Climbing Mt. Qixing


"When you ride your bike, you're working your legs, but your mind is on a treadmill. When you play chess, your mind is clicking along, but your body is stagnating. Climbing brings it together in a beautiful, magical way. The adrenaline is flowing, and it's flowing all the time."

-- Pat Ament
Beautiful Pathways
Beautiful Pathways
We (husband + moi) along with some friends decided on exploring Mt. Qixing in the month of July (year 2013). We headed to Yangmingshan National Park to climb Mt. Qixing (七星山). Also known as Seven Star Mountain, Qixing is located in the center of the park and is the highest mountain at the rim of Taipei City and Taipei Basin. It is also the highest (dormant) volcano in Taiwan. Its main peak is 1,120 meters (3,675 ft) above sea level. Established in 1985, the park features unique volcanic landscape which no other national park in Taiwan bares and abundant fauna and flora species.

Mainly three major trails head towards the main peak and we tried the Mt. Qixing East Peak Trail starting from Lengshuikeng service center. Some of our friends who had visited this place earlier suggested us to take this route as it is very scenic and not so complicated. The best time to start either of the trails is by or before 11 am as it takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach the main peak.

There are many buses which head from Beitou or Jiantan MRT to Qixing. We took bus S15 from Jiantan to the Lengshuikeng service center (which is 2-3 stops before the last stop i.e. Qingtiangang). The bus takes around an hour and the journey is very comfortable. There is a bus every half an hour. Here is a link for the bus route:

After getting down at the service center we met the staff there who were very friendly, and pointed us to the entrance of the trail. From a small shop at the center we stocked up on some snacks and bottles of water. 
Note - This is the only place from where you can buy eatables and water as nothing is available after this point. 

Behind Us - Trail Entrance & Route Map
Behind Us - Trail Entrance & Route Map 

Mt. Qixing East Peak Trail
The trail starts from just passing the Yangmingshan National Park headquarters. At the start the elevation is just over 500 meters and the trail heads up all the way passing 1000 meters. The total length of the trail up to the main peak is 2.4 kms. When it starts, the trail goes through the broad leaf evergreen forest and its grass lands in the top of the mountain and in the north east side of the mountain. Much of the trail was stone stairs like near the starting point.


East Peak Trail
East Peak Trail
Strolling on the flat ends quite abruptly, however, as the Lengshuikeng Pedestrian trail joins the Main Peak trail. This junction is clearly marked and has a number of stone benches, which makes it a good spot to take a quick breather. From here, it’s a very steep 1.2 kilometer slog to the mid-point between the Main and East Peaks.

Beautiful Stone Benches & Tables
Beautiful Stone Benches & Tables
As this section of the trail winds steadily upwards, the thick forest gives way to a combination of thin-stemmed bamboo, pine, and bird-lime trees. With the peaks slowly coming into view, and the path finally beginning to level off, the trail is lined with Chinese silver-grass, often known as ‘razor grass’ thanks to its neatly disguised serrated edges. The grass and bamboo-covered slopes also allow for some good views over Taipei and the northern coast of Taiwan. Quite quickly the mid-point between Qixing’s two highest peaks is reached, with the trail to the left leading up to the Main Peak. 



Charming Butterfly - Such Grace Such Poise
Charming Butterfly - Such Grace Such Poise

On weekends the Main Peak can get very busy with jovial family outings, seemingly endless crowds of school-trippers and out-of-town tourists. On a clear day, the views are incredible, with vistas taking in the city, the island’s central mountain range, and the Pacific Ocean. 

Stunning View - Yangmingshan & Taipei - Breaks in the Cloud
Stunning View - Yangmingshan & Taipei - Breaks in the Cloud 
Expect to be passed by septuagenarian locals who make the trip every week! Almost stepped on this little guy on the way. Usually they scurry away pretty fast, but this one let us take a picture.

The Elegant Five Linked Skink
The Elegant Five Linked Skink

Finally we made it up to the windy main summit and had someone take a picture of our accomplishment, an extraordinary feat also done by people more than twice [and sometimes three times] our age every weekend.  


Hurray - Mt. Qixing Main Peak
Hurray - Mt. Qixing Main Peak

The Descent
Heading down from the East Peak, the trail is clearly marked and there are a number of helpful information boards introducing Qixing Shan’s flora and fauna.  It is a short 1.1 kilometre walk to a fork in the trail - the right branch takes you down another 200 meters or so to Qixing Park, which boasts toilet facilities, some covered pavilions and clear views over Taipei. The left branch - which you will have to take to complete the loop - leads a little further on to Menghuan Pond, one of Yangming Shan’s Ecological Conservation Zones. 

Directions & Distance
Directions & Distance
On the way back down we were able to glimpse a little bit of wild life. There were two of these plump little guys. We were back by 5 pm. I would rate the hike to be a solid 2 on a 0-5 scale, but again, only if it's really hot and humid. Overall it was a wonderful day's hike and would love to take the Xiaoyoukeng route - famous for its steaming sulphur fumaroles next time.  

Hello Fellows - Red Bellied Tree Squirrels
Hello Fellows - Red Bellied Tree Squirrels

Yangmingshan National Park (Official Link)
Bus 260 leaves from Civic Blvd (outside Taipei Main Station) for the park every ten minutes, traveling along Zhongshan North Road, and turning right onto Zhongzheng Road in Shilin. From Jiantan MRT Station, Bus Red 5 leaves for the park every 15 minutes. And S15 which plies every 30 minutes. From Beitou, bus 230 plies the route every thirty minutes. It is a short walk from the bus terminal station to the cultivated area of the park. The journey from Taipei Main Station takes about forty minutes and costs NT$30. Mini-bus number 15 departs hourly from Beitou for Judz-hu (also spelled Zhuzi Hu).

Fees & Permits
There is no fee to enter the park.

Tips
If you go in summer, take a lot of water and good shoes are preferable. The weather is very changeable on Yangmingshan so a jacket or rain coat is a good idea, even in the summer.


"It's always further than it looks.
It's always taller than it looks.
And it's always harder than it looks."
-- The 3 rules of mountaineering.

Comments

  1. Great write up!! Feel like taking the hike right away....... :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Stunning photos!
    Wish I was there!

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