Taiwan Hikes

Enjoy free guided hikes with the locals

Resources

Before 2020, I mostly hiked with hiking associations, unless those trails that were very popular or obvious, like trails to Mt. Qixin. I went through those hiking schedules from those associations I knew and tried to pick up those I thought might be interesting. I know I always wanted to do solo hike, but I wasn’t sure about that, because we were usually told it’s dangerous to hike alone. It is if you don’t prepare well.
By the end of 2019, inspired by many cool hikers on Twitter, like Taiwan Trails and Tales and OutRecording, I told myself that I wanted to do more solo hikes in 2020. After hiking in Smangus (link), which was a challenging hike, the thought of doing a solo hike was getting stronger. Before the Chinese New Year holidays ended, I picked a trail and finished it by myself. I realized it wasn’t difficult at all as long as you were well prepared.
Hiking Resources: Feitsui Reservoir in Taipei
Since we got a pandemic in 2020 and many hiking trips are packed with hikers that can be over 100 people, doing solo hikes is a no brainer. I also enjoy the freedom of hiking on the trail on my own. Sometimes, I was the only person on the trails, no non-sense chatting or annoying music from other hikers, only my breathing and heartbeats, the winds and the sounds from the birds and animals, which makes me addictive to solo hikes.
But this doesn’t mean doing group hikes is not good. If you are new to the trails in Taiwan and you don’t know where to hike, going with the associations is a good start. You'll get familiar with the trail conditions and weather and you may not have to do a lot of homework while joining them. I still join group hikes, especially when I see the trails that are very challenging or too remote to get there by yourself.

How I find the trails to hike

The easiest way: checking out the trails from the hiking associations

There are some benefits to find trails to hike from those hiking associations. Most of the guides from those associations will check the trail conditions before they post the trips to the public, which means the trail conditions are okay to hike or they might even spend some time to clean up the trails. I can tell you it’s not fun to hike on the trail and try to wipe off the spider webs from your face at the same time.
Hiking associations will label the trail difficulty and what you might see on the trails on their websites or Facebook groups, and this helps a lot for you to decide whether this trail is for you. You don’t want to pick up a very challenging trail that you thought it should be easy but turns out to be a different story.
Hiking Resources: River Tonghou 桶後溪 in Ilan, Taiwan

From hiking websites like Hiking Biji

Hiking Biji is like a trail database in Taiwan. You can search trails from locations, difficulty, etc., read other hikers’ posts about the trails, learn the latest trail conditions reported by fellow hikers, and sign up to download GPX from other hikers. They even go further to provide lists of trails to meet people’s preference, like trails along with rivers, to see waterfalls, or suitable for families with young kids. It’s Chinese only, but I think you can use Google Translate to get some ideas.
Hiking Resources: looking at Ilan Plain from Mt. Sanjiaolun 三角崙山

From the hiking bloggers who also provide GPX to download

Since I start hiking by myself, I need to get GPX. Many bloggers write down all the details and timelines of their hikes, so you can have a reference about how fast or slow you are if you hike on the same trails and you get some ideas about when you might be able to finish the hike. I really admire their dedications to the details, which helps me a lot.
Here is the list of my favorite hiking bloggers:
Chinese blogs:
Tony的自然人文旅記 Tony Huang: Tony is famous among hikers in Taiwan, and has been writing posts about hiking in Taiwan for more than ten years. He is also a prolific author and YouTuber, and publishes many books and videos with English captions.
馬克褚工作室 -- 自行車與登山 Mark Choo: Mark also dedicates his time to teach hikers how to use GPS for hikes.
Waytogo 獨步山林間: Reading his blog is like a treasure hunt. I can spend hours reading his posts.
Mark的旅記: Like Waytogo, I enjoy reading Mark's posts about hiking.
Chen 陳生: Mr. Chen is also a volunteer working with Blue Sky Team to clean up the trails, replaces old or torn signs on the trails. Most of his hikes are very challenging.
Blue Sky Team 藍天隊: They don’t have a website or Facebook Group page (at least I don't know), but you can see the tags or hiking ribbons almost on the trails in Taiwan. Here's an interview of their current leader, Jiang Qixiang 江啟祥. Blue Sky Team holds hiking events every week and they welcome hikers to join their hikes. You can check out Mr. Jiang's Facebook to check out their hiking trips.
Sj Wu: Sj is a friend of mine and he loves photography. His images may not all relate to hiking, but you can see the beauty of Taiwan through his lens. He has a full-time job but still devotes his time to present Taiwan.
English blogs:
Taiwan Trails and Tales: A British hiker in Taiwan who writes poetic journals about hiking in Taiwan.
OutRecording: OutRecording is based in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Glenn usually hikes in very remote areas or hunters' trails and shares his experience in hiking in Taiwan in a humorous way.
Foreigners in Taiwan: This website covers a wide range of things in Taiwan other than hiking. I think the authors probably know more things about Taiwan than I do. If you consider relocating in Taiwan, this is definitely a guide to look into.
浮生千山 Qianshan: This blog is written in Chinese, but the author has Google Translate tool on the blog so you still can read the posts in English.
Formosa>Ex: This is not a hiking blog, but if you are also into history, old houses and relics in south Taiwan, you should stop by.
Hiking Resources:  Lake Baipao 白匏湖 in Neihu, Taipei

Just Google it

I met some hikers from other countries how they found the trails in Taiwan, and they said they Google.
Hiking Resources: Crossing the creek to Mt. Jiajiuling 加九嶺山

How to check the weather

Most people use Windy to check the weather, but I use Central Weather Bureau app and website to check the local weather. Thundershowers are common in Taiwan in summer. Usually, they come fast and big in the afternoon, but disappear soon. If you find a spot to hide, thundershowers should not be a problem. You need to check UV Index to avoid sun burn and heat exhaustion.
Hiking Resources: Light coming through the woods

How to apply permits to hike the 100 Peaks hike

To be honest, I don’t know how. The first reason is I hiked with the hiking associations and they took care of the applications. Second, Taiwan government says they are overhauling the application process and will make it much easier for hikers. But I've seen the one stop website claiming that you just come here but it still directs you to other website to start the process. Here is another link to submit all your papers at least one week before your entry. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t tell you whether it’s that easy.
Is it easy to apply for the permits? For local Taiwanese, applying for the permit to hike 100 Peaks, especially the very popular ones like Mt. Yu, Lake Chiaming, is like winning the lottery, unless you choose the weekdays to hike. However, for foreigners, it’s way much easier and I was told that you can almost get the permits when applying.
You can check this post by Foreigners in Taiwan to see how they hiked Mt. Yu in one day. Please note that some regulations might be changed, and I'll try to update them as much as I can.
ROMA: snow capped Mt. Nanhu 南湖大山 on the left and Mt. Zhongyanjian 中央尖山 in the center
Enjoy your hike in Taiwan.
Guided Trips