Hiking in Taiwan: New Year in the Mountains

We’re almost at the end of 2020 and what a year it’s been (deep sigh). This year was Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s Year of Mountain Tourism, and given the pandemic situation, getting out of the city and social distancing up in the hills has never been a better idea.

A mountain sunrise is a great way to start a year.

However, the mountain tourism shouldn’t end just because the year has. Here at Taiwan Scene, we think there’s no better way to tell 2020 to take a hike and ring in the New Year than by taking a hike yourself. Get away from the masses around the Taipei 101 fireworks display and the crowded bars across the country and get up a mountain. If you think New Year’s Eve might be a little chilly for a hike, we’ll let you off this time. But you have to promise us to get up a mountain and see some of Taiwan’s natural beauty for yourself at least once in 2021. Deal?

Get away from the city and enjoy some fresh air in the mountains.

Here are some of the hikes you should tackle in Taiwan in 2021. (Read more: A glittering Taipei New Year)

Alishan (阿里山)

The Alishan mountains are one of Taiwan’s most beautiful locations for hiking. Offering a variety of trails such as the Giant Tree Trail (巨木群棧道), the Mihu Trail (迷糊步道) and the changing scenery of the Shizhuo Trails (石棹步道群), there is much to see in Alishan. Another highlight of the area is riding the Alishan Forest Railway, a stunning train route which passes over more than 70 wooden bridges and through more than 50 tunnels as it cuts through the forest surrounds. Head to Chiayi county and see the amazing scenery for yourself. (Read more: A guide to hiking in Alishan)

Take a walk amongst the clouds and tea fields in Alishan.

Taipingshan (太平山)

An outdoor enthusiast’s dream, Yilan’s Taipingshan Forest Recreation Area offers hiking, hot springs, and like Alishan, a forest railway line. Trails bursting with cypress trees and beech trees, the country’s largest Alpine lake, and the chance to cook your own hot spring egg, Taipingshan has much to offer, while its local accommodation options are also eco-friendly, so you can help the environment at the same time as enjoying it. (Read more: Forest trails, hot springs and riding the rails in Taipingshan)

An old railway line goes all the way through the Jancing Historic Trail (見晴步道) in Taipingshan.

Alangyi Historic Trail (阿塱壹古道)

A coastal route once frequented by local indigenous tribes for hunting and the transportation of goods, the Alangyi Historic Trail is a leisurely coastal walk between Taitung and Pingtung where you’ll encounter pebble beaches along with fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean. A permit is required to hike this route, so your trip must be planned well in advance. (Read more: A seashore trek along the Alangyi Historic Trail)

The Alangyi Historic Trail follows the Pacific Ocean coast between Pingtung and Taitung.

Smangus (司馬庫斯) and Cinsbu (鎮西堡)

Secluded neighboring hillside communities in Hsinchu’s Jianshi Township, Smangus and Cinsbu’s respective Giant Tree Trails are packed with majestic ancient cypress trees, including some that are more than 2,000 years old. Smangus is also Taiwan’s only cooperative community, with residents dividing up work and distributing income equally. A slight magical feel in the air coupled with a feeling of being cutoff from the outside world, here is a must-visit for true explorers who want to see a side of Taiwan unlike no other. (Read more: Into the mountain forests of Hsinchu)

Discover the mysterious forests in Hsinchu’s Jianshi Township.

Songluo Lake (松蘿湖)

Surrounded by mountains and seemingly always shrouded by mist, Songluo Lake on the outskirts of Yilan City has an air of mystery to it. Much of the hike is up a muddy mountain road, but your efforts will be rewarded when you reach the lake itself. Peaceful and quiet, it is the perfect spot to camp and spend the night, with the lake and its surroundings far away from the glaring lights and sounds of the city. (Read more: A night of lakeside camping)

Camp next to Songluo Lake and get up early for the sunrise. (Photo/Essence Travel)

More New Year celebration ideas…