yongchunliao-Creek-valley
It was slippery at Yongchunliao Creek Valley, and it took me a while to pass.
After getting down to the bottom of the route, it was time to go up, and we reached Datun Valley Trail. Then we reached the junction to Mt. Datun South Peak. After that, Acer took us to other route, which is the story for another day.
Yongchunliao-Creek-valley -2
This route has many junctions, and some sections are physically demanding. Therefore, please prepare well when doing this hike.
Yongchunliao-Creek-valley-4
We climbed some steep slopes.

Related Posts:

On Taiwan Hikes

Yangmingshan Guide
Qixingshan
Mt. Huangsui

English Posts

Taiwan Trails and Tales: MOUNT DATUN MULTI PEAK TRAIL (大屯主峰連峰步道)
Foreigners in Taiwan: Datunshan 大屯山
CNN: Taiwan's most beautiful places

Posts in Chinese Only

Hiking Biji: Mt. Datun Main Peaks and Others 大屯主峰-連峰步道
Taiwan Hikes' Partner: HolaTaipei Travel
I hope you enjoy this post. Have you done Mt. Datun? Are you planning to do it? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.
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