Taiwan Hikes

Find Best & Free Hikes in Taiwan

Yangmingshan Series: A Complete Guide of Trails at Yangmingshan National Park and Public Transport

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: March 29, 2023
Yangmingshan National Park in Taipei, Taiwan, is probably the one of most accessible national parks in the world. It takes around 1 hour by bus from downtown Taipei City to some of the trailheads. In this post, you will learn how to get to Yangmingshan by MRT and bus, the history of Yangmingshan, what to see, less-known trails, trails that require hiking permits and more.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
The view I saw from Mt. Datun. The tallest building is Taipei 101.
This is an ongoing project because there are so many hiking routes to enjoy Yangmingshan. I'll update the links below when I finish the posts.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Loooking at Mt. Qixing (aka Mt. Cising) Main Peak and East Peak from Qingtiangang.

Table of Contents:

About Yangmingshan National Park and Active Volcano

Yangmingshan National Park, located at the northern edge of Taipei Basin, is one of the nine national parks in Taiwan. Yangmingshan is surrounded on the north by Mt. Zhuzi 竹子山, on the east by Mt. Huangzui 磺嘴山 and Mt. Wuzhi 五指山, on the south by Mt. Shamao 紗帽山, and on the west by Mt. Honglu 烘爐山 and Mt. Miantian 面天山 (part of Datun Volcano Group). Mt. Huangzui is the biggest volcano crater at Yangmingshan.
Map from Yangmingshan National Park
A map from Yangmingshan National Park.
The area of Yangmingshan, 11,334 hectares (28,007 acres), covers many districts of Taipei City and New Taipei City, and the altitude ranges from 200 to 1,120 meters above sea level. The highest mountain at Yangmingshan, also in Taipei City, is Mt. Qixing 七星山, 1,120 meters above sea level.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Mt. Qixing or Cising Main Peak, 1,120 meters above sea level.
In Chinese, Shan literally means mountain. Thus, Yangmingshan is Yangming Mountain. Actually, you will NOT find any mountain at Yangmingshan National Park called Yangming Mountain. Yangmingshan, Caoshan 草山, or Grass Mountain, is a general name that refers to Mt. Datun, Mt. Qixing, and Mt. Shamao.
Qingxing Mountain hiking guide
Looking at Mt. Shamao from Mt. Jiantan
However, there is a Caoshan or Grass Mountain near Mt. Canguanliao 燦光寮山 in Ruifang 瑞芳.

Volcanic Activities at Yangmingshan:

Sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire, experiencing constant earthquakes is a part of daily life for people who call Taiwan home.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Mt. Miantian and Mt. Datun West Peak. The one in the distance is Mt. Guanyin in Bali, New Taipei City.
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
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.

A Dormant or Active Volcano?

So, is Datun Volcano Group an active or a dormant volcano? According to the latest study by Taiwan Volcano Observatory, Datun is still an active volcano. You can read BBC: How Taipei discovered an active volcano on its doorstep for details.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Steam coming fron Xiaoyoukeng

Yangmingshan Geologic Features and Landscapes

Therefore, it's not surprising that volcano eruptions have heavily influenced the spectacular landscapes and terrains at Yangmingshan Nation Park in the past.
You will find crater at the top of Mt. Huangzui 磺嘴山, also the largest crater at Yangmingshan,
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
The crater at the top of Mt. Huangzui
fumaroles spewing sulfur and steam at Xiaoyoukeng 小油坑,
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
You will find fumaroles from Xiaoyoukeng to Mt. Qixing.
or dome-shaped Mt. Miantian and Mt. Shamao caused by the lava.
The distinct dome shape of Mt. Miantian and the reflectors on the top

Brief History of Caishan or Mt. Grass, the Old Name of Yangmingshan

Politically, the history of Yangmingshan (used to be called Caoshan) can be traced back to the Kangxi Emperor 康熙皇帝 of the Qing Dynasty.
  1. Qing Dynasty: Many migrants from Fujian Province 福建 came to Caoshan to harvest sulfur and Dajing 大菁 (indigo made from Mayflower Glorybower). During that time, those were the most profitable materials in Taiwan.
  2. In 1923: the Japanese Crown Prince Hirohito 裕仁太子 (later Emperor Hirohito 昭和天皇) set off on a 12-day trip to Taiwan. Many infrastructure developments, including highway, electricity, hot spring facilities, Grass Mountain Chateau 草山行館 or Grass Mountain Royal Residence, started since then, which laid the foundation of Yangmingshan.
    There is a steel, Crown Prince Stele 太子碑, on the trail to Mt. Xiangtian from Qingtian Temple 清天宮 in Beitou. The Beitou people set it up to commemorate Crown Prince Hirohito's visit to Taiwan.
    Yangmingshan mountains and trails
    Crown Prince Stele
  3. In 1924: the Japanese government started a 10-year project of forestation at Mt. Datun, which changed the flora at Yangmingshan. If you hike on Mt. Din (Dinshan) 頂山 Trail, you will enter a forest of Japanese Cedar Trees from an open grassland. This forest was the result of the forestation project.
    Yangmingshan mountains and trails
    Japanese Cedar Trees on Shitilin Trail
    The Japanese government also established a ranch at Qingtiangang 擎天崗, raising buffaloes. During prime time, the number of buffaloes reached more than 1,000. With the decline of animal husbandry, the number of buffaloes sharply dropped. Most of them ended up feral buffaloes, breeding, roaming, and grazing freely at Qingtiangang.
    Yangmingshan mountains and trails
    Feral buffaloes have become part of Yangmingshan, but please keep a distance from them.
  4. In 1935: the Japanese government started the idea of establishing Mt. Guanyin and Mt. Datun as Datun National Park. This was the first plan to transform Yangmingshan into a national park. The project was brought to a halt due to World War II.
  5. In 1949: Grass Mountain Chateau, the guest house of Taiwan Sugar Corporation to host the Japanese Crown Prince Hirohito, became the presidential residence of the then-president, Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石.
  6. In 1950: Grass Mountain was officially renamed Yangmingshan.
  7. In 1985: Yangmingshan National Park was born.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Trails at Yangmingshan are well maintained, but most of them are stone steps, which can be slippery.

How to Get to Yangmingshan by Public Transport and Free Download

There is daily traffic control on Yangde Boulevard, especially during blossom seasons. Therefore, taking public transport is recommended. However, transferring to Yangmingshan can be a hassle, not to mention there are so many trailheads. It's confusing for local Taiwanese hikers to understand, too.
How to take public transport to Yangmingshan
Bus 108 at Yangmingshan Stop is the main route to most trailheads. Here's an infographic of transferring buses from 3 MRT stations to Yangmingshan Stop and the most popular attractions.
I hope this Yangmingshan public transport guide for hikers will make it easier to find the bus you want to take.
How to get to Yangmingshan by public transport - bus-stops-mrt-jiantan-station
The bus stop at MRT Jiantan Station
How to get to Yangmingshan by public transport - bus-stops-mrt-beitou-station
The bus stop at MRT Beitou Station
How to get to Yangmingshan by public transport - bus-stops-taipei-station-1
The 260 bus stop at Taipei Station
How to get to Yangmingshan by public transport - bus-stops-taipei-station-2
The 1717 bus stop at Taipei Station
I also make a freedown load PDF file if you need to save it in your phone. Click the Gumroad image below and "I want this" on my Gumroad page. Put $0 and then you are ready to add to the cart and see the guide.
If you want the details of all the buses, please check out Yangmingshan National Park's page. Expect long queues at those bus stops, especially on the weekends. My friend Cris from HolaTaipei took this video when we were on our way to Yangmingshan.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
S6 to Qingtian Temple is my favorite route to Yangmingshan.

Things to See on the Trails at Yangmingshan

There are so many amazing things to see at Yangmingshan. Here are some of them I saw on the trails over the years:
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Beautiful trails. This is Japanese Trail near Qingtiangang.
sunrise and sunset,
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Sun was setting when I was near Mt. Datun South Peak.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Sunset at Mt. Quanyin near Qingtian Temple
sea of clouds,
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
I took the previous video and saw this at Mt. Datun Main Peak.
blossoms all year round,
Cherry blossoms at 42 Lane, Pingjing Street
silver grass in autumn,
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Silver grass in autumn
historical relics, old trails and more.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Pond for sulfur extracting in the past
If the weather is cold enough, you can see snow, too. I haven't seen snow at Yangmingshan myself. My friend, Acer, is kind enough to let me use his photos.
Acer took this photo in January 2021.

Trail Systems and Popular Routes at Yangmingshan

I made this list based on Yangmingshan National Park's website. There are 16 official trails at Yangmingshan, but the actual number is more than 16.
Local hiking groups develop many routes, and you can make your own routes, too. However, if you are new to Yangmingshan, please stay on the footpaths.
My friend Acer Lee, who is a bilingual hiking guide, knows all the trails at Yangmingshan by heart. Sometimes he will let Cris from HolaTaipei Travel and I tag along to explore the trails.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Acer, Cris and I in front of Qingshan Waterfall
I don't put all the routes here because those are easy to navigate by following the footpaths. You will see the difficulty levels rating from 1 star as the easiest trail and 5 stars as the most difficult one.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Shanhuang River tracing is a challenging hike.
I've done most of the trails here and will update the links when the posts are ready to publish.
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
I hiked to Cuicui Valley twice.

Qixingshan (Mt. Qixing) Series

  1. Mt. Qixing Main Peak and East Peak Trail, Plus Dinosaur Kissing Stone, Mt. Ketagalan 凱達格蘭山 (Qixing Zhui 七星錐), and Xiaoyoukeng 小油坑. Difficulty level:
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Mt. Qixing Main Peak. Expect the crowd.

Datunshan (Mt. Datun) Series

  1. Mt. Datun Main Peak, South Peak, West Peak to Qingtian Temple. Difficulty level:
  2. Mt. Miantian, Mt. Xiangtian, and Xiangtian Crater Pond 向天池 (finished the hike, post coming soon.) Difficulty level:
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Xiangtian Crater Pond after flood from the distance.

Qingtiangang Series

  1. Jinbaoli Trail 金包里大路 (Yulu Historic Trail north section 魚路古道北段), Japanese Trail 日人路 (finished the hike, post coming soon.) Difficulty level:
  2. Mt. Din (Dingshan) 頂山 to Mt. Shiti Trail 石梯嶺 (finished the hike, post coming soon.) Difficulty level:
  3. Other Old Trails like Neishuangxi Old Trail 內雙溪古道 and Dutch Old Trail 荷蘭古道
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
The gate to Jinbaoli Trail near Qingtiangang

Zhuzishan Series

Most areas of Zhuzishan or Mt. Zhuzi, Bamboo Mountain 竹子山 belong to the military, and hikers are not allowed to enter.
  1. The Biggest Waterfall at Yngmingshan: Hike to Alibang Waterfall 阿里滂瀑布 from Qingshan Waterfall 青山瀑布 (finished the hike, post coming soon.) Difficulty level:
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
The top of Alibang Waterfall

Thru Hikes or Long Distance Hike 縱走 in Chinese

  1. Yangmingshan East to West Thru-Hike 陽明山東西大縱走 (Tried twice, but not finished. Post coming soon.) Difficulty level:
  2. Yangmingshan South to North Thru-Hike 陽明山南北大縱走
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
Mt. Datun South Peak and Mt. Miantian in the back

Ecological Protected Areas (Permits Required)

  1. Kujiaokeng Protected Area: Fenglin Waterfall 鹿角坑生態保護區: 楓林瀑布.
  2. Kujiaokeng Protected Area: Mt. Xiaoguanyin 鹿角坑生態保護區: 小觀音山 (Done this hike before but plan to do it again.) Difficulty level:
  3. Mt. Huangzui Protected Area 磺嘴山生態保護區: A Secret River Tracing Trail to Mt. Huangzui and Cuicui Valley. Difficulty level:
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
The gate of Mt. Huangzui Protected Area

Other More Challenging Routes

  1. Tam-Kee Crossing Trail (The Tam-Kee Crossing Track from YMS website): Tamsui to Keelung Trail East Section from Qingtiangang to Dawulun in Keelung 淡基橫斷古道東段(擎天崗-大武崙東都大樓)
Yangmingshan mountains and trails
It's easy to see rainbows at Yangmingshan.
What would you like to know about Yangmingshan? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.


English Posts

Yangmingshan Series from Taiwan Trails and Tales
Hiking Trails and Footpaths from Yangmingshan National Park
Taiwan Scene: The Ultimate Hiking Guide to Yangmingshan National Park

Posts in Chinese Only

Hiking Biji: Trails at Yangmingshan 健行筆記: 陽明山區域步道
Taiwan Hikes' Partner: HolaTaipei Travel
All content provided is for inspirational and informational purposes only. Creating, using, hiking, or traveling with Taiwan Hikes' suggested services or itineraries is at your own risk. Please use your best judgment and follow all safety precautions, as Taiwan Hikes and Anusha Lee are not liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from using this information.
Please also note that Taiwanese government agencies tend to change their URLs without bothering to redirect to the new ones. As a result, you will find some external sites on the Taiwan Hikes website are not working from time to time. Taiwan Hikes will try to update those URLs if possible.
Taiwan Hikes is not responsible for the content of external sites.
If you like Taiwan Hikes, feel free to buy me a coffee. Thank you very much for your support!
Find Trips