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Sanxia Loop Hike: Mt. Jinminzi, Mt. Shilang, Mt. Saikuokeng and Mt. Neijinmin. Plus, Couhe Rock Formations

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: December 2, 2021
Mt. Jinminzi trail is in Sanxia, Taiwan, and very close to the famous Manyueyuan National Forest 滿月圓國家森林遊樂區 and Wuliaojian 五寮尖. This is a trail with rock walls, amazing views on the peaks, and stunning bamboo woods. If you come in the right seasons, you can also get a glimpse of exotic wildflowers only in Taiwan mountains. For those who enjoy waters, the unique rock formations, Couhe Shi Ba Dong Tian (Couhe Rock Formations) 湊合十八洞天, on Dabao River are very close to here, too.

Table of Contents:

Trail Information of Mt. Jinminzi, Mt. Shilang, Mt. Saikuokeng and Mt. Neijinmin

Trail Name: Mt. Jinminzi, Mt. Shilang, Mt. Saikuokeng and Mt. Neijinmin
Distance: 8.4 km (5.2 miles) from the parking lot; I did 11.6 km (7.2 miles) from the bus stop and Couhe Rock Formations.
Route type: Loop
Days/Hours Needed: Day hike near Taipei, 6 - 7 hours
Total Ascent/Descent: 789 m / 800 m
Best Time to Go: All year round, but it can be very hot in summer
Permits: Not required
Difficulty Level: trail difficulty
Peaks to Reach:
Mt. Jinmizi 金敏子山 aka Mt. Baishihu 白石鵠山, height 630 meters (2,067 feet) Mt. Shilang 詩朗山 aka Mt. Xilun 西崙山, height 667 meters (2,188 feet) Mt. Saikuokeng 塞口坑山, height 755 meters (2,477 feet) Mt. Neijinmin 內金敏山 aka Mt. Dabao 大豹山, height 594 meters (1,949 feet) Others: Most of the trail is shaded. You'll need a pair of gloves to grab the ropes. The trail terrain was dry when I was there, but it can be muddy when it rains.

Personal Enjoyment

Things I Enjoy

  1. The views on Mt. Jinminzi and Mt. Saikuokeng are great. You can see one of the three famous rock mountains in Taipei, Wulaojian from both peaks.
  2. Other than those two peaks, the two lookouts are worth making a detour. If the weather is good, you can see Mt. Wushifen and even Mt. Qixing, the highest mountain in Taipei City.
  3. There are several amazing rock walls on the trail. Those walls are huge.
  4. If you come to the right seasons, you might see beautiful wildflowers from the trail. For example, native Striate Acanthephippium 一葉罈花蘭 and Indian Pipe 水晶蘭 in spring, native Fairy Lily 艷紅鹿子百合 (or Lilium speciosum Thunb. var. gloriosoides Baker) and White Crane Orchid 白鶴蘭 in summer. I saw Japanese Ophiorrhiza 蛇根草 when I did the hike in January.
  5. I took some time to visit Couhe Shi Ba Dong Tian (Couhe Rock Formations) on Dabao River (meaning Big Leppard) along County Way 114 (北114). The unique rock formations cut by the stream, Couhe Shi Ba Dong Tian (Couhe Rock Formations), are impressive. It would be great to enjoy the water in summer. But due to way too many drownings on Dabao River, the entrance to the creek is closed by the local government. According to a news report in 2003, Dabao River once claimed 13 lives in one day.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail: Caohe rock formations on Dabao river
Dabao River 大豹溪

Thing I Don't Enjoy

  1. If you don't drive, the transportation can be a problem. Getting to the bus stop near the trail is easy by taking Bus 807. Returning is a different matter. I missed the bus leaving Manyueyuan Parking Lot at 15:15. I had to wait for the next one (also the last one) at 18:10.
  2. You can skip Mt. Neijinmin because there isn't much to see. Besides, the trail is blocked by the landlord. Luckily, it is a short round trip from the road barricade to the peak.
  3. Some hikers report that there are many biting midges (Forcipomyia taiwana) in summer. Please prepare repellent if you do this hike in summer.

Map/GPX Data

Date of Hike: Solo hike on January 24, 2021

Route map for Mt. Jinminzi In Sanxia by Anusha Lee on plotaroute.com

Click Menu in the map to download, print or share the map.
You can see more options after clicking Play button.
Click timer to change the speed to meet your condition.

How to Get There

By Car

If you drive, here is the GPS coordinates.

By Public Transport

If you don't drive, you will have to transfer several buses to the trailhead. There are also other buses to take, but I personally think those near MRT stations are easier. 
From different MRT stations to Sanxia Old Street Stop:
From MRT Yongning Station Exit 4 永寧捷運站 to Sanxia 1 Bus Terminal: Take Bus 916.
From MRT Banqiao Station 板橋捷運站 to Sanxia 1 Bus Terminal: You need to go to the stop next to Banqiao Wanping Park 萬坪公園 and take Bus 910.
From Sanxia 1 Bus Terminal to the trailhead near Jinmin Stop 金敏站: Take Bus 807 at Sanxia 1 Bus Terminal. Please check here for the timetable.
Mt. Jinminzi trail

History about Jinmin: A Wiped-out Village and A Coal Mine

During the Japanese Occupation, there were 8 coal mines in Sanxia. One of them was in Jinmin Village near this trail called Jinmin Coal Mine 金敏煤礦. This mine started producing coal in 1946 and ceased its production in 1985. The total production of coal reached 105.9 million metric tons.
We still can see the old buildings and houses left from the coal mining's heyday. Chajiao Elementary School at Jinmin was founded in 1941 to accommodate those miners' children.
I saw this old bridge before reaching the trailhead. Some hikers say this bridge is from the coal mine, but I'm not sure. It looks nostalgic and adds something extra for this hike.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
From Qing Dynasty to Japanese Occupation, many Atayal people lived along the Dabao River, and the old name for this area was called Ncaq. Ncaq means ghost silver grass. Later, the Japanese government let Han people enter Atayal's land to produce camphor in 1900. In June 1900, camphor workers raped Atayal women, which led Atayal people's fight against the Japanese government.
To reign the Atayal people, the Japanese government started ruthless plans to control the indigenous people. Without a doubt, several clashes broke out, and one of them was Ncaq Incident or Dabao Incident, which caused casualties among the Atayal, Han and Japanese. After this incident, Ncaq Village was almost wiped out or forced to relocate.
In November 2011, Wanshan Shrine 萬善堂 was built to collect those deceased indigenous and Han people. There are many Wanshan Shrines in Taiwan, and those were built to commemorate the deceased who was Joe/Jane Doe or didn't have families or offspring to worship them. Usually, those temples or shrines are spookier than those that worship gods.
In the mid-1930s, the Japanese government built a monument Dabao Loyal Spirits Monument 大豹忠魂碑 near Wanshan Shrine to commemorate those Japanese soldiers who died during the clashes.
You can see a famous Taiwanese hiker Tony Huang's video to see Dabao Loyal Spirits Monument.
Professor/Director Kao Jun-Honn 高俊宏 spent 4 years investigating and interviewing those descendants of those Atayal people and made a documentary, llyong Topa 拉流斗霸 to preserve this sad history.

My Itinerary

Brief itinerary: Trailhead ➔ Lookout #1 ➔ Lookout #2 ➔ Mt. Jinminzi ➔ Mt. Shilang ➔ Mt. Saikuokeng ➔ Mt. Neijinmin ➔ trailhead
GPS coordinates of parking lot: 24.867000, 121.383895
GPS coordinates of trailhead: 24.865537, 121.382991
08:59 Arrived at Jinmin Bus Stop next to Dabao River. When I got off the bus, I took some photos of the river on Jinmin Bridge before heading to the trailhead. The morning sun made the river look so incredible.
09:03 Crossed Jinmin Bridge 金敏橋.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
The steps to the river was blocked.
09:12 Passed the junction of 金圳里11鄰. I took the right and went up.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
09:16 Saw the ridgeline I was going to hike from the bridge.
Mt. Jinminzi trail
09:21 Reached the map made by Blue Sky Team 藍天隊. There is a parking lot. You can also find toilets provided by a kind local resident.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
09:24 I saw the distinct shape of Mt. Jinminzi near the parking lot. You can see the barren surface underneath the peak, and those are the magnificent rock walls.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
That is Mt. Jinminzi.
09:35 Crossed a small bridge. Someone put a sign pointing to the trailhead. Before reaching this bridge, I made several wrong turns in this small village, which made me turn back to the map near the parking lot. If you do this hike, you can follow the ribbons tied on the trees by other hiking groups.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
09:38 After walking on the winding road, I reached the real trailhead.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
09:57 Went up the stairs and saw the rock wall #1.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
Beautiful morning lights on the rock wall #1.
10:13 Saw Japanese Ophiorrhiza 蛇根草.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
10:18 While climbing up the steep slope, I turned to see the beautiful mountains in the distance.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
10:21 Reached a slope with ropes. This slope will be very slippery if it rains.
Mt. Jinminzi trail
10:25 Reached the rock wall #2. Rock wall #2 is much bigger than #1 and continues all the way up.
My friends and I hiked this trail again in April 2022. You can see how big this rock wall is.
10:35 I saw incense bowls on a stone altar but those were gone when I went there again on April 30, 2022.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
10:40 Saw Wuliaojian 五寮尖 and Mt. Yuan 鳶山 from the trail.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
10:43 Passed the junction with the sign pointing to the directions to lookout #1, lookout #2, Mt. Shilang and M. Jinminzhi. The sign said it takes 4 minutes to reach the lookout #1 and 6 minutes to the lookout #2.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
10:47 Reached lookout #1. Views were amazing. I spent some time to take photos. Please don't go over the rope hanging up there. This is a cliff ahead.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail: great view on lookout
Mt. Qixing is in the far distance among those mountains.
10:50 Reached lookout #2. The trail to lookout #1 and #2 is a parallel trail to Mt. Jinminzi. So, I had to return to the junction to my next peak. After I was done with photo taking, I took the same way back.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
More beautiful view on lookout #2.
11:09 Back to the junction with the sign. Went into the bamboo woods to the next peak.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail: bamboo woods
11:14 Reached Mt. Jinminzi and took a short break. Mt. Jinminzi isn't far from the junction. The views were great. This is also a good location to have a lunch break.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail: Jinminzi peak
11:24 Saw Wuliaojian, Mt. Yuan, Mt. Dadong 大棟山, and Mt. Guanyin 觀音山 from Mt. Jinminzi.
Mt. Jinminzi trail
11:36 Back to the junction again. Headed into another bamboo woods. I met three hikers here, and they told me they came here for the bamboo woods. After we parted ways, I saw they enjoy their lunch. The bamboo woods is indeed a great place to relax.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
11:48 Reached Mt. Shilang located in the bamboo woods. No views. I was a little bit hungry, but I was looking for a more pleasant place to have lunch.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
12:05 Found a spacious area inside among the trees and had a 40-minute lunch break. There was a small opening to let me enjoy some view with my lunch and coffee.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
13:06 Reached the junction with a map pointing to Mt. Saikuokeng and Mt. Neijinmin.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
13:20 Reached Mt. Saikuokeng. I could see Wuliaojian, Sanxia, Mt. Wushifen 五十分山, Mt. Yuan, and almost Mt. Qixing 七星山. Looking at Wuliaojian made me want to do this hike someday.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail: Mt. Saikuokeng
Looking at Wuliaojian, Mt. Yuan, and Mt. Wushifen on the peak of Mt. Saikuokeng.
13:39 After Mt. Saikuokeng, I reached a steep slope intertwined with tree roots.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
13:49 Descended a narrow passage between rocks.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
13:55 Passed the boulder between two cliffs that reminds me of Kjerag in Norway.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail: a boulder looks like Kjerag in Norway
A side-by-side comparison of the rock in Norway (left) and the one in Sanxia (right).
14:41 Reached the junction to Mt. Neijinmin that was barricaded by the landlord. From the junction, I could also see Mt. Dongyan 東眼山, Mt. Beichatian 北插天山, Mt. Zhulu 逐鹿, and Mt. Kabao 卡保山.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
There was also a warning saying “Do Not Enter. Private Property.” But it also says it's for reference only. The sign did make me think twice before entering.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
14:47 Reached Mt. Neijinmin, aka Mt. Dabao 大豹山. No views. You can skip this one. Luckily, it didn't take long from the barricade to this peak. After this peak, I wasn't feeling well. So, I didn't take many photos. I missed a junction somewhere and ended up leaving the dirt trail.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
15:59 I got back to the parking lot after making a wrong turn again. without other options, I followed the road trying to get to the bus stop. Missing the shorter route led to my getting back to the bus stop late.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
Got back to the small village and saw Mt. Jinminzi again.
16:12 Passed a super cute elementary school, Chajiao Elementary School at Jinmin 插角國小金敏分校. Most elementary schools in remote areas of Taiwan are very small, but they have more characters than their counterparts in big cities. Seeing this school made me feel better.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail
16:17 I finally reached Dabao River. I missed the bus leaving Manyueyuan at 15:15. If I didn't take the wrong turns, I might have had caught that bus.
16:28 With extra time on my hands, I decided to take a long walk and explore Couhe Shi Ba Dong Tian (Couhe Rock Formations). I didn't go down to the river. I just took photos as many as I could before it got too dark. Then, it was a long wait for Bus 807 to come.
Sanxia Jinminzi Mountain loop trail: Caohe rock formations on Dabao river

Related Posts:

On Taiwan Hikes

Posts about indigenous people and the Japanese Occupation:
A Hike from Mt. Yuan to Daxi near Sanxia Old Street
Syakaro Historical Trail: A Trail with the Highest Outpost Density to Control Atayal People
Zhuilu Old Trail: A Thrilling Cliff Hike about Truku people

English Posts

Dabao River

Posts in Chinese Only

Sanxia: Mt. Jinminzi, Mt. Shilang, Mt. Saikuokeng and Mt. Neijinmin 三峽金敏子山-詩朗山-塞口坑山-內金敏山O形
Hiking Biji: Mt. Jinminzi loop hike 金敏子山四山O型走
Mt. Jinminzi, Mt. Shilang, Mt. Saikuokeng and Mt. Neijinmin 金敏子山, 詩朗山, 塞口坑山, 內金敏山
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