We started our run in the late afternoon. Although it is summer in Taipei and quite hot its always a few degrees cooler in YangMingShan national park. As we parked the bike we didn’t know where we’d be going but only knew that we were trying to avoid the weekend foot traffic up on the mountain. So we headed up this small side path and didn’t see anyone.
Eventually this path led up to the main path and the stairs up to QiXingShan. Which is where we started to see more people out for their weekend hike. Looking back from the stairs on the way up to the top we could see that it must have been a cloud free day back in Taipei but up in YangMingShan, I assume with the abundance of fumaroles, there was a nice misty ambiance as we went up.
Not far down this path we saw the first of these steaming vents coming out of the mountains. They were more colorful than expected, I imagine because of all of the sulfur on the surface. When we stopped to touch them we realized that the temperature ranges from slightly warm to the touch to hot enough to be taken aback. They were also very smelly. Only after we inhaled a large whiff of the fumes, did we read the sign that sulfur from the vents is not exactly healthy.
As we headed further up, the vegetation got less dense, and I assume so did the air, but for a portion of the trail it was quite runnable with the trail winding around the mountain and up.
At the end of the winding path we were met with treacherous stairs, they were not only steep but also uneven making them impossible to run. If taking this path on a weekend this is also when you might be able to expect the most bottlenecks as everyone is battling these rocky, narrow steps up and down the path. Note: this is the path coming from the Northern side of YangMingShan up to Mt. QiXing, there is another path coming up from the South that might be more runnable and not as steep. I’ve hiked both on weekends and this one, passing by the fumaroles tends to be more popular/crowded.
When we got to the top of Mt QiXing, the tallest mountain in the YangmingShan park, there were several people having a picnic and taking a picture with a sign declaring an elevation of 1120 meters above sea level. We didn’t wait as we have already been, and it is quite chilly there, even in the summer months, especially with the wind. If you plan to spend an amount of time there remember to bring a light jacket.
We, instead escaped to the other side, out of the wind where there were some nice rocks to perch on and perhaps an even better view. The top of the mountain tends to drop in the middle I suspect because it is actually a dormant volcano (don’t worry, the last eruption was 700,000 BC) so the area surrounding the top actually offers better views.
After our picnic we continued down the mountain, here is where the trail splits, there are 2 ways to go, we kept towards Menghuan Lake (夢幻湖). The way down was pleasant, the stairs seemed a little more even than the way up and not as steep. The views of Taipei City were also very nice on this side.
MengHuan lake is more of a pond, with a depth of 1 meter at most, its acidic soil is home to a unique species of fern. It was smaller than expected and quite peaceful, although we didn’t stay for long with all of the mosquitoes these swampy bodies of water tend to attract. There were almost no people on this side of the hike compared with the hike up, it looked as though they were renovating one of the nearby parking lots so this may not always be the case.
After this it was back to the road on our way to where we had originally parked. Although these roads in YangMingShan can be dangerously winding, as long as we stuck to the side it felt ok. There was also an overgrown trail we ran on for a while, but be careful the moss can be slippery.
Overall, the trail offered some nice views of the park, although it was a little crowded on the way up. There aren’t any places to buy water or food along the trail, so remember to bring some. This trail is also 100% paved (or stoned in some way) so there is no need to bring your trail running shoes, just some runners with ok grip should work fine.