Day 1, stop 3: The Elephant Mountain

 

I was chasing the sunset on my first day in Taiwan. The guys from the Whatever, Whenever desk of W Taipei highly recommended go at day’s end at the Elephant Mountain.

“It offers one of the best views of Taipei City. It’s worth the hike.”

With “hike” as an operative word, they warned me (twice, in fact) with a (naughty) smile that I have to warm up before hitting the trail. I just laughed it off— because the stunning panoramic shot of the city at sunset with the Taipei 101 dominating the landscape sealed the deal, so to speak. How strenuous can making it up a tourist attraction really get?

 

MRT Exit to Elephant Mountain
The MRT exit to the great climb ahead copy.jpg

 

It was marked as the last stop for the day after Yong Kang Street to try the Mango Ice because it’s in the same address as my home base.

However, I overspent my time at the CKS Memorial Hall. If I had to catch the sunset, I had to skip the Mango Ice to go climb a mountain.

Xiangshan aka Elephant Mountain is a 183-meter high mountain with a hiking trail and an attraction in the Xinyi District along with the Taipei 101. Its close proximity to the terminus of the MRT Red Line 2, the Xiangshan Station, makes it easy to reach, the starting point that is. The climb is another story.

 

Starting point of the climb up to Elephant Mountain
The Elephant Mountain climb starts here

 

Spotting the entrance to the hiking trail, I made my way up. This was what the earlier warning was all about—there seem to be no end to the flight of stairs. I was “warned”.

 

First flight of stairs up the Elephant Mountian
The first flight of stairs. The start of a very long journey up

 

Endless stairs at Elephant Mountain
It doesn’t seem to end- the climb up

 

Finally, I reached a platform that offered a great view of the city. This though, wasn’t “it”, but just a viewing deck with a great photo opportunity. The better views are higher up.

 

Viewing deck at Elephant Mountain, Taipei
Finally the viewing deck. And no, this is not yet the best spot yet

 

Sunset shot of Taipei 101 from Elephant Mountain viewing deck
First sunset in Taipei 101 and city at sunset

 

After catching my breath and taking a few shots, I decided to continue the climb. I don’t want getting that nagging idea of “you should have done it, you were already there.”

 

More stairs to climb to get tot he hiking trail
More stairs leading up.

 

Clearly I was out of shape. The next flight of stairs was torture on my thighs and my heart felt like its about to burst. I had to stop and pretend to enjoy the non-existent view while the fitter ones pass me by.

 

Time needed to reach the top at Elephant Mountain Taipei
Fifteen minues if you don’t stop. I doubled this time

 

Hiking trail map of the Elephant Mountain
The Elephant Mountain hiking trail map

 

When you're trying to catch your breath but don;t want to be too obvious. Stop & enjoy the view, if there is one.
When you’re trying to catch your breath but don’t want to be too obvious. Stop & enjoy the view, if there is one.

 

I even had to ask someone heading down what there was up there and was told the six rocks were just ahead of that boulder before me.

 

After the marker is the Six Giant Rocks
Six Giant Rocks is just after this rock marker

 

The Six Giant Rocks is an attraction and gets busy at sunset with everyone lining up and taking turns for a photo above one of the rocks with the Taipei City skyline as the backdrop.

 

Getting a picture on top of the Six Giant Rocks at Elephant Mountain Taipei
Lining up a turn at the most popular rock of the Six Giant Rocks

 

Six Giant Rocks, I made it up there
Well at least I reached this point- Six Giant Rocks

 

The hiking trail didn’t stop there and goes around the mountain. This spot was my terminus.

I got my shot, and waited for nightfall with the rest of the tourists and photographers.

 

Six Big Rocks at the Elephant Mountain
Atop one of the Six Big Rocks standing tall beside the iconic tower

 

Sunset at elephant mountain in taipei
Almost sunset

 

It was worth the climb and wait, indeed. I’m glad I went to see the sun set over Taipei City and watched it bathed in night light as the sky turned deep blue.

 

Photographers at Elephant Mountain
Busy photographers trying to capture the best shot

 

Dusk at Taipei's Elephant Mountain
Taipei city at dusk

 

Now time to head home, but not after a good meal. I deserve one. The last bite I had was breakfast.

To get there: Tale MRT Red Line 2 to Xiangshan station, the terminus. Exit 2 and walk along the park’s path, take a left at the end of the road. The entrance of the to the hiking trail is just after the towering temple.

Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com. For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit ofapplesandlemons.com and jeepneyjinggoy.com

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

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