Every city needs an accessible attraction that hits on two things: (1) an outdoorsy-ish activity, and (2) picture perfect views. For Taipei, this is Elephant Mountain. Located at the southeast part of Xinyi district, this mountain is only about a 20 minute walk from Taipei 101, but offers postcard-level views of the skyscraper and the city. In fact, a lot of postcard photos are probably taken from right here. During the new years fireworks (and during golden hour on any given sunny day), the viewpoints are packed with people and tripods.
Perhaps the real reason behind the popularity and high traffic is the fact that the trail is short (~1.5km) and sweet (although quite steep), accessible for families with young children, and frequented by older people who are looking for some outdoor activity. The “hike” is really just about 20 minutes up some decently maintained stairs that lead straight to the main observation areas and a shaded resting area.
These days, the MRT makes it even easier to get to the hike. There is a stop on the red line, Xiangshan (aka Elephant Mountain) that drops you off right at the end of a park. On the other end of the park (it’ll feel like a quiet and residential street), is the start of the trail. While there are many different ways of getting in, this is the most popular way (and where the signs point to).
From there, just follow the steps and the signs to get to the viewpoints. It’s a steep climb, but mostly stairs, so fairly accessible. About 15-20 minutes in, you’ll reach a shaded resting area and observation deck, but you’ll want to keep going up for better views by the “6 Boulders” (六巨石) or continue on to the “Fireworks Lookout” (象山煙火平台) for better views. Most people get their pictures here and then head down and continue on in their day but for the more ambitious, you can keep going, there are plenty of trails leading deeper into the mountain
Go here for: the most popular views of the city
Don’t miss: while most people stop by the the “6 Boulder” area, there is also a “firework lookout” that offers unobstructed views to the north
Amount of time to spend: 30 minutes to an hour should be plenty to get up and down and all the photos
When to come: early in the morning to avoid crowds, or if you don’t mind the crowds, right before sunset so you can see the city go from day to night; weekend mornings and evenings tend to be really busy so try to come on a weekday if possible
Getting here: take the red line all the way to the end at Xiangshan, then use exit 2 and walk through the park, following signs for the trail entrance
Other things to note:
Last visited: October 2019
Last updated: October 2020