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Discover the Majestic Peaks of Mt. Keelung: A Comprehensive Hiking Adventure in Jiufen

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: July 2, 2020
Last Update: July 9, 2023
Experience the enchantment of Mt. Keelung, an exquisite gem nestled near the vibrant Juifen Old Street. The height seems modest, but this trail offers a breathtaking tapestry of coastal and mountain vistas that will leave you captivated. If you're feeling adventurous, hiking from Mt. Keelung East Peak is a great alternative when exploring the captivating wonders of Juifen and Ruifang in Taiwan.
Mt. Keelung infographic
Mt. Keelung infographic

Table of Contents:

About Mt. Keelung: Listed No.1 on 10 Gold Ridgelines

Mt. Keelung 基隆山 is also known as Mt. Chicken Coop 雞籠山 because its shape looks like a chicken coop. But the pronunciation of chicken coop in Chinese is exactly the same as Keelung. Mt. Keelung also has a third name, called Beauty with Big Belly Mountain 大肚美人山, also because of its shape that looks like a big-bellied beauty lying down there.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Mt. Keelung is on the left. Does it look like a chicken coop or a beauty with a big belly lying down?
From a geologic perspective, Mt. Keelung Main Peak and East Peak belong to the Chilung Volcano Group (aka Jilong or Keelung Volcano Group), formed about one million years ago.
It's inactive now, so there's no need to worry about the eruption. What made the Chilung (Keelung) Volcano Group different from other groups in Taiwan was the majority of the Chilung (Keelung) Volcano Group consisted of Dacite. In short, Dacite was why Jiufen and Jinguashih were full of gold and copper ores in the old days. I'm not a geologist. Please let me know if I need to correct anything here.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
You can find gold ore on the trail near Gold Museum.
From the historical perspective, Jiufen and Jinguashih experienced mining booms because of the gold and copper ores. As a result, they established their unique culture, which makes the whole so memorable and nostalgic and has become a top-rated tourist attraction locally and internationally.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Old chimneys spiraled across the hills in Ruifang.
From a hiker's perspective, many fantastic trails have spectacular mountains and ocean views. Ruifang District (where Jiufen and Jinguashih are located) is heaven for hikers.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Looking at Mt. Keelung and Mt. Teapot from Mt. Banping
As to Mt. Keelung Main Peak and East Peak, this trail is listed No. 1 on Gold Ridgelines Hikes, and the trail is right next to Jiufen, which makes this hike more appealing. Like Mt. Teapot, another famous hike in Ruifang, you can take the challenging or just the easy part.

10 Gold Ridgelines in Ruifang

10 Gold Ridgelines, a list of beautiful hiking trails in Ruifang, New Taipei City, was established by a famous hiker and author, Mr. Lin Tsung-sheng 林宗聖.
1 黃金一稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 1
Mt. Keelung Ridgeline: from Mt. Keelung to Mt. Keelung East Peak
2 黃金二稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 2
Chimney Ridgeline: from Mt. Teapot, via abandoned mine chimneys to Mt. Shuinan ridge
3 黃金三稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 3
Mt. Teapot Ridgeline: from Mt. Teapot to Mt. Banping and turn to Mt. Cao
4 黃金四稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 4
Fukan (Overlook) Ridgeline: from Juchi (Zigzag) Ridge 555 Peak on Mt. Banping to Huangjin (Gold) Pond
5 黃金五稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 5
Jianlong Ridgeline aka Stegosaurus Ridgeline: from Juchi (Zigzag) Ridge 381 Peak to Mt. Banping Suiba.

Warning: this trail can be dangerous. Stay out of the trail when it rains or you fear heights.
6 黃金六稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 6
Juchi (Zigzag) Ridgeline from Mt. Banping 713 Peak to Mt. Suiba.

Warning: this trail can be dangerous. Stay out of the trail when it rains or you fear heights.
7 黃金七稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 7
Mt. Nanzilin Ridgeline: from Mt. Cao left junction to Mt. Nanzilin
8 黃金八稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 8
Mt. Shitikeng Ridgeline: from the right junction of Mt. Cao to Mt. Shitikeng
9 黃金九稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 9
Mt. Bitou Ridgeline: from Mt. Nanya to Mt. Bitou
10 黃金十稜 Gold Ridgeline No. 10
Longdong Ridgeline: from Mt. Hemei to Longdong Bay

How to Get There

There are several buses to the trailhead. My favorite and recommended one is to take Keelung Bus 基隆客運 1062 from Exit 2 MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station 忠孝復興捷運站 and get off at Jiufen Old Street Stop 九份老街站. After getting off, continue to walk for about 300 meters, and you will find the trailhead of endless steps to Mt. Keelung Mian Peak. You can find toilets on both sides of the road.
Other options:
Take Keelung Bus 788 from Keelung Train Station or Ruifang Train Station and get off at Geding Stop 隔頂.
Take Bus 965 from Banqiao Train Station or Ruifang Train Station and get off at Geding Stop.
1062-bus
Keelung Bus 1062 bus stop near MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station

The Easiest One: Take Mt. Keelung Main Peak Only

GPS coordinates of Mt. Keelung trailhead: 25.111772, 121.847430
After getting off at Geding Stop, you walk back toward Jiufen a few meters and see the trailhead with a sign. If you take this one, you follow the endless stone steps and go up. There are three pavilions (the last is your destination) to take a short break and enjoy the mountain views.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
The easy hike: trailhead of Mt. Keelung trail
Some might argue that taking endless stone steps is challenging, and I agree. But if you don't hike regularly or are unfamiliar with the jungle-like terrains in Taiwan, I still recommend starting from here, and you won't get lost as long as you keep going up. All the efforts will pay off when you get to the top.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Many stone steps to Mt. Keelung Main Peak
When you finally reach the top, which takes around 30 minutes, you'll see the last pavilion and a small square in front of it. This spot is your hiking destination, the peak of Mt. Keelung with a height of 588 meters (1,929 feet) above sea level, and there's a Class 3 Triangulation Stone.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Mt. Keelung Main Peak is a popular tourist attraction.
You can take your time, watch the surroundings, and be amazed by the mountains and the ocean if the weather is gorgeous. You can also see Keelung Islet 基隆嶼 on the right in the following photo.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Keelung Islet in the distance is covered in haze.
After you are ready, you can take the same stone steps back to the main road and walk to Jiufen or the nearby Gold Museum and other tourist attractions.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Take the same trail back to Jiufen.

From Main Peak to East Peak but Not Recommended

If you continue the hike, you must find another trail entrance next to the main peak's electric power lines. When you take this trail, the grass on both sides can be very tall, but the trail is relatively easy to find. You can feel descending, and you will see a huge rock slope.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Entrance to Mt. Keelung East Peak
I took this one when it was drizzling. When I saw the steep slope, I thought my heart skipped one beat, but my friend and I kept going. Hiking on this trail during the rain is not fun. Therefore, if the weather is wet, please turn back.
Even though it's not raining, it might make you cringe by looking down the slope. I didn't take a photo from the top down during both my trips because I got panic and just wanted to move on as soon as possible. Of course, there are ropes to grab, but looking down the slope will make you uneasy if you aren't comfortable with the height.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Be careful when climbing here.
Take it slow and make sure your hands hold on tight with the rope, and you should be fine. During my first attempt to get down the slope, I slipped, and my friend later told me that she saw me hitting the rock. Luckily, my hands were still holding the rope tightly, and I had a small bag in front of my chest, which absorbed some impact for me.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Climbing up looks easier than descending the slope.
When you get down the steep slope, the trail becomes relatively flat and easier to hike, and you will see a hill with a tree near the peak, 485 Peak 485 峰. As you can guess, it's 485 meters (1,591 feet) above sea level. Standing here, you get to see how far you've gone, and you can also see Mt. Keelung East Peak.
485-peak
485 Peak
485 Peak is close to Mt. Keelung East Peak. You will see a trail junction, and please take the one straight if you want to go to the east peak. The one going downhill will take you back to the other side of the trailhead. Unless the weather isn't good, I suggest you go to Mt. Keelung East Peak. The views there are even more impressive than those on the main peak.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Looking back at Mt. Keelung East Peak
After you finish the east peak, the sightseeing is over, and what's waiting for you is the challenging jungle hike. I'll explain more in the following.

The Hard Core One: from East Peak to Main Peak

After I took this hike from both ends, I highly recommend you to take this one. After you get off Geding Stop, you will see a pavilion-like bus stop building and a stone step trail going down. Take this one, and you will see the sign before another stone steps.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Geding bus stop from Google Maps
After this, you get to walk on the regular road again. Unfortunately, this trailhead isn't that obvious compared to the other one, and you'll see a road junction, and you have to take a left to get to the trailhead.
26 Take this to the trailhead of Mt. Keelung East Peak
To the trailhead
Once you see the trailhead with many plastic ribbons, the jungle trail is waiting for you. Although it's like a jungle, the trail is easy to find. There are many plastic ribbons on the trees left by other hiking groups. Follow those ribbons if you can't find the trail.
GPS coordinates of Mt. Keelung East Peak trailhead: 25.115219,121.852747
16 Trailhead to Mt. Keelung East Peak
The trailhead to Mt. Keelung East Peak
However, there are many rocks, and the terrain is intertwined with tree roots and steep and slippery. There's nothing much to see in the woods. All you can do is keep going and look forward to seeing the view when you reach the peaks. If it's raining, it will be more challenging to hike on this trail, not to mention the slope climbing part later.
18 More steep slopes to the east peak of Mt. Keelung
More steep slopes to the east peak of Mt. Keelung
Once you climb to the ridge, you will see a trail junction. Take the right one, and you'll arrive at Mt. Keelung East Peak. The views on the east peak were more striking than those on the Main Peak and 485 Peak.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Terrific views on Mt. Keelung East Peak
While on the East Peak, you can see 485 Peak and Mt. Keelung Main Peak ahead of you, and the steep grade of those peaks is impressive. Take your time to climb those slopes. However, if you think your fear of heights kicks in, please don't hesitate to tell your guide or hiking mates and ask for help. Local hikers are very friendly when you need their help.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
You can see the Yinyang Sea from Mt. Keelung East Peak.
Climbing up those rock slopes might be easier than going down, but it was still scary. I felt my arms and legs were sore when trying to grab the rope and find my footing.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Looking at 485 Peak and the main peak from the east one
485-peak-view
The views on 485 Peak were excellent and worth the effort.
The Main Peak was still ahead, so we continued our hike. After going through tall grass, we reached the Main Peak. Many tourists were already here to enjoy the excellent weather, and we could finally take a long lunch break.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Panorama view on Mt. Keelung Main Peak
It takes less than 3 hours to finish those peaks from the difficult end to the easy one. After you leave the trail, the bus stop is near. I was able to catch the bus right after I finished my hike.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Back to Jiufen

Other Routes

This hike is excellent for people with tight schedules. You can go hiking to Mt. Keelung Main Peak, and visiting Jiufen and Jinguashih later is doable and lets you make the most of it in one day.
Mt. Keelung Main and East Peak
Beautiful sunset in Jiufen
For those who want to take a challenging hike and see the fantastic views only in northeastern Taiwan, starting your hike from the Mt. Keelung East Peak side to the Main Peak is highly recommended. However, if you take this route, please be cautious when climbing the rocks.
There are other routes to take on this hike. For example, some hikers start from the trailhead near Lian Dong Elementary School 濂洞國小 and hike to Mt. Keelung East Peak and then the main one. This route is short but more intense than just doing the East and Main Peak. I haven't tried this one yet, but I might try it.

Map and Itinerary

Group Hike or Solo Hike: Group hike with 新北市山岳協會 THMA
Date of Hike: November 17, 2019

Route map for Mt-Keelung-Main-and-East-Peaks by Anusha Lee on plotaroute.com

Click the Menu in the map to download, print, or share the map.
Click timer to change the speed to meet your condition.
Note:
Due to GPS accuracy setting, there may be some difference between my GPS tracking and the exact distance. Please check the infographic above for more accurate data.

Based on my hike on November 17, 2019

09:00 Started the hike. The guide took some time to explain the trail.
09:23 Reached the trailhead to Mt. Keelung East Peak
10:11 Reached the first big slope
10:20 Reached Mt. Keelung East Peak
10:58 Arrived at the second big slope
11:06 Reached 485 Peak and took photos
11:30 Reached Mt. Keelung Main Peak and had lunch
11:47 Got down from the stone steps
12:00 Reached the trailhead and bus stop
Total time: 3 hours, including breaks

Free Guide: How to Apply for Hiking Permits in Taiwan

Do you plan to hike high mountains but don't know how to apply for hiking permits? Look no further! Download this complimentary guide with instructions to help you navigate the application process seamlessly.

Customized Hikes from HolaTaipei

If you are lookig for customized hiking trips with an English or Spanish-speaking guide and save time on traffic, my friend Cris from HolaTaipei's guided hikes might be for you.

References

On Taiwan Hikes

Mt. Teapot, Mt. Banping, and Mt. Canguanliao
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Posts in Chinese Only

Hiking Biji: 雷霆峰步道(基隆山東峰、黃金一稜)
Waytogo: 基隆山稜
Keelung Mountain
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