After several visits to Taipei, I realised I had never been to Yangmingshan National Park which, for a nature lover like me, is not good. So I get up early, take a subway to Beitou MRT station, and take the first bus heading up the mountain area to the northeast of the city. Clouds are hanging overhead, rain is foreseen for later in the day, so I am in a bit of a hurry. The bus works its way up the mountain, into the clouds, and then, before we arrive at the final stop: bright sunlight. When I walk away from the bus station, the sky is perfectly blue, and I get more and more excited about the day. I find the visitor centre closed, and I decide to head up right away. The trails are well marked: at the Miaopu trailhead, the climbing begins on sturdy stairs. I work my way up in the shade of the trees, and before I know it, I am sweating on what I had feared might be a cold day.
When I leave the forest behind, the landscape opens up before me, and I now clearly see the peak of Mount Qixing ahead of me. I have taken a detour, because I also want to see the east peak, so I work my way up from near the radio station on the eastern side of the mountain. The silvergrass for which Yangmingshan National Park is famous is indeed everywhere, and the stone trail meanders through this brownish-grey landscape. The views get better the higher I reach: I am well above the cloud cover now, and can see mountains towering above the white layer in the far distance. The east peak gives great views, and after enjoying them, I make my way to nearby Mount Qixiang, at 1120m the highest summit of Yangmingshan. I share the summit with a multitude of Taiwanese who are busy taking selfies and eating, and after taking in the great views and wondering how long it will take for the clouds to obscure even the summit, I consider several options. I decide to walk down to Xiaoyoukeng, at the northern side of the park. An easy descent takes me to a wholly different landscape. Here, instead of a forest, I find fumaroles emitting steam and the smell that comes with it.
Once down at the foot of the mountain, I take the trail running around the base of Mount Qixing in a clockwise direction. After following the road, it takes me up and down hills again, back to the road, until I take a steep turn on the right which brings me straight to Menghuan Pond. Apart from a small group of cyclists, there is no one to enjoy the view of Mount Qixian reflected in the quiet waters of the small lake. I walk down to the visitor centre at Lengshuikeng to stock up on calories. The trail is romantic now: moss-covered steps in a wild forest, past creeks, and rays of the sun filtering through the foliage above, sending delicate stripes of light to the bottom of the forest. I take a side trail to hike to the Juansi waterfall, a lovely chute completely surrounded by trees, before walking back through the forest to Yangmingshan. I think I am lucky when I jump on a bus, but it first goes up to a village on the mountain before heading back to Beitou. Clouds have now taken over, it is cold, and I can finally wear the sweater I had expected to wear all day.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Yangmingshan National Park (Taiwan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Yangmingshan National Park. Read more about this site.