The Jiantanshan Trail (劍潭山親山步道) is a 5 kilometre hike up Jiantanshan, a mountain just to the north of central Taipei. Along the way up you’ll see the impressive Grand Hotel Taipei, pass through thick, dense forest and get excellent views over the capital. It’s sometimes popular with tourists popping up to the observation platform, but along the way you’ll also pass mountain Karaoke bars and other surprises you wouldn’t expect halfway up a mountain!
During the martial law period in Taiwan, Jiantanshan was restricted from everyday citizens and used by the military. The result has been a well-preserved ecosystem, rich in wildlife and generally untarnished by years of tourism. But the fact that much remains from the military days, such as old badminton courts, outdoor bars and other entertainment spots, also makes the hike up a little different from most. It all adds to the fun of completing this hiking trail.
Once you get up to the top there is an amazing viewing platform that protrudes out, offering excellent views of airplanes taking off from Songshan Airport, as well as city highlights such as Taipei 101. Referred to as Laodifang Lookout or Old Place Viewing Platform, you have a few choices once you get here. One option is to walk back to Jiantan, but a better one is to continue south-east to Jiannan Road Station. You’ll head through some old-fashioned gardens and parks, offering more chances to see local birdlife and such.
Time required: 2 to 3 hours depending on your fitness level
Difficulty: Easy but with a few steep climbs
How to get there
First, make your way to Jiantan Station on Taipei Metro’s red line, which is a short trip from Taipei Station (12 minutes, NT$20). From Jiantan Station follow signs and street maps to Grand Hotel Taipei. There are various starting points for the trail, but the first one you’ll come across is next to the Jiantan bus stop on the main road. There are hiking maps and signs at the entrance, so it’s an easy place to start the hike up. Note that some signage and maps on the trail are not in English, but there is usually enough information to let you know where you’re going.